Monthly Musings

Tips & Tidbits from your School Advocates

February Greetings!

We look forward to seeing you all later this month at one of our Regional Training Meetings. We will be offering two sessions, in order to best meet the travel needs of our region. Dates, locations, and links for registration are available near the end of this edition of 'Monthly Musings'. We are very excited to share a panel of principals from former focus and priority schools during the afternoon portion of our training dates. They'll share the highs and lows of their designation experience and you'll have the opportunity to network with them. Please contact your school advocate if you need assistance in registering for our regional training.

Difficult Questions

Kim Wingrove, School Advocate

Many schools demonstrate that it’s possible to reverse historic trends of underachievement and sustain these gains, but how do they do it?

An online article from the October 2009 issue of Educational Leadership, outlines the work of six schools across the United States (one of which is located in St. Paul, MN). This work continues to be relevant to our work in 2016.

From reallocation of resources to building capacity in leaders and a focus on school culture and climate, many school leaders are making the move toward increasing student achievement. School leaders are digging deep and asking difficult questions:

· “Are we eliminating policies and practices that manufacture low achievement?”

· “Have we reorganized time to better support professional learning?”

· “Does our instructional framework guide curriculum, teaching, assessment, and the learning climate?”

· “Do we provide targeted interventions?”

· “Is our school safe?”

· “Do we understand the influence of poverty on student learning?”

· “Do we engage parents, families, and the community?”

Continued success is an ongoing journey. Leaders in all schools may benefit from reflecting on the questions leaders ask in high-performing/high-poverty schools to support and sustain student success.

Interested in reading more? You may access the article here.

Implementation Science Resources

Michelle Wang, Reading School Advocate

School improvement work that is supported through the Regional Centers of Excellence is also grounded in the theory of implementation science. If you've attended our regional networking sessions, or read through articles on previous Smores, you've likely noticed our references to implementation science. We even have a link towards the end of this Smore for the Active Implementation (AI) Hub. For some, the thought of implementation science can seem overwhelming. It's not something that's included in most leadership courses, or even most education programs. In short, implementation science provides "a specified set of activities designed to put into practice an activity or program of known dimensions" (NiRN, 2016). While your school advocate can assist you with these set of activities, there are also resources available for your use. Those links follow this article: NiRN provides the reader with in-depth information regarding implementation science, including the frameworks. The AI Hub contains videos, materials, and tools that can be used with your teams. Finally, SISEP provides technical assistance regarding the scaling up of evidence-based implementation. We encourage you to spend some time with all three sites, reflecting on how the knowledge contained within them can be applied to your continuous improvement efforts.

ACCESS for ELLs 2.0

Sophie Snell, English Language Development School Advocate

It is time for ACCESS for ELLs 2.0! The testing window opens Monday, February 1st and closes Friday, March 25th. Students will take the listening, speaking, and reading portions of ACCESS 2.0 online. The writing portion of the test will continue to be paper-based for grades 1-3. Grades 4-5 will have their writing prompt online, but their responses will be paper-based. Grades 6-12 will complete the writing portion online. The Kindergarten ACCESS test will continue to be paper-based.

This is a big change for test administrators and students! Please take time throughout the next couple of months to provide words of motivation and encouragement to your EL students. It wouldn’t hurt to do the same for your EL teachers and test administrators/coordinators as well!

If you are a school administrator, test administrator/coordinator, or EL teacher, don’t forget to visit for testing resources and MN testing contacts.

Networking Session - Resource Training & Solutions Location

Wednesday, Feb. 17th, 9am-3pm

137 23rd Street South

Sartell, MN

This is a wonderful opportunity for your team to continue to build it's leadership capacity. Registration available here.

Networking Session - Mankato Location

Thursday, Feb. 25th, 9am-3pm

2075 Lookout Drive

North Mankato, MN

This is a wonderful opportunity for your team to continue to build its leadership capacity. Registration available here.

Contact Information

Susan Burris, RCE Director,

Mary Jenatscheck, Imp. Science,

Kristil McDonald, Special Education,

Sarah Sirna, English Language Dev. (ELD),

Sophie Snell, English Language Dev. (ELD),

Michelle Wang, Reading,

Kim Wingrove, Mathematics,