Monday, April 30, 2012

Business, Information Technology, and Marketing Equivalency

Release from DPI with embedded links to extra materials:
New DPI equivalency processes make it easier for districts to award core credit for business and information technology and marketing education courses.
Task forces composed of Wisconsin teachers, administrators, higher education, and DPI staff updated the equivalency process for both subjects, recognizing they have evolved into courses involving social studies and economic concepts. In the case of Business and Information Technology, the courses also involve English Language Arts skills.
The DPI is working with the University of Wisconsin to establish an ongoing process for recognition of DPI-approved equivalent courses.
Districts interested in pursuing social studies or English Language Arts equivalency for Business and Information Technology or Marketing Education classes should:
1.    Form a committee to compare the courses in question to the district's core subjects curriculum. To help with this process, the DPI has created “crosswalks” of state standards for both areas.
2.    Obtain school board approval.
3.    Submit all documentation to the DPI using a form.
More information can be found in the materials on the DPI Business and Information Technology Equivalency website.
The new equivalency processes join others created since 2007 for agriculture, technology, engineering, and family and consumer science courses. 

MIT/Khan on-line content delivery

The video linked below is just an introduction to a start of what is coming as far as content that will available to students (everybody) worldwide. We need to start the discussions now as to how this ubiquitous content will change what we do. This has the potential to jump, way beyond flipped classrooms, directly to the people who write the books. In many ways schools, and textbook companies, are only the middleman of content delivery. We now are moving toward direct access to the content creators for little to no cost. There are many predicting that within just a couple of years the traditional textbooks will be only referenced in history.

We have to start to talk about how we will figure this out. The indication is that we need to do this relatively quickly - no 5 or 10 year plans will accommodate these changes. I certainly do not have the answers and I do not know if anyone else does either. However, it is fairly obvious that how we get and disseminate information/content, and the actual definition of what is tested/graded as valuable/relevant will change, especially at the high school level.

Click to go to YouTube on MIT/Khan

Joe Price; new CESA 3 Administrator

Information from CESA 3:

The CESA #3 Board of Control has offered a contract to Mr. Joe Price to be the new Agency Administrator. He accepted their offer pending the acceptance of his resignation from his current position as Superintendent at Iola-Scandinavia.

Mr. Price was a social sciences teacher for 14 years, before becoming an assistant principal at DeForest High School. He then became the Middle/High School Principal at Iola-Scandinavia in 1995. He later became the Superintendent at Iola-Scandinavia, and has served in that role for the past 12 years.

Mr. Price brings a passion for small schools, as well as significant professional development background. His talents and skills will serve CESA #3 very well.

Deb Delisle; Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education

On April 26, Deb Delisle, was confirmed as Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education for the U.S. Department of Education. This is interesting and relevant (sorry for the small pun) to us as she was a Senior Fellow at the International Center for Leadership in Education (ICLE), which is the Bill Daggett group. As I have mentioned a number of times internally, the ICLE has become an important research and policy group on the federal level.

Deborah Delisle, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education, Department of Education
Deborah Delisle served as the State Superintendent of Public Instruction for the Ohio Department of Education from 2008 to 2011. Previously, Ms. Delisle worked in the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District in Ohio, first as Associate Superintendent from 2001 to 2003, then as Superintendent from 2003 to 2008. Since beginning her career as an elementary teacher in Connecticut in the 1970s, Ms. Delisle has served in a variety of roles at the school district level in Ohio, including as Director of Academic Services, Director of Curriculum and Professional Development, and Coordinator of Gifted and Talented Programs. Ms. Delisle has served on several education boards, including the Governing Board of the Minority Student Achievement Network, Executive Board of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, and the Council of Chief State School Officers Executive Board. Ms. Delisle is a recipient of the Betsy Cowles Women in Leadership Award and the Buckeye Association of School Administrators Distinguished Service Award. She holds a B.S. from Springfield College and an M.Ed. from Kent State University.

