The Bare Necessities

May, 2019

It's May!

May is always such a busy and wonderful time. A team worked for 1.5 days last week to build the draft of a master schedule, and we broke a record, hitting 93% scheduled on the first run! We will have a draft master schedule that we will share in P.A.C. on Tuesday.


We wrapped up the accreditation visit, giving us an opportunity to share the Grizzly way with our visitors. There is specific information regarding the results of the visit later in this edition (spoiler, we passed!).


We somewhat magically had the stars align to agree on a bell schedule that will better serve our kids next year, and got great news about our standing in U.S. News and world reports (more info below). All of this while working with our Seniors to finish strong, our 9th graders to finish on-track, and our 10th and 11th graders to stay with us as the sun comes out.


We also worked together to share with the Ashland community how grateful we are for their support, while advocating for adequate school funding in a way that had minimal impact on the kids we work so hard to serve.


I enjoyed celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week with you last week. I hope you felt the appreciation I have, the students have, and the community has for the hard work, skill, and passion you bring to your jobs each day.


In Gratitude,


Erika

U.S. News and World Reports

Another banner year for A.H.S. in high school rankings! The U.S. News and World Report has stopped awarding Gold, Silver and Bronze medal status to schools, and instead provides a ranking. A.H.S. was recognized as the #1 high school in the valley, and 15th best high school in the state. This places us in the top 5% of the high schools in the state of Oregon. This is due to your hard work, dedication, and providing high level standards to each of our students. If you would like to read more about it, check out the link below.


https://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/oregon/districts/ashland-sd-5/ashland-high-school-16392

The Reorganization of Support Services

As you know, we are in the process of reorganizing our support staff to best serve students districtwide. This will involve some reallocation of high school secretarial staff to elementary sites who require these resources to implement the district strategic plan and M.T.S.S. There has been some confusion that we are making cuts to the budget. That is not the case. Instead, we examined resources districtwide to determine how to best meet goals in the district strategic plan K-12.


We will continue to have 3.0 secretarial F.T.E. Sometimes people confuse F.T.E. for people. We have several part time secretaries, so this does not mean we will have three people, instead it means their total F.T.E. will be at 3.0. I have received several specific questions regarding exactly what this will look like next year. At this point no decisions have been made, as I am in the process of gathering input from both teachers and secretaries.


As an administrative team, we will be working directly with the secretaries and with PAC to develop a service delivery plan that will best serve our students and each of you within this new framework. This is on the agenda for the PAC meeting on Tuesday. Please share any thoughts regarding re-organization you have with your department chair so this information can be considered, or come to Bare Unscripted on Tuesday and share your thoughts directly with me.


Once all secretarial location and F.T.E. assignments have been finalized for next year (I am hopeful to have this information this week) I will use the information from PAC and Bare Unscripted as I work with the secretaries on a service delivery model for next year. Before May 24th I will use all of that information to build a framework of how support services will be delivered, and I will share it electronically with the whole staff.


Change is challenging, and can often lead to rumors and anxiety. If you have any questions or concerns, or if you would like to fact check something you are hearing, please come to me directly.

Mission in Action: Excellence

We had a beautiful evening celebrating our top performers. Callie gave an inspirational key note speech, bringing tears to my eyes. We had a moving preview of the play from Kate Jaques Prentice, and a lovely song from Leila Kenner. Thank you to Deb, Kelly and Joslin for transforming the upper commons into a banquet space, and Maryetta for providing the wonderful desserts. Nancy, Kimberley, Tammy and Alexandra handed out the certificates, sharing a special quote written about each of them from one of their teachers. As I listened to these students tell stories about their high school experience, and where they are going next, I was in awe. It was each of you living out our mission to "propel students to become critical thinkers and perserverant problem solvers through rigorous and relevant curriculum" that supported them to this place. It was a very special evening for these students, and I appreciate everyone's efforts to make it so wonderful.

Graduation is Coming!

Graduation is the best night of the year for me. Such a celebration of so much hard work throughout the district. I am excited about a big change this year! The ASB presidents came to me early in their term and asked if we could shift graduation speakers to be more representative of the whole class, as opposed to only those who are valedictorians. I have been itching for this change, and was so thrilled that the students were on board! A panel reviewed the speeches that were submitted last week, and they are awesome, giving a good representation of all of our students. I am so proud of the student leadership, and of the wonderful speeches that came in.


I hope you are all planning on coming to celebrate with us! We will start gathering with the students around 5:30 on May 31st above the band-shell. Staff will process in front of students, and then line the way for the graduates to take their seats. We have reserved seating for staff to the side of the stage. Parking is a challenge, I strongly encourage you to consider carpooling from campus to graduation. This may be especially advantageous this year, as staff often gathers after graduation to celebrate, and this year Roasting Co has generously offered to open just for staff who would like to gather after the ceremony, putting a possible end destination closer to the high school than Lithia Park. I am looking forward to celebrating the class of 2019!

Master Schedule, Bell Schedule, oh my!

It is the time when we are busy planning for next year, as we push forward with the year we are in. As I mentioned, the master schedule team did amazing work this year! Thank you Melanie and Mark for facilitating the process, and the rest of the team that contributed to it's tremendous success. Did I mention we had an over 92% placement rate? 100% for 9th grade!!


We built the master schedule with the constraints of the new bell schedule, knowing that if it had an adverse impact on class size or student placement we may have to reconsider. Great news, it did not!! We are working out the final details, and a draft master will be distributed at PAC on Tuesday.


