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Archive for November, 2016

Grading Practices Task Force Meets Nov. 30

The West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) Grading Practices Task Force will meet at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016, in the Community Room at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, in West Des Moines. This meeting is open to the public.

Teacher grading papers.

Close-up of teacher’s hands grading papers.

The purpose of this task force is to address the district strategic plan goal area on consistent, effective grading practices in the West Des Moines Community Schools. The task force is charged with researching and identifying effective grading practices and providing specific recommendations to the WDMCS Board of Education for grades K-12 in the district. Additionally, the task force will recommend professional learning needs for staff, communication needs to students and families, and a timeline for implementation.

For more information, please visit: www.wdmcs.org/category/grading-practices/.

 

Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016 Agenda

5:30-7:30 p.m.
Community Room
Learning Resource Center
3550 Mills Civic Parkway
West Des Moines, Iowa

Outcomes

  1. Participants will gain an understanding of effective grading practices by examining the standards-based modules from the Iowa Department of Education
  2. Participants can learn from national resources, other states, and Iowa educators who have undertaken this approach and how many aspects of their systems need to be considered in making this significant change. https://iowacore.gov/content/standards-based-education-modules

Agenda

  1. Review/discuss norms (5 mins)
  2. Approve Purpose Statement for grading- Action/approval needed from taskforce
  3. Activity- Show this video from Kentucky featuring Guskey/Jung and others (15 mins) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rt_rkouQeeQ&feature=youtu.b
  4. Groups- Slides 4, 5, and 6 (15-20 mins): Develop an understanding of what standards-based grading is – Definition; Groups share out with the whole group
    1. Group 1- Slide 4: https://softchalkcloud.com/lesson/serve/r63ZVqg4tWXusn/html; Definition from the Iowa Department of Education
    2. Group 2- Slide 5: https://softchalkcloud.com/lesson/serve/r63ZVqg4tWXusn/html; Definition from the Education Commission of the States
    3. Group 3- Slide 6: https://softchalkcloud.com/lesson/serve/r63ZVqg4tWXusn/html; Definition from MCREL
  5. Group Reflection- (5 mins)” Now that you have reviewed three different definitions of standards-based education, identify the following:
    1. Commonalities among all three definitions
    2. Differences among all three definitions
    3. Take a moment to write your own personal definition of standards-based learning.
  1. Complete the self-assessment rubric- Slide 8 (30-45 mins): Rubric at this link https://softchalkcloud.com/lesson/files/r63ZVqg4tWXusn/Self%20Assessment%20Rubric.pdf
  2. End with reflection, group consensus.
  3. Conclude with going back to purpose statement

WDMCS Grading Practices Task Force – Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016, Agenda 

Future Meeting Dates

Wed., Jan 25, 2017 from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Wed., Feb 22, 2017 from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Wed., Mar 29, 2017 from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Wed., April 26, 2017 from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Wed., May 31, 2017 from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Topics: Grading Practices

Informaline — Nov. 21 Issue

PDF | en español | Virtual Backpack/La Mochila Virtual

Important Calendar Dates
Nov. 21: Community Education Advisory Council Meeting, 6:30 p.m.
Nov. 23: No School
Nov. 24: Thanksgiving Day — No School
Nov. 25: Thanksgiving Holiday — No School
Nov. 28: School Board Workshop Session, 5:15 p.m.
Nov. 28: School Board Regular (Business) Meeting, 7 p.m.
Nov. 30: Grading Practices Task Force Meeting, 5:30 p.m.

Board Continues to Study Facilities
The West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education will continue to study various space allocation options, including moving sixth grade and preschool out of district elementary schools.

During a special workshop session held Oct. 30, the School Board asked Shive-Hattery Architecture and Engineering to return in December with estimates for construction and ongoing operational costs associated with such moves.

Initial feedback showed support for moving sixth grade out of elementary schools, while feedback was mixed for moving preschool out of elementary. Members agreed that no decision can be made at this time without further information.

Two additional special workshop sessions on the 10-year facilities plan are scheduled for Dec. 19 and Jan. 22 at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, in West Des Moines.

For background on this study, please visit: www.wdmcs.org/category/facilities.

District and Valley Announce Equity Team Members
Two new groups are working with the district and Valley High School on education equity in our schools. The West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) Equity Team and the Valley High School Equity Team met for the first time on Thursday, Nov. 10. Each team includes students, parents, community members, and employees.

For a full list of equity team members and more information on the district’s equity work, please visit www.wdmcs.org/category/equity or call 515-633-5000.

WDMCS Safety & Emergency Management Plan: Prepare, Respond, Recover
Student safety and well-being is our priority at the West Des Moines Community Schools. We are committed to supporting safe and welcoming learning environments where your child can connect, explore, and learn.

The district has a comprehensive emergency management plan focused on planning, preparedness, response, and recovery. For an overview of our plan, please visit www.wdmcs.org/district/our-schools/crisis-plan.

Topics: Informaline

District and Valley Announce Equity Team Members

Two new groups began working with the district and Valley High School on education equity in our schools. The district and Valley High School equity teams met for the first time on Thursday, Nov. 10. The membership of each team includes students, parents, community members, and employees.

The West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) Equity Team and the Valley High School Equity Team will strengthen the voices and participation of students, families, and community to inform district policies, practices, and procedures. They will also build capacity among students, teachers, staff, and administrators in transforming school policies and practices.

The district team will align districtwide efforts to an equity framework, which the group will select to guide the equity work. The Valley team will review school data and align schoolwide efforts to the work of the district team and framework.