Click here to see the source of this bio

DPI reading resource portal

Read Wisconsin, is the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s (DPI) reading resource portal and community of practice. Read Wisconsin is intended for use by parents and families, educators, and early childhood professionals to assist in ensuring high quality reading practices are part of every Wisconsin student’s education. There are several ways you can use Read Wisconsin:
  • Use the left navigation bar to identify and use high quality reading resources organized by developmental level
  • Create a login to receive updates and participate in interactive reading discussions
  • Read the latest news and updates about reading in Wisconsin
  • Sign in to comment on a particular resource so that others can learn from you
  • Learn the answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about reading in Wisconsin
  • Sign in to participate in a forum discussion on a reading topic of interest
  • Suggest a resource or Frequently Asked question, or send a comment to the web developer
Click to go to Read Wisconsin page

Notice of Mandatory Trainings

The list of mandatory training for staff continues to grow. The following list of training topics will be required as either an on-line module (some of these we have already required) or it will be incorporated as part of pre-service. I think I have everything covered, but if not, the list will be updated.

  1. blood borne pathogens
  2. bullying
  3. child abuse/neglect
  4. common core
  5. concussion 
  6. confidentiality
  7. copyright
  8. curriculum updates (elementary math training starts in June)
  9. homeless
  10. medication administration
  11. seclusion/restraint
  12. suicide prevention

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Three New Pillars of 21st Century Learning

The author, of the article linked below, contends that "the textbook, the lecturer and the classroom are three pillars of modern-day schooling that date back hundreds of years", but are being replaced with connected classrooms, networks, and a student's ability to find and use information.

Click here to go article on 3 pillars

Finding Pivotal Moments and Gateways, Not Gatekeepers

For a short time you can preview the two ASCD magazine articles on Finding Pivotal Moments and Gateways, Not Gatekeepers. The second article is on how standards need to be increased toward a more rigorous academic course of study for all students. The article strongly points out that high level programming should be for all students, and should not depend on whether students are college or career bound.

Click here to go to ASCD Educational Leadership

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Evers: Schools are working to improve reading

Tony Evers is the state superintendent of public instruction. This article is an update from him on
Schools are working to improve reading.

Technology and educational delivery

Technology is making changes in how we learn and teach. This change is advancing ever more rapidly. One side of this is how it will affect instructional methodology.

1. As an example, the following link is to an article on how computers are being used to grade essays. We have had a discussion on this idea a few weeks ago with our High School English department.

Click to go to NPR article on computers grading essays
Click to go to Education Week article on same subject

2. Another example is that we are going to be using a blended classroom concept in grades 5 to 8 foreign language instruction for the coming years. We are going to be using an on-line language software program in an every-other-day format with Chinese and Spanish language teachers on the opposite days teaching and reinforcing language skills in a traditional face-to-face situation. This is an opportunity for students to receive high quality foreign language instruction in both formats (best of both worlds) and this will provide to us valuable information as to how this blended platform may work in other curricular areas.

Click to go to Middlebury information

3. We also continue to explore the on-line charter school option for the future. Access to on-line education is growing and we need to get in the game. We have a few students a year open-enroll out to on-line charters. Each year we also have a number of parents of elementary aged student who desire a blended situation where we can provide educational services in an alternative format. We have worked with home-school parents in the past, but state rules have shut down or prevented those types of partnerships unless we go the on-line route.

There are many obvious opportunities available in the educational on-line world. However, we desire to do this right and we plan to do a lot of research before we jump, as there are still a lot of unanswered questions in this realm. For example, based on student achievement data, there are many models of on-line schools that have results, to put it nicely, that are not good. If we do something, we want to do it well!

Click to read a NY Times article on the subject

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Statewide Public School Accountability System

The latest update on the Statewide Accountability System is that Wisconsin Public Schools will receive, late this summer, an accountability score on an index from 0 to 400 (note this is a change from 0 to 100).

The index will be combination of four sub-scales which will be:
1. Student Achievement (based on fall 2011 Reading and Math scores adjusted to NAEP levels)
2. Student Growth (based on NAEP re-figured WKCE Reading and Math scores from the past six years)
3. Closing gaps (subgroups: ELL, SWD, and Economically Disadvantaged - will be measured in cell sizes of 20)
4. On-Track to Graduation/Post-Secondary Readiness

The rating will lead to the identification of the 60 lowest indexed schools in the state in a PRIORITY intervention status. These schools must put in place a plan for an immediate turnaround.

In addition, approximately 120 more schools statewide will be identified in a FOCUS status. These schools will receive focused assistance based on specialized needs.

Both of these categories could lead to serious sanctions if no improvement is seen.

