Oskaloosa Syllabus

Volume 3, Issue 5, April 2018

I was hoping to be able to say, "Welcome Spring," but it seems the weather has other plans for us so far this season. I apologize for missing the last few months of the Oskaloosa Syllabus. Time completely got away from me as we began a busy season of curriculum adoptions, hiring, beginning the superintendent search, planning for next year, and all the work highlighted below. There are some exciting things happening here in Osky, and I look forward to continuing that work with all of you into the future! If you every have any questions or concerns regarding our work, please do not hesitate to e-mail or call me.

Ooh...That's New

Effective Grading Committee

After engaging in many conversations around assessment and grading, it became clear that we needed to revisit our current understanding and expectations regarding those practices. Our District Advisory Team (DAC) agreed to be the core of an effective grading committee. We also added more teachers, parents, board members, and administrators to this team to ensure a representative group throughout our organization. The goals of this team are:

  • Research and understand best practices in grading and assessment.
  • Revisit current district guidance and make revisions based on research.
  • Determine professional learning needs of stakeholders around best practices.
  • Determine timeline for professional learning and implementation of any changes.

Our first meeting was held on March 27 and focused on understanding why we grade and draft a purpose statement for grading. The work of this team will be communicated regularly via the Oskaloosa Syllabus, our website (to be updated soon), and/or e-mails.

OTEP Committee

A group of administrators, board member, and teachers have convened to being revising our current teacher evaluation (OTEP) process. At the first meeting, the team learned about the changes of Chapter 20 and the effects on teacher evaluation. We also discussed what we would like to see in a new teacher evaluation process. The consensus of the group was a more rubric-driven system that provided specific feedback focused on teacher growth. The committee will spend the better part of next year researching and evaluating tools to accomplish this goal. While there will be no major changes to the evaluation system next year, the team is looking at creating a way to make the Job Targets more teacher-focused and valuable for the 2018-2019 school year. We will create a plan for that at our next meeting on April 23. We could use move voices on this committee; if you are interested, please let me know!

MTSS Planning Committee

The second meetings of the district Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) Planning Committee occurred on March 5. At this meeting the team focused on creating a visual representation for our MTSS framework using our vision as a guide. We also defined important vocabulary associated with MTSS to ensure we all had the same understanding. At the end of the meeting we began discussing processes and procedures to implement district-wide to make the MTSS process more systematic and helpful to teachers and students. This team will meet prior to the school year ending to create an action plan for next steps.

Skill Work

The District Leadership Team (DLT) has been working on creating a framework for engaging students in 21st Century Skills. This work aligns with the work the high school has been doing for the majority of this year. The team feels outlining these skills is important to better prepare our students for college and/or careers once the graduate from Oskaloosa High Schools. Businesses have put an increasing importance on skills such as collaboration, critical thinking, and effective communication. This group will continue to articulate what these skills are and how they can be integrated into different content areas and grade levels.

Science Adoption Update

  • The elementary science teachers are in the midst of piloting two science programs (McGraw Hill and Amplify). Some of these teachers will visit two schools the week of April 16 to see the programs in action and talk with students and teachers. On May 1, the pilot teachers will engage in a consensus process to decide which program to implement next school year.
  • The middle school science teachers listened to four companies (McGraw Hill, Amplify, Carolina STEM, and Holt McDougal Harcourt) to decide which resource to look into more heavily for implementation.
  • The high school science teachers outlined the content of some new courses and are working to create new report card statements. They are looking forward to the new courses that will be offered to students that align with the new science standards.

Super Awesome Celebrations

Department of Education Recognizes Work with PBIS

Both the middle school and elementary school were recognized by the Department of Education as Honor Schools for their work with Positive Behavior Intervention Supports (PBIS). The elementary received the Honor Plus level and the middle school received the Honor level.

Read-a-Thon at Elementary

The Read-a-thon in March was a great success. Multiple guests came to read to the students and the event raised over $7200.

Iowa Quality Training and Teams

Guest Writer: Stacy Bandy

The high school had the second year of team training in Feb. and 4 teams of 4 or 5 students went out to Musco, Mahaska Bottling, Oksy Food, and Clow. The teams were given 2 days of training in the Iowa Quality Continuous Improvement curriculum at the high school and then were invited to go to the business for 3 days of work on the problems each business had for them. The students did very well and were asked to present at the Governor's Celebration of Excellence at Prairie Meadows at the end of March. Only 2 schools (Oskaloosa and Urbandale) were picked to do so. Urbandale had 2 teams and Oskaloosa had all 4.

The students presented their information and solutions to a group of 200 business professionals from around the state. They then fielded questions about how they came up with their solutions. At the end of the presentations a couple businessmen stood up and stated that if any of them kept working on this type of work, they would have places for them in their business. We should be very proud of our students!

We would like to add that the students were randomly picked from a total number of students. Then that list was given to the teachers. Each teacher was to vote for 5 students and give one name of a student who was not on the list. The students with the highest number of votes were then placed in a hat and drawn out. The students that were selected came from all walks of life and not just the top. This is different than other schools in that most only use Gifted and Talented classes or select students.

We will continue to use the curriculum in our regular classes at the high school to give that added extra over others. We feel that the tools that are used are very valuable for education as well as the working world and will give our students a little added value.

Iowa Assessments

The Iowa Assessments were taken by third through eleventh grade students in March. The testing process went well and the assessments have been sent to the testing company for scoring. The data will be shared with the school board this summer.

Key Information

Important Upcoming Dates:
  • April 23-May 10 - Spring FAST Screening (K-5)

You can read the February, March, and April board reports for more specifics around work done January through March.

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