Administra P A L M E T T O
South Carolina Association of School Administrators
or Winter 2014
Rising standards. Emerging technology. Increased learner diversity. Itâ€™s time to break through traditional classroom walls and envision a world where learning is happening everywhere, on any device. Pearson teams with educators to deliver new personalized ways of learning through effective, scalable assessment, instructional tools, services, and technologies that help students and educators achieve their own definitions of success.
Contact your South Carolina Pearson professional: Tyler Garrett - 803-606-5933 Tyler.Garrett@pearson.com
Steve Watson - 843-810-4738 Steve.Watson@pearson.com
William Crespo - 703-431-4997 David Birkhead - 919-623-1977 William.Crespo@pearson.com David.Birkhead@pearson.com
SCASA STAFF Molly Spearman Executive Director
Hannah Pittman Director of Professional Development Jay Welch Director of Finance and Technology Beth Phibbs Director of Governmental Affairs Jessica Morgan Coordinator of Membership, Managing Editor April Griffin Coordinator of Member Recognition and Student Services
SCASA BOARD Dr. Rose Wilder President
Dr. Christina Melton President-Elect Dr. Connie Long Past President Dr. Russell Booker Dr. Scott Turner Mr. Robbie Binnicker Dr. Lynn Cary Mr. Ozzie Ahl Ms. Carole Ingram Ms. Ingrid Dukes Mr. Michael Waiknis Mrs. Denise Barth Dr. Charlene Stokes Mr. Roger Richburg Mrs. Lisa Hannon Mrs. Nancy Verburg Dr. Marthena Grate Morant Dr. Stephanie Lackey Dr. Arlene Bakutes Dr. Mildred Huey-Rowland Dr. Julie Fowler Dr. Lemuel Watson Mrs. Molly Spearman The Palmetto Administrator is published annually by the South Carolina Association of School Administrators, 121 Westpark Blvd., Columbia, SC 29210, (803) 798-8380 http://www.scasa.org. Send address changes to firstname.lastname@example.org. Advertising information and contributors’ information are available online. Publication Policy: Articles should be written in an informal, conversational style, where treatment of the topic is interesting, insightful and based on the writer’s experience. The editor encourages the use of charts, photos and other artwork. To be considered for publication, articles should be submitted electronically, preferably in MSWord, using one-inch margins. The cover page should show the author’s name, position and complete contact information. The article’s working title and a one or two sentence summary should appear on the title page. Submit article proposals or completed articles for consideration to the Managing Editor, Jessica Morgan, email@example.com. Articles submitted to Palmetto Administrator may be edited for style, content, and space before publication. Articles may not be reproduced without consent of the publisher.
Administra P A L M E T T O
A Tool for Educational Leaders • By Gregory Geer, Ph.D., Kristal Curry, Ph.D., and Douglas Smith, Ph.D.
Transformation in the 21st Century: Get Connected • By Jamie Thompkins
America’s Greatest Threat • By Vince Bertram, Ph.D
Parents in the Age of Common Core• By Shaun Jacques
Overcoming and Achieving • By J. Nathan Pitts, Ph.D.
The Principal as Initiative Liaison and Chief Negotiator • By Robert Heath
Accentuate the Positive • By Emily Harris McQuay, Ed.D.
The ‘Face’ of Chesterfield County Schools Nearing 50 Years of Service • By Ken Buck
iLead: Transforming Your School to a Culture of Leadership • By Steven Puckett
Transforming Assessment: A Community’s Effort to Determine College and Career Readiness • By A. Sean Alford, Ph.D.
Managing Optimal Development for the Educational Leader• By Angela Cooper, Ed.D. and Cecil McClary, Ph.D.
56 Communication Helps Schools Maximize Their Benefits Plans • By Chris Shealy
SCASA “Of the Year” Award Winners Changes, Advancements, and Suggestions for SC • By 2013-14 Award Winners
A Message From The Executive Director Transformation is Happening Now! • By Molly Spearman
10 Things to Know About TransformSC
SCASA BUSINESS AFFILIATES
A MESSAGE FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Transformation is Happening Now! By Molly Spearman
As you read the articles in this edition of Palmetto Administrator, I trust that you will feel the energy that is moving across school districts in South Carolina! SCASA members are impacting the transformation of public education in South Carolina. Our superintendents worked to develop an education vision and to establish how the graduate of the 21st Century must be equipped. Working with other school administrators, education groups, and business and community leaders, TransformSC was birthed. It has now grown to over 34 schools and 19 districts implementing strategies and programs, and is changing the way public education is delivered to students. Many other school principals and district leaders are also implementing high expectations and motivating their school communities towards positive change. They are challenging, inspiring, empowering, and stimulating their staff and students to move beyond mediocre performance. This type of leadership is infectious and will create a new and better South Carolina for years to come!
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Governor Nikki Haley hosted all South Carolina superintendents in January to present her new education initiative.
GET CONNECTED! P UB LIC E DUC ATI ON U MT R D E I N S ATIONT I@ @T @ @ FO C N U I C E DUC ATION T S STUPUBL D DE @ @ @@
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June 15-18, 2014 • Kingston Plantation Myrtle Beach • Register today at www.scasa.org! PRO
ION PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • WINTER AT 2014
A Tool for Educational Leaders: Surveying your Teachers’ Attitudes and Practices Regarding Assessment By Dr. Gregory C. Geer. Ph.D., Kristal Curry Ph.D., and Douglas Smith, Ph.D.
ssessment in schooling is as old as the institution itself. In our current educational climate, assessment can feel overwhelming and carry considerable consequences for teachers and administrators. The many forms of assessment impact every level of schooling and span the PK-12 grade levels and beyond. They range from formative assessments conducted within the day-to-day lessons of classroom teachers to high-stakes state and national level assessments. Standardized test score data are not only used to gauge student learning, but are also regularly correlated with other facets of schooling, specifically teacher evaluation and media pronouncements about instructional effectiveness. More personal to educational leaders is that often the results of high-stakes standardized testing can contribute to whether they keep their positions. Today, it seems that most decisions about instructional effectiveness and educational accountability are heavily influenced by students’ standardized test
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scores. As one of few broadly accepted assessment practices that both purport to measure student learning and facilitate comparison of educational effectiveness across district, state lines, and even national boundaries, standardized test scores have become the primary metric used by stakeholders to compare educational results and establish accountability measures. These same test scores can determine components of school funding and affect the policy, governance and day-to-day operations of schools, ultimately impacting students. No matter one’s opinion about the efficacy of this accountability movement and its reliance on standardized testing results, the reality for school leaders, teachers, students, and now, higher education faculty is that these assessment results are a high-stakes component of public school culture. One has to go no further than reading the newspaper, watching cable news, or surfing the web to surmise that standardized assessment results now form the dominant basis of judgments about the impact of teaching on student learning and school and district-level effectiveness. Of special interest to educational leaders,
the testing results can become a fundamental measure of the quality of their leadership and, similar to teachers, a metric used to drive their evaluations and decisions about their continued employment. It follows that for school leaders to be effective and to be perceived as such, they must understand the current state of assessment in their school(s) in all of its forms. As school leaders’ knowledge about the assessment practices increases, so does confidence in the efficacy of their datadriven decisions related to assessment. As this in-depth knowledge of classroom and building-level assessment develops, it contributes to leaders’ efforts to continuously improve the interworking of curriculum, assessment, instruction, and professional development practices. More simply put, this knowledge drives the use of sound assessment practices as a tool for increasing the present popular definition of student achievement.
How Can You Use This Survey? This article describes the design, components, and preliminary findings of a survey that educational leaders can use to gather valid and reliable data for analyzing the knowledge, attitudes, and practices of their faculty regarding both formative and summative assessments and spanning the levels of assessment from individual classroom teacher practices to statewide standardized “high-stakes” testing. The survey was developed by faculty from Coastal Carolina University’s Spadoni College of Education as part of a multi-faceted project to research the assessment attitudes, knowledge, and practices of education students, higher education faculty, and in-service teachers. The 32 question teacher survey is readily adaptable for electronic administration and provides data useful for understanding and interpreting the current state of assessment at the school level. Additionally, by administering it to component schools, district-level data can be captured. By using this survey with faculty, educational leaders gather data about teachers’ attitudes, knowledge, and practices regarding assessment. When educational leaders use these data in their decision-making, they increase the likelihood of maximizing the impact of their choices about prioritizing, designing, and evaluating professional development to improve assessment practices, thereby better understanding the quality of student learning. Another application might be using the survey in a pre and post-training timeframe to provide data for evaluating professional development activities targeting assessment quality and practices at the school and/or district levels. Please see Appendix 1 for examples of questions and the survey’s format. Following
is background information on the survey’s design and statistical testing for justifying its use with various audiences.
Informing the Survey’s Design: A Concise Literature Review In a study by James H. McMillan at Virginia Commonwealth University, 28 teachers were surveyed about their assessment practices. The teachers were from 12 schools in seven school districts. In-depth, semistructured personal interviews were conducted and analyzed with over 1000 coded responses. Six themes emerged; however, the overarching tenet of the surveys and interviews was that assessment decision-making is portrayed as tension between the internal beliefs and values of the teachers and the external influences thrust up on them. Teachers seemed to have grudgingly accepted the fact that they must often go against what they believed about assessment in order to comply with state mandated high stakes testing (2003). McMillan’s findings led him to the identification of eight key components of quality assessment training for teachers, each of which was incorporated into the design of survey questions for the assessment attitudes and practices survey introduced in this article. In a study by Impara, Plake and Fager (1993), teachers chosen by random sample from 42 states were surveyed. Of the 555 responses received, almost 70 percent of the respondents indicated that they had received some type of training in assessment. The respondents reported the training had been limited to tests and measurements with too much emphasis on standardized tests. They also claimed there was too little training aimed at preparing them to construct and implement classroom-based formative and summative assessment. Stiggins (1991) reported that although most of the teachers’ time is spent in assessment related activities, nearly 30 percent of teachers had no training in assessment. Of the teachers interviewed in the study who did receive pre-service training, several participants expressed that college courses in tests and measurements were not relevant to their needs in the classroom (Schafer, 1993). “Teachers, like any other learners, learn by using formal concepts in relevant contexts that foster the generation of personalized, conceptual understandings that are consistent with not only their own evolving conceptions and practices but also the larger community in which they work” (Otero, 2006, p. 255). This has implications for the kinds of assessments classroom teachers choose, as well as their attitudes about assessment in general.
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A Conceptual Framework: The Idealized State for Teachers and Assessment McMillan (2003) gives several implications for preservice and in-service assessment training for teachers. These implications for pre-service assessment training served as guidelines for the creation of the survey questions in this study. 1) Teachers need to build their concepts within the broader constructs of educational beliefs and values. 2) Teachers need to become experts in operationalizing their own constructs and measuring them. 3) Teachers need to individualize assessment to allow diverse student populations in order to be fair to all students. 4) Teachers need to be able to balance external demands and personal values. 5) Teachers need to develop opportunities for student self-assessment. 6) Teachers need to move away from focusing on the original Bloom’s taxonomy to more current constructs on student learning. 7) Teachers should develop their assessment in a way that is meaningful to them and informs teaching. 8) Teachers must find a workable ratio for formative and summative assessment that makes sense between the demands of standardized testing and day-to-day assessment in their own classrooms.
The Statistical Foundation: Survey Validity and Reliability The requirements of construct and content validity are satisfied by coupling the authors’ experiences and expertise, the literature review with the survey’s conceptual framework and its structure (Gall, Borg & Gall, 1996). The three authors of the survey are experienced PK-12 educators. The lead author has over thirty years of experience as middle and high school social studies teacher, middle school principal, and school superintendent. The survey’s second author served three years as a high school social studies teacher. Survey drafts were reviewed by the third author who has extensive experience as a middle level educator, instructional team leader and researcher. The survey questions were developed using the components of the conceptual framework listed above (derived from McMillan, 2003), and adding questions related specifically to assessment practices.
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Questions about formative and summative assessments were developed to gather data about specific assessment practices and/or instruments by teachers. Efforts were made to ensure specific questions included a variety of assessment types: both objective and subjective assessments, informal and formal, and formative and summative assessments. Wording for these assessments came from a variety of sources, including ADEPT performance standards (ADEPT, 2013), textbooks about Assessment (Gronlund & Waugh, 2009), and teaching strategy guides that include formal assessment (Teachers Curriculum Institute, 2010). After review and approval by the University’s Internal Review Board (IRB) the survey was administered to 69 teachers from a local school district for purposes of establishing its reliability. Responses to this administration were coded and entered into the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) software. A splithalf test for reliability of the instrument was conducted. The resulting Guttman Split-Half Coefficient for instrument reliability for the teacher assessment survey was .829, well above the accepted coefficient level of .700 (Mason and Bramble, 1997, p. 276).
Preliminary Findings: A Starting Point for Understanding Assessment in South Carolina For the survey’s first wide spread administration, a local school district agreed to administer the anonymous survey to its PK-12 teachers. A link to the web address for the software collecting the response to the survey was distributed to the district’s teachers through the district’s email. Four hundred and twenty-seven (427) teachers took the survey. Although a thorough analysis of the data is forthcoming, there are some interesting preliminary findings from the initial administration of the instrument. Perhaps the most striking general finding is that beyond assessing “to the test,” there appears to be very little standardization where teacher assessment practices are concerned. Initial findings suggest the following: 1. Only 5 percent of teachers reported using extensive research projects or papers as assessment tools. 2. Although teachers claimed to use “contemporary educational theory” to develop assessment objectives and questions (mean response in the “almost always” category,) their assessments “rarely” require students to use technology. 3. Teachers only moderately embrace the value of assessing student effort, engagement, motivation, and selfefficacy and they report rarely providing individualized assessments for students in their classes.
4. When teachers know what is on the test, that’s pretty much both what and how they teach and assess. 5. There seems to be very little commonality between individual teachers at the district level in when it comes to how to construct assessments.
Appendix 1: Sample Questions from Assessment Survey
Conclusion This article describes a survey that can be used by educational leaders to better understand assessment within their areas of responsibility. Statistical information is included that confirms that the survey is valid and reliable. Preliminary findings from an administration of the survey to over 400 teachers are reported. Data already collected will be the basis of further research and the authors are looking to expand the database on assessment. If you are interested in using the survey, your schools can contribute to that research. The authors ask that you contact them for permission to use the survey and your anonymous results become part of Spadoni College’s Consortium for Educational Research and Evaluation (CERE) longitudinal database. This permission and access to the complete survey may be obtained by contacting any of the authors by email at ggeer@ coastal.edu, curry@coastal. edu, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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ADEPT. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://ed.sc.gov/agency/ programs-services/50/ Anderson, L.W., Krathwohl, D.R., Airasian, P.W., Cruikshank, K.A., Mayer, R.E., Pintrich, P.R., Raths, J.D. & Wittrock, M.C. (2001). Taxonomy for learning, teaching and assessing: A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives (complete edition). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon. Bloom, B. S. (1956). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, Handbook I: The Cognitive Domain. New York: David McKay Co., Inc. Gall, M.D., Borg, W.R., & Gall, J.P. (1996). Education research: An introduction. (6th ed.).White Plains, NY: Longman. Gronlund, N.E. & C. K. Waugh (2009) Assessment of Student Achievement. Pearson: Upper Saddle River, N.JImpera, J.C., Plake, B.S., & Fager, J.J. (1993). Teachers’ assessment background and attitudes toward testing. Theory Into Practice. Volume 32, Number 2. College of Education. The Ohio State University. Marzano, R.J. (2001). Designing a new taxonomy of educational objectives. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. Mason, E.J., & Bramble, W.J. (1997). Research in education and the behavioral sciences: Concepts and methods. Dubuque, IA: Brown and Benchmark. McMillan, J. H. (2003). Understanding and Improving Teachers’ Classroom Assessment Decision Making: Implications for Theory and Practice. Educational Measurement: Issues and Practice, 22: 34–43. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-3992.2003.tb00142.x Otero, V.K. (2006) Moving beyond the “get it or don’t” conception of formative assessment. Journal of Teacher Education, 57: 247-255. Schafer, W.D. (1993) Assessment literacy for teachers. Theory into Practice 32 (2): 118-126. Stiggins, R. J. 1991. Relevant classroom assessment training for teachers. Educational Measurement: Issues and Practice 10 (1): 7-12. Teachers Curriculum Institute (2010) Bring Learning Alive! Methods to Transform Middle and High School Social Studies Instruction. Teachers Curriculum Institute: Palo Alto, CA
Dr. Gregory C. Geer. Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership Kearns 211H Spadoni College of Education Coastal Carolina University P.O. Box 261954, Conway, SC 29528-6054 843-349-6675 Dr. Geer is an assistant professor in the Educational Leadership program at Coastal Carolina University. His career includes serving as a principal and superintendent of schools. Kristal Curry Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the Master’s of Arts in Teaching Program Kearns 113D Spadoni College of Education Coastal Carolina University P.O. Box 261954, Conway, SC 29528-6054 843-349-2146 Dr. Curry is an assistant professor in the MAT program at Coastal Carolina University specializing in the development of secondary social studies teachers. Douglas Smith, Ph.D., Associate Professor – Dept. of Foundations Literacy and Technology Kearns Hall room 215-G Spadoni College of Education Coastal Carolina University P.P. Box 261954 Conway, SC 29528-6054 843-349-2664 Dr. Smith specializes in using research, assessment, and technology to develop innovative online tools that improve teacher performance and increase student achievement (see www.increaseachievement.com.)
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Transformation in the 21st Century: Get Connected By Jamie W. Thompkins
humbing through my collection of old reading books and learning materials, I came across a faded copy of Friends Old and New. Actually, it is one of the original basal readers published in 1963 featuring the all-too-familiar characters of Dick, Jane, Sally, Puff, and Spot. A smile crept across my face as I was reminded that from this book I had actually learned how to read. How far we have come in education, and yet, we find ourselves in the midst of educational transformation like never before. South Carolina has seen its share of reforms, whether at the state or the national level. The Education finance Act of 1977 was put into place to make sure that each child in public education received educational opportunities that meet state standards. The Education Improvement Act (1984) was implemented to raise student performance by increasing academic standards,
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improving the quality of South Carolinaâ€™s public education system with newer and better programs and strategies, and to build strong partnerships among schools, parents, and stakeholders. The South Carolina Education Accountability Act of 1998 was aimed at improving student performance and improving classroom practice. Then along came the No Child Left Behind Act which required all states to have in place a strong accountability system including rigorous state standards in reading and math, yearly state testing for students in grades 3-8, and proficiency goals for steering schools toward adequate yearly progress (AYP). Presently we are getting to the core of education with our Common Core State Standards. It is safe to say that we have been reformed, revised, and remodeled in educational policy and initiatives. But through all of this, have we, the school, changed? Have we changed the way we think about instruction?