Click here to see the DPI PowerPoint on the Accountability system

Common Core Science, Social Studies, and DLM

As you are aware, we have new Common Core Standards in English Language Arts/Reading (ELA) and Mathematics (Math) which are quasi-national standards. It has been announced that the Science standards will be in draft format sometime during this year; word from DPI is to expect it in late fall or early winter - I have seen rough sketches of parts of the draft and it looks to be very well done.  In addition, Social Studies is close behind; DPI has stated to expect those draft standards as early as the winter of 2013.

Another development is that Wisconsin is teaming with another consortium of states to develop learning maps which are a network of sequenced learning targets which show how multiple learning pathways and how skills are related to other skills. These dynamic learning maps are being developed to allow alternative testing options, example for significant cognitive disabilities, that will be the basis for future assessments to give teachers better insight into a student's knowledge base.

The following is a DPI slide show on the overview of these issues.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Common Core Webinars

For a short time, a recorded webinar series Bringing Common Sense to the Common Core State Standards is available from Scholastic. I am linking the series below, as the presentations and power points are available for viewing, but this is copyrighted material so please do not forward or use the information without permission.

Pertussis information

This is a note from our School Nurse:

We have had a positive case of pertussis at BV School. I am notifying parents via Skyward & school website. I will also send letters home to those students who choose not to immunize their children. People most at risk are infants under 1yo, older individuals because the vaccination wanes, immune compromised individuals.

I will have available the tetanus / pertussis booster shot for any staff who needs one (free). It is recommended that you update your tetanus every 5-7 years.
Please read the attachment for more information.


Karen Reilly, R.N.
School Nurse for the Prairie du Chien Schools
1901 E. Wells St., Prairie du Chien, WI 53821

Click here to access fact sheet on Pertussis

Early retirees in health group

We have a few people who have asked about staying on the group health plan in a 'direct bill/pay' to the insurance company if they do decide to retire. We have confirmation that people can stay on the group plan until age the of 65. What we need to confirm is whether WPS will direct bill, if not, I believe we can set something up internally to have people prepay to us and we can send it off through our group payment. Either way, at this time, I am confident that we will make it work; I hope by days end to fully confirm the details and will post an update when the information comes in.

The following is a copy of the actual message from the WPS Agency Manager "Our proposal is intended to cover all member who are currently covered under their WEA plan. This would include any early retirees they might have. We will also cover them in the same manner as they are being covered so if that is to age 65, we will match."

Girls State BB moved to Green Bay in 2013 & 2014

Board Supports Executive Staff Recommendations on State Tournament Sites for 2012 Summer Baseball and Girls Golf

STEVENS POINT, Wis. – The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Board of Control authorized the Executive Staff to pursue agreements to keep the State Boys Basketball Tournament at the Kohl Center in Madison and to move the State Girls Basketball Tournament to the Resch Center in Green Bay for 2013 and 2014 at its April meeting today.

The Board approved a recommendation by Executive Director Dave Anderson to move the Girls State Basketball Tournament to the Resch Center in Green Bay, pending the successful negotiation of formal agreement with PMI and the Resch Center to host the premiere girls basketball event in 2013 and 2014. In addition, the recommendation seeks an extension to the contract for the Boys State Basketball Tournament at the Kohl Center in Madison, along with the State Football Championships, State Individual and Team Wrestling Championships, Girls & Boys Golf Championships, and the State Softball Championships through 2020, pending the successful negotiation of a formal agreement for these tournaments with the University of Wisconsin.

No determination will be made on the location of the girls tournament beyond 2014 until the opportunity to experience the tournament at the Resch Center can be evaluated.

The recommendation will require the 2013 and 2014 State Boys Basketball Tournament to be played on the second weekend in March followed by the girls tournament on the third weekend. This will allow the tournaments to return to the preferred weekends with an adjustment in the order of the tournaments to accommodate open weekends at the Kohl Center.

The change in venue and schedule is necessary because of scheduling conflicts with the University of Wisconsin athletics schedule for 2013 and 2014. The traditional weekend of the Boys State Basketball Tournament in the Kohl Center has been reserved for the Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs in 2013. In addition, the third weekend in March is expected to be reserved in 2014 for the NCAA Women’s Frozen Four.

“We carefully considered all the options and perspectives that go into making a determination that impact these events, because these events produce revenue that provide the opportunity to conduct high school tournaments for all our sponsored sports,” Anderson said.

