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Archive for the ‘Schools’ Category

For your education edification

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

Once in a while I come across a few stories I think some of you education-minded readers would appreciate. Usually I sit on them, because it seems like a lot to offer commentary on all of them. So this time I’m just the links with brief explanations.

The first is from someone who believes we should get rid of middle school. That piques my interest a bit, because my own memories of junior high school was of two years in a high school waiting room. Looking back it was the least satisfying two years of my educational experience during K-12, though some of my teachers in the other schools might differ. What the writer seems to be proposing is a Klahowya model.

The next story posits that one reason poorer schools will never do well on standardized tests is they can’t afford the updated materials needed to know what’s going to be on the tests. Test makers are also book publishers.

The third story shows that long before the youngsters learn to talk the brain activity shows they are working on figuring out how. Awesome picture in there, too.

The final story is one I read a couple weeks ago, one that suggests that even pre-kindergarten is too late. Good education starts way earlier.


Summer Education Opp: Tough Love

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

We’ve written a lot about the Washington Youth Academy, a publicly funded residential high school intervention program for students who have dropped out or been expelled.

We heard from the Bremerton branch of the academy, which is a statewide program, when we asked for “Summer Education opportunities” for children and teens.

We did not include the listing in our Summer Ed Opps list, because the upcoming session, in which students/cadets can earn up to eight credits toward high school graduation, runs July 19 through Dec. 20. I call it to your attention here, because it is a great opportunity for youth who need help getting their lives in order and who need academic credit recovery.

Note the deadline to apply is June 20.

Washington Youth Academy
Ages: 16-18
Where: 1207 Carver Street, Bremerton
Description: At-risk youth can earn up to eight credits toward a high school diploma in five-and-a-half weeks. Next session runs July 19 through Dec. 20; applications are due by June 20.
Eligibility criteria: Students must be a high school dropout or expellee, a U.S. citizen and resident of Washington State, never convicted of a felony and have no legal action pending, free of illegal drugs at time of enrollment, and physically and mentally able to complete the program.
Program incorporates a highly structured quasi-military format emphasizing self-discipline, personal responsibility and positive motivation.
Cost: No cost for qualified candidates. The program is run through a cooperative agreement between the National Guard Bureau and Washington State.
Contact Kasie Roach at Kassondra.roach@mil.wa.gov or 360-473-2629, http://mil.wa.gov/WYA/, https://www.facebook.com/pages/NGYCP-Washington-Youth-Academy/71515853230.


A Common Core materials scramble

Monday, June 9th, 2014

One of the key elements in a story we ran (subscription required) in early May on Common Core was how students will take Common Core standardized tests next year, even though few districts have educational materials that completely teach to the new standards.

NPR goes into great depth about what that means in a two-part series. A portion of the first part details how some educational book publishers came out with substandard materials they sold as Common Core-ready. There was one problem, according to Amber Northern, vice president for research at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative think tank that supports the Common Core:

“There’s no way they could have gone back and actually re-evaluated, re-assessed their materials, and truly made a good-faith effort to align those materials that quickly. It just was simply impossible.”

The second part shows how districts are either doing nothing to adjust, buying new materials that may or may not be good enough, or adapting on their own to get next year’s curriculum in line with the new standards. Based on my experience, most local districts are doing some form of the latter. The NPR piece goes into some good detail about what a few districts are doing to be ready.

Over at Education Week a blog entry details a national survey showing that educator generally favor Common Core, but are highly concerned about how it’s being implemented. Again, much of the concern is materials and curriculum.


Get a quick snapshot of how your child’s school measures up

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

On Saturday, we will run a story about struggling schools in Kitsap and North Mason counties, as identified by the State Board of Education.

The schools, identified in the Washington State Board of Education’s achievement index among the state’s lowest performing schools, are Cedar Heights Junior High School in South Kitsap School District, Hawkins Middle School in North Mason School District, Fairview Junior High School in Central Kitsap School District and Central Kitsap’s Off Campus Program.

