Region 6 News

IDOE Outreach Division

Happy Holidays!

It's getting cold out there. And our school hallways are flooded with winter coats, boots, and hats. As we enter this tumultuous time of year, we hope you and yours had a restful and enjoyable holiday season.


And speaking of snow, with more and more of us embracing technology the IDOE is once again supporting schools who wish to use Virtual Snow Days. In fact, the IDOE eLearning team encourages schools interested in this exciting program to network with Yorktown Community Schools on January 8th. This Bloomington Indiana event--Snow Day, sNOw Problem--is for leaders interested in exploring this inclement weather option.


Need a boost during the winter reading months? Need some inspiration while encouraging parents and students to read? Hoosier Family of Readers enlisted the help of Indianapolis Colt player Joe Reitz to solve this issue. In the video below, Reitz explains to Indiana families how he finds the much needed time to read for pleasure and to his own children.


In addition to keeping you informed about IDOE events, policies, and changes, we also hope that this newsletter will become a place you turn to as you continuously work to improve your school. This month we will focus on School Leadership and how Leadership affects Climate. We hope that this focus is timely as we enter into the second phase of our school year and serve as a friendly tool that supports the purpose and focus of our work.


Finally, please remember that your test coordinators have been receiving valuable information concerning assessments. The Office of Assessment has also provided digital updates on their homepage.


Again, we hope that all of you got the rest and relaxation that you so truly deserve over the holiday season.


Warmest Wishes-


Christine

Jennifer

Linda

Indianapolis Colt's Joe Reitz on Reading

Turnaround Principle 1: School Leadership

Anyone who walks into a school will tell you--leadership affects climate. An effective leader uses data to work collaboratively with staff to maintain a safe, orderly, and equitable learning environment. This, however, can become more and more involved as the school year continues on and as the weather turns colder. In truth, we all work to ensure that the school year is begun just right. The middle of the year is just as critical.


In their book, Qualities of Effective Principals, Strong, Richard, and Cantano argue that school climate is the "heart of the school". This, they argue, is created through shared decision making, focusing on the importance of high expectations, and utilizing powerful conflict resolution.


As you begin this process, take some time to re-evaluate yourself and your school. Through the self-evaluation tool and this quick climate walk-through form, an effective leader can quickly identify areas of need. Some advocate coupling this work with input from other stakeholders. In "The Challenge of Assessing School Climate" Joseph Cohen, Terry Pickeral, Molly McCloskey and claims that " Often, the most interesting findings of a school's climate survey are the surprising discrepancies in perception among various groups, which can be used as a springboard for meaningful improvement efforts."


Evaluating leadership in conjunction with climate is both valuable and rewarding. The impact a leader can have on the mood of a school is empowering. As you move forward with this endeavor the following resources might also be beneficial to you:


Food for Thought: What Makes a Great Building Leader

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Turnaround Principle #1: Effective Leadership

Dates to Know

  • January 19th: State Board of Education Meeting
  • February 1st: ASSIST access ends
  • March 1st: School Improvement Plans are Due

SAVE THE DATE...Regional Math Training

On February 19th, IDOE math specialists Bill Reed and Nick Flower will be in Region 6 to assist teachers in grades K-8 with their math instruction and preparation for the upcoming ISTEP exam.


More information to come. Watch your inbox for registration, location, and agenda information.

Websites to Visit and Share


Funding and Grants

The following are grant or funding opportunities that are available in the near future:

ASSIST Update

The use of the ASSIST template for the submission of the Indiana School Improvement Plan for the 2015-2016 submission is optional.


Title I Focus and Priority Schools who wish to continue with the option to use the Indiana School Improvement Plan template through ASSIST will be given funds, access for a year, and support to do so through the following quick opt-in application. (Information link and application link) Applications must be received by January 8, 2016.


Any other school that was trained, and has already begun to use the template will be given free continued access for the template until February 1, 2016.

Any school that was trained, and has not already begun to use the template but would like the option to submit using the format, may do so, so long as it is completed by February 1, 2016.


This opportunity is available because AdvancED is an organization committed to helping all schools improve, and as such AdvancED has graciously offered to provide all Indiana schools and districts access to the resources free of charge through February 1, 2016. During this time, you will have unlimited access to administer stakeholder surveys, conduct a needs assessment, measure and quantify student engagement, as well as to develop and submit a streamlined INSIP. Every principal, superintendent and primary contact has been granted access to their institution's accounts and can get started today. With this in mind, a school that is not a Title I Focus and Priority school will be able to complete the INSIP through ASSIST and upload through DOE Online, if this work is completed by February 1, and a paper copy is uploaded by the March 1 due date for this year's submission.


Non-Title I Focus and Priority schools and districts that may be interested in using these tools beyond February 1, 2016 can do so by contacting AdvancED at contactus@advanc-ed.org or 888.413.3669


Background Information-Why has this opportunity to use ASSIST changed so much?


Since 2013, the Indiana Department of Education has been working to provide a user-friendly, no cost tool for school improvement planning. In 2014, the IDOE sought and received a sole source agreement for AdvancED Adaptive System of School Improvement Support Tools™ (ASSIST™) and began a small cohort. Last year, that cohort grew to 125 schools, and through both years, additional enhancements were made to the ASSIST template to refine how it could best work for Indiana.


After successful pilot projects, the IDOE was prepared to provide the ASSIST tool to all Indiana schools and standardize the School Improvement Plan while allowing for data to be shared with all schools in a useful manner. To that end, the IDOE launched the initiative state-wide and offered the tool free of charge to all schools with an expectation of moving to this template for state reporting.


However, after feedback from the field, other state agencies, and the State Board of Education it became apparent to the Department that we needed to scale back the full launch of the requirement of ASSIST for all schools, and narrowed it down to only the remaining Focus and Priority schools. This was communicated on October 27, 2015 via the DOE Dialogue.


Subsequently, the narrowed down approach was halted in several ways:

  • The funding source and contract for ASSIST was denied by the State Budget Agency
  • The State Board of Education failed to support the Data Reporting Committee recommendation of the use for ASSIST for only the Focus and Priority schools

The IDOE certainly understands the frustrations that you may have because we will not be able to move forward with our agreement with AdvancED to provide all schools and districts access to the AdvancED template and the Effective Learning Environments Observation Tool as originally planned and communicated. We apologize for the confusion and inconvenience this has caused educators across the state, as well as AdvancED.


We appreciate your patience, flexibility, and feedback as we have worked through many issues and obstacles during the past few months. We know our students benefit when we have an intentional, focused, data-driven plan for school improvement. The IDOE stands ready to help support our schools and educators as we move forward with this expanded project and plan for the 2016-17 school year.