The Kohl Center has been home to the boys tournament since it opened in 1998 with a seating capacity of 17,230. The girls tournament has been held in the Kohl Center the past three seasons and in 1998, 2001, 2003 and 2005. The UW Fieldhouse (2002) and Veterans Memorial Coliseum at the Alliant Energy Center (2004, 2006-09) have also hosted the girls tournament over the past decade.

“We wish to extend our gratitude to the UW chancellor’s office and Vice Chancellor Darrell Bazzell, Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez and the athletics staff, and the Greater Madison Convention & Visitors Bureau for their efforts in accommodating our State Basketball Tournaments,” Anderson said. “The Kohl Center will continue to provide the conveniences and attributes necessary for our boys tournament along with the necessary seating capacity to accommodate the 80,000 to 90,000 fan base that typically enjoy this premiere state tournament.

“We are equally excited about the opportunity to work with PMI and the Green Bay Area Convention & Visitors Bureau,” he said. “The Resch Center is a state-of-the-art facility that will afford our girls basketball tournament the modern conveniences and attributes necessary to provide a premium quality, family friendly experience to players, coaches and fans.”

The Resch Center, opened in 2002, has been the host venue for the WIAA State Girls Volleyball Tournament since 2002. With a seating capacity of 9,343 for basketball, the Resch Center is the home of the UW-Green Bay men’s basketball games. In 2004, the Resch Center was named Tour Guide Magazine's Best New Venue in 2004. It was also ranked by Pollstar as one of the top 100 buildings in the world and has hosted NCAA tournaments, most recently the NCAA Men’s Hockey Regional this winter.

In other Board action, it also authorized the anticipated move of the State Summer Baseball Tournament to Concordia College in Mequon this summer. The new format features a one-day tournament with semifinal games followed by the championship final Friday, July 20. The tournament has been held at Bukolt Park in Stevens Point since 1989 when it moved from West Bend, which was the initial location of the tournament from 1965-1988.

In addition, the State Girls Golf Championships in 2012 will be played at Cherokee Country Club in Madison if renovations to the course at University Ridge, the location of the meet since 1994, have not been completed.

The Board also voted to approve the appointments to the Official Advisory Committee, a state association adaptation to the NFHS rules regarding advertising and commercial markings on football fields and a new commercial venture with the WIAA’s awards supplier ESCO.

Among the other topics discussed was the agenda for the 2012 Annual Meeting, the recently passed legislation regarding concussions and online ticketing for spring State tournaments.

The membership of the WIAA oversees interscholastic athletic programs for 506 senior high schools and 71 junior high/middle level schools in its membership. It will sponsor 25 championship tournament series in 2011-12. For more information, please contact the WIAA office at (715) 344-8580.

Todd C. Clark
Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association
Director of Communications & Advanced Media
5516 Vern Holmes Dr.
Stevens Point, WI 54482
(715) 344-8580
(715) 344-4241 (fax)

Arbor Day Info.

The LEAF Staff, headquartered at UW-Stevens Point, have released information highlighting Arbor Day (resources including the LEAF lesson: Forests Built Our State and the PowerPoint slideshow: How to Plant Your New Tree) and information on their Summer Professional Development offerings.

Click here to get more information

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Support Staff procedural changes

Some of the support staff came forward with some issues last week. I will go through those issues and have a short response on each. None of these noted changes require Board action as these are just a change in practice; except as noted.
1. A PTO pro-ration for people working summer school etc.; we will, from this point on, adjust on a prorated basis the PTO time; the exact formula has not been worked out, but we will have something in place to account for the summer and apply the added PTO time in AESOP before school starts next year.
2. Vacation was brought up to confirm the 20 days for those at 20 days. There is no plan to remove the 20 days from those who desired to stay (grandfathered) at that level.
3. Early release and late starts; we will allow an employee the choice of a pay dock or the use of PTO or use of vacation or work and get paid.
4. Insurance premiums will stay as is.
5. Early retirement of a payment of $15 per sick day in the old bank is being studied and language to open a one-time early retirement window may be brought to the School Board for approval at the May or June meeting.

Staff Appreciation Breakfast

All PdC Public School Staff are invited to the annual Staff Appreciation Breakfast. It will be held on May 9, 2012 in the Bluff View Band Room from 6:50 am to 7:50 am. We invite all staff to attend. This is a very small token of thanks, from the Board of Education and Administration, for all you do every day to help the students of this district.

