NFV News

March Newsletter

Changes, Changes, Changes

Last spring we approved a calendar with 44 hours more than was necessary. We have missed over 88 hours in snow days and late starts. So the calendar for this spring is significantly different than the one hanging on your refrigerators. All these hours lost in the third quarter has triggered a shift in the end of the quarter from March 22 to April 5.

The bigger issue is the recovery of hours to reach our mandated 1080 in a meaningful way, with quality instructional time. It is the Boards authority to establish and change the calendar, so I will be proposing a series of changes with the goal of creating the right opportunities for both students and staff. So, for a list of proposed school day changes (Assuming no more changes):

Beginning on March 27, Wednesdays will not have early dismissals, they will all be full days.

April 18 will be school day with 2:00 holiday dismissal.

April 22 will be a full school day.

May 24 will be the seniors last day and graduation day.

May 28, 29, 30 and 31 will be full school days.

June 3, 4 will be full school days

June 5 is currently the last day, and early dismissal.

June 6 and 7 may be used if more days become necessary.

This will leave us 3 instructional days shorter than last year. It will be critical that the integrity of our final instructional days is maintained. Days in June has the same importance as a day in March. Parents and teachers will be asked to keep the school day as focused as possible. Finish strong!

Big picture and other STEM opportunities

Interesting piece by 60 minutes tonight with the founder of Half a million computer science jobs sit open in America. Those that are working in the field are mostly all males, and white or Asian. Hadi Partovi, CEO and founder of is working to change that with this initiative. His goal is to start more girls and minorities in computer science classes at an earlier age. Not in a discriminatory way, but because of all the open jobs that apparently are not attractive to girls because of the male dominance in the field.

With more girls and minorities in the school pipeline, he hopes to make the workplaces of computer science gender neutral within the next decade. He is targeting lower elementary teachers to be trained in coding, give them curriculum and the skills to code and they can pass it on to all of their students.

ALL students will benefit, not just the girls, or minorities who become candidates for the high paying field . This works because the lack of girls is tracked back to the middle school years, where self identities become embedded in students, and the girl is currently more interested in the arts or communications than science and math. He wants to turn that around and is being very successful. is coming to NE Iowa and more importantly NFV. Keystone AEA has several training programs scheduled for this year and some great NFV teachers are signed up to bring computer science into our elementary classrooms. And YES 1st graders can learn to code. These programs are extremely simplified, the coding and algorithms very simple, just enough to make someone say, "This is fun", then maybe they will get interested in math and science and computer coding. And if that's your daughter who goes the STEM route in Middle School, you can be proud and confident in her abilities to learn and excel in the field of computer science.

Big picture

State and Federally Required Assessments

Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress (ISASP) replaces the Iowa Assessments as the accountability test for all Iowa students. The test, developed by Iowa Testing Programs (ITP) at the University of Iowa as per the Iowa Legislature, will debut in Iowa's classrooms in the spring of 2019. Assessments will be administered in the following subjects and grades:

  • Math - Grades 3-11
  • English/Language Arts/Writing - Grades 3-11
  • Science - Grades 5, 8, and 10

These tests are required to be given in April and are scheduled for the latter half of the month in our various buildings. The test will be computer based assessments for most grades. Paper and pencil options are available for younger students and will be used as necessary.

Since this will be the first time we give these tests, there will not be a comparative value to other scores, it will be our baseline scores for the test. We are continuing to give the MAP tests this year in order to have that year to year comparison. The ISASP will be a much different test than the Iowa Assessments because of the format of most questions being a little different.

For example, many of the reading questions will have "constructed response" answers, meaning the student may have to write 2-5 sentences to answer a question, which then will be scored by rubric. In a 3rd grade test, the reading passages in the test are likely to be longer and be asking questions of several ways the reading can be interpreted. All this will be familiar to students, but to a greater length. It will be exciting to see how our students perform. As we enter a new era of testing, thinking skills and persistence will play a major role in your student's success. More difficult perhaps, but we think far more meaningful for students.