Has it shown in how we teach our students, set up our classrooms, schedule our school day or year, or are we still using the one-size-fits-all notion of educating our children? It is now time for a new school of thought! Transformation is an intentional process combining time, energy, hard work, and planning in order to gain desired results or outcomes. It brings about change in people, structures, ideals, and attitudes. Where do we go from where we are now in order for this transformation to occur? Historically, our schools have somewhat distanced themselves from the rest of the world. We live in our own little school communities, while the outside world is changing by the minute, whether physically, socially, or technologically. We are still bound by many of the same constructs that have been a part of the school since the onset of public education: the school calendar, classroom structure, the curriculum, parent involvement, and even community relations. While it may not have been the intent of the school system to become estranged from the outside world, we need to work from within to catch up with what is happening on the outside. Connectivity. That is what is truly at the heart of transformation. We live in an age of connectivity; one in which we are connected to someone at almost any time or place in a day. We have the technological capacity within our classrooms to connect to the World Wide Web and open up learning opportunities for ourselves and our students in ways we have only begun to tap into. We are connected to our peers through e-mail, text messages, and other social media. However, are we truly connecting our children to their learning, our peers to our practice and our public to the business of the school? Let’s think about how we instruct our children. After sweeping through our classrooms for the last several weeks, I have discovered that whole group instruction still is at the forefront of our teaching style. Having been a teacher for 23 years, I realize how difficult it is to relinquish some of the control that comes with the job. After all, it is our classroom, right? We have the controlling hand in how we deliver instruction, and traditionally we have determined specifically what students were going to read, and what their focus would be for the day. Students have been trained to sit back and wait for the teacher to tell them what to do and how to do it. One of my co-workers was right when she said that our students can no longer be pawns on a chess board. We must teach our children how to be connected to their learning. We must teach them to think for themselves. How do we propose to do that? First, we must let children in on a very important secret…we really don’t know all of the answers! We are
not the great and powerful Oz who holds all the answers to all of the questions! That’s a transformation in and of itself. We must change our mindset, and make a complete paradigm shift: we must connect our students to their learning. No programs, no initiatives. We simply give our students the tools to dig deeply into their learning. The days of reading worksheets, workbook pages, and round robin reading should have long been gone. Our children must be engaged in purposeful learning, and it is our job to teach them what this looks like and feels like if we want them to truly take ownership of their learning. Because Common Core holds us accountable for preparing students to be college and career ready, our instruction must be explicit and focused. We go beyond skill and drill. For this to occur, it takes thoughtful planning .This means that not all students may be reading the same material from the same book at the same time. We use our standards to keep us on track with what students are expected to know, but we don’t limit ourselves to the resources that come with all of the math, science, reading, and social studies kits. We help children to plan the behaviors they are going to change in the classroom. We want them to be able to read and make thoughtful responses to their reading. How do we do this? We must teach them how to construct meaning from whatever subject matter they are reading. We conduct science experiences that will cause them to dig a little deeper into their science reading; question why things happened the way they did in history, and dangle the carrot of curiosity in front of their noses to the point that they are asking the questions that guide their learning. Keep in mind, this is time consuming and these behaviors must be taught! Not only must we connect our children to their learning through careful planning and study, we must keep in mind that our children deserve the right to have instruction that is tailored to their individual needs. Does that mean writing 25 IEP’s for a class of students? Certainly not, but because we aren’t the sage on the stage anymore, we have the freedom to work more closely with those students who require more of our attention. We model for students how to engage themselves in reading and writing across the curriculum. In all grades, we assist them in selecting reading materials that are appropriate for them as readers. By doing so, we give those students the tools to become critical thinkers, and thereby make sense of what they are learning. Again, this is time consuming, and many educators feel that they cannot spend valuable teaching time going to these extremes. We must ask ourselves: do we really wish to continue teaching in a manner such that students are disengaged and disconnected to their learning? Although the high
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school graduation rates for South Carolina are hovering around 75%, are we satisfied that 25% of students either don’t graduate or do not graduate on a diploma track? And of those 75% who do graduate, when they exit the doors of the school building after 12-13 years of education, are they truly ready to face the challenges of the real world? Not only do we connect our students to their learning within our classroom walls, but this transformation has to occur throughout the school organization. Administrators must embrace the challenges and changes along with their teaching staff. They must set the precedence for their school team, and take hold of their role as instructional leaders. Frequent classroom visits (not just walk-throughs) at various times throughout the day can provide invaluable information about the learning or lack of that is occurring throughout the school. Building relationships across the school community is fundamental, and only through building trust will these relationships be fostered. Teachers need to feel secure in the knowledge that their administrators have the best
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interest of all stakeholders at heart. Providing research and working closely with teachers will aide in making these connections stronger. And by providing all staff with meaningful professional development, administrators can further strengthen the connectivity among the faculty and staff. The transformation is that the administration is not perceived as obtrusive, but as change agents who are informed about the progress of the students and concerned about the welfare of the school organization. Still another transformational piece to connectivity is the relationships that can be formed among teachers. Teachers must connect with one another through professional learning teams in order to strengthen their own practice, and administrators need to be leading the way. Professional Learning Teams should be exactly what the name implies; however, too often, it is a fancy term for ‘grade level planning.’ We have definitely come a long way in education. The days of teachers closing their classroom doors and reemerging at 3:00 are long past. It is certain that many teachers share their strategies and materials, work together to plan each coming week, and
examine data as their students finish taking formative and summative assessments, yet the concept of the PLT has somehow been diminished. The connecting power of PLT’s according to Dufour (2004) “requires the school staff to focus on learning rather than teaching, work collaboratively on matters related to learning, and hold itself accountable for the kind of results that fuel continual improvement” (p. 11). In addition, through the influence of teacher leaders, many educators are encouraged to try new techniques and strategies, and they hold one another accountable for moving students forward in this age of transformation. By extending their professionalism to their peers, teachers can strengthen one another’s ability to improve student learning. As we continue our journey into the 21st century, we must finally weave one extremely important sector into our connectedness…our public. So often, we fail to keep our community abreast of what is going on in our school. We change the curriculum, altar the role of the school, and teach in ways that seem unfamiliar to our public, yet we do not educate them as we change. Because many people still have the mindset that school organizations still sing to the tune of reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic, our task is to educate them as to what our educational roles are and how our methods of teaching have adapted throughout the changing decades. When parents, guardians, and community members are informed of the how’s and why’s in our school, they are better able to understand the policies that are being implemented and the transformation that is occurring within our classrooms. As we are well into the 21st century, we say goodbye to the various ages and stages of learning that have come and gone throughout the last one hundred years or more. Whether the Industrial Age, Agricultural Age, or Information Age, each transformed education in its own unique way. Peter Drucker said it so well in Houle and Cobb (2011):
“Every few hundred years in Western history there occurs a sharp transformation. We cross…a divide. Within a few short decades, society rearranges itself- its worldview; its basic values; its social and political structure; its arts; its key institutions. Fifty years later, there is a new world. And the people born then cannot even imagine the world in which their grandparents lived and into which their own parents were born” (p.39-40). Knowing that what we had then worked well for what we knew then, and knowing that what we know now in education will once again change in the years ahead will drive our efforts to continue the transformation process. Our attention and energy must be focused on connecting all of the important pieces of the puzzle together. By connecting our students to their learning, connecting professionally with our peers, and making connections with our public, we will see an educational transformation where students are truly ready to meet the demands of the 21st century.
References DuFour, R. (2004). What Is a “Professional Learning Community”? . Educational Leadership, 11. Houle, D. and Cobb, J. (2011). SHIFT ED. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
About the Author Jamie W. Thompkins 498 White Hall Avenue Georgetown, South Carolina 29440 Assistant Principal, Kensington Elementary School Jamie’s first 23 years in education were spent teaching grades K-5. She was an EC/Generalist Board Certified teacher and former Georgetown Teacher of the Year. She’s been an Assistant Principal for five years.
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America’s Greatest Threat By Dr. Vince Bertram STEM Education is Transforming Public Education in South Carolina Over the past 38 years I have been privileged to witness STEM education evolve and transform education in South Carolina schools. Throughout these years, there has been a collaborative effort among South Carolina stakeholders to provide opportunities for all students to benefit from STEM education. After retiring from SC public schools in 2012, I was fortunate to join an organization that has played a strategic role in the transformation of SC schools: Project Lead The Way (PLTW). PLTW President and CEO, Dr. Vince Bertram provides his perspective on how PLTW has contributed to the transformation of public education in South Carolina in his article, “America’s Greatest Threat”. If you want to see teachers and students who are excited about learning, visit a classroom where students are engaged in rigorous and applied STEM activities. Visit a classroom where teachers have prepared themselves to teach STEM education by attending training sessions and on-going professional development. Visit schools that have transformed the educational environment by providing opportunities for all students to participate in STEM education. —Ken Verburg, Director of School Engagement/East Region
The U.S. Department of Commerce estimates that while the number of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) jobs will grow 17 percent by 2018 (nearly 7 percent higher growth than for non-STEM fields), there will not be enough qualified United States high school and college graduates to fill them. In fact, during the recent U.S. News Summit in Austin, Texas, it was reported that an estimated1.2 million STEM jobs will go unfilled in the U.S. by 2018.
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As for the next wave of graduates who would seemingly narrow the gap: The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) 2011 rankings show U.S. students as 17th in science achievement and 25th in math ability out of 65 countries. In other words, if our nation’s schools are the pipelines for the future U.S. workforce, there simply are not enough students in the current pipeline who will have both the talent and the interest to fill the available jobs. At the same time, there is every reason to be confident and optimistic about solving the U.S. STEM challenge. After all, as a nation, we have a proven track record of resilience and focus. But success will not happen without a clear path carefully created by educators, administrators, policy-makers, corporations, nonprofits, government, and anyone else concerned about the United States’ future. Moreover, students must start on that path in elementary school; because children make decisions about
whether they like and are good at science and math as early as second and third grade. Students who understand how their education relates to their life, career options, and future opportunities, are more excited and engaged; and students who experience hands-on learning and real-life problem solving taught by involved, enthusiastic teachers can foster not only talent for, but lifelong interest in the STEM disciplines. Most important, students who understand and can execute the critical-thinking, problem-solving, and collaborative skills—skills that are the foundation of STEM learning—are better prepared to compete in the global economy. We should all work toward this objective. So, if we know these things, how can we put this knowledge into action and narrow the U.S. skills gap? Start implementing interesting, relevant, and rigorous STEM curriculum in schools. All schools. Everywhere. Start providing teachers and school systems access to training—and ongoing professional development opportunities—that catalyze their passion and talent for teaching STEM subjects and bringing lessons to life. Start offering STEM learning to students in elementary schools and growing their knowledge and excitement throughout their lives. Start connecting and weaving businesses, government entities, nonprofits, and school systems into involved networks that are committed to supporting STEM education. Start inviting students into real-world workplace STEM environments so they can see and touch both the exciting opportunities available and what it will take to achieve them. These are all things Project Lead The Way is doing. As the nation’s leading provider of rigorous, activity-, project-, problem-based STEM curriculum for middle and high schools, we are currently in more than 5,000 schools in all 50 states, serving more than 600,000 students annually. In fact, we are currently in 192 middle schools and high schools in South Carolina—and growing. We know PLTW works. On the other side of the nation, in Toppenish, Washington, PLTW programs are now available at the middle and high school. The area has a significant low income and minority population and historically low educational achievement. Toppenish High School has a demographic makeup of 95 percent minority and nearly 100 percent free and reduced lunch qualification. In 2010, Toppenish introduced PLTW to its middle and high schools as a way to increase students’ engagement and success in the STEM disciplines. Since implementing PLTW, Toppenish High School has seen tremendous success with PLTW’s Pathway To Engineering and Biomedical Science programs. Today, more than 50 percent of students are enrolled in
PLTW classes; 48 percent of those students are female. Enrollment in high-level math and science classes has skyrocketed, including a 226 percent increase in precalculus enrollment. An examination of the PLTW implementation shows that students who took PLTW courses increased their participation in AP STEM-related courses, their college-going rate, and their scores on state exams. That’s just one example of many successes. We see every day the enormous results of dedicated teachers engaging students in learning that will catalyze a lifelong interest in science, technology, engineering, and math. There is nothing more exciting than when students “get it”—and they understand the relevancy of what they’ve learned and how it translates to their future. We’re excited to continually improve our curriculum and expand our presence—such as a new elementary school program we’re piloting this year in 43 schools – including two schools in South Carolina: Midway Elementary School of Science and Engineering in Anderson and Roebuck Elementary School in Spartanburg. We are also piloting a new Computer Science and Software Engineering program in 60 schools—including one school in South Carolina: Anderson Career and Technology Center in Williamston. The persistent and widening skills gap threatens America’s economic prosperity. However, by collaborating, focusing our resources, and taking action, we will solve this problem and develop the talented workforce necessary to ensure the United States remains the greatest country in the world.
About the Author: Dr. Vince Bertram is the president and CEO of Project Lead The Way and is a national leader in the area of education and the importance of critical thinking, problem solving, and collaboration as cornerstones to preparing students for the global economy. Dr. Bertram is a former school superintendent, principal, and teacher. Project Lead The Way (PLTW) is the leading provider of rigorous and innovative STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education curricular programs used in schools. As a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, PLTW exists to prepare students for the global economy through its nationally renowned curriculum, high-quality professional development and an engaged network of educators, students, universities and professionals. PLTW programs are in more than 5,000 schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and serving 600,000 students annually. For more information, visit www.pltw.org.
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Parents in the Age of Common Core Transforming Education through Engaging Parents in Meaningful Dialogue about the Common Core By Shaun F. Jacques
s we enter the age of Common Core State Standards there has been a plethora of information provided to educators to prepare them for new teaching requirements and to assist them in preparing their students for the challenges of the new assessments. This includes the need to increase rigor and further incorporate higher order thinking skills into the curriculum in order to create and perpetuate more evolved depths of knowledge and understanding in mathematics and English and Language Arts. The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (n.d.) has done an adequate job of producing examples of test questions and practice assessments that allow educators the opportunity to put themselves in the place of their students to understand the time restraints and multimedia interfaces needed to manipulate the different assessments. However, the one group of stakeholders that has been forgotten in the limited media blitz has been the parents of the students. As a result of the most recent Gallop Poll sponsored by Phi Delta Kappa International (Phi Delta Kappa
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International, 2013), an article emerged, claiming most Americans are unaware of Common Core. In the article, Maxwell (2013) discusses that many parents do not have enough information about the new Common Core Standards. “Sixty-two percent of respondents in PDK/ Gallup’s annual national survey on public education hadn’t heard of the common core” (Maxwell, 2013, p. 1). This oversight has led to parents receiving conflicting information about the benefits associated with transition to the new standards. Recently, at a state Phi Delta Kappa forum held at the University of South Carolina, focusing on the challenges facing implementation of the Common Core, the main issue raised by the audience was the need to inform parents about the new standards. This lack of specific informational planning about the Common Core has allowed pundits to provide misinformation to the public and in some cases has caused parental backlash during this transitional year in which we are moving away from state generated standardized testing to more intense performance assessments. Tracy Connor, staff
writer for NBC News writes, “Opposition to the standards covers a spectrum of mistrust: accusations that new tests will be used to mine data on students, complaints that Bill Gates and other corporate interests are in control” (para. 7). As evidenced through forums such as public comment portions of State Board of Education meetings, parents have been provided with a litany of reasons why the Common Core will not work instead of being provided with all the positive attributes associated with preparing students to enter the work force of the Twenty-first century. What might a survey of South Carolina public school parents reveal about their perceptions of communication about Common Core State Standards from their local schools? How do educators stem this tide of negative propaganda and begin to change the perceptions from myths to facts? This change in parental perspective will only occur when school districts organize and create a variety of resources for their constituents affected by the Common Core. Sir Ken Robinson, internationally renowned author and expert on educational transformation and creativity, stated “Schools must move away from the 19th century view of school as an industrial assembly line where one size fits all to a more modern approach of teaching creative thinkers capable of taking ownership of their own learning.” (TEDtalks, 2006). Most people are resistant to change, especially when that change is not accompanied by a provision for resources and training to alleviate the fear of the unknown. School districts have a responsibility to provide newsletters, websites, informal meetings, and literature which are geared towards the interests and concerns of parents. Once parents understand how the Common Core will benefit their children in preparing for career readiness most of the unrest will begin to dissipate and leave the door open for an honest ongoing dialogue to improve home/school relations. A variety of resources exist to assist educators with that charge. According to the South Carolina School Improvement Council (n.d.), “A child’s chance for success in school, as an adult in the workforce, and as a member of society is dramatically improved by having parents that take an active role in their education. It’s a common-sense idea that is supported by years of education research.” In addition to a variety of services, The Council provides electronic links and resources to assist a variety of stakeholders in obtaining factual information to enhance the variety of stakeholders who play significant roles in improving schools. One of those resources is a family information survey template that can be tailored to the needs of individual schools and may assist school leaders
with improving student achievement as well as school climate (South Carolina School Improvement Council (n.d.). Another valuable resource is provided by the South Carolina Education Oversight Committee. Their online Family-friendly Guides to South Carolina Academic Standards are available in English and Spanish (South Carolina Education Oversight Committee, n.d.) The interactive site provides opportunities for families to explore standards together and provides important information in a non-threatening manner. By identifying and utilizing helpful tools designed to assist schools and families with bridging the communication gap, school administrators can demystify a currently confusing topic. As we continue to implement a more rigorous curriculum during this final year of transition, we should err on the side of over communicating to parents the benefits for students as they prepare for college and career readiness in the 21st century.