Click this link for the invitation for All Staff

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Health Insurance update

The 'meet and confer' Insurance Committee met with the Tri-Cor Brokers tonight. The recommendation to the School Board will be to move to WPS as the health insurance provider. More informational items will be coming over the next couple of weeks. For example, a grid will be developed to show employee options. The literature on two of the the plans are linked below. There is also a Western Preferred Gunderson Lutheran model, but I do not have the sheet on that network at this time. Coverage information and specific details are being worked on and will be released when available. This is only a committee recommendation but, at this time, I see no reason why the School Board will not approve this change in carrier to start July 1, 2012.

Click these three links below for the "At a Glance" Network Information.
General information on the WPS Western Preferred
General information on the WPS Statewide Plan Page One
General information on the WPS Statewide Plan Page Two

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Evaluation Model

Educator effectiveness and evaluation based on a combination of data and performance is something that is going to be required. The embedded slides below are from a CESA 6 presentation on their version of how this may work. We have not purchased a product and will continue to study this issue. Again, this is only one model or vision as to how this educator evaluation system may work. Also note that this is a pared down version of a full presentation that was over a 100 slides long.

School Board President Message

This is an open message and letter to all PdC Public School Staff from outgoing School Board President Brian Edwards:

To Everyone at the School,

It has been my great pleasure to have been associated with the Prairie du Chien Public School System for many years, first as a student, then as a parent, then as President of the School Board, and now a supporter of our school.

I would like to thank all of you for the job that you do.

I would like to give a special thanks and recognition of our K-8 School, and I am attaching a copy of that Special Recognition.

Thank You

Brian Edwards

Go Blackhawks!

Bullying Resources

DPI has released the following in the weekly Special Education update on the subject of Bullying:

There is a lot of publicity around bullying in conjunction with the opening of the movie, Bully. NEA has published a number of resources. The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) also has posted material.

Click here for the information about the NEA materials.
Click here to look at NASP’s materials.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Early Retirement for this year approved

At the Monday, April 9, 2012, Board meeting, the Prairie du Chien School Board resolved to offer retirement compensation to all teachers who satisfy the eligibility criteria: (a) Have at least eighteen (18) years of full-time teaching experience in the Prairie du Chien School District (District). If a teacher is not working full-time at the time of his or her preliminary notification of retirement, said teacher will still qualify for the payout if he or she has fulfilled the years of full time experience requirement; (b) Have attained the age of fifty-five (55) as of the date that he or she has provided the District with preliminary notification of retirement in order to be eligible for the lump sum cash payout for unused sick leave days. This is a one-time early retirement package for 2012 only.

In order to be eligible, teachers must provide preliminary notification to the Board prior to May 1, 2012 of their decision to retire at the conclusion of the 2011-2012 school year. Teachers must also sign and return the Retirement Agreement And Waiver no later than 4:00 p.m. on May 31, 2012, to finalize their resignation.

The retirement compensation for eligible retirees will be calculated by multiplying $150.00 times the number of unused sick leave days, up to a maximum of 120 days, paid in a lump sum cash payout. This lump sum payment will not exceed $18,000. The lump sum cash payout will be taxable and will be subject to withholding.

Click here to see documents.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Early Firefly

I will digress from school and educational issues for this blog entry. The fireflies, or at least one, are out. Last night we saw one flashing outside our back deck windows. This sure has been a spring that has blown away all past notions of earliness that I have formed over my lifetime. April 14 has not even been close to being associated with Lightning Bugs. In my mind, the end of June, or the Fourth of July, is associated with firefly season, not mid-April. I guess we need to get the hummingbird feeders out of the storage bin, in case their arrival is a couple of weeks early!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Award given to Norbert Aschom Jr.

The School Board honored Norbert Aschom Jr.with the Wisconsin Association School District Administrators Child Advocacy Award based on his support for the students of the PdC Public Schools.

Norbert Aschom Jr. oversees news programming at WQPC and WPRE which broadcasts across Southwest Wisconsin and Northeast Iowa. Mr. Aschom, last year, celebrated his 50th anniversary as a radio personality in Prairie du Chien. Norb has been a steady and reliable source of news and information during his half century of work on the radio. He was hired on April 1st 1961, and Norb has provided vital information to the residents of the community and the surrounding areas during stressful and devastating events, including, but certainly not limited to, the Flood of 1965, when he worked with other staff members, with determination and dedication, to insure that the radio station continued to broadcast from a temporary facility to provide much-needed emergency information. He is primarily interested in local news, including national stories that can be given a local angle. “The most important thing is the local connection,” he says. Norb is a great supporter of education. He has done everything from recording the openings of school musicals to being an integral part of school improvement committees. Superintendent, Drew Johnson of the Prairie du Chien Public Schools greatly compliments Mr. Aschom for his superb coverage of the school events and news. Norb personally interviews Mr. Johnson once or twice a month on school issues. Mr. Norb Aschom has been, and will continue to be, a positive influence on the school and an advocate for the children of the Prairie du Chien Area.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

DPI site on national election resources

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction has a webpage of educational resources relating to the upcoming national elections. Click here to access 2012 national elections.

