UPE News Update

April 20, 2018

Under the Hood

By Chris Briggs-Hale

The following if the first of a series of articles highlighting the data-driven work we do at UPE to improve learning for all children. Since school improvement work can sometimes seem dry for parents, these articles are designed to give short, appealing snippets of important work being done at our school. This first installment is about a new program we’ve been implementing to help our most struggling readers, writers, and mathematicians.

A 2014 article from Psychology today states, “By age three, it is believed that children growing up in poor neighborhoods or from lower-income families may hear up to 30 million fewer words than their more privileged counterparts.” For the rest of the article, click here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201402/tackling-the-vocabulary-gap-between-rich-and-poor-children. Brilliant children come from everywhere in our society, no matter how many words they are exposed to. However, to “even the playing field,” schools must have research-based strategies for helping all children achieve at the highest levels.

A survey of our data across multiple years revealed that there is more we must do help these learners in our community. Recognizing that closing this gap is essential for ensuring equity in learning, our team has been engaged in training and applying the Hill Springs reading intervention for our most struggling readers this past year. Hill Springs is also being adopted across our district.

The Hill Springs approach to reading intervention is based on the Orton-Gillingham research proven methodology. It is intensive, focused, and requires small group instruction to help struggling readers catch up. Currently, we’ve trained two staff members in the reading component of this program, the math intervention, and the HillWrite program – a highly rigorous method for helping struggling readers catch up in their writing skills. Our annual improvement plan states that we will train more teachers next year and implement a coaching process to ensure our use of this wonderful intervention is high-fidelity and effective.

In subsequent weeks, we’ll share other components of our future improvement plans so you can join us “Under the Hood!” Next week’s topic: Our New Literacy and Math Backpacks Program – a new, exciting resource we’ll be offering all our families next year!

We love your involvement, comments, and questions about how you can help our learners become the best in the world!

To learn more about this portion of our School Improvement Plan, please read the following:

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Over 75 "grown-ups" and students had a fabulous time at Literacy Night!

Box Tops for Education

Please remember to collect your Box Tops for Education and send in to your child's classroom! Our first collection this year earned the school over $200! Ask friends and relatives to sent you their Box Tops, let's double that number.

This is what 6th grade did this week:

Ute Pass Elementary Activities

Monday, April 23, 2018

CMAS testing window


Arts 14 - In Harmony practice at Pikes Peak Center

Staff PLC

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

CMAS testing window

Class Pictures



3-D Modeling

Performing Arts

Arts 14 Classes - In Harmony practice at Pikes Peak Center

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

CMAS testing window


Arts14 Classes – In Harmony final performance at the Pikes Peak Center


Thursday, April 26, 2018

CMAS testing window



Skate City


Arts 14 Classes

Friday, April 27, 2018

CMAS Testing

Rockin’ Robotics


Ute Pass Elementary SAC Meeting
Tues., Aug. 17, 2018
Chris Briggs-Hale
Ariella Rogge
Jacob Sampson
Dan Dwyer
Misty Berry
Laurie Wood
Heidi Troxell

1. Revisions and updates to UPES Unified Improvement Plan (UIP)
a. Previous issues were opting out of CMAS and PARCC testing and kids that did take tests were struggling with math.
b. State feedback was to focus on struggling readers, don’t make high stakes decisions on potentially flawed data from CMAS due to official and “passive” opting out.
i. UPES instead used data of at-risk readers (free/reduced lunch prices) identifying gaps, trends and root cause analysis. Can now apply research-based solutions:

1. Research-based intervention for those most struggling with reading via Hill Springs Reading intervention (occurring throughout MSSD). UPES teacher Stacy Christenson has been certified in Hill Springs approach. Beth Romano has been training in Hill math. Hill Springs is focused on best practices of learning new skills and skill retention. Teachers will take initial training and then receive on-site coaching with Hill Springs staff.
ii. As part of Action Plan a point has been made “Increase Community Engagement Through SAC and Title 1 Resources” to address official and “passive” opting out of PARCC and CMAS as that negatively affects overall UPES performance data.
iii. Laurie Wood added that the philosophical communication being received by MSSD principals is that every day is fabulous (not to focus on specific days as more important than others but to value each and every day as a day to positively shape our children). Systems are in place to help struggling families ensure that children are fed, well-rested, etc. on a daily basis.
iv. UPES will anonymously survey teachers on whether or not the teachers can identify struggling readers in order to find gaps in in-house knowledge.

1. Once findings are complete a committee may be formed to address gaps depending on need.
v. CBH has requested further feedback from CDE in June and plans to continually add to and revise the UIP. Chris and Laurie Wood meet weekly to discuss revisions. Ariella pointed out that there may be a benefit to share the UIP and information about what it is to UPES parents and community members in order to foster a sense of transparency and engagement.
vi. Additional info in UPES 17-18 Unified Improvement Plan.

2. Literacy backpacks
a. Met deadline to spend Title I funds on literacy and math backpacks full of activities such as games, puzzles, etc. for families to do at home.
i. Title I funding requests have not been allowed yet but Laurie Wood will be requesting $3000 for UPES for refurbishing and potentially adding a minimal amount of new backpacks.
b. Creating procedures for maintenance of and replenishing backpacks, may involve staff and/or additional parent help.

3. T-Shirts and Tapas
a. Thank yous sent to parents and teachers
b. What worked/what didn’t
i. Would like to see these events more frequently
ii. People got to know parents and teachers better and discovered a sense of community both in and outside school
iii. T-shirts were fun and fostered discussions, shared parental struggles
iv. Requests from parents for grown-up game night
1. Could potentially do games for kids using PPCC, AFA and MHS staff.
v. Next time we need name tags
vi. Jacob and Dan suggested that incorporating SAC messaging into back to school night as part of a BBQ/field date
vii. Ariella suggested a How Well Do You Know Your Teacher night
viii. Playgroup over the summer – Kristen Kubina and Dan Dwyer to coordinate
ix. Future events should possibly be donation-based/“pay what you can” to partially cover costs; Laurie Wood suggested looking at long-term planning to determine costs and how we will cover them

1. Consideration of quality level of food at events, obviously better food brings increased costs but also shows respect for participants

4. Other business
a. SAC members want to try to meet more frequently to keep momentum going.
b. Kristen Kubina will coordinate drafting a 2018-19 calendar of events and send as Google doc to SAC members for editing before next meeting then will try to confirm dates next meeting.
c. Next SAC meeting: Tues., May 8, 3-4 p.m.
d. Next PTO meeting, Tues., May 1, 3-4 p.m.
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Reminder - Visitor Procedures

1) Ring the buzzer located to the left of the front door.

2.) Please stay at the buzzer looking into the camera. The camera is located in the buzzer, if you walk back to the doors and turn your back to the buzzer we can not see you!

3.) Stop and check in at the office. You must sign in and receive a visitors badge.

3.) If a student is having a special visitor you MUST let the school know ahead of time.

Here's how you find us!

Ute Pass Elementary
...at the foot of Pikes Peak in the Rocky Mountains