References Connor, T. (2013). NBC News. Parents, teachers join pockets of rebellion against Common Core. Retrieved from http://usnews. nbcnews.com/_ news/2013/10/04/20759234-parents-teachers-joinpockets-of-rebellion-against-common-core?lite Maxwell, L.A. (2013, August 21). Most Americans unaware of Common Core, PDK/Gallup Poll finds. Education Week. Retrieved from http://www.edweek.org/ew/ articles/2013/08/21/02pdk_ep.h33.html?t%E2%80%A6OUV FzXXpqyq04efiJUb9Yt7czrpNYdAXyMCC&cmp=clpedweek&print=1 Phi Delta Kappa International, The PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools. (2013). Retrieved from http://pdkintl.org/noindex/2013_PDKGallup.pdf Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.smarterbalanced.org/parents-students South Carolina Education Oversight Committee (n.d.) Family-friendly Guides to South Carolina
Academic Standards. Retrieved from http://www. scfriendlystandards.org/
South Carolina School Improvement Council (n.d.). Retrieved from http://sic.sc.gov/parentinvolvement/Pages/index.aspx TEDtalks. (2006, February). Sir Ken Robinson: Do Schools Kill Creativity? [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=iG9CE55wbtY
About the Author Shaun F. Jacques Assistant Principal, Frances Mack Intermediate School, Lexington School District Four • Member of District Leadership Team for Common Core implementation • Enrolled in Educational Specialist program at the University of South Carolina
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Overcoming and Achieving: Student, Teacher, and Parent Perspectives on ELL Student Academic Success in a Title I South Carolina Elementary School By J. Nathan Pitts, Ph.D.
The United States’ Hispanic population increases every year. The discrepancy between Hispanic student achievement and the majority population is often a result of the challenges many native English speakers do not face, including second-language acquisition, acculturation, and poverty. Hispanic students have the highest dropout rate compared with other racial and ethnic groups (Echevarria, Vogt, & Short, 2004) and are less likely to attend and graduate from college than white students (Cameron & Heckman, 2001). We, as educators, must begin to address the challenges Hispanic students face and intervene during the elementary school years In 2002, Hispanic students made up 17 percent of the K-12 student population in the United States; by 2025 that figure is predicted to reach 25 percent (CSRC, 2008). According to the Southern Education Foundation (2010), the South will become increasingly marginalized in the
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global economy and fall further behind if the region’s new and diverse majorities in its public schools continue to expand and underachieve, leaving school without the skills necessary for participation in a high-wage economy. This paper addresses three high-achieving elementary school students of Hispanic decent in one Title I elementary school in the upstate of South Carolina. The school I studied – Water Town Elementary (pseudonym) - has 730 students ranging from 4K to third grade. The geographical location of Water Town Elementary is important considering that the South is the only region of the United States to have a majority of both low income students and students of color in public schools (SEF, 2010). The participants in my study were three third graders of Mexican descent (Lily, Marco, and Don), their parent(s), and their homeroom teachers. I conducted interviews, observations, and document analysis over
a nine month period. Three themes concerning student academic success emerged across the data analysis: student attributes, supports, and barriers to academic achievement.
One of my first impressions of Lily was her heightened sense of self-esteem. She raises her hand to answer questions even after she answered a previous question incorrectly, showing perseverance in succeeding, while at the same time believing in her ability to answer correctly. Lily exhibits persistence, a quality that Ellis (2010) found to be highly correlated with academic achievement. Similarly, both Marco and Don daily practice math, a subject both reportedly do not enjoy because they find it difficult. They voiced their belief that each would receive the Kiwanis Club award on Awards Day for their excellence in math. Previous research has shown that academic self-expectations, self-concept, and self-esteem are important factors in helping students overcome academic challenges (Skokut, 2009). Lily recently performed in a dance troupe in front of the entire school and joined the international choir at Water Town Elementary. Her teacher, Ms. M, remembered Lily as a student who was creative, curious, open-minded, a risk taker, and always willing to try new things. Lily also likes to write stories about her friends in her spare time and described several occasions when she used her creativity as an outlet. Her brothers and sisters often challenge her to draw things, and when she gets home from school she prefers to draw and write rather than play outside. Marco also enjoys drawing. When I first observed him, he was drawing the flag of the country for his group’s assignment. All the other boys in his group were on the floor watching him with undivided attention as he drew. Marco’s creativity has helped him in other areas outside art. He told me about using various strategies that he and his friend Ty had developed for learning math. “Ty and I play shop and we use Monopoly money,” he told me. “We do different strategies to help us learn math. It’s something I came up with.” All three families - Lily’s, Marco’s, and Don’s - maintain strong ties with their native culture. This practice may be associated with the high levels of self-esteem exhibited by Lily, Marco, and Don. Torres and Rollock (2009) found that retaining aspects of the traditional Hispanic culture and incorportating elements of the mainstream U.S. culture correlate moderately with positive self-esteem. Lily, Marco, and Don all exhibit the personal characteristics of resiliency and the valuation of hard
work. Usrey (2009) discovered that these qualities lead to academic success in Hispanic students. All three students have an ability to attune to the task at hand and have developed routines for ensuring academic success. Lily practices her art when she is not busy with household chores and homework, while Don immediately begins his homework when he arrives home after school. Lily practices her art work when she is not busy with household chores and homework. “I practiced [her dance routine] at home with my sister,” she told me, “but she kept messing up because she didn’t really know how to do it.” Lily’s mother notices the hard work and preparation her daughter puts into her school work as well. “She took it (German) last year, and she was always singing the songs and saying the words. She was saying, ‘This is how you say this and that. She really liked it.” Ms. M reported Lily’s consistent performance in the classroom in completing her seat work. She remarked, “She wanted your approval, so she tried her very best to do what you asked her to.” Don’s father shared with me that his son has developed a routine for when he returns home after school. “When he gets home, the first thing he does is go to the table and opens his book bag. He’s going to do his homework. Whatever he doesn’t know, he asks his mom.”
Supports Lily and Marco’s teachers identified them early as advanced students. They could recall and recognize all of the letters of the alphabet by the beginning of kindergarten. Their parents recall having read to them frequently from a very early age. Don was not identified as having developed reading skills early. However, with the help of after-school tutoring, he has made great advancements over the past school year and is currently reading above grade level. The parents of all three student participants have taken an active interest in the education their children are receiving at Water Town Elementary. Lyons (2010) found that parents who rely on strong academic content from their child’s school perceive a successful future for their children. Lily’s and Marco’s mothers are excited that their children are learning German, and, they spoke in depth about their respective child’s academic progress. Similarly, Don’s parents have attended every parentteacher conference, and they have continually monitored the progress he has made this past year in reading. Hispanic parents who value education and their role in their child’s academic success produce students who achieve academically (Lyons, 2010). Lily, Marco, and
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Don’s parents help them with their homework when assistance is needed. When she is unable to help, Lily’s mother will even seek out others in the neighborhood who can assist with the homework. Marco’s mother has encouraged him to ask for assistance at school when needed, because she fears there may be a discrepancy between how she helps him academically and how the teacher issues instruction. Similarly, Don’s parents have voiced concern about how their son can advance to his age-appropriate grade. Marco and Don’s teacher, Ms. L, shared with me that she has observed that those students who achieve academically have parents who are more visible in the schools. Ruiz (2002) found that school connectedness at an early age and continued parental involvement is associated with academic resiliency in Hispanic students. Similarly, Don’s parents have attended PTO events and school festivals, while Marco’s mom volunteers regularly at the school. These three parents’ level of participation contradicts previous research describing the vast majority of immigrant parents as “uninvolved” in the predominant discourse (Chavkin, 1993; Moles, 1993). Water Town Elementary appears to practice all five of the recommendations for anti-poverty set forth by Gorski (2008). Gorski recommends that schools show flexibility by holding meetings and parent conferences when parents can attend and that every classroom has Internet access, so any assignment requiring access to the Internet can be completed during assigned class time. Students at Water Town Elementary are held to the same high standards and taught by teachers as highly qualified as students at the wealthier schools in the district. The school networks with the Outreach Center to provide clothing, food, and other necessities to families in need. Also, as Gorski recommends, procedures have been put into place that ensure all students are properly identified for special education services so that students living in poverty are not unjustly labeled as disabled. Water Town’s administration has implemented strategies which coincide with the recommendations of Matthews, Portes, and Mellom (2010) of installing bilingual signs, prioritizing bilingual personnel as new hires, and promoting use of multiple languages in the school and classroom- strategies that can help to reduce language barriers among faculty, students, and their families. Information in the school lobby is written in both Spanish and English, correspondence sent home by faculty is translated when necessary, several bilingual staff members are available for interpreting, and multiple languages (English, Spanish, and German) are spoken in the school.
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As mentioned above, all three student participants have parents who have maintained ties with their native Mexican culture. All three families cook Mexicaninfluenced dishes at home, Spanish language programs are viewed on the television, and the families actively speak the dual languages of English and Spanish while at home. These practices support Colon & Sanchez’s (2009) findings that recognition of students’ primary language and culture enhances learning, while contradicting Romero and Roberts (2003), assertion that negative consequences such as intergenerational conflicts, family obligations, and societal pressures can arise from a bicultural existence. Marco and Don regularly make trips to Mexico to visit extended family. Baer and Schmitz (2001) found that students who maintain contact with their parental language and culture have greater family cohesion and social adaptation. The concept of social adaptation is evidenced by Lily and Marco being leaders within their respective classrooms and Don exhibiting altruistic behaviors in his generosity with candy and snacks amongst his peers. All three families exhibit a strong sense of family cohesion and connectedness in the way they assist one another with home and academic responsibilities.
Barriers to Academic Achievement Language acquisition, poverty, and acculturation often present as barriers to student success for English Language Learners, however, a new barrier emerged from the data in this study: home and school communication. There appeared to be a disconnect between the acceptable level of home and school communication between Marco’s and Don’s parents and the school. Epstein (1983) reported that collaboration between elementary school faculty and parents led to greater initiative and independence in students, as well as higher grades. Harbin (2008) found that parents of ELL students value schools that hold high expectations and communicate openly with parents, while Bronfenbrenner (1994) reported the importance of the links among the structures of the child’s immediate environment. Marco’s mother would like to receive notice from the school when her son has shown positive behaviors instead of only when he has misbehaved. Similarly, Don’s parents voiced concern that they only receive communication from the school when progress reports are issued. Otway (2008) posits that communication and collaboration among teachers, parents, and support staff are important in effectively teaching ELL students and improving academic performance.
The National Commission on Teaching America’s Future (2004) reported that high-poverty schools like Water Town Elementary are more likely than lowpoverty schools to have inadequate facilities, insufficient materials, substantial numbers of teachers teaching outside their licensure areas, multiple teaching vacancies, inoperative bathrooms, and vermin infestation. However, Water Town Elementary exists contrary to every one of these characteristics. As mentioned previously, the classrooms at Water Town Elementary have Internet access, iPads, and Promethean Boards. Facilities described as “inadequate” don’t generally have access to these technological tools. All of the teaching positions are filled by highly qualified educators who are certified in their area of instruction, as required by the NCLB Act of 2001. So, it appears that Water Town Elementary’s status as a Title 1 school does not present as a barrier to student achievement- at least not for Lily, Marco, and Don. Olivos (2006) found that school personnel are often predisposed to attach value to students based upon their families’ social, economic, and cultural capital. However, the educators I have encountered at Water Town Elementary appear to value the cultural heritage of their students’ families. Ms. M and Ms. L described ways in which they have attempted to appreciate and share in the cultural experiences of their students, while the school has adopted accommodations to assist Spanish-speaking families. As such, I wonder if Water Town Elementary’s designation as an International Baccalaureate school influences these teachers’ approach.
Implications and Recommendations for Educators The key findings of this study present several areas to consider when addressing the needs of Hispanic Englishlanguage learners in the elementary school setting. While these approaches were found to be advantageous in assisting with student academic achievement, it is important to view these students and this school as an individual case. Therefore, these implications lend themselves to conversations about their appropriateness in other elementary school settings: 1. The parent and teacher participants in this study reported the necessity for instilling a sense of responsibility in their children/students. This study highlights the importance of instilling responsibility in the home and school environments. This matter could be addressed by assigning daily chores at home and tasks within the classroom. 2. This study found that a discrepancy exists between
the teachers and parents concerning the acceptable frequency and nature of home and school communication. Teachers and parents are encouraged to determine the expectations for the appropriate level of communication of both parties as early in the school year as possible. The available modes of communication should also be determined (e.g., email, phone calls, written communication) and any possible barriers in communication (e.g., language issues, lack of access to the Internet, etc.). 3. Educators should encourage creativity in all students. The students in this study reported finding great satisfaction in creating art through drawing and dance. As the research states (Slavin & Cheung, 2005), language-acquisition issues present a barrier for many ELL students. Promoting creativity, within and without the core academic curriculum, could possibly promote student engagement in all areas of the curriculum. 4. The school in this study, Water Town Elementary, has a faculty that promotes cultural diversity. Schools should look to Water Town Elementary as an example of how to promote school connectedness through cultural appreciation. The school has translators, sends home written communication in the home language, and provides information in the home language throughout the school in the form of brochures and formal documents. Teachers have learned to adapt to the influx of Hispanic students by showing appreciation for the native culture of these students’ families. The student, parent, and teacher participants in this study shared that these accommodations have been a protective factor for Hispanic ELL student success.
Conclusion This study reinforced my belief that more emphasis should be placed on the positive aspects of student performance when attempting to address obstacles to student achievement. It is my belief that educators often see public education through a deficit lens. If we focus more on the positive qualities of individuals and educational systems, we can build a foundation from which students can achieve academically. Since beginning this study, I’ve learned I can no longer compartmentalize the challenges any student faces, regardless of their background. One must consider that each student, each parent, and each teacher has his or her own, individual story to tell - a story rich with the personal experiences only the individual can share.
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Works Cited Baer, J. & Schmitz, M. (2001). Ethnic differences in trajectories of family cohesion for Mexican American and non-Hispanic white adolescents. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 36, 583592. Bronfenbrenner, U. (1994). Ecological models of human development. International Encyclopedia of Education, Vol.3, 2nd Ed. Oxford: Elsevier. Cameron, S. & Heckman, J. (2001). The dynamics of educational attainment for Black, Hispanic, and White males. Journal of Political Economy, 109, 455-499. Chavkin, N.F. (Ed.). (1993). Families and schools in a pluralistic society. Albany: State University of New York Press. Chicano Studies Research Center (CSRC) (2008). Improving Latino education: Roles and challenges for superintendents and school boards. UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center. Colon, Y. & Sanchez, B. (2009). Explaining the Gender Disparity in Latino Youths’ Education: Acculturation and Economic Value of Education.Urban Education 45(3), 252273. doi: 10.1177/0042085908322688 Echevarria, J., Vogt, M.E., & Short, D.J. (2004). Making Content Comprehensible for English Learners. Pearson Education, Inc. Boston, MA. Epstein, J.L. (1983). Longitudinal effects of family-school-person interactions on student outcomes. Research in Sociology of Education and Socialization, 4, 101-27. Gorski, P.C. (2008). Peddling Poverty for Profit: Elements of Oppression in Ruby Payne’s Framework. Equity and Excellence in Education, 41(1), 130-148. Harbin, J.T. (2008). Hispanic parents’ perspective of English language learner programs (Doctoral dissertation). University of Mississippi, Oxford, MS. Lyons, K.M. (2010). A descriptive case study on African American and Hispanic parents’ values of education and the impact on student achievement (Doctoral dissertation). Capella University, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Matthews, P.H., Portes, P.R., & Mellom, P.J. (2010, May). Situated responses and Professional development for changing student demographics in the new Latino South. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), Denver, Colorado. Moles, O.C. (1993). Collaboration between schools and disadvantaged parents: Obstacles and openings. In N.F. Chavkin (Ed.), Families and schools in a pluralistic society (pp. 21-49). Albany: State College of New York Press. National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future (2004). Fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education: A two-tiered education system. Washington, DC: Author.
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Olivos, E.M. (2006). The power of parents: A critical perspective of bicultural parent involvement in public schools. New York: Peter Lang. Otway, M.N. (2008). Teachers’ practices, perceptions, and perspectives of instructing English language learners. Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences, 68 (8-A), 3351. Romero, A.J., & Roberts, R.E. (2003). Stress within a bicultural context for adolescents of Mexican descent. Cultural diversity and ethnic minority psychology, 9, 171-184. Ruiz, Y. (2002). Predictors of academic resiliency for Latino middle school students (Doctoral dissertation). Boston College, Boston, MA. Skokut, M.A. (2009). Educational resilience among English language learners: Examining factors associated with high school completion and post-secondary school attendance (Doctoral dissertation). University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA. Slavin, R.E., & Cheung, A. (2005). A synthesis of research on language of reading instruction for English language learners. Review of Educational Research, 75(2), 247. The Southern Education Foundation (SEF). (2010). A new diverse majority: students of color in the South’s public schools. Retrieved from http://www.southerneducation.org. Torres, L. & Rollock, D. (2009). Psychological impact of negotiating two cultures: Latino coping and self-esteem. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, 37(4). 219-228. Usrey, M.C. (2009). Educational involvement: How are parents of successful, low income, Latino students involved? (Doctoral dissertation). The University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX.
