The "Oskaloosa Syllabus"

November, 2013 - News You Can Use!

RtI - Loose and Tight Decisions

RtI - or Response to Intervention - services are underway across the district. The Aimsweb Universal Screener and Progress Monitoring tool is being used to identify students in the area of reading and math who require additional support. Tier 2 (Supplemental) and Tier 3 (Intensive) supports are being used to assist students who are struggling.

As we move forward, the district has made decisions that we consider "tight" or non-negotiable. Some of these decisions were made by administration while others were identified during our RtI learning as best practice by DLT members.

Tight: District Non-Negotiable Decisions
  • We will use aimsweb for screening and progress monitoring - no other screeners will be used
  • Each building will identify a "Standard Treatment Protocol" for both Tier 2 and Tier 3 interventions. See the RtI documents on the staff resource page for those that were chosen for your building. Once a treatment is in place, changes should be made only after 6-weeks of interventions have taken place. Updated plans based on student growth will be created
  • Each building will have SWAT Team to monitor RtI implementation and the interventions taking place in their building
  • All decisions MUST be driven by data
  • Each SWAT Team will create and use a data wall to monitor interventions
  • Progress Monitoring will be done on a 6-week schedule
  • All students K-8 and 9th Grade Topics in Algebra will use aimsweb for screening - IN addition, K-12 Special Education teachers will use aimsweb to monitor students
  • When possible, Tier 2 interventions should be given with a core area teacher in their classroom. This promotes the highest effectiveness
  • Tier 3 interventions may be provided by any qualified certified teacher
  • Progress Monitoring will take place on Friday as per the assessment calendar (see the staff resource page for this document) Tier 2 every other week, Tier 3 weekly.

To have consistency and clarity with communication across the district, designated Building Managers will be the contact for all Aimsweb questions. However, ONLY Stephanie Edgren, Marian Raum, or Kathy Akers will contact Aimsweb or Lisa Brown for further assistance.

Loose (Building Level Decisions)

  • Each building will determine the Standard Treatment Protocols based on needs and developmental appropriateness. The decisions should be made based on consensus of the SWAT Team and be data driven
  • Buildings will create a data wall that meets their building's individual needs
  • Adjustments should be made in consensus with the SWAT Team and should be driven by data
  • Buildings will develop an intervention schedule for administering probes and progress monitoring according to building efficiencies/schedules
  • Intervention schedules, times, etc. will be determined by the building
  • Buildings will determine the schedule and the personnel to provide Tier 3 intervention

November 15th - PD Day AND Work Day

November 15th is scheduled to be a 1/2 day PD Day and a 1/2 day Work Day. Here is the schedule for that day. Your buildings will provide more specifics on the agenda along with times for your PD.

LETRS Training: 8:00-12:00
All Special Education Teachers and Instructional Strategists will attend this continuing learning opportunity at the Elementary in the Media Center.

Elementary Staff: Reader's Workshop/Writer's Workshop
Middle School and High School Staff: Project-Based Learning

All staff: 1:00 - 3:30 - Work time in your rooms to plan for next trimester - finalize grades

PLC Meetings in November

November 6th - PLC with extended PLC
November 13th - PLC with extended Vertical Team
November 20th - PLC with extended PLC
November 27th - NO PLC - 2-hour early release for Thanksgiving :-)


PLC To Watch in November is the MS Math PLC!!!!

Check out the MS Math PLC and see what they are doing to support student learning at the MS. This year their SMART Goal is: 100% of OMS students will achieve at least 70% on their GLB assessments. Mrs. Pierson's data wall is displayed below. They continue to look at data to make informed instructional decisions!

This team has also tackled RtI head-on this year. They are providing Tiered support for students during 4th hour and after school. This is a PLC that is on the move and one to watch!!!

Close Reading - Implementing a Shift in the Iowa Core

Jennifer Groeneboom - Instructional Strategist at the Elementary, provided a great session on Close Reading during our September 16th PD day. Take a look at another resource provided by The Teaching Channel.