I have been working with all departments to make sure any changes to the bell schedule will be possible given constraints on food service and transportation. We did have to make a small adjustment to the Wednesday schedule in order to ensure we did not leave elementary students waiting on the bus for too long (it would have been 20 minutes! Not good for our younger kids at the end of the day). Good news is we were able to make it work with some minor tweaks. On Wed. classes will be 79 minutes, we will not do announcements during class, and lunch will be 40 minutes. The final bell schedule for next year is:


Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri.

Period 1/2: 8:30-9:55

Period 2/6: 10:02-11:27

TCB: 11:27-11:55

Lunch: 11:55-12:40

Period 3/7: 12:40-2:05

Period 4/8: 2:12-3:40


Wed:

Period 1/5: 8:30-9:49

Period 2/6: 9:56-11:15

Lunch: 11:15-11: 55

Period 3/7: 11:55-1:14

Period 4/8: 1: 22-2: 40

Accreditation Review, What did we learn?

As expected, Ashland High School had a very successful accreditation visit. We earned an overall Inidication of Educational Quality (IEQ) score of 315. An IEQ of 275 and above indicates the institution is beginning to reach the Impact level and is engaged in practices that are sustained over time and are becoming ingrained in the culture of the institution. The average score of other institutions being accredited in the past five years is 278-283. I am impressed with our score, and excited to use the information to continue to improve our practices.




The report begins with the following "Ashland High School (AHS) recently created their mission statement that focuses on four pillars—community, diversity, empowerment, and excellence. With its supportive community, committed staff, and motivated students, AHS is well on its way to fulfilling its mission statement. Stakeholders repeatedly point to the authentic and positive connections between students and staff. Students effusively referred to staff as welcoming and caring, noting the availability of teachers and counselors whenever they needed help or support. Interviews of parents, students, administrators, and staff validate the emphasis placed on building an inclusive and healthy school community. Equally powerful is the commitment to empowering student voice at the school. Student interviews revealed this empowerment; they feel like their voices are heard and that their input is valued. Teachers noted the student-centered scheduling allows students to align their course selections with their passions. Commitment to community and empowerment mutually reinforce each other and contribute to an extremely positive and vibrant school culture which benefits students with great probability they will live within their chosen pillars."



This is an accurate reflection of our school values and culture, and I am so glad it showed through to the accreditation team. They encourage us to use this foundation as we address some of the areas of improvement that they identified. The entire report is attached, and I encourage you to read it in full when you have the opportunity. As you review, note that some areas are marked as emerging as they have been in place for less than three years. For example, strategic plan and mission statement. The team wanted to ensure that they are impressed with what is in place, and as it sustains in the coming years it will move up.


One of area of growth is to develop a comprehensive technology plan for the school. I look forward to collaborating with you all on what that might look like in the coming years.


The second primary area of improvement is as described here, "AHS is a school that prides itself, and rightly so, on academic excellence. The mission statement calls for students to become critical thinkers and perseverant problem solvers. These traits were observed consistently in advanced placement (AP) classes, where students were engaged in relevant and rigorous project-based learning.


However, other courses relied on a more traditional teaching model and students were passively receiving information and completing lower-level tasks. When speaking about their students, teachers spoke of “joyous engagement” and described that at AHS it is “cool to be engaged in education.” This was abundantly clear in the higher level and more rigorous courses. When data are analyzed and used to monitor student expectations as articulated in the mission statement, careful analysis needs to be carried out to make sure that all types of students are engaged in a relevant and meaningful curriculum.


As AHS is recognizing and celebrating diversity, a continued emphasis on the best practices for differentiation and culturally responsive teaching will strengthen this component of the mission statement. This notion is supported by classroom observation data collected by the review team, indicating a frequency of passive learning activities in many classes without specified learning targets posted for students. Also noted was a lack of consistent engagement in rigorous course work, discussions, and higher order thinking skills.


The math and English/language arts continuous improvement goals reference professional development to “ensure learning outcomes are clearly articulated to students.” Students spoke freely about the academic strengths of AHS and the relative rigor of their courses, but many were not able to describe what high quality work looked like in a particular subject. Observable learning objectives/targets and standards were also communicated inconsistently across classrooms. There are data here that suggests that AHS look at all classes through a lens of how they can consistently measure learning and differentiate instruction in all subjects and classrooms ensuring all students’ needs are met."


We have been discussing all year the importance of clearly articulating learning outcomes and being explicit in what high quality work should look like. It is clear we still have much work to do in this area. We will continue and expand this as an area of focus for us next year in professional development. To support this work, I would like to work with a team of instructional leaders to develop and implement a professional development plan that will ensure these best practices are embedded in our daily work. This team will work with me in June to outline a professional development and PLC plan for next year, and will continue to meet monthly as an instructional leadership team throughout next year. This time will be compensated. I believe that the teachers at A.H.S. have the expertise, and would like to work together to ensure all students have access to a relevant, high level, engaging curriculum.

Instructional Leadership Group Process

The time commitment for the instructional leadership Group I describe in our accreditation summary above will include working together from 8:30-12:00 on June 12th and 13th. We will likely also meet one additional time in August prior to the start of school. We could calendar this when we meet in June. It will also require a monthly meeting throughout the next school year.


If you are interested in participating in the instructional leadership group, please send me an interest statement via e-mail answering the following questions:


How is being explicit in learning outcomes with students, and defining high quality work important for equitable outcomes for all students?


How will you add value and expertise to this instructional leadership group?


I will select members of this group based on their answers to the above questions, with an effort to get broad department representation. You must send me your interest statement by May 24th to be considered

Tag Resources

As we discussed in our our March staff meeting, we must continue to work to reach all learners. I have attached several of the resources that were referenced. Please take some time to review, and reflect on how you have incorporated these strategies into practice.

Lucky Duck Winner, Number 86

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