About the Author J. Nathan Pitts, Ph.D. School Psychologist Spartanburg School District 2 Dr. Nathan Pitts currently serves as a full-time school psychologist with Spartanburg School District 2. He is also an adjunct instructor of psychology at Greenville Technical College and a licensed psycho-educational specialist. Contact him at nathan.pitts@spartanburg2. k12.sc.us
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The Principal as Initiative Liaison and Chief Negotiator By Robert R. Heath
veryone involved with schools today feels a great deal of pressure to perform at higher levels. School boards, district level personnel, principals and teachers – and students – all feel this pressure. School principals may experience a particularly high degree of pressure and expectations from many directions – from state and federal mandates, local school districts, and their school communities. This pressure is largely driven by performance improvement requirements attached to high-stakes testing. Often, because district supervisors have an urgency to improve student performance, topdown school initiatives are mandated to schools. As a result, full authority over which initiatives take place within a school is frequently not within the venue of the school principal. In my own nineteen years experience as a principal, in which I served under several different district leaders, I had a broad range of authority – from virtually none to virtually full authority. My experience of having full authority over initiatives implemented within the school involved four of my latter years as a principal, and were under the direction of a forward thinking, extraordinary superintendent. Principals in the district had full authority in the allocation of funds, hiring, were
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encouraged to work collaboratively with parents, teachers, and district personnel, and had authority to accept or reject district-generated initiatives. School-based and district-generated initiatives were discussed with the superintendent, who offered his own expertise, but ultimately decisions were left to the schools’ principals. Other district level personnel were expected to serve as facilitators of school-based efforts. This article addresses principals’ roles in the issues of externally-generated and school-based initiatives which schools are expected to implement, why externallygenerated initiatives often do not work, and what can be done to improve the efficacy of implementation and probability for success of school improvement initiatives. Why initiatives come about to begin with can be narrowed down to a recognition or belief by someone that something needs to be fixed, coupled with a belief that a specific program or plan will resolve it. Initiatives sometimes originate as a result of legislation tied to federal education funding, or state mandates for school improvement or “reform”. Federal or state mandates which inspire initiatives at the district level are passed on to schools which must then implement them. Districtgenerated initiatives may also be created due to perceived
– and real – district-wide needs. Unfortunately, other than being informed of their existence, principals are often left out of discussions about school improvement programs and ideas which come from the district level or beyond. Yet, principals are held responsible for the results of these programs, leading to high levels of frustration and low retention rates of quality principals (Wallace Foundation, 2013). Unfortunately, these initiatives often fail to recognize differences among schools in which they are to be implemented, such as student population differences, or that other school based initiatives may be underway to address the same issues (Fullan, 2009).
School Improvements Must Happen: Will They Happen With Schools or To Schools? It is likely true that every school has room for improvement, and that improvement initiatives should continuously be under consideration. However, too many outside initiatives – or, too many initiatives from any source – in a school creates confusion, frustration, and in the end, poor implementation. I have, as have many principals, seen the unhappy looks on teachers’ faces when asked to serve on yet another committee to implement yet another program. Those given responsibilities for implementing these many programs will do so minimally, and will work hard to keep their heads above water while putting a good face on the programs. Faculty members are frequently offered only an hour or so of training in a faculty meeting – or occasionally a full day’s training – on the latest initiative. Then, they are expected to go to their classrooms and make the plan work: the outcome most typically is that the initiative’s life is in danger the minute it leaves the training room. Why? Initiatives from external sources often lack buy-in by those expected to implement them. That is, teachers and principals may not see a potential for benefits associated with implementing this new initiative, may not be comfortable with nuances of implementation, and will have little or no ownership of its worth towards fixing anything. Furthermore, if it attempts to move teachers out of their comfort zones, resistance is guaranteed (Barth, 2004). To begin with, teachers and other stakeholders involved must agree on the nature and degree of a problem. It is foundational in creating buy-in to improving something to ensure a common agreement on the nature of the problem. After stakeholders are in agreement on the issue at hand, they then must have ownership of both the solutions, which will in turn create a much higher interest in their outcomes. A good example from
my own experiences is the implementation of a strict dress code initiated by the school improvement council. Teachers and parents were included in collecting data and developing research on the issues related to this change, and concluded that a number of positive benefits could be realized by making this kind of change. As a result, parent and teacher buy-in was developed in the very early stages of the implementation process. After implementation, the school documented a significant drop in behavior issues, increases in test scores, and a higher level of safety within the school. This was no simple process, but the investment in time and energy on the front end helped ensure positive results. Creating buy-in requires that stakeholders be involved in all phases of problem discovery and planning efforts for changes and improvements. When this happens, programs are implemented with much higher integrity. In other words, those who create and implement a program will hold themselves accountable for the results. The bottom line in the sustainability and success of any improvement effort is that schools must be able to focus on fewer programs at any given time, must have a high level of involvement in studying data, conducting research and creating solutions to issues which fit their needs (Fullan, 2009). This essentially and simply speaks to the implementation of well documented effective change processes. Consider that when an external source generates and pushes an initiative into a school where faculty and administration may not understand or agree with its need, who “owns” the initiative? Who then, is really responsible for its success or failure in the eyes of those faculty members and administrators? If the answer to these questions is that someone other than teachers and school administrators “own” the initiative – and henceforth its results – school personnel have little incentive or motivation to implement it with high integrity. Studies have demonstrated repeatedly that teachers are the most important factor in student learning (Anfara, et al., 2008; Wallace Foundation, 2013). They are in position to discover problems and find solutions to them for the simple reason that they are “in the trenches” with students every class period, in the halls monitoring behavior and student movement, and in touch with parents. Teachers’ involvement in school improvement efforts ensures initiatives are pertinent to the issues at hand and that buy-in is high (Barth, 2004). It only makes sense that they play a significant role in any effort to improve student performance.
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Effective Principals In any school, it is the principal who can create an environment in which collaborative school improvement can be carried out. This points us to the importance of certain principal characteristics, knowledge and understandings required of that role. As noted earlier, effective teachers are the most important factor in student learning. The second most important factor is effective leadership of the principal (Wallace Foundation, 2013). Characteristics common to effective principal leadership include creating a common vision, maintaining a clear focus on teaching and learning, and encouraging development of collaborative learning communities (Anfara, et al., 2008). Certainly, these are principal leadership traits with which most educators can agree. While leadership of the principal is critical to the efficacy of most aspects of a school, leadership in truly effective schools is often much more broadly distributed. In effective schools, teachers, staff members, Figure 1 Principal as Liaison: Characteristics, Responsibilities and Needs parents, and even students often take up the mantel of leadership in a pay less attention to directing the work of the principal variety of ways. Effective principals know how to gather and school (Wallace Foundation, 2013; Fullan, 2009). This and understand data and encourage research toward concept takes us to the role of the principal as liaison and solutions to problems (Wallace Foundation, 2013). They “chief negotiator” of school initiatives. create collaborative learning communities, encouraging and engaging in collaborative partnerships in efforts to Principal as Liaison and Chief Negotiator establish and implement a common vision and systemic, The concept of the principal as “liaison and chief continuous school improvements (Anfara, et al. 2006). negotiator” is about the effective use of expertise, As a culture of collaboration progresses over time, knowledge, leadership and control. The concept a common language develops among stakeholders who anticipates the principal to be effective as a leader, participate in the creation of (and develop buy-in to) a collaborator and researcher. It assumes the principal common vision for the school. Problems are addressed knows students’ needs, knows well the strengths and decisions made through the highly focused lens of and weaknesses of the faculty and understands the that vision (Anfara, et al., 2008). An effective principal expectations of the school’s community and of district nurtures collaborative efforts such as these to ensure level leadership. That is a tall order – but not outside continuous, systemic, sustainable improvements. that which should be expected of any school’s leader (See Probably one of the more compelling findings in Figure 1). research is that effective principals must have support As liaison, the principal must be in position to from districts; that is, district personnel must focus more negotiate all initiatives being considered for the school, on support and facilitation of school-based initiatives, and
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regardless of whether they come from the state, local school district, parent groups, or from teachers. To be clear: this is not to indicate that the principal should have full authority of all that happens within the school. Certainly, all members of a school district have a stake in the successes and failures of every school, and have some level of accountability toward their successes and failures. But we must also face that the principal is charged with making improvements in a school, and is fully accountable for whether plans and initiatives work or not – and that is as it should be. So, as the “chief negotiator” of initiatives taking place, the principal must have a high level of authority in determining what initiatives get inside the school. The evidence is clear that in order for effective school improvements to take place, the school’s principal must create an environment in which the faculty is focused on the school’s vision and that the school is a collaborative learning community which is continuously assessing all aspects of the school and making improvements. In a best-case scenario, principals will be hired who have these skills. They will be afforded both the expectation and authority to work collaboratively with school faculty and district level experts to assess data, conduct research and craft the best possible solutions that will work and which will then be under the joint ownership of teachers, the principal and district personnel. In cases where a principals do not have these skills, necessary training will be required. New principals must be provided time to gain the trust of the faculty and community and to create a collaborative environment. Studies indicate that principals need four to five years to become fully effective in creating change and significant, school-wide improvements (Branch, Hanushek & Rivkin, 2012). To accentuate that point: in my own experience, I found that I was most productive, had highest collegiality and greatest collaboration with my faculty and school community from my fifth year forward. I recognized then that it takes time to break down old assumptions held by a school community and to build trust – and trust is what is required to create a community in which all members feel the safety necessary to step outside their comfort. Principals who are entrusted with the authority to serve as liaison – a gatekeeper of sorts – among all those interested in improving a school, must be accountable for improvements that are or are not taking place. In my experience while in this role, the superintendent met with each principal two to three times per year to discuss initiatives, progress, struggles and plans for the future. In these meetings, encouraging, non-threatening, honest
discourse took place in a collegial atmosphere. Resources were found, and district level personnel with specific areas of expertise were identified. Fullan (2009) refers to multi-level collaboration (school-district-state) as “trilevel” collaboration (while this article does not specifically address state level collaboration, we heartily endorse the concept!). Fullan (2009), in a multi-national study, also notes that as a whole, the United States is far, far behind other countries in the implementation of multi-level collaboration to improve schools, and are consequently as far behind in making significant improvements. Finally, if our schools are to truly “leave no child behind” we must exercise the knowledge that we have available about how schools improve. Top down mandates do little to improve schools. What truly works is to hire effective leaders, give them the time, training, authority and accountability necessary to create collaborative learning communities with common vision, and support their efforts with all the resources available.
References Anfara, V. A., Jr. , Pate, P. E., Caskey, M. M., Andrews, G., Daniel, L. G., Mertens, S. B., & Muir, M. (2008). Research summary: Courageous, collaborative leadership. Retrieved June 2, 2013, from http://www.nmsa.org/Research/ ResearchSummaries/CourageousCollaborativeLeadership/ tabid/1588/Default.aspx . Barth, R. S. (2004). Learning by heart. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Branch, G. R., Hanushek, E. A., & Rivkin, S. G. (2012). Estimating the effect of leaders on public sector productivity: The case of school principals. National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research. Fullan, M. (2009) Large-scale reform comes of age. Journal of Educational Change, April, 2009. 10:101–113 DOI 10.1007/ s10833-009-9108-z Wallace Foundation (2013). The school principal as leader: Guiding schools to better teaching and learning. Downloaded on June 3, 2013 from http://www.wallacefoundation.org/ knowledge-center/school-leadership/effective-principalleadership/Pages/The-School-Principal-as-Leader-GuidingSchools-to-Better-Teaching-and-Learning.aspx
About the Author Robert R. Heath Assistant Professor of Education, Appalachian State University ASU Box 32047 Boone, NC 28608 828-773-0471 • Teacher and principal for twenty-nine years. President of SCMSA and SCASA ML Principals. • National Distinguished Principal and SC Middle Level Principal of the Year.
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Accentuate the Positive: How One High School Improved School Climate, Exponentially Increased Graduation Rate, and Significantly Decreased Referrals in Two Years By Emily Harris McQuay, Ed.D.
bout two years ago, the Rock Hill High School (RHHS) administration decided it was time to restructure the school. In years past RHHS had been known as the “Bearcat Family,” but changes in staff and the administration, rezoning of district lines, and societal changes had completely changed the “feeling” of the school. RHHS is located in a suburban area, has approximately 2015 students this year. In 2010, 52% of RHHS students received free or reduced lunch. The ethnic composition for the school is as follows: 55% Caucasian, 30% African American, 7% Hispanic, 3% American Indian, and 2% Asian. RHHS had 6% of their students out-of-school suspended or expelled for violent or criminal offenses two years ago. There were 35 incidences of threats or assaults and 190 incidences of drugs, alcohol, or tobacco use at school two years ago. Our school’s graduation rate for the 2010 four year cohort was 67.9%, and our retention rate for 2010 was 6.3%. Two years ago
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only 56.9% of our students scored a Level 3 or above on the High School Assessment Program exam (HSAP) in ELA and 53% scored Level 3 and above on Math. In 2010, 309 of our students under the age of seventeen had to be monitored for truancy issues, and we had 160 students that were English Language Learners. Upon assessing the school climate data, we found the areas of concern for the teachers were student discipline, and poor parent involvement (difficult to reach, rarely visiting the school or volunteering). In the climate survey, students at RHHS disagreed more than agreed that “students at my school behave well in class,” “students at my school behave well in the hallways, in the lunchroom, and on school grounds,” “my teachers praise students for good work”, and “the bathrooms at my school are kept clean.” The parent survey data was not reliable because we only had 12 surveys returned; that in itself was an alarm for us. Poverty, lack of support in the
home, single-parent homes, older-aged students entering ninth grade, excessive absences/tardies, teen pregnancy, student employment of over 20 hours per week, and a significant ESOL population are attributed to creating problems for our students. We knew that if something was not done to assist these students, many of them would not make it to senior year. Our goal was to improve the overall morale of the school and intensify academic effectiveness, and by doing so drive down suspensions, improve truancy and tardies, decrease drug, tobacco, & alcohol use, and improve graduation and retention rates. We did this through two large changes: implementing the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports Model (PBIS), and increasing our Response to Intervention (RTI) in the classroom and adding an RTI time to the school day. Figure 1: Comparison of RTI and PBIS Triangle (used with permission from PBIS.ORG) The main components of PBIS and RTI employs data about students gathered from RTI complement each other perfectly. tests and other performance measurements. As we all know, frequently our students who struggle Components include screening of all students, academically give us the most behavioral issues, and monitoring progress, designing instruction in behavior issues are academic issues- while teachers are various tiers (or levels) of intensity, and relying dealing with off-task behavior, academic time is wasted. on rules based on data for decision making… Both models also use data to inform decisions. In figure Intervention occurs during blocks of time set 1 below, you can see how the three tiered triangle model aside in a school day, when students are divided is used for both RTI and PBIS. Tier one featured at by instructional needs and sent to work with the bottom are the interventions you give the entire teachers and other school personnel. Students who population of your school or class; 80-90% of your student learned the content successfully in the first tier of population will do fine academically and behaviorally instruction engage in enrichment activities during with whole-group services/instruction. Tier two is shown this period. Other students receive re-teaching of in yellow and this group typically comprises 5-10% of the content they did not learn in the first tier of your students. These kids may need some small group instruction. Students identified as needing more instruction in class or be involved in a social skills group intensive instruction work with various experts to assist them behaviorally. The final group, shown in red, on individualized learning activities during the is tier three. These are your at-risk students who need intervention period. (p. 2) some one-on-one help academically and/or behaviorally Like many other schools we had been re-teaching to to be successful. This group contains about 1-5% of the small groups during the regular class time (but that is student population (OSEP Technical Assistance Center on sometimes difficult when you have 20 others in the room Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports, 2013). that do not need the re-teaching- enrichment activities weren’t working), pulling students out who needed oneResponse to Intervention on-one assistance from an ESOL or Special Education teacher (tier three interventions), and providing some Response to Intervention (RTI) is not anything new to assistance after school, before school, and at lunch. many schools here in South Carolina. Robins and Antrim This still was not enough- we needed a better way for (2012) state:
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the classroom teachers to work with the students who, according to their formative assessments that week, needed some extra help without the rest of the class creating a distraction. The department chairs at our school met to brainstorm a way to get our students performing to our high expectations, and to provide time during the day to give them the help they needed to reach those expectations. They created a plan that added a 25 minute block to the school day where students would rotate to each of their 4 classes one day each week for RTI and then have advisory on the fifth day of the week. Students who have a good grade in the class (A or B), do not need to makeup any work, and do not need to be included in a small group being conducted that day on a particular topic/ skill are released to go to club meetings or have canteen time. Release during this time is completely up to the teacher’s discretion, so if a student has an A or B but is struggling with that particular week’s topic or they were absent and need to take a quiz then they have to stay in too. On the flip side of that, if a teacher has a student who works diligently to get a C, and they know that the student studied every night and wrote down every word the teacher said in class, then that teacher can release the student as a reward once a nine weeks to show that they appreciate his/her hard work. The teachers have enjoyed having the time to work with smaller groups of students, and they have been very creative coming up with alternative teaching strategies to use to show the material in a different way than they taught it to the whole class. We keep all the students in the first 4½ weeks of class each semester (we are on a 4x4 block) until teachers are able to get enough data and make personal observations on the needs of their students. Then, they take it on a week-by-week basis as to who needs to stay. The teachers observed that the first week we had release, the students started working much harder to earn time to visit with friends or go get a snack at the canteen- those 25 minutes were like gold to them! All the administrators and a rotation of guidance counselors monitor the students who are released. On Mondays we go back to 1st block, Tuesdays 2nd block, Wednesdays we have advisory, Thursdays 3rd block, and Fridays 4th block for RTI time.
Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) PBIS is a model where positive behaviors are applauded and students in need of behavior modifications are taught appropriate behaviors and also acceptable alternatives to inappropriate actions. Like RTI, this
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model is used time and time again in elementary schools and some middle schools with great success, but most high schools have been slow to get on board. PBIS is constructed on the principles of prevention and involves the school reorganizing its discipline system to provide universal, targeted, and intensive levels of supports to inspire positive social, emotional, and behavioral development in all students. Students are taught clear expectations, are explicitly taught appropriate and inappropriate behaviors, and must have consequences implemented consistently (Feuerborn & Chinn, 2012). We had many ideas for interventions, but we needed a framework to aid our decisions. PBIS gave us a flexible model to implement ideas that would best fit our students. Since it also utilizes the same three tiered system that RTI uses, it was the easiest model for us to implement. Tier One. For our tier one school-wide interventions, our climate committee used the PBIS website to find an easy-to-remember acronym that would encompass all of our expectations for behavior. We decided that PRIDE (Participation, Respect, Integrity, Dedication, & Excellence) would fit our needs and had signs made to post all over the campus. Teachers created matrices showing how their classroom expectations fit under each of the five letters and posted them in their classrooms. Those expectations have been taught to our students repeatedly in advisory lessons, the classroom, and assemblies. We also gave a challenge-based learning activity to our advisory classes to create products that the school could give or show to new students which would explaining to them what PRIDE is. We had some excellent products! The teachers have for the most part embraced the positivity that comes with PBIS. The whole idea is to be proactive instead of reactive. As a part of the program teachers are encouraged to show, tell, and describe desired behaviors and try to highlight students in room for doing good things. Negative behaviors do not go unaddressed; you just try to give that same student three more positives for every negative correction you had to make. Frequently we have found that if you thank a student for paying attention next to one who isn’t, then the “off-task” student will start to “get it” without you having to saying anything him/her. Proximity and eye contact should be used before a correction, and discretion in correcting behaviors is appreciated because a lot of times kids are acting out to put on a show for their peersif they do not get the spectacle they wanted then they might deescalate on their own. Nattering (arguing back and forth with a student) is not acceptable at RHHS for any reason.