Think Central - Go Math! and Science Fusion

There is a new sales rep providing services for both of these resources. If any PLC wants to have additional training on accessing resources on either site, please let me know and we will have a training representative be in contact. Our new Think Central contact is Tammy Sigwarth - she will support us in whatever we need!

"From Common Core Standards to Curriculum: Five Big Ideas"

Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins, in their white paper From Common Core Standards to
Curriculum: Five Big Ideas, explore five big ideas about translating the Core Standards into a curriculum.

Big Idea #1: The Common Core Standards have new emphases and require a careful reading.
It is a misconception to assume that these standards merely require minor tweeks to our curriculum and instructional practice.
McTighe and Wiggins suggest NOT zeroing in on the grade-level standards before a careful examination of the goals and structure of the overall documents. Start instead with the "blueprint" - with an overall vision of the "end in mind," together teachers can create learning that fits together across the grade-level and throughout the building and district.

Big Idea #2: Standards are NOT curriculum.
The standards define what all students are expected to know and be able to do, not how teachers should teach.Educators must translate the standards into engaging and effective curriculum. The curriculum should work with the standards to frame optimal learning experiences.

Big Idea #3: Standards need to be "unpacked."
Consider "unpacking" the standards into four broad categories - 1) long-term transfer goals, 2) overarching understanding, 3) overarching essential questions, and 4) a set of recurring cornerstone tasks.
Transfer goals identify the effective uses of content understanding, knowledge and skill sought in the long run - what kids can do when they confront new challenges, in and outside of school.
Overarching Understandings and Essential Questions are two sides of a coin. The understandings state what skilled performers will need in order to effectively transfer their learning to new situations, while essential questions exploration engages learners in making meaning and deepening their understandings.
Cornerstone tasks are curriculum-embedded tasks that engage students in applying their knowledge and skills in an authentic and relevant context.

Big Idea #4: A coherent curriculum is mapped backwards from desired performances.
The key to avoiding an overly-discrete and fragmented curriculum is to design backward from complex performances that require content.
The key and initial question for curriculum development is NOT "What will we teach and when should we teach it?" Rather, THE question for curriculum development must be goal focused: "Having learned key content, what will students be able to do with it?"

Big Idea #5: The standards come to life through the assessments.
The standards refer to the desired qualities of student work and the degree of rigor that must be addressed and achieved.
The performance-based conception of standards lies at the heart of what is needed to translate the Core into a robust curriculum and assessment system.
We must strive for worthy performance tasks anchored by rigorous rubrics and annotated work samples.

This is definitely a must read for all leaders of learning - and that is each and everyone of us! You will also want to check out the latest ASCD Policy Points - "Debunking Common Core Myths."

Text Complexity and Lexile Levels

The Language Arts Curriculum Team has been learning more about the use of text complexity in their teaching. Lexile Levels are given on the MAP assessment and on the aimsweb screener. What is Lexile? Lexile provides a picture of not only what a student CAN read (Fluency), but what they can comprehend.

The Iowa Core has identified the text complexity bands for each grade 1-12. This is the band of complexity teachers must have their students reading independently and proficiently by the end of a grade.

Through the use of Mentor Texts (Exemplars) teachers must model how to read texts that might be out of a students text complexity band. Support might be needed, but with scaffolding of instruction and access to complex texts, students have a better chance of accessing text that might otherwise have been too difficult for them to understand.

Students must still be given independent reading material at their instructional level, but must continually be challenged to read more complex texts. This is the only way to have student grow at the rate we need them to grow.

For more information on Lexile - go to

And for additional information about text complexity in the Iowa Core, look at Appendix A at

DLT Update from October

The DLT met on October 1st from 4:00 - 6:00. The following was discussed. If you have questions, please see a building representative.