The good news is that these schools have made some progress over the past three years with financial help and professional guidance from the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. And they’ll continue to get that help, despite Washington State’s loss of a waiver under No Child Left Behind.

In the course of researching this story, I found a handy, dandy tool that every parent of a school-age child can find useful.

Low (and high) performing schools in Washington State are identified through data evaluated in the achievement index. About a year ago, the SBE complied the data (available in a jahonking Exel file if that’s your preference) into a user-friendly dashboard data tool that gives a visual snapshot of each school in the state.

I don’t think this data tool was widely publicized. At least I never saw a press release about it. So they may have given it a “soft rollout” as the saying goes. But maybe I’ve just been behind the curve. I do know that the state is moving toward better public access and transparency of data.

OSPI’s school and district report card, which offers a wealth of information, has been available for a long time. I use it regularly.

Find the achievement index here. From the main drop down window, select your district of choice, then your child’s school to view data on academic proficiency and growth among all students and subgroups of students who have historically lagged behind their grade level peers.

Notice that dark blue represents the highest tier, with dark green at the next level and light green in the middle. Orange and red signify the lowest tiers. Having orange or even red boxes doesn’t automatically raise a red flag, under the SBE’s high-low ID system, which takes into account data over past three years. The system also measures students’ relative academic growth rather than growth against a fixed standard, as under the federal No Child Left Behind standards.

In addition to struggling schools, the Board of Education also identified high performing schools, including 17 in Kitsap and North Mason, which were recognized by OSPI in April.


Guy rents billboard for prom-posal

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

When Jacob Ness was considering how to ask his girlfriend Abby King to Olympic High School’s prom he wanted to pull out all the stops.

Ness had seen messages of a personal nature on the Mentor billboard near the Warren Avenue Bridge in East Bremerton and, “I just thought that putting that up there would be the mother lode of everything that would be up there.”

He rented the billboard, $80 for three days over a weekend in late May, and roped Abby’s mom, Patti King, in as an accomplice. The two drove Abby to the sign blindfolded. Abby was understandably apprehensive. They spun her around and pulled off the blindfold to reveal the message. Abby was speechless with surprise.
prom

“It worked out perfect,” Jacob said. “I went over and touched her, and she grabbed onto me and started crying.”

In short, she said, “Yes.” Oly’s prom is Saturday. Jacob and Abby will wear outfits that match in what Jacob describes as “seafoamy green.”

Prom-posals, extravagant public displays of affection related to that all important dance, are nothing brand new (the first one that actually got media attention was in 2001, according to a recent article in Time). But the stakes have escalated within the past few years, as teens vie to come up with the most original and clever way to drop the question. And always there is the requisite posting on social media.

Prom-posals are delivered on footballs, vehicles and T-shirts. Guys write them on pets and on themselves. Food — and for some strange reason, chicken — seems to be a trend.
football

vehicle

Tshirt

catgroup

Someprom-posals are romantic in a quirky way, inappropriate way. One of my son’s friends last year pretended to get hurt while playing soccer. The girl he asked was in sports medicine and rushed to attend to him. He lifted his pant leg to show the word “Prom?” on his calf.

bathroom

Yet other other prom-posals, like sunburning the word “prom?” on your back, or reclining in your underwear with rose petals and a giant teddy bear, just seem like a bad idea out the gate.

sunburnbadidea


Live Blog NKSD Board meeting

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

Those of you who have been around Kitsap a while might remember that live blogging was something we did a lot. It will continue to be something we do to provide you more opportunities to hear the news right away. For my own purposes I wanted to find an event to practice on, so I will be attending the North Kitsap School Board meeting Thursday and launching the live blog as the meeting starts at 6 p.m. Join us.

As I mentioned before this was something we used to do a lot. I went to a lot of port meetings and live blogged from those. I also recall live blogging the candidate speeches during the 2008 national political conventions and had nice conversations involving our Sound Board members.

It’s a little bit tricky because the blog ends up being my notes for the story that comes from the meeting. I don’t think I will be reporting from the NKSD board meeting, so it seemed like a good place to practice. Thanks to everyone who joins along.