Bearcat BUCKS by Emily McQuay
Staff coin and staff banner by Emily McQuay
To show those 80% of our kids who for the most part do what they are supposed to do every day, we began providing whole-school incentives. The entire staffteachers, support staff, custodians, cafeteria workers, etc.- gives out Bearcat BUCKS (Bearcats Upholding Community Kindness & Spirit) each week to students who exhibit any of the five tenets of PRIDE. These BUCKS look like an award that can be taken home and shown off, which has improved our home-school communication. We were very skeptical of this at first and thought it sounded too elementary for high school students, but they have loved it. Many students who have received office referrals in the past have begun trying to get BUCKS instead. We announce the winners each week on the intercom and send a student around with a prize cart to let them pick out a pen, pencil, piece of candy, etc. We also have drawings at the end of the semester for gift cards, an iPad to use for a semester, prom tickets, and parking spots on the front row of the school. For students who have perfect attendance or zero referrals for an entire nine weeks we work with one of our business partners
to provide an ice cream sundae or snow cone for those students at lunch. Tier Two. We have started some excellent mentoring groups at RHHS to assist students who need short or long term assistance. So far, students have been selected by counselor, administrator, or teacher recommendation. We partnered with a fraternity from Winthrop University, Kappa Alpha Psi, for our guys’ group called Guide Right. They currently have 40 mentees and meet twice a month. Four of our teachers created a girls’ group called Girls United for Success. They mirror the character lessons that Guide Rights uses and have about 25 girls in their group. Parent Smart is a group for the teen mothers at our school run by a guidance counselor. She works with about 10 girls. This year we are going to develop our own early warning system that uses risk factors to pinpoint students who could be potential dropouts to our mentoring groups. Also new this year, we are working with the Catawba Indian Nation whose reservation is located in our school zone to create a mentoring group specifically for their students, who have the highest dropout rate by percentage of any ethnic group at our school. Tier Three. As most schools try to do, our administrators and counselors meet with our students as much as possible and really try to get to know them. When a student has gotten a referral or needs to see a counselor we discuss home, friends, grades, sports, clubs etc. Besides those adults trying to create relationships, when we implemented PBIS we decided that we needed to have some other adults doing check-in/check-out with these at-risk individuals. At first we just used our administrative interns, but this year we asked for teacher volunteers to take on one, two, however many they were willing to take. Some students check-in/out every morning and afternoon while others who might not need that much help check in Monday morning and out on Friday afternoon- it just helps for the kids to have someone else they know is in their corner to go to if they have an issue. We also strengthened our relationship with our local mental health office. When we find a student who needs more help than our counselors can provide, we refer them there. Because we are the largest school in the district, we had enough students receiving services from them that they assigned us our own mental health counselor to be at RHHS every day, which added another adult for certain kids to go see when they need help. Faculty incentives. You cannot forget the faculty and staff when you are trying to improve your school climate. Since we have such a large campus, our faculty rarely gets to see other staff members who are not in their department or their building. We decided to host
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Serving the SC K-12 market with quality ID systems and excellent service since 1981
a staff lunch each semester. The administrators cover cafeteria duty 11-12 12-13 so everyone else can eat and visit. We have three lunch periods so Student survey- students behave in class 59.2% disagreed 51.9% disagreed while everyone does not get to eat together, but they at least get to socialize with people who have their Student survey- students know the rules 71.4% agreed 79.1% agreed same lunch. During this time we and know the consequences if broken also give away door prizes donated Parent survey- teachers contact me to from local businesses. This has 72.2% disagreed 66.3% disagreed say good things been a huge hit. We also started a coin program to award teachers for going above and beyond- the teacher Parent survey- I am satisfied with the 65% agreed 75% agreed home-school relations with child’s school version of the Bearcat BUCK. The administrators have six coins Teacher survey- student behave in halls, 69% agreed 75.7% agreed each to give out over a semester. café, grounds Once received, staff members can pass to another staff member. Our Teacher survey- students behave well in 81.4% agreed 88.8% agreed principal’s administrative assistant class tracks the coins are within the Table 1: EOC survey data by McQuay building. Teachers also receive a banner to display showing they begin calling and/or making home visits to make sure that earned a coin. We celebrate all student is not thinking about dropping out. Our registrar the recipients at the end of each semester in a faculty and guidance administrative assistant keep meticulous meeting. records and do not let anyone withdraw to another school without requesting records from us- this is a change from Other Changes the past because for years we would have a large group Two smaller changes we have made that contributed of people move over the summer or just leave to go to to our recent success are that we very rarely have adult education but they would still be in our system as faculty meetings and we painstakingly watch our 9GR a dropout. It is not uncommon now for an administrator drop-out lists. Before our new administration came or counselor to spend 2-3 hours making calls to every in, faculty meetings each Tuesday afternoon was the number we have for a student who moved over the norm. We decided that time would be better spent summer to get info on where they may have gone to get in departments planning for Common Core, creating them off our dropout list. common assessments, looking over student data to design instruction, and planning new units and formative Results assessments. Most weeks we give departments the We are still in the beginning stages and trying to make autonomy to work on whatever they wish and then they more improvements each year, but we think our results turn in to us what they worked on in their groups. Some so far have been significant and look forward to greater weeks, like when we need some feedback on an initiative jumps after two full years of implementation (we are at or we want them to decide what their department’s the year and a half mark currently). Even though we have commitment will be to raising our HSAP or EOC scores, gained about 250 more students since 2011, our expulsion we give them a topic that to discuss. rate stayed exactly the same; 54 students in 11-12 and in We also have been watching our student lists to 12-13. The data on our EOC survey is creeping up as well. make sure we keep as many enrolled as possible and get In Table 1 you can see some of our successes. documentation for those who leave to go somewhere else Remember I mentioned before that in 10-11 we only without dropping out. Our assistant principals each have had 12 parent surveys returned. In 11-12 and 12-13 we a grade level and they rotate up with their students. had 61 and 86 respectively. That shows communication That grade level is the 9GR list that they are in charge of with home is improving. watching. When a student is absent three days in a row our counselors, administrators, and home-school worker
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We are most proud of our increases in graduation rate and decreases in office referrals. During the 11-12 school year we had 5007 referrals written, but in 12-13 that number significantly dropped to 3,129 (excluding the # of referrals for ID violations and for 2nd tardies out of the 12-13 data for comparison’s sake because there were no such referrals in 11-12). To make this victory even more significant, we as a staff wrote 3,572 Bearcat BUCKS last year, so that means we identified kids for positive behaviors more than negative. Our graduation rate for this year looks to be excellent as well. Typically at the age of 17 we have a large amount of students decide to drop out of school. As the senior class administrator, I have rotated up with this group and tracked down anyone transferring or dropping from my 9GR of 2011. At this time last year with a senior class of 402 students, we already had 83 dropout of school and had 11 we knew would count against us because they were not on a diploma track (ended with a 75.3% graduation rate). This year I only have 43 dropouts and 14 on a certificate pathway, which puts us on track to have an 85.3% graduation rate if none of the students enrolled who are off grade level graduate or an 87.6% if those off grade level do graduate this year. Of course we do not know exactly what the future holds, but historically we have been successful getting the ones off grade level to graduate with their 9th grade class. I am optimistic when I see that 40 more students have stayed in school when they turned 17 last year. Historically in our data, if they were here at the beginning of senior year they make it to graduation either that year or the next. We feel like great things are happening at Rock Hill High; we of course still have issues and probably always will because teenagers will be teenagers, but we feel like things are so much more positive around here. We would love to have anyone visit us or call upon us for
information. I have a Dropbox folder full of everything we have created for PBIS that I have already shared with a few folks around the state. Feel free to email me if you would like any of the items I have. These two changes brought a new “air” around Rock Hill High, so I hope you consider making these changes as well.
References Feuerborn, L., & Chinn, D. (2012). Teacher perceptions of student needs and implications for positive behavior supports. Behavioral Disorders, 37(4), 219-231. OSEP Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports. (2013).Response to intervention & PBIS. Retrieved from http://www.pbis.org/school/rti.aspx Robins, J., & Antrim, P. (2012). School librarians and response to intervention. School Library Research, 15, 1-16.
About the Author Emily Harris McQuay Assistant Principal of Rock Hill High School 320 W. Springdale Rd. Rock Hill, SC 29730 (803) 981-1300 email@example.com Emily Harris McQuay just started her third year as an assistant principal at Rock Hill High School and was formerly an elementary and a middle school educator. She completed her BA at Clemson in 2000, her MLIS at USC in 2003, and her Ed.D. in Educational Leadership at Nova Southeastern University in 2010. She was previously published in The SCMSA Journal, the Big6 Newsletter, and The Palmetto Administrator and has presented at SCASA’s SLI. She is married and has an 1 year-old son.
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10 Things to Know About TransformSC 1. TransformSC is an education initiative of New Carolina - a non-profit, public/private partnership that provides assistance to schools and districts across the state to increase South Carolina’s economic prosperity. New Carolina will contribute to these schools by nurturing the efforts of education leaders, enabling networking, and providing strong advocacy. New Carolina has been involved in education policy successes such as the Education and Economic Development Act (Personal Pathways), WorkKeys Career Readiness Certificates, Quick Jobs and Apprenticeship Carolina. 2. There are 36 TransformSC Schools representing 20 districts from across South Carolina. Schools submitted plans to redesign learning during the application process. Some are still in the planning phase, while others are already implementing changes. 3. Each TransformSC School is redesigning the classroom to meet its students’ and community’s needs. TransformSC is a grassroots effort by educators who want to re-engage students and prepare them for life after school, and business owners who know that public education is the foundation to the state’s economic success.
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4. All TransformSC Schools have access to a customized, online collaboration platform called TransformED. The platform provides real-time access to education experts, professional development, and best practices. 5. TransformSC Schools are striving to personalize learning for their students. A large number of students are disengaged from their learning, resulting in students falling behind as they transition from elementary to middle and from middle to high school. TransformSC Schools are working on a variety of methods to re-engage students and help them accept greater responsibility for their own learning that is directed toward career, college, and citizenship success. 6. TransformSC Schools are exploring the role of teachers as designers of effective learning, not just as lecturers. In today’s knowledge economy, teachers are no longer the source of all knowledge in the classroom. Teachers must ensure that each student receives the experiences, tools and guidance essential for learning and provide encouragement along the way.
7. TransformSC Schools strive to actively integrate technology into their curriculum. Being a “technology enabled school” means much more than putting an iPad and computer in the hands of each teacher and student. TransformSC Schools encourage student and teacher use of technology in all realms of learning and provide the training needed to make maximum use of the technology. 8. TransformSC Schools are exploring new student assessments. The once-per-year, snapshot testing required in our current accountability system does not provide teachers, students and parents the information they need to accurately gauge student progress. Student assessments should provide meaningful information in real-time so that no student falls behind. 9. TransformSC Schools are striving to create a culture of change in their schools and in their communities. TransformSC Schools are committed
an initiative of
to fundamental transformation of that system that has been embedded into the state’s culture for over 100 years. As educators begin to re-think education and implement changes, unprecedented partnerships are being formed between teachers, parents, students, community leaders and policy makers to create longterm, sustainable change. 10. Not a TransformSC School, but want to get involved? Visit our website at www.transformsc. com. The website functions as a social engagement and information platform for anyone who is interested in transforming public education. Users can post content into topic groups such as project-based learning or blended learning. Users also have access to regularly updated events, news and blogs. TransformSC is co-chaired by Mike Brenan, State President, BB&T and Pamela Lackey, State President, AT&T.
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The ‘Face’ of Chesterfield County Schools Nearing 50 Years of Service By Ken Buck Public Information Officer, Chesterfield County School District In 1967, a young Pageland girl began working part time in the office of the Pageland area superintendent of schools while also attending the University of South Carolina at Lancaster. Little did that 16 year old know then that she would become the “face” of Chesterfield County School District many years later. Patsy Hadac, now the administrative assistant for the superintendent of Chesterfield County School District, has been working for the various superintendents for nearly 47 years, making her literally the only assistant any county superintendent has even known since the merger into a county system in 1968. Hadac, who graduated from USC-Lancaster with a degree in Secretarial Science in 1968, was first brought on board by Superintendent R.C. Campbell, who after the consolidation into a county district, brought her to the district office with him from her role as his assistant in Pageland. This close to a milestone, has Hadac thought about going for 50 years in the district? “I do say that occasionally, that my goal is to make 50 years,” she says, “But you know it could be sooner and it could be later.” And in her role for close to five decades, Hadac has seen good times in the district, such as when the district upgraded many schools and built new ones earlier in the 2000’s. “I’m also proud to have been around to see all of the recognitions that the schools and the children here have earned,” she adds. She has, however, also seen some lean times in the county as well. “In particular, the economic issues that we experienced a few years ago were very difficult to go through,” she explains. Dr. Harrison Goodwin, who became superintendent in 2012, is the tenth superintendent with whom Hadac has worked. “The historical perspective that Patsy offers on how things operate (in the district) and why they run that way is huge,” says Goodwin. Goodwin also pointed out that Hadac is good at anticipating so many of the needs that he has as superintendent.
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“She has been through the cycle of the school year so many times,” he says. “As we prepare for many things, she is able to stay out in front, even a couple of months ahead of time on different things that need to be done. She makes sure we aren’t waiting until the issue comes up.” Dr. John E. Williams, who retired as superintendent in 2012, worked with Hadac in that role for eight years; however, he also worked with her for 30 years in the district as a principal, personnel director, and assistant superintendent. “Patsy was always the person I went to for information,” he explains. “There were many parts of being a superintendent that Patsy made almost automatic for me; places I needed to be, tasks I needed to take care of, people I needed to contact, groups I needed to be a member of, meetings I needed to convene, forms that had to be submitted, and certain people that needed special attention. Patsy lifted a great burden off of me.” Williams, like Goodwin, said that Hadac’s experience in the position helped him greatly. “Patsy has institutional knowledge that is invaluable, and when she leaves, much of it will be lost,” he says. “I hope that someone will video or audio tape Patsy about what she remembers about the events of Chesterfield County School District. She will retire one day and when she does, the school district will be diminished and much will be lost.”
Despite the praise about her knowledge of her job, Hadac says that it is others who have helped her attain it. “I have learned so much from all of the superintendents with whom I have worked,” she says. Hadac also said that she learned much from her friend and mentor, Sue Mangum, who also spent many years in the district office. Aster Truesdale, who has worked in various offices for the district, has been with Chesterfield County schools almost as long as Hadac. “Patsy is probably about the only secretary in this building who still remembers shorthand and uses it for school board minutes,” says Truesdale. “For years, the district’s gift for everyone who retired was a book called, ‘Leaves of Gold’,” Truesdale adds. “A couple of years ago, I was talking with Patsy about that book, and there were still some of them left around the office. Maybe someone is holding on to a copy for her for when she finally decides to hang it up.” Perhaps though, it is too soon just yet to be thinking about that retirement gift for Hadac because she said that
she still finds the job to be very rewarding. “I work closely with the superintendent, the board, the schools, and the district office,” she says. “I consider these folks to be my second family and I have made a lot of lifelong friends.” And even after she does decide to retire, Hadac will still very much be an active part in the district schools. She plans to continue to attend events at Pageland Central High School, where she is an avid follower of athletics and the marching band, and she also plans to volunteer in the county schools where her daughter Hollie, who Patsy calls her “greatest source of pride,” works as a speech and language pathologist. Hadac, reflecting on her time so far in the district, said that she has enjoyed working with the people of the county. “I try to help parents when they have concerns about their children,” she explains. “I like to think that I have contributed in some small way to the education of our children in Chesterfield County.”
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iLead: Transforming Your School to a Culture of Leadership By Steven Puckett The iLead framework is a “different” approach to establishing leadership and sustaining success in the school setting. Our schools can transcend the lives of those we service by being visionary, relevant, intentional, and explicit.
I would like to introduce to you a “different” way. Anyone who has been around public education for an extended period of time has become very familiar with the introduction of new programs, new curriculum, new standards, new textbook adoptions, new methodologies, new best practices, and the list goes on. It seems that every time you blink your eyes someone somewhere has found a new, better, improved way of doing what we as educators have been doing for years. To be perfectly honest, we all have probably said to ourselves “here we go again” as we begin the perpetual process of learning a new process or implementing a new system all with the same ultimate goals: educating the young people that we come in contact with and making a difference in their lives. Our disdain seems to grow with every new sequence of the “program” that is implemented and then our suspicions are confirmed when the powers that be adopt a “new” way of doing things just as we really start to grasp the “old” system. We have the best of intentions; however the rhetorical question still seems to echo in the hallways once our students leave the doors of our schools to begin the next chapter of their lives and educational careers, “Did we truly prepare them to succeed? Did we make a difference?” In my experience with public education, my personal life experiences, and the opportunity to be a parent of two wonderful children, I am now convinced more than ever that in order to “educate” and fully prepare young people to navigate successfully through our culture we must not only develop their academic potential, but we must transform our methodology to nurture and promote their leadership potential (Covey, 2008). When we as educators can help our students discover their own leadership potential they will approach the realm of academia in an entirely new light, but more importantly they will
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approach life in general with an entirely new perspective; one that will permeate every aspect of who they are and will take them to heights unfathomed. I would like to introduce to you not a new way, but a different way. I have found that new is relative. And some of what I may mention in this article may be new to you but old hat to someone else. Depending on your perspective, in this article I believe you will find some new, some old, but most certainly something different. Keeping in mind the overall goal of making a difference in the lives of the young people we work with and truly preparing them for success and life. For my school we call this “different” way the iLead Framework. Simply stated, the iLead Framework is a paradigm shift from lots of new and/or old programs and ideas to a cohesive student friendly, teacher friendly, community friendly, and all around stakeholder friendly approach to leadership and developing potential. The framework promotes involvement and positive peer pressure that bottom line flat out gets the job done! This isn’t just a theory. The school I work in has implemented this approach and the growth and results of the program have been overwhelming. So what exactly is it? The iLead Framework gives you and your school an opportunity to take existing or start up programs and streamline them for maximum effectiveness. Elements such as; parent volunteer opportunities, character education, community involvement, service learning, mentoring, leadership development, academic enrichment, project based learning, and collaboration with other schools being some examples. So what exactly does the iLead framework look
like? It resembles all of the above listed items wrapped up into one neat package that serves as the vehicle in which a deeply rooted atmosphere of leadership is adopted by administration, teachers, students, custodians, parents, and community members. The iLead framework reaches deep into our school culture to positively affect all of our stakeholders. Any school could use this framework. Quite possibly with a different name and motivation, but with the same goal of positively impacting student lives. In order for the iLead framework or a similar model to thrive and to truly transform the school setting, there are 4 things that this approach must BE.