  1. Reviewed discussion about changing focus of conversations at P/T conferences
  2. Building updates on RtI processes
  3. Reviewed DLT SMART Goals
  4. Looked at Common Features of Successful Schools and had building level conversations about where they felt they were in relation to these features. They reported out areas of strength and areas needing further attention.
  5. Maggie VanZee and Denise Morris presented to the Board of Education
  6. Next meeting is November 5th

Teacher Leaderhip Compensation Grant Update

Mr. Reiter and Dr. Cooklsey attended an informational session in Des Moines on October 24th to learn more about writing this grant. A team will be formed that has administrators, parents, teachers, and board members to determine how we want to use the dollars we would be awarded if we received the grant.

There are three plans to choose from where districts have the opportunity to increase the use of Instructional Coaches or build leadership capacity with our teaching staff - or a combination of the two.

The details will be determined and the grant submitted by January 31st.

Math Curriculum Team Identifies Focus Areas

Iowa Core Math Shifts suggest we must teach for deeper conceptual knowledge rather than a wide range of concepts our students never fully master.

The Math Curriculum Team spent a day and a half going through the current GLB's and the Iowa Core determining what we can eliminate and what each grade must keep. We used a backwards design approach to determine what we wanted our "product" to look like when they leave Oskaloosa.

Then each grade level determined which concepts would be mastered at their grade level (70% of their teaching year would be spent on these concepts), what concepts would have a foundation with (20% of their year would be spent on these concepts), and what concepts they would merely introduce (10% of their year would be spent either reviewing or introducing concepts).

We are trying to ensure no gaps in knowledge exist; better preparing them for the next grade and eventually the world of work or further education. Thank the members of this team when you see them - they worked hard to make this happen!!!

GLB Rubrics - Expectations

September 16th you were introduced to the work of rubrics for each GLB so we would be more consistent when assigning a 1-4 on the report card. Many of you have good starts, but we must continue that work.

The expectation is that you will have at least one course completed by the end of the year and all rubrics sent to Dr. Cooksley. If you want feedback, please feel free to send samples and I will provide specific feedback to you. PLC time would be a great time for this collaboration to take place :-)

MAP Scores for Fall

Fall MAP assessments are complete. I will be compiling the data and sending it early next week. If you have not contacted me for assistance with accessing this data, please make sure you set up a time for me to come to your PLC!

To access the scores use the link on the Staff Resource Page. Also on the site are MAP norms to identify the "typical" score a student should receive at each grade and for each assessment, along with direction on how to access reports.

We give the Reading Comprehension, Math and Science assessments. The assessment is now a web-based assessment so that means the website has changed.

If you have misplaced your log-in information, please contact Mrs. Barnhart.

SINA Plan and DINA Plan

The Elementary SINA Team met recently to look at the goals established for the year and how we will accomplish them. The SINA Plan is due November 1st to the Department of Education. As part of Year 3, the Elementary is required to restructure the building and provide supplemental educational services (SES) to students. In addition, we had to bring in an outside "expert" last year as part of Year 2 plans. That work continues.

Elementary Restructure Plan

  1. Refine the Math Curriculum and implement
  2. Change the building schedule - they implemented a reading block and a writing block into the day. In addition, RtI was embedded in the day to provide interventions.
  3. An outside expert - Angela Maiers - continues her work implementing Reader's and Writer's Workshop at the Elementary.
  4. Host a Reading and a Math Night - parent involvement

Because the MS and the HS are also SINA buildings, we were required to complete a DINA (District in Need of Assistance) Plan. As part of this plan the MS and the HS are implementing Project-Based Learning to increase academic performance.

DAC Forms Site Visit Revision Schedule

Oskaloosa will have the Department of Education Site visit next school year. In preparation, the District Advisory Committee (DAC) has started preparing. These are the documents/decisions that will be made this year as part of their work.

  1. Comprehensive School Improvement Plan (CSIP) Goals are being rewritten
  2. District Vision statement will be reviewed
  3. District Mission statement will be reviewed
  4. Student Learning Goals will be reviewed
  5. Collaborative Commitments will be created

If you have any questions about what any of these are, please contact a building representative or Dr. Cooksley.