Test your Common Core math skills

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

This weekend we moved Common Core discussion from a blog item here and here to a regular news item here. In the news story I mentioned that Smarter Balanced, one of the two companies states are using to develop standardized test, makes some sample questions available online. You can go see the questions students will see and try to answer them yourself. You can pick a grade level and choose between English Language Arts or Math. As far as I can tell, though, you won’t find out if you answered the questions correctly.

An alternative, one that takes far less time if you choose, is the Washington Post’s seven sample Common Core Math questions. It’s not exactly how students will see the questions, because they are all multiple choice. So you can guess.

On the Post test was able to get six of seven correct. Four of my correct answers really did represent what I knew about math before I started the test. I had to look something up to get one of the answers correct, but I did the work. On an another one I only got it right because it was multiple choice. I did some work to get to the right answer, but if it hadn’t been multiple choice I would not have been successful. On the other hand, though, I think if I had been willing to put in the time necessary to answer the one I got wrong the odds were 50/50 that I would have answered it correctly.

Just out of curiosity I did a search for “common core math test” and found several places offering sample tests. So if you have already hit the WP paywall, you can test your skills elsewhere.


Help BSD pick a color for the high school roof

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

Do you have good taste in architectural decor? Bremerton School District needs some help with a home decorating question. We got this notice from the district’s spokeswoman. You have until tomorrow morning to weigh in.

“The Bremerton School Board would like to solicit community opinions regarding the color selection for the roof at Bremerton High School. Unfortunately, we have a small window as we need to have input by Wednesday morning, May 7th.

We have a color palette available in the lobby of the Administration Building at 134 Marion Avenue N.”


Local high schools get national recognition

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

It’s high school ranking time and this area’s high schools brought home their share of bragging rights.

The U.S. News and World Report rankings of the nation’s best high schools are based on overall math and reading scores on state tests, how well black, Hispanic and low-income students perform and Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate test data.

Of the 19,400 schools studied nationally, 2,019 did well enough to get a Gold or Silver status from U.S. News.

Bainbridge Island’s two high schools were tops in this area in the U.S. News & World Report rankings. Bainbridge High School came in 276th nationally and sixth in the state and was the only school in this area to earn a Gold ranking. Bainbridge also ranked 185th in the country in the Best STEM Schools category.

Silver-ranked recipients included Eagle Harbor at 31st in the state and 1,323rd nationally and Kingston High School at 39th in the state and 1,545th nationally.

Bremerton High School did not get a numerical ranking, but earned a Bronze designation.

The Washington Post’s rankings of America’s Most Challenging High Schools gave nods to the three main Central Kitsap School District high school programs and Bainbridge High. The Post’s rankings add the number of AP, International Baccalaureate and Advanced International Certificate of Education tests given and divide it by the number of seniors who graduated.

Central Kitsap High School was the highest ranked local school at 452nd in the country. That was the seventh highest ranking in Washington. Klahowya Secondary School ranked 25th in the state and 1,520th in the U.S. Olympic High School was 28th in the state and 1,612th in the country.

Bainbridge High School ranked 756th nationally and 10th in the state.


Digging into Common Core

Monday, April 7th, 2014

A few weeks ago there was a flurry of Facebook links critical of the Common Core standards being expanded in schools across the country. The primary method of those complaining was to take what seems like common sense to show how ridiculous Common Core is. In one case a dad did a simple subtraction equation instead of using the number line the math test question required. Another questioned the need for “friendly” numbers.

A friend of mine posted one of those, the number line one, and I responded with a tepid contrarian outlook. I saw the value of the number line. I say “tepid,” because I have to admit I don’t know as much about Common Core as I should, so I have to hold out that frustrated dad might have been correct in his complaint.

My 10,000-mile explanation is that Common Core emphasizes the process of getting the answer as much as the answer itself. That sounds like a good idea, but I plan to dig in further in the next several weeks to learn and present more, because unintended consequences usually come from good ideas. I’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime, I found this story from my old Vancouver, Wash. employer, The Columbian. It’s a short story about students taking a Common Core approach to history.


Super Bowl XLIX

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