Be visionary. First, we need to be visionary in our thinking. We all want our schools to be the very best. We all want to give our students the most exemplary education offered. Our intentions are pure. We aren’t in this business for the get rich quick gimmicks. What we aspire and endeavor to accomplish is to transform their lives and it all starts with a vision. Our iLead framework began and exists with the vision of turning elementary aged students into young men and women ready to tackle life and whatever else it may bring. We want our students to see that they have so much potential; and once they embrace that idea, in turn help others realize their potential. We want to transcend their self-image and align them with purpose and a cause greater than themselves. We want our students to be visionaries. We want them to have a vision of all that they can do, accomplish, and be. It all starts with a vision, more specifically, our vision strategically implemented and modeled to guide students to embody their own personal vision. What specific vision do you have for your school, your students, for your teachers? A clear vision fuels passion and contagious energy (Gordon, 2007). Probably the most notable characteristics about our iLead framework is the passion and contagious energy that it generates. The students are so pumped about it. One student told his teacher, “I couldn’t sleep last night thinking about iLead.” I have seen parents break down and cry and staff members who already have their plates full take on additional responsibilities to implement the framework. We constantly have to order more t-shirts for volunteers who want to be a part of the incessant energy the framework generates. The more we shared our vision the more support we generated. We scheduled meetings with local churches and businesses to cast the vision for our school. This eventually led to a local organization making a substantial donation that allowed us to establish and sustain the program. This organization caught a glimpse
of the vision, which has enabled us to transform the culture of our school. The iLead framework is working because it is saturated with unmistakable vision which gives life to passion and contagious energy.
Be relevant. We must be able to relate and identify with our students and their culture. And to be perfectly honest we need to market our “brand” to our students. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are competing to educate our students. We are competing with technology, social networking, entertainment, and the latest trends. In all of these areas you see one thing in common. They market. They market and spend millions of dollars to grasp and maintain the attention and interest of our young people. What we offer to our students needs to look good. It needs to feel good. We need to evoke their interest with our efforts and our ideas. Our “iLead” program and framework strives to keep things pure, clean, and simply put “cool” from a design and implementation standpoint. Not only the students, but the adults involved with the program can identify with the program name and appreciate the efforts to make sure things are done with quality and excellence. From our t-shirts, flyers, brochures, curriculum, planned events, every communication method delivered is designed with the goal in mind of being relevant to our stakeholders. I am reminded of a wise leader who was looking to build his organization of young people and make a lasting impact in their lives and the community. The first thing he did was organize a committee to garner feedback to drive the effort. The committee was comprised not of the adults and parents involved with the organization, but the young people themselves. He was ensuring relevancy from the very beginning. How much more effective and relevant would our curriculum be if we considered the perspective and input of our students first? If we want to transform our schools our methodology must be relevant.
Be intentional. Have a plan. As you ensure that your methods and efforts are relevant, it is crucial to be intentional in your planning and implementation. Know inside and out your goals. Learn them and even memorize them verbatim. Not only verbalize them but document them for all your stakeholders to have access to and refer to. Verbalize and document what you are trying to do. Know how you are going to do it and what it will look like. Being intentional will help maintain integrity in your efforts. One aspect of our iLead framework is a leadership development
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program for 5th graders. The program has two overall goals; first, to cultivate the students of today to be the leaders of tomorrow and secondly to promote the power of positive peer pressure. So the components implemented in the program are extremely intentional. We want to cultivate students to be leaders, so we intentionally require students to dress professional on certain days. Guys will wear shirts and ties and girls will wear dresses. We want to teach our students that in order to lead they must serve, so we intentionally require them to complete a minimum number of service hours. We want to utilize the power of positive peer pressure, so we intentionally design the dynamics of our groups and place at-risk students in an intentional setting with students who will reinforce positive behavior and traits. We stay intentional with our focus. This keeps us from the danger of doing things “the way they have always been done.” For every element and action of the program we attach intentionality. If someone asks, “is there a reason why you are doing this” we always have a resounding “YES” answer.
Be explicit. One of the greatest harms when communicating is ambiguity. When it isn’t clear what you are trying to say or what you are trying to do people (whether it be students, teacher, or parents) are ultimately going to get confused and not take from the experience what was intended. I remember growing up riding in the car with my dad. As I got a little older he would often ask for my help in ascertaining whether or not it was ok to pull out into an intersection or road depending on the traffic and driving conditions. He would say, “Son is it clear?” I would normally respond with “Go.” He
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was quick to let me know that “Go” wasn’t going to cut it. It was ambiguous. “Son, the words go sounds too much like the word no.” So the lecture would begin about how dangerous it is to not be clear when you are communicating. I quickly learned to respond with “IT IS CLEAR.” We are explicit when it comes to communicating and teaching. We leave no room for interpretation. As a part of our iLead framework, we have at least 2-3 fellows (dads, community members, business leaders) at all of our school entrances every day. They arrive early in their iLead t-shirts, and offer free high fives and words of encouragement to all our kids. We explicitly tell these volunteers what to wear, where to go, encouraging things to say. Then we explicitly assign them homerooms to go to and strategic topics to discuss with kids when they visit those classrooms first thing in the morning. Our student leadership development program clearly outlines for participants what we are imparting to them. All of them memorize the iLead Creed which states, “I am a leader. I accept responsibility and ownership of my actions and my words. I will not make excuses for poor decisions. Every day I will strive to be an example in what I do and what I say. I will live my life with discipline, courage, and integrity. I am a leader.” I think this vividly portrays an image of clarity. There is no room for misinterpretation in our efforts. The iLead mentor program which allows at-risk youth to have extended time with positive role models and also gives the student an opportunity to serve as an ambassador in acclimating the adult to our school also clearly defines for the adults through the mentoring guidelines how to interact and constructively build an effective mentor/mentee relationship. In order to transform our schools we must remove the atmosphere of chance. Be clear, be concise, be explicit, and expect results.
References Covey, S. R. (2008). The Leader in Me. New York, NY: Free Press. Gordon, J. (2007). The Energy Bus. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons.
About the Author Steven Puckett Assistant Principal 4137 Doby’s Bridge Road Indian Land, SC 29707 Phone: 803-548-2916 Steven Puckett currently serves as an assistant principal at Indian Land Elementary School.
OF THE YEARWinners
Lifetime Achievement Award
Anderson School District 5 In 1969, I was thrilled to have a job in Anderson School District 4 as a high school teacher and girls’ basketball coach. My teaching responsibilities included teaching two psychology classes for seniors, two general math classes for freshmen and two physical education classes. These classes met every day. The instructional tools of the day included textbooks, mimeograph machines (blue ink), manual typewriters, carbon stencil paper, chalk boards, movie reels and film strips. By 1973, districts were becoming aware of a new law fought for by parents of children with disabilities and states were gearing up for implementation even though there were few directions, materials, resources or collaboration from outside the school or district. Nevertheless, I agreed to teach the first self-contained special education class at Townville Elementary School. In 1975, Public Law 94-142 – Education of All Handicapped Children Act (now reauthorized and known as IDEA) changed how the school community treated and taught disabled children. Eventually, I taught resource students at Pendleton Elementary School before leaving in 1977 for the low country. The special education law propelled me into the world of administration simply because I had endorsements in three areas of disability from the South Carolina State Department of Education. In 1978, I became the director of special services in Bamberg School District One. I was the first female administrator in the history of the district. I am not sure any of us would have survived if it had not been for the SC State Department of Education’s Dr. Bob Black and his staff’s continuous communication and help in interpreting and negotiation of PL 94-142. His trademark organization offered support to districts with a consultant for each disability, psychological services, speech disorders, and federal monitoring. During that time, if I needed to talk with a colleague while traveling back and forth to Columbia, I stopped and used a
payphone at the rest areas and I called collect. My first car telephone was 20 years away. I remember buying an electric typewriter, a shared printer, and a computer to help with implementing an enormous federal law. The infrastructure for internet was also 20 years away. While PL 94-142 ushered in a learn-on-the-job environment, I also earned more degrees and credentials. In 1993, I became a superintendent just as accountability was beginning to emerge in South Carolina. The first signs of accountability were in the form of Act 135 requiring districts and schools to submit annual renewal plans and the South Carolina School-to-Work Transitional Act of 1994. Planning for the necessary infrastructure for technology was beginning across this state. The first curriculum frameworks with gateway standards appeared as the wave of the future. In South Carolina the Basic Skills Assessment Test was under attack for being just that – a basic skills test. The year 1993 was also auspicious for South Carolina education as a lawsuit, Abbeville et al. v. South Carolina, was filed against the state by a group of PeeDee and low country school districts and families who believed the state had failed in providing adequate funding. My seventh grade daughter, Tyler, at the age of 12, was named a plaintiff. In 1999 when Ty was graduating from high school, the state Supreme Court ruled that the school districts could sue the state by ruling that the SC Constitution’s 40-word article on public education, while not specific about quality, implied that the state should provide a minimally adequate education. The trial did not start until 2003 and closing arguments came 18 months later. The ruling was not made until 2005 and limited the state’s obligations for funding to only providing early childhood education in the plaintiff school districts. The saga for this lawsuit continues as appeals have been filed with no resolution. Twenty years of waiting equates to how many children deprived of equal educational opportunity? How can we be proud of a minimally adequate education? December 1996 offered me another learn-on-the-job experience, when Governor David Beasley called my office in Bamberg. The governor was concerned over student achievement and the state’s economy growth. On January 20, 1997, Governor Beasley created the Performance and
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Accountability Standards for Schools (PASS) Commission to address these issues. There were 10 members and three ex officio members. I was one among two other educators, and I was the only superintendent on the commission with four years in the superintendency and from a very small, rural district. The Commission reviewed 30 state plans, listened to expert testimony and read volumes and volumes of paper reports because infrastructure for technology had not been completed across the state. This work produced the South Carolina Accountability Act of 1998. The comprehensive bill included grade-by-grade standards, annual assessments, and the Education Oversight Committee, and state, district, and school report cards. While South Carolina implemented its accountability law, Congress reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and named it, No Child Left Behind, in 2001. This complicated implementation of assessments as well as the new school and district report cards. However, through it all schools in South Carolina have emerged academically stronger because of the accountability movement. Actually across this nation, South Carolina leads the way in many accountability areas. But in South Carolina many citizens are not aware of the great strides that have been made. Changes in education have continued. South Carolina’s curriculum standards aligned with Common Core state standards. Smarter Balance will replace PACT and PASS. Technology steadily erodes the relevance of textbooks. IT infrastructure is also shifting from providing computers to supporting multiple devices selected and brought to schools by teachers and students. Districts and schools have moved forward embracing STEM education, the ARTS, AVID programs, International Baccalaureate programs, middle colleges, community schools and a host of other significant specialty programs to enhance and meet the needs of students. State legislation and school district stakeholders have influenced the pursuit of school choice, magnet schools, charter schools, virtual learning, programs for diversity, and one to one technology. The future holds so many challenges and opportunities for public education in South Carolina. How well the system will respond depends on the funding structure our state creates. Changes as to how our schools are financed are long overdue. Many task forces and organizations, even an extended litigation, have brought forth plan after plan, to no avail. Financing public education must be a priority for our state. While there have been significant educational changes, leaders with different approaches, political posturing,
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and laws, there remains one constant - relationships. Relationships that are formed through mutual respect to forge an agenda for children are priceless. To honor our commitment to children we must remember our history, articulate our vision, and examine our motivation. South Carolina will prosper when we truly put children first.
Lifetime Achievement Award
Greenwood School District 50 From Overheads to Optical Drives The portable was just like the thousands of portable classrooms that dotted most high school campuses in the early seventies. Integration and a lack of capital money had forced most schools to utilize portable buildings. It was August 1973, and I was beginning my teaching career in the S. C. Lowcountry at Wade Hampton High School in Hampton, S.C. The portable had no air conditioning and a few of the ceiling tiles were missing which caused the heat index to rise significantly after lunch each day. I taught Psychology and had between 32-35 students in each class. I have tremendous pride in the Greenwood 50 classrooms and the state-of-the-art learning centers my grandchildren are in today as compared to when I began my career 40 years ago. The transformation of facilities is breathtaking in many districts while others still struggle to keep the roof repaired. Today we have cutting edge computers, Smart and Promethean Boards, projectors, access to the World Wide Web, iPads, MacBooks, etc to help facilitate learning in the classroom. In 1973 I was very happy to have my overhead projector because I hated using chalk and I could monitor my students better by facing them as I gave them notes. Forty years later I take comfort in the fact that my optical drive is performing flawlessly as I type this article. Little did I know that I would have the privilege to be a part of the technology wave into the future and also have the opportunity to contribute in a small way to helping school administrators find qualified teachers through the use of technology. As a high school guidance counselor and elementary principal in the 70’s and 80’s, the evolution of technology caused a complete paradigm shift in school administration. No longer did I wear out adding machines as I computed high school GPA’s. Being able to let the computer do the weighted GPA’s for us was analogous to magic. Producing class lists and schedules
on an Okidata dot matrix printer was music to my ears. My first NCR (IBM type) computer had 20 Megabytes of storage. The laptop I am typing this article on has 298 Gigabits of storage which means my laptop stores 1.5 million percent more information than did my first OSIRIS computer. What is OSIRIS you ask? OSIRIS was our very first student information management system used in South Carolina. It really was a wonderful tool for school administrators and especially guidance counselors. Prior to scheduling on OSIRIS, most of us used McBee punch cards that would be placed in a stack and sharp rods were inserted in specific holes around the perimeter of the form. The forms were pre-punched by class numbers around the perimeter of the card and after the sharp rod was inserted, we would shake the stack and those students who had signed up for a specific courses would drop out thereby yielding the class. Then we used a typewriter to construct class lists. It was a very labor intensive exercise to schedule a high school. But, it was the best tool we had available at the time. I vividly remember a school secretary dancing the first time she saw an IBM Selectric typewriter “remember” the previous letter she typed and reproduce it automatically. In addition to the computer revolutionizing the guidance office, form letters and mail merge were the delight of many school secretaries. Carbon copies were a thing of the past as software specific to office operations began to appear. A new day was dawning. Before we knew it, email and instant messaging became essential communication tools we rely on to do our work. It is difficult for many of our teachers today to even comprehend that email was not available until the early 90’s. It was during the early days of email that I began to conceive the idea of a computerized teacher application system that would help some of our smaller districts recruit teachers. As I attended many recruiting fairs across the state, it became apparent to me districts were spending a great deal of money on fancy applications to entice young graduates. I had an idea that perhaps we could move toward a statewide application system that would serve the needs of all districts. The idea was tossed around within the SCASA Personnel Division and with the assistance of CERRA, we were able to get all the superintendents in the state to agree on a common paper form. From that common paper application our group was able to work with James Hammond at Winthrop to develop the South Carolina Online Application System. We launched the application on October 1, 1999 and since that date, 120,530 individuals have entered an application. Being able to review and select applicants from a computer database has assisted our personnel administrators by saving them time and resources. It also saved potential candidates hand cramps from filling out a
boatload of applications while seeking employment. In looking back on the changing landscape of education in our state, I hold bright promise for my five grandchildren and their future in public education. The three that are school age are experiencing Schools of Inquiry and Montessori models through choice programs. Their skillfulness with technology and information research is exciting as I watch them with their iPads. The three-year-old is quite amazing with his learning games on the iPad. I am encouraged as I venture in classrooms and see technology being integrated into the instructional process. I love the look in a teacher’s eyes when he or she discovers another resource or tool that will help students grasp a concept. Learning is exciting for students, teachers and parents. It is a great time to be involved in teaching and learning in the public arena. My prayer is that our state will find the courage to invest in our public schools and provide the resources we need to educate our students. The advice I would leave to the profession is to never rely on one concept or application. Always work from the perspective of using multiple concepts and applications to approach teaching and learning. Visual conceptualization always helped me grasp concepts and applications. I believe it helps many people and technology is an excellent platform to use to accomplish this.
Personnel Director of the Year
Gwendolyn Conner Lancaster County School District
As with individuals, organizations would like to believe they are sound, structured and a prime candidate for success. Unless organizations change, they will continue producing the same results. Albert Einstein is noted for describing this type of mentality and behavior as insane - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. So, what is the role of human resources administrators in this transformation process? Marquardt (2011) asserts the significant intensity of “numerous economic, social, and technological forces” has dramatically altered organizational environments to the extent that organizations are defined as adaptable or extinct. Osland and Turner (2011) further state “ongoing demographic trends have made diversity a fact of organizational life” (p. 270). Demographic trends in the twenty-first century will include, but not be limited to an “increasing percentage of African Americans,
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OF THE YEAR
Hispanics, and Asians in the American workforce, an aging population, and expanding female labor force participation” (p. 270). Researchers (Ryan and Haslam, 2005) further speak to the inclusion of generational mixes when describing the future demographic makeup of organizations. With knowledge of organizational trending, teamwork will take on new meaning. Robbins, DeCenzo, and Wolter (2013) defines team as a “workgroup whose members are committed to a common purpose, have a set of specific performance goals, and hold themselves mutually accountable for the team’s results” (p. 283). Formulation of teams will require leaders to assess their strengths and weakness relating to the diversity of its employees. As noted by Osland and Turner (2011), acknowledging diversity and stereotypical threats do not mean that you are endorsing the attitudes or behaviors.