Youth Concussion Law, TV Program

The following is a release from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

A new Wisconsin law requires athletes suspected of suffering head injuries to be immediately removed from practices and games until a health care provider examines them and gives permission for them to participate.
Under the law, the DPI and the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association will also be working to educate young athletes, their parents, and coaches about concussions.
An upcoming episode of Teen Connection profiles Richland Center High School student Brock Rosenkranz, who suffered ten concussions over three years. Other teens, a trainer, physician, coach, and parent talk about recognizing and managing concussions. The episode airs April 17 at 7:00 p.m. on Wisconsin Public Television and Milwaukee Public Television.
The new law is modeled after the "Lystedt Law" from Washington State. The National Football League has been promoting that law as a model for statutes all states should have in place.

Notice: end of the school year

We have not had to use any snow days for this school year. Unless we have some extremely freaky weather from here on, which will necessitate the use of “snow days,” the last date of school for students will be Tuesday May 29, 2012. Again, this is only if we do not use any future weather days.

The last quarter work day for teachers will be Wednesday May 30, 2012.

The posted summer school schedule, starting on June 11, 2012, will remain the same.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

High School Wireless Approved

Over the next few months we will be putting in place the infrastructure for a full coverage wireless Internet, N capabilities in a seamless manner, system across the High School and partial coverage in Bluff View and B.A. Kennedy. This project will include a Meru wireless system backbone, and a network infrastructure refresh, to give us gigabit connections to the wireless devices, our servers, and high use computers.

This upgrade allows for future growth potential such as higher connectivity speeds between our schools when that is needed. We are topping out our current 36 Mbps pipeline due to increased use of Internet resources for educational programming. This is a good problem to have as it is being used; but it is causing occasional network slowdowns. These changes will totally correct this bottleneck problem by next fall, as it will allow us to fully utilize a 96 Mbps pipeline increase that has been approved.

Resources regarding suicide prevention

Wisconsin statute, s. 115.365, requires that, “Each school board and the governing body of each private school annually shall inform their professional staff of the resources available from the department and other sources regarding suicide prevention.” It also requires the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) to create a model notice of suicide prevention resources and services available in the state.

Department of Public Instruction (DPI) has created a model notice of suicide prevention resources and services available in the state. DPI encourages districts to use this model notice with all staff members; anyone who has a relationship with a student should be able to recognize suicide warning signs and know how to respond. Click here to go to the page to Download DPI’s Model Notice of Youth Suicide Prevention resources.

As we do annually, we will have a requirement of a mediasite video and a session on this subject at pre-service for all staff. Click here for a DPI site on further resources on the subject.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Continue to discuss BYOD

The concept of BYOD (students allowed, and encouraged, to bring their own devices; smart-phones, laptops, pads, etc.) is growing. This model of access to resources seems to be consistent with the common core standards and the new assessments. I have shared with a number of staff that some 'questions' on the new state/nation tests, coming in 2014, probably will be in a format of what we used to refer to as a "take home". In fact, it may go a step further; I am told that there may be an expectation of collaboration and use of all resources available in some units.  There are literally hundreds of thousands, but this is just one example of a site or resource that students may be able to access at all times. Click here to see History Maps site

Interesting side note: if Google developers have their way, access to information will become wearable. Click here to see Google Glasses

This is a trend that seems to be rolling along faster and faster each week. We are preparing our infrastructure at the High School for this possibility. We have been running some tests and pilot runs, and to this point we have not found any major issues in the high school with the more open format - we continue to study the concept of BYOD.

Click here if you desire to read more on the subject.
Click here for another article on BYOD.

Softball fields taking shape

The Bluff View softball fields and the soccer fields are starting to take shape.

The first softball back stop is done. Click for Picture 1Picture 2 The crew will probably finish the other early next week.