In addition, Valley High School reviewed the results of the school’s equity audit to students in grade-level presentations in October.

The district and school used demographic data to ensure the membership of both teams represents our historically underrepresented students and staff populations.

The members of the WDMCS Equity Team are:

  • community members Mandy Abbas, Dan Berry, Bernell Edwards, Gabriela Garza, Jim Hall, Phil Hall, Claudia Henning, Vicky Long Hill, J.D., Mark Hillenbrand, Byron Jarrett, Henny Ohr, Marshall Orsini, Travis Ourverson, Sanjita Pradhan, Sonia Reyes-Snyder, Michele Soria, and Le Mar Yeager;
  • students Thomas Hathaway, Jamia Jordan, and Angela Wilkening;
  • staff members Mike Beranek, Wanda Borger, Kim Davis, Ed.D., Becky Duchesneau, Janelle Green, Laurene Lanich, Ed.D., Tim Miller, Carol Seid, Lisa Remy, Ed.D., John Villotti, and Paul Wenger; and
  • WDMCS Board of Education President Tali Greenspon and members Liz Cox and Jill Caton Johnson, Ph.D.

The members of the Valley High School Equity Team are:

  • community members Milton Cole-Duvall, Jana Edwards, Tina Hadden, Del Marion, Victoria McQuerry, Sheila Miller, Eva Otanez-Ortiz, Rich Salas, Heidi Samples, Josh Samples, Jackie Santana, Sonia Reyes-Snyder, and Craig Weatherall;
  • students Andrew Behrens, Savannah Burnham, Jackelin Castro, Tim Dorn, Blake Edwards, Marcos Flores, Daniela Gaytan, Rachel Greene, Thomas Hathaway, Jamia Jordan, Stacy Kabenda, JJ Kapur, Jessica Lewis, Olivia McQuerry, James Meng, Jade Miller, Teresa Otanez-Ortiz, Lizbeth Salinas-Reyes, Langston Samples, and Noah Samples; and
  • staff members Megan Dean, Jamie Ehlert, Kristin Friedrichs, Carrie Jacobs, Callie Kane, Stef Kaylor, David Maxwell, David Meeks, Tim Miller, Ryan Penning, Dave Perrigo, Brad Rose, Rob Schebel, Crystal Tate, Willie Thornton, Piet Van der Meer, and Erica Whittle.

Topics: Equity

Board Continues to Study Moving Sixth Grade, Preschool

Facilities study image: Image of building ceiling with district logo and the words "Board Studies Learning Spaces."

The West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education will continue to study various space allocation options, including moving sixth grade and preschool out of district elementary schools.

During a special workshop session held Oct. 30, the School Board asked Shive-Hattery Architecture and Engineering to return in December with estimates for construction and ongoing operational costs associated with such moves.

Members agreed that no decision can be made at this time without further information.

 

Initial Feedback Shows Support for Moving Sixth Grade Out of Elementary Schools

The School Board reviewed preliminary feedback gathered by Shive-Hattery this fall from groups of teachers, parents, and administrators at each elementary school. The preliminary feedback shows support for moving sixth grade out of the elementary and combining seventh- and eighth-graders together.

Space Utilization Summary (PDF)

The four main themes that arose from the group discussions included:

  • developmental disparity (the academic or social development of sixth graders compared to fifth graders and seventh graders),
  • scheduling classes,
  • curriculum style, and
  • teacher endorsement.

Shive-Hattery Architect Joe Benesh said there is no evidence that shows sixth-graders perform better academically when grouped with seventh-graders than with fifth-graders. However, the groups of teachers, parents, and administrators at each school reported that they believe there is a difference between the socialization of sixth-graders when they are grouped with seventh-graders versus fifth-graders. They said moving sixth-graders out of the elementary school was a good idea not just from a space usage standpoint, but also from a socialization standpoint. Shive-Hattery Architect Michelle Huggins reported some parent representatives said the district’s K-6 structure is a unique feature that could appeal to some families.

The school groups reported scheduling classes and the K-5 grade span of the core standards are a challenge with the current structure. Teacher endorsements were an initial concern, but it was reported that most teacher certification covers a K-8 span.

 

Feedback Mixed for Moving Preschool Out of Elementary Schools

The school groups’ feedback about moving preschool out the elementary schools was mixed, Benesh reported. The groups from Crestview School of Inquiry, Crossroads Park Elementary, and Fairmeadows Elementary were not in favor of moving preschool programming out of the elementary school when considering the integration of students, preschool teacher collaboration, and the transition to kindergarten.

Space Utilization Summary (PDF)

Crestview reported that moving the preschool program out of an elementary school’s neighborhood to a central district location would be a barrier for families who have limited or no transportation options. In addition, they reported that it is beneficial for preschool students and families to become familiar with the school building prior to kindergarten.

Those schools in favor of a central preschool location noted instruction could benefit because teacher collaboration would be easier.

Nearly all schools were in favor of providing childcare services before and after the half-day preschool program.

 

Upcoming Meetings & Further Study

The October 30 meeting was the second of three special workshop sessions scheduled to review the district’s 10-year facility plan. The remaining workshops are scheduled for:

  • December 5, 2016, 5:15-7:30 p.m., at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, in West Des Moines
  • NEW DATE! December 19, 2016, 5:15-7:30 p.m., at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, in West Des Moines
  • January 22, 2017, 1-3 p.m., at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, in West Des Moines

For background on this study, please visit:

Facilities Projects – Updates

Topics: Facilities, School Board News