The Role of Human Resources Administrators The transformation of public education in South Carolina is drastically impacting our role as human resources administrators. Kotter (2012) noted, at first glance into an organization, leaders never have a complete sense of all the changes needed. How befitting is such a statement for human resources administrators while performing our role as professionals. It is evident by the ongoing issues surrounding teacher and principal performance evaluation, the Affordable Care Act, social media, globalization and the economy, that human resources administrators will assume a more proactive role in the overall decision making process as our role continues to evolve. Suggested strategies for moving human resources administrators from an industrial age to a transformational information and knowledge worker age include, but are not being limited to the following: Strategy 1. Employ the right leaders to foster a learning organization. The days of choosing an applicant because they dressed apart, responded intelligently to a question and attended a household name institution are no longer the only key ingredients for staffing successful learning organizations. Clawson (2012) asserts having the “right team members and the right leadership processes’ (p. 276) doesn’t equate to an effective team. However, it is critical to the success of an organization to have its “members in the right roles” (p. 276). Human resources administrators must also be able to identify applicants with a greater potential to move the organization forward. Learning organizations create cultures of inclusion and not exclusion. Employees
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are lifelong learners and are afforded opportunities to be innovative through trial and error. Marquardt (2011) says learning organizations take measures to encourage bravery when making decisions and believes organizations should “promote responsible risk taking and be open to new approaches and processes” (p. 67). There should be some margin of error as mistakes can provoke thought and can be the “source of new ideas and new ways of doing things” (p. 67). If organizations are going to successfully transform into learning organizations, learning inside organizations must be equal to or greater than change occurring outside the organization, says Marquardt (2011). Marquardt further states that once learning is acquired, opportunities for the learning to be nurtured and built upon must be provided in order to affect change. Strategy 2. Educate leaders on the importance of creating an environment where diversity is viewed as a strength and not a weakness. Osland and Turner (2011) say stereotyping “occurs when we attribute behavior or attitudes to people on the bias of the group or category to which they belong” (p. 270). When this happens, negative perceptions are formed and attributions are distorted. Stereotypical threats describe the “psychological experiences of a person who, while engaged in a task, is aware of a stereotype about his or her identity group suggesting that he or she will not perform well on that task” (p. 272). Oland and Turner (2011) further state that leaders who fail to manage diversity create an environment where morale is damaged, turnover rises, and significant problems regarding communications and conflict escalates. Therefore, leaders must understand what may be important to some staff members may not be equally important to another. Valuing others and what is important to them enriches employee and employer relations. Therefore, human resources administrators should take a proactive approach in identifying ways to ensure diversity is not tolerated but celebrated. Strategy 3. Prepare to foster learning that allows you to better assist others. Too often human resources administrators resolve issues, employ others, and revise or implement policies using antiquated information from yester years’ seminars and lectures. Learning affords learners an opportunity to put into practice what they have attained and is described by Marquardt (2011) as “just-in-time” (p. 76) learning. Marquardt also believes learning is where “change is the responsibility of the learner” (p. 250). For example, conflict is inevitable and is expected to ensue in some form or fashion. However, the methodology
for settling conflict nowadays differs vastly from how conflict was settled in the industrial age. This difference is in part due to the shift in workplace demographics. Pruitt and Kim (2004) describe conflict as a “divergence of interest, a belief that the parties’ current aspirations are incompatible” (p. 8). It is imperative that disparities or disagreements are resolved quickly but not at the expense of the organization. Lifelong learning teaches us that conflict is also an “emergent, dynamic phenomenon, in which parties can---and do---move and shift in remarkable ways” (p. 55), says Bush and Folger (2005). Strategy 4. Understand the role of technology in your organization. Advanced technology is revolutionizing organizations everywhere. To stay abreast, human resources administrators need a general understanding of what’s’ happening with computers, the internet, telecommunications, etc. Marquardt (2011) says “fundamental changes in work processes; integration of business functions at all levels within and among organizations; shifts in the competitive climate of many industries; new strategic opportunities to reassess missions and operations; basic changes in management and organizational structure; and organizational transformation by managers” (p. 159) are major areas where information technology will have effects on the workplace, learning, and employees. Canton (2006) describes technology as a “doubleedged sword” (p.228). Technology is believed to be both a blessing and a curse. Marquardt (2011) cited Olivier Serrat (2009) as saying “greater learning organizations learn faster and better, and that the necessary speed and accuracy involved is possible only through wise use of technology”. According to Thompson (2012), “information technology has created a culture of 24/7 availability” (p. 4). As human resources administrators across the nation continue making a mad dash to implement and enhance current technology to ensure compliance with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, they should ensure their negotiation skills are sharply honed. Thompson further states one major shortcoming in negotiation is “settling for terms that are worse than your best alternative (also known as the “agreement bias”)” (p. 6) out of an obligation to reach an agreement. As vendors approach you with what they believe to be the latest and greatest cutting edge technology, please beware. What works well for one organization, may not work as well with your organization. Strong (2007) says, “Building technological change into the strategic planning process prepares an institution
to anticipate, recognize, and adapt to change….. Technological change is somewhat predictable, and doing nothing is not an option”. On the other hand, organizations must also prepare to counter intruders’ actions with implementation of smarter technology that will provide higher levels of security.
Conclusion Northouse (2012) says leaders set the tone in organizations by “providing structure, clarifying norms, building cohesiveness, and promoting standards of excellence” (p. 129). As human resources administrators, our leadership role is critical in the transformation of public education in South Carolina. Old paradigms die hard says Covey (2004). Therefore, we should find our voice and inspire others to find theirs as we prepare to move from effectiveness to greatness. Human resources administrators can make the transition from effectiveness to greatness by being proactive regarding our role in the evolutional trends impacting public education. These trends include, but are not limited to career readiness, growth, development and advancement; optimization of teacher quality, recruitment, retention and evaluation; technology advancement and globalization; health and retirement benefits; salary disparity; workforce diversity; and compliance with Federal and state mandates. As human resources administrators with innumerous talent, skills, intellect and experience, we must better position ourselves to utilize our voice and inspire others to do the same during this inevitable paradigm shift from an industrial age to a transformational age.
References Bush, R. A., Folger, J. P. (2005). The promise of mediation. The transformative approach to conflict. San Francisco, CA: JosseyBass Wiley Imprint. Canton, J. (2006), The extreme future: The top trends that will reshape the world for the next 5, 10, and 20 years, Penguin Group (USA) Clawson, J. G. (2012). Level three leadership. Getting below the surface (5th ed.). Upper River, NJ: Prentice-Hall Cornish, E. (2004), Futuring: The exploration of the future, world future society, Bethesda, Maryland, U.S.A, www.wfs.org Covey, S. R. (2004), The 8 Habit: From effectiveness to greatness, FranklinCovey Co, Free Press: A division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. Kotter, J .P. (2012). Leading change. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press. Marquardt, M. J. (2011). Building the learning organization. Achieving strategic advantage through a commitment to
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OF THE YEAR
learning (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Nicholas Brealey Northouse, P. G. (2012). Introduction to leadership. Concepts and practice (2nd ed). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Osland, J. S., Turner, M. E. (2011). The organizational behavior: Behavior reader (9th ed.). Upper River, NJ: Prentice-Hall Pruitt, D. G. & Kim, S. H. (2004). Social conflict: Escalation, stalemate, and settlement (3rd ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill
Ryan, M. K., Haslam, S.A. (2005). The Glass cliff: Evidence that women are over-represented in precarious leadership positions, British Journal of Management, 16(2), 81-90 Robbins, S. P., DeCenzo, D. A., & Wolter, R. (2013). Supervision today! Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall Strong, B. (2007). Strategic planning for technological change, Edcause Quarterly, Number 3 2007 Thompson, L. L. (2012). The mind and heart of the negotiator. (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
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TRANFORMING ASSESSMENT: A Community’s Effort to Determine College and Career Readiness By A. Sean Alford, Ph.D.
ver the past two decades, the public education landscape has experienced a significant shift. Increased expectations for organizational and individual student performance have been created by standards-driven reform efforts and the ever present mantra of global competitiveness. The expressed needs of business stakeholders and workforce development advocates have continued to highlight the inadequate level of preparedness possessed by young adults entering the 21st Century workplace. Most educators and educational institutions have noticed this shifting landscape, but have yet to construct a comprehensive effort to meet the growing needs and concerns of the general public. To meet the challenge of preparing students to be creative and collaborative participants of a global economy, educational institutions must reconsider and strengthen the major components of instructional feedback. For years, states and school districts have designed what we considered to be challenging and relevant curriculum while employing best practices related to instruction. Unfortunately, current state summative assessment systems have not facilitated continuous improvement nor supported instructional feedback. They have lacked longitudinal connectivity for stakeholders and they have not provided timely, formative data to help teachers and schools inform future instruction. Assessment results may provide a current snapshot of a student’s ability at the point of administration, but they don’t help educators or families determine what students need to do to meet the ultimate goal – preparation for post-secondary success. Considering the encouragement of South Carolina’s educational leaders for innovation and flexibility, Dorchester School District Two recently requested permission to utilize a pioneer a post-secondary-focused longitudinal assessment system. The adoption of this system will provide timely, actionable data that is meaningful to all stakeholders. For students and parents, expedient access to relevant, longitudinal data will greatly enhance their understanding of and connection to academic performance. For educators, access to timely, relevant data will enhance the preparation of
individualized and challenging instructional plans and monitoring of student progress. Teachers will understand what a student knows at the point of the assessment, and receive insight on what the student is ready to learn next. Business leaders and job creators will have a clearer understanding of an applicant’s skill set and potential contribution to the workforce. In utilizing a longitudinal, Common Core State Standards aligned assessment; Dorchester School District Two believes we will take a tremendous step toward meeting the workforce needs of our community by preparing better students, employees and citizens. Our district’s mission statement reiterates our commitment to individual student advocacy and academic challenge while encapsulating the need for a well-informed instructional process ~ Dorchester Two: leading the way, every student, every day, through relationships, rigor, and relevance. We don’t believe this different accountability system is necessarily for all communities. Dorchester School District Two has consistently demonstrated academic excellence and is ready to move to a combination of metrics for a robust but different accountability model. Dorchester School District Two has celebrated great academic success in recent years while experiencing South Carolina’s third lowest per pupil expenditure rate. In 2013, we celebrated an “Excellent” report card rating for our district as well as 16 of our 21 schools. In March 2013, 100% of our schools earned a Palmetto Gold or Silver award while Ashley Ridge High School and Fort Dorchester Elementary School received the prestigious “Palmetto’s Finest” award. Despite numerous accomplishments, a comprehensive selfreview of our student data revealed that many of our graduating students fell short of an empirical benchmark representing readiness for post-secondary success. (Figure 1.1) According to data compiled by ACT for Dorchester School District Two students, only 30 percent of test takers in 2013 met the college and career readiness benchmark in all of the four content areas of English, Mathematics, Reading and Science. Moreover, this statistic only
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represented 540 self-selected high school students who participated in hopes of gaining an acceptable college entrance score. As we considered the lack of preparedness represented in the data and the critical components of our mission statement, we felt a strong obligation to determine the level of preparedness for all of our potential graduates. In 2012-13, we provided the ACT assessment to 1,383 11th grade students as part of ACT’s District Cohort Testing Program. Assessment results revealed that only 13 percent of Dorchester School District Two’s potential graduates met the college and career readiness benchmark in all of the four content areas of English, Mathematics, Reading and Science. (Figure 1.2) By every aspect of South Carolina’s accountability system, we are considered a high performing school district. But with only 30% of self-selected Seniors and 13% of all Juniors meeting empirically determined benchmarks of college and career readiness we concluded that our state’s current assessment system does not provide a relevant or accurate determination of our student’s skills and abilities. As a school system focused on serving our students, we recognize the need to establish an innovative instructional framework so that every graduate is prepared to compete and contribute globally and locally. We believe, and research supports, that a vital component of an innovative instructional framework is a challenging and relevant assessment system. Dorchester School District Two requested an exemption from current state and federal accountability requirements to employ an innovative, actionable assessment system designed to monitor individual student progress toward empirical benchmarks of college and career readiness. Not only have we committed to participating in ACT’s District Cohort Testing Program, we have aligned our proposed assessment system with the South Carolina Work Ready Communities Initiative by providing an opportunity for every 11th grade student to participate in ACT’s WorkKeys assessment. Our local and regional Chamber of Commerce have expressed tremendous support for our proposed assessment system because of the inclusion of WorkKeys and our district’s intent to determine objectively the percentage of graduates who are not only college ready but also certified as work-ready. In an effort to engage every grade level in the vetting of our proposal, we also agreed to participate in a district-wide scaling study for the new ACT ASPIRE assessment in May 2013 which allowed over 4,600 of our students an opportunity to experience the challenge of a digitally-administered, Common Core State Standards aligned, summative assessment.
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If granted the requested exemption, we will extend our partnership with ACT to employ a comprehensive (3rd – 12th grade) assessment system that is aligned to Common Core State Standards, ACT College Readiness Standards, and National Career Readiness Certificate Standards. We strive to be a “World Class” school district, and we believe that the employment of the comprehensive ACT assessment plan will grant us an opportunity to compare our students’ performance to that of students across the nation and globe. We also believe that monitoring and communicating student academic progress in the context of post-secondary preparedness and success will help increase graduation rates while solidifying a stronger, better equipped workforce. Through a more relevant assessment system, we anticipate an enhanced understanding and connection for families and students to their achievement which will increase the number and amount of scholarships earned by graduating seniors. By transforming accountability assessment in South Carolina, we believe stakeholders could experience an aligned and coherent sequence of learning events which will clarify and strengthen pathways to college and careers beginning in the elementary grades. As a state, we could authenticate the intent of the Education Economic Development Act (EEDA). A National Career Readiness Certificate aligned assessment would provide an additional accountability measure for EEDA beyond the monitoring of Individual Graduation Plans. Participating students would earn a national work ready certification that is portable, relevant to the national business community and affiliated with the South Carolina Work Ready Communities initiative. Finally, all high school students would participate in a nationally recognized, college admissions assessment and have placement scores available at the beginning of their senior year facilitating academic and career advisement. I recommend beginning your next team meeting with the following questions, “Are our students on track for success in college and the workplace? How do we know?” We believe that an accountability system that does not answer these core questions falls short of 21st Century expectations.
About the Author
A. Sean Alford, Ph.D 4976 Wescott Blvd. #824 Summerville, SC 29485 843-860-5990 Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, Dorchester School District Two
Figure 1.1. Percent of Your Students Ready for College-Level Coursework (540 Students)
A benchmark score is the minimum score needed on an ACT subject-area test to indicate a 50% chance of obtaining a B or higher or about a 75% chance of obtaining a C or higher in the corresponding credit-bearing college course.
Figure 1.2. Percent of Your Students Ready for College-Level Coursework (1,383 Students)
A benchmark score is the minimum score needed on an ACT subject-area test to indicate a 50% chance of obtaining a B or higher or about a 75% chance of obtaining a C or higher in the corresponding credit-bearing college course.
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Managing Optimal Development for the Educational Leader (M.O.D.E.L.) By Angela Cooper, Ed.D., and Cecil McClary, Ph.D.
Transforming Public Education The educational landscape has changed for the k-12 student and the educator. In Lexington School District Two in West Columbia, South Carolina, all educators are “Educational Leaders” responsible for a quality educational process for the whole child. No different from other districts, we know that our schools and communities must be globally prepared and engaged to meet the diverse needs of the student population. We also understand and recognize our duty to prepare our “Educational Leaders” so that effective and engaged learning will take place in this environment. MODEL integrates vital components of operations and development to include: (1) Selection, (2) Management System for Growth and Development-Evaluation, and
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(3) Retention. Further, it supports greater academic achievement and educational environments. When we say, “Transforming Public Education” we are saying that we need the elements of sustainability to lead us through our quest for innovation that keeps that personalized approach in the center of our minds while we look for a learning format that is also individual, engaging, and collaborative. We know that “one size does not fit all” for the students or the staff. Technology has transformed the opportunities for the student learner, but the research to support the adult learner lags significantly. Educational research does address the needs of the adult learner technologically where the focus is on coursework rather than on the educator’s professional development.
MODEL offers through pervasive technology a collaborative yet independent Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). Lexington School District Two University is a Virtual Learning Environment implemented during the 2012-2013 school year (Cooper A., p. 2011). This platform offers flexibility, access to anywhere-anytime learning, and blends authentic, project-driven learning in addition to the elements of Selection and Employee Growth-Development and Evaluation.
Selection Selection means the process that you follow to become a “potential employee”. This is one of three phases that comprise the MODEL process. A completed application is required for consideration for employment. This application has an embedded screening process which allows greater insight into the candidates potential. A teacher candidate yields a potential rating for success on a 1-10 scale. Having this type of situational and behavioral insight allows us to send higher quality candidates (the best of the best) to the principal for consideration. All non-certified applicants complete a suitability assessment which utilizes Workkeys. This is a very important part of the Employment Selection Process (ESP). Knowing which career seekers are ready for assessments and which ones require further training is key really finding the most suitable candidate for our vacancies before being hired for a job. The Readiness Indicator, embedded in this assessment is designed to help potential applicants streamline the qualification process and ensure a higher return on assessment dollars. The results provide a reliable estimate that helps identify individuals who are likely to achieve scores of Level 3 or above on operational WorkKeys assessments, which in turn is directly linked to more effective employees. TABE® is also part of the assessment process to provide a solid foundation for effectively assessing the skills and knowledge of adult learners and in determining a Highly Qualified status. Our district has established the foundation and protocol to be deemed a “Pearson Testing Site” which gives us access to even more data and readiness skill indicators of potential applicants.
Management System for Growth and Development Career paths and career ladders are two traditional methods by which an employee can develop and progress. Career ladders are the progression of jobs in specific occupational fields ranked from highest to lowest
generally based on level of responsibility and pay. Career paths encompass varied forms of career progression, including the traditional vertical career ladders, dual career ladders, horizontal career lattices, career progression outside the organization and encore careers. MODEL gives us this ability. Employees usually feel more engaged when they believe that their employer is concerned about their growth by providing avenues to reach their career goals. A career development path provides our employees with an ongoing mechanism to enhance their skills and knowledge base that can lead to mastery in their area, and/or promotions and transfers to new or different positions. Implementing these options does have a direct impact on the entire district by improving morale, career satisfaction, motivation, productivity and responsiveness in meeting departmental and school/district objectives. Developing our educators and leaders is the core of the MODEL process as we address the evaluation system and support systems that are used for continual improvement of instruction. Beginning with the end in mind (academic achievement), MODEL addresses the critical components that help to transform our work environment and processes by applying innovative techniques and options that make the work day more efficient and ultimately more effective. At the heart of MODEL is a data management system that is individualized to the Employee that links (Selection) to the professional growth and capacity database (Management System for Growth and Development). This is known as HRIS. Professional growth and skill improvement is housed and managed in this electronic platform. This allows authorized administrators to monitor professional growth of the employees that they supervise. Moving one step further in scope, MODEL offers a virtual learning platform for professional development (Retention). This phase of the design brings a unique and innovative approach. We are able to offer professional development at any time and from anywhere which enhances our quality offering exponentially. The teachers love the fact that they are able to attend class virtually not having to leave their classrooms while the mentors (teacher and otherwise) appreciate the connectedness they are offered in this environment. We offer all educators a collaborative environment for rich discussion and growth, right where they are.
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Retention Human Resource private industry professionals say that the three biggest challenges facing the field of Human Capital over the next ten years are retaining and rewarding the best employees, developing the next generation of leaders, and creating a culture that attracts the best employees to organizations. In public education, these same challenges apply; transformation, innovation, and creativity are paramount. A recent survey of SC Public School Personnel Officers responded similarly when asked “Over the next ten years, what do you think will be the three biggest challenges facing the HR in your district?” The obvious critical subject areas for teaching were noted, but other areas of concern are consistent with those noted in the private business world. To paraphrase, learning how to educate without brick and mortar, balancing the changing climate with social media, retaining a diversified workforce, working with leaner budgets, technological trends with curriculum challenges, and preparing students for a global economy are at the top of the list of challenges upcoming for public education. In public education, the student learner has been introduced to various levels of e-learning methods, but the adult learner has been left behind. Public educators today want more flexibility. In the organizational behavior world, job sharing and flex schedules are the result of the employer responding to the evolving needs of today’s professional just to name a few. With MODEL we have found the delicate balance of growing the teachers and educational learners simultaneously. More specifically, this offers the developing professional a nice mixture of content, technology, and learning. Our Induction and Mentoring program are administered utilizing a virtual learning environment which incorporates video conferencing and a Learning Management System (LMS) which we call “Lexington School District Two University”. Induction teachers and mentors attend training from their school site and using online tools such as video, chat, whiteboards, web sharing, and breakout sessions. Educators participate in an engaging learning environment.
Return on Investment The return on your investment as a public school district yields many benefits. MODEL offers better selection of teachers and employees overall, enhances professional growth and development, increases retention, and improves the overall organizational culture. We truly believe that if you will follow this concept design, you
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too will improve your workforce stability and increase academic achievement.
References Cooper, A. &. (2012). Lexington School District Two Human Resources. Retrieved April 27, 2013, from Lexington County School District Two: www.lex2.org/humanresources Cooper, A. (2011, July 1). Lexington School District Two University. West Columbia, South Carolina, United States. Retrieved April 27, 2013, from www.lex2.org: https://lex2.webex.com/ mw0307l/mywebex/default.do?siteurl=lex2 Cooper, A., & McClary, C. (2013). Lexington School District Two Human Resources. Retrieved April 29, 2013, from Lexington County School District Two: www.lex2.org McClary, C. (2013). Lexington School District Two Hunam Resources. Retrieved April 29, 2013, from Lexington County School District Two: www.lex2.org McClary, C., & Cooper, A. (2013). Lexington School District Two Human Resources. Retrieved April 29, 2013, from Lexington County School District Two: www.lex2.org
About the Authors Angela Cooper, Ed. D. P.O. Box 4120 West Columbia, SC 29171 803.739.4054 Dr. Cooper is the Chief Human Resources Officer for Lexington School District Two. She received her Ed.D. (2006), MHRD (1996), PHR (1999), and BS in Psychology and Education (1990). She is certified as a Synchronous Learning Expert (SLE) with a focus in Synchronous Facilitation and Synchronous Instructional Design (2013). Her work experience includes: Employment and Training Counselor, HR Director, HR Manager, Teacher, Educational Facilitator, Executive Coach, and Chief Human Resources Officer. Cecil McClary, Ph. D. 1538 Lakeshore Drive Manning, SC 29102 803.739.4053 Dr. McClary is Coordinator for Teacher Quality and Effectiveness for Lexington School District Two. He has Ph.D. in Educational Administration (1996), Masters in Education Administration (1973), and BS in Business Administration (1968). He is certified as a Synchronous Learning Expert (SLE) with a focus in Synchronous Facilitation and Synchronous Instructional Design (2013). During his career he has served as an Elementary and Middle School Principal, Assistant High School Principal, Director of Personnel, Coordinator for Recruitment and Retention and Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources. For more information related to their educational research, publications, and presentations, please visit http://acoop09.wix.com/model
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WINTER 2014 • PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR 55 18713.1113
Communication Helps Schools Maximize Their Benefits Plans By Chris Shealy, Colonial Life
Trim. Cut. Slash. All these terms have been used to describe what’s happened to the state’s budget for the past several years. And no one is feeling the pinch more than our education system. At the same time school funding is being reduced, health insurance premiums are still on the rise. That means most school districts are forced to deal with issues ranging from higher deductibles and co-pays to elimination of some benefits altogether. And they are carrying this additional administrative load with fewer human resources. Teachers and other school district employees are burdened with not only increased financial exposure but also greater responsibility for benefits decisionmaking. The result can be confusion, lower morale, higher turnover, poor participation and, perhaps worst of all, wasted dollars on benefits employees neither understand nor appreciate. Yet there is something you can do to strengthen the value of your benefits programs and ensure the best use
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of increasingly precious resources: focus on benefits communication and education. Benefits communication and education play a critical role in helping school districts maximize their benefits package as a competitive advantage to retain and attract the best talent. “Strong communication may be the single most important step an employer can take in a benefits program,” according to Steve Bygott, assistant vice president for core market services at Colonial Life, which released a white paper on benefits communication and education. “Communication helps employers get the most from the significant investment they make in employee benefits.”
Perception of Benefits is Reality
The vast majority of workers don’t understand the value of the benefits they have now. Benefits today account for more than 30 percent of employee compensation,1 yet few employees know the actual cost employers pay for providing them.
When you’re competing with other school districts for top talent, the perception of your benefits program can be very important. Just like in the business world, it’s not uncommon for a great teacher to be wooed away by another school district or even a job outside of education for a relatively small increase in pay. The sad part is moves like that can be based more on perception than reality. If your employees don’t understand their benefits, they can’t appreciate them, so their perception of what you offer may be flawed.
Educating Employees about Benefits is Important The need for good benefits communication is no secret to employers. In fact, the vast majority of them believe they’re already good at it. Seventy-seven percent of employers agree or somewhat agree that their benefits education efforts are very effective.2 Yet employees don’t necessarily see things the same way. Only 60 percent of employees whose employers offer benefits agree that their benefits communication is very or fairly effective. And 9 percent say their communication is not at all effective.3 You’d likely get similar results in a survey of school administrators — or their employees. And if the benefits communication they receive is seen as less than desirable, it’s no wonder most employees don’t understand their benefits. In fact, only 34 percent of employees say they understand their benefits very well, and 7 percent don’t understand them at all. Yet nearly all employees (98 percent) say understanding their employee benefits is at least somewhat important.3 With all the changes being made to benefits packages today, it’s no wonder employees are struggling to understand them. A change of any type to a benefits plan — whether it’s increased premiums, higher deductibles, a shift to employee-paid voluntary benefits, or even just more options — can cause confusion and concern for employees.
Benefits Communication That Works at Work Scanning a list of benefits once a year at enrollment does not give employees the information they want and deserve. The best employers offer help — even planning —that is personalized and trustworthy. Keys to an effective benefits communication program include: • Interactivity. As benefits decision-making continues to shift more toward employees, workers are
increasingly eager for information and tools. Benefits communication and education involves more than developing a message and delivering it. It’s about creating participation — an integral part of any highly successful communication program. Using tools such as Colonial Life’s Benefits Learning Center and personalized Youville® website helps encourage employee engagement. • One-to-One Support. South Carolina has a great self-enrollment tool, but what’s missing is individual education. Something as complex as insurance can’t be effectively communicated relying totally on technology and self-education. One-to-one interactions that personalize the benefits decision-making experience are most effective. For example, conducting an individual needs analysis or talking through the features and costs of a specific policy helps ensure employees have a clear understanding. This type of one-to-one communication addresses the soft needs — helping employees understand all the terminology and choices while giving them confidence they’re making good decisions for their families. • Convenience. Information must be available to employees when and where it’s convenient for them. This is another reason one-to-one meetings at the workplace are so effective. Colonial Life’s benefits counselors can meet with your employees during their planning periods, on their breaks, at lunch, before or after school, or any time that meets your needs. • Multiple touch points. No one communication method by itself can be completely effective. We can help you take advantage of many methods, including one-to-one sessions, group meetings, online information and printed materials. And as younger generations permeate your teacher pool, keep in mind this group’s preferences for how it wants to get information. The message might not need to change, but the delivery mechanism does. Adaptability is very important moving forward.
Effective Education at No Cost
Implementing a comprehensive benefits communication strategy doesn’t have to involve additional expense or administration for the district. Colonial Life offers this service, along with turnkey enrollment, at no charge, in exchange for the opportunity to offer our voluntary benefits to your employees. In fact, we’ve served South Carolina’s state employees as a benefits communication partner since 2003, and we currently do business with more than 80 school districts. Our benefits counselors emphasize a needs-based approach focused on each
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employee’s individual situation (rather than one “pushing” one-size-fits-all coverage to all employees). Ultimately, though, the payoff from effective benefits communication is much more than getting through the next annual enrollment with a minimum of headaches. It’s about building a long-term partnership between you and your employees based on increased perception of value. Employees usually can accept changes, even ones that may cost them more, if they understand the reasons behind them, according to Bygott. “Good communication helps form a partnership between the employee and the employer where they’re in this together,” says Bygott. “So while my benefits may cost more out of my pocket this year, I understand the business reason and that this change is necessary to help keep my employer in business so my co-workers and I have jobs. Not only that, good benefits communication helps employees see the total value of their benefits package and helps them take advantage of all the options available. Employees may actually come away realizing their employer is doing a lot more for them than they realized.”
Home-grown Service from Colonial Life Lots of companies can offer their products to school districts and their employees, but the true value of a vendor is often most apparent after the sale. Schools that partner with South Carolina-based Colonial Life find satisfaction in working with a home-grown business that prides itself on customer service. The company has been named one of the top 10 best large employers to work for in the state five times. Employees in the company’s Contact Center continue to receive top marks from customers for the service they provide. For example, 93 percent of policyholders who called the center during the first half of 2013 said they were satisfied overall with the service they received.4 Colonial Life celebrates 75 years of service in 2014 and remains committed to helping America’s workers understand and appreciate the benefits available to them
58 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • WINTER 2014
through the workplace. The company is also committed to community service, with a focus on four priority areas: education, wellness, economic development and the arts. Colonial Life donated more than $700,000 to nonprofit organizations in 2012 as part of its charitable giving efforts.
About the Author Chris Shealy is a public sector manager with Colonial Life in South Carolina. He can be reached at (803) 727-8109 or Chris.Shealy@ColonialLife.com.
About Colonial Life: Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company is a market leader in providing financial protection benefits through the workplace, including disability, life, accident, cancer, critical illness and supplemental health insurance. The company’s benefit services and education, innovative enrollment technology and personal service support more than 75,000 businesses and organizations, representing nearly 3 million working Americans and their families. More than 10,000 career agents work for Colonial Life in one of the fastest- growing segments of the insurance industry. The company has received national recognition for its excellent sales training programs, and annually receives national recognition as brokers’ partner of choice in the workplace benefits market. For more information about Colonial Life’s products and services, visit www.ColonialLife.com. You can also connect with Colonial Life at www.facebook.com/ coloniallifebenefits, www.twitter.com/coloniallife and www.linkedin.com/company/colonial-life.
1 Employer Costs for Employee Compensation News Release, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 12, 2013 2 Society for Human Resource Management, State of employee benefits in the workplace—Communicating benefits, 2012. 3 Colonial Life-Harris Interactive survey, Feb. 27-March 1, 2013. 4 Survey conducted for Colonial Life by KS&R, an independent market research firm, 2013.
WE OUT OF BENEFITS TAKE THE
WORKLOAD OFF OF YOU. Let’s face it, benefits can be confusing. That’s why we take care of everything, start to finish — from counseling your employees 1-to-1, to providing easier enrollment tools, even handling all the paperwork. And our expertise will help your employees better understand their options in order to make the most of their benefits. Freeing you up to take care of the other 1,297 things on your list.
Accident • Disability • Life • Cancer and Critical Illness • Hospital Confinement Indemnity • Educator Disability © 2013 Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company. Colonial Life products are underwritten by Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company, for which Colonial Life is the marketing brand. Products may vary by state and may not be available in all states.
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SCASA VOICES As a SCASA member, you are woven into an interconnected ecosystem where industry professionals share ideas and best practices designed to improve student achievement, teacher/leadership performance, and the quality of all public schools. This ecosystem is the driving force for innovation in all schools which improves the quality of life for all South Carolinians. —Robert Jackson, Principal
The professional development offered by SCASA over the past decade provide superintendents with useful information that is utilized in our leadership. In addition, the networking opportunities are phenomenal.
Being a school principal, I love knowing “more.” SCASA is one of my best tools for staying current on public education and best practices, not only in South Carolina, but nationwide.
—Denise Barth, Principal
SCASA means having a strong, pro-education voice in state government. I value that SCASA is a vehicle and network for the collective wisdom of bright, dedicated, and innovative educators throughout the state to share their expertise and opinions. —Robbie Binnicker, Assistant Superintendent of Administration
“I joined SCASA because of its long standing tradition of advocacy on behalf of public school —Vashti Washington, Superintendent administrators across the nation and the Palmetto state. SCASA My SCASA membership is invaluable! It is a great source for up to date information on has been instrumental in serving as the collective voice of the current issues and trends; it is the premier thousands of dedicated public school opportunity for educational networking in our state; and, it is an outstanding source for administrators who tirelessly serve professional development. our children every single day.” —Julie Fowler, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction
—Dr. Claudia Edwards, Deputy Superintendent of Academics
SCASA is the full package - experience, knowledge, innovative ideas, encouragement, thought provoking, supportive, informed, shared vision, and relationship building!
—Betty Jo Hall, Assistant Superintendent of Personnel
60 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • WINTER 2014
Foster a Love of Reading With a Scholastic Book Fair
If we want children to read independently, and read more, they need: • Easy ACCESS to a wide assortment of affordable books • CHOICE in what they read • Family involvement opportunities that engage family members in the celebration of reading Scholastic Book Fairs partners with schools to deliver “mini bookstores” that provide students and families convenient access to high-quality books. And we keep books affordable so families and schools can easily build libraries at home and in the classroom. ®
Each Book Fair provides access, choice, and involvement to schools. We value our partnership with you and our shared commitment to raise a nation of readers. For more information on scheduling a Book Fair, speak to a Scholastic Book Fairs consultant or visit www.scholastic.com/ bookfairs.
To watch a video on how Book Fairs can help your students, scan here or visit www.scholastic.com/ bookfairs/family
© 2013 Scholastic Inc. 10670 Printed in the U.S.A.
WINTER 2014 • PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR 61
Manning Early Childhood Center, Clarendon School District Two, students performed the play “Little Red Riding Hood” under the direction of SCASA Member Buren Martin from the Baillie Players in May 2013. Submitted by Betty Harrington.
Students of Oakridge Middle School’s News Team in York School District Two learn from the Emmy Award Winning NASCAR Media Group out of Charlotte NC. Submitted by Rod Ruth.
62 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • WINTER 2014
Mrs. Jennifer Glover and a second grader at Kershaw County’s Pine Tree Hill Elementary School making his self portrait. Submitted by Renata Inabinet.
Brushy Creek Elementary, Greenville County Schools, kindergarten teacher Jennifer Hart and her students practice new math skills on the iPad. Submitted by Susan Clarke.
Greenville County’s Science Instructor Melanie Dixon delivers virtual science lessons to fourth and fifth graders at Alexander, Berea, Monaview and Welcome Elementary Schools from a science lab located at M.T. Anderson Support Center. Submitted by Susan Clarke.
WINTER 2014 • PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR 63
Help Move Education Forward! There are many dedicated elected officials who stand up for public education. We need to stand behind them with our voices and financial support. Donate to the LEAP Action Committee by going to www.scasa.org and click Donate or mail your check made payable to LEAP to 121 Westpark Boulevard, Columbia, SC 29210.
Thank you for supporting public education!
Site to See
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SCASA Business Affiliates Name
Preferred Phone Number
ABM Building Services
Academy for Careers and Technology
Achieve 3000, Inc.
American Reading Company
Boykin and Davis, LLC
CDI Computer Dealers Inc.
(888) 226-5727 x336
CERRA - South Carolina
(800) 476-2387, ext
Childs & Halligan P.A.
Classworks by Curriculum Advantage
Collaborative Learning, Inc.
(803) 750-9222 ext
Duff, White & Turner L.L.C. final
Durham School Services
Foreign Academic & Cultural Exch. Serv.
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GCA Education Services, Inc.
Generation Ready Inc.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
ID Shop, Inc.
Jumper Carter Sease Architects, P.A.
Keenan Suggs Insurance
Mary Beth Branham
National Teacher Associates of SC, INC.
66 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR â€˘ WINTER 2014
SCASA Business Affiliates Name
Preferred Phone Number
Northwest Evaluation Association
Nu-Idea School Supply Company, Inc.
Parker, Poe, Adams & Bernstein LLP
Pearson Digital Learning
Planned Financial Services, Inc.
Presentation Systems South
Renaissance Learning, Inc.
SC Alliance of Black School Educators
SC Chamber of Commerce
(803) 799-4601 x125
SC School Boards Insurance Trust
J. Franklin Vail
Scholastic Book Fairs
School Improvement Network
Stevens & Wilkinson of SC, Inc.
The Breakthrough Coach
The MIND Research Institute
The Protection Institute
H. Paige Carlton
Tipping Points Technologies
Wil Lou Gray Opportunity School
Zaner-Bloser Educational Publishers
Rhodes Graduation Services, Inc.
WINTER 2014 â€˘ PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR 67
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