The facility should be completed and ready for physical education and sports use in the fall. The fields will be well-used as the two softball fields can also double as little kids baseball, and the soccer fields will be dual purpose also as we can do some football or other activities on them as well. The fields were roughed out on the plans when the Bluff View School was built, but the resources were not available at the time to get them done.

This addition to our grounds has been made possible through a partnership of the school and the generous giving by community members. The donated time, money and other resources has been truly amazing. Without that boost, these fields would still not be done. Thanks to all who have had a hand in the process.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Stepping it up in the NAEP data era

This is just a thinking piece or I guess it could be termed a philosophical commentary.

Based on what is predicted, the WKCE conversion to NAEP standards may end up at around the current levels of WKCE Advanced.

If that holds true, we will most likely have to make a number of adjustments. To state the obvious, we have to push up our thinking on expectation levels, even more than we have already. Our whole concept of what is an intervention level may have to drastically change. RtI and other interventions are based on having 10% to 20% of students below proficiency levels. Is every kid testing under the NAEP proficiency bar now to be in that intervention mode? Under the new benchmarks, schools could invariably have 40% to 70%, or more, students per grade level below the bar. We may be entering a time where most/all children have an individual learning plan as we may have an intervention mode for a majority of our children.

The old WKCE was a nice neat package. We were climbing close, or had goals in sight, to being at 90% proficient and advanced at all grade levels and that left 10% or so of students that were in need of intense interventions. Now with the NAEP bar, that concept is blown away. I called the DPI RtI Center on this and they are aware of this issue and plan to release something soon on the subject.

However, whatever the state comes up with for guidance; in this district it will be difficult to accept that a number like only 50%, or below, of our kids will be at the benchmark, as it looks like we are failing to get a majority of students to the benchmark. If that is indeed the levels we are at, then what the data seems to indicate is that we are being told, or put to the challenge, that our curriculum is being taught at a whole grade level behind where the assessment will be assessing. For, example, if we have only 49% of grade 5 students at grade level proficiency, do we need to somehow accelerate half of those kids to cover 125% of material (RtI concept of a more than a normal year gain in a year) in a year to get the majority that is now under the bar caught up in 4 years? This would be, to loosely paraphrase a past comment by Kathy Pettit, RtI on steroids. It is somewhat mind boggling if we think about it. We know we need to step it up a notch and everyone already is, but the concept of stepping it up may have just taken on a whole new meaning.

The positive is that we have been stepping it up and we are coming into this at a point of strength.

Educator Effectiveness system for all Wisconsin—teachers and principals ─to be implemented by the 2014-15 school year.

District Administrators received a letter from Tony Evers on the Educator Effectiveness system for all Wisconsin—teachers and principals ─to be implemented by the 2014-15 school year. The only thing that is somewhat pressing on a fast timeline is if we desire to be part of any of the pilots of this process. We often complain that we do not have any input; Mr. Evers will be asking us to “indicate ... interest in being involved.”

We have our data points with MAPS and the ACT suite so we could conceivably be one of the schools that could pilot. However, I have no clue as to what will be the criteria to be involved.

If you have more interest in this subject, I have linked the letter here DPI Letter

Google Docs article

As we move toward the conversion to the Google Docs, we will start to give resources that you may want to check out. There are many resources on the web on Google Docs. This is one example that was forwarded to us from CESA 3. The following is a bulleted article on some points as to what the applications can offer:

Another efficiency article:

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Seclusion and Restraint

The following is from the DPI Special Education weekly update

"Department staff have developed an overview of Act 125 requirements addressing the use of seclusion and physical restraint in public schools. The overview is available at As additional technical assistance materials are being developed, we will continue to keep you posted. The law becomes effective September 1, 2012, and I encourage staff to become familiar with the requirements and to take steps to ensure full compliance by the effective date. Until September 1st, districts should continue to follow the department’s directives on the appropriate use of seclusion and restraint in special education programs."

To be over the compliance regulations, we will be training 80 people in CPI during pre-service. All administrators, special education staff, and office workers are required in this first round, plus we will pick other staff as appropriate to be trained.

Decision made to move to Google Docs

A study has been on-going comparing the Google products with the cloud based Microsoft products. At this time there is no comparison as to ease of use and overall functionality – Google Docs are superior.

Therefore, the Technology Committee has made the decision that during the week of May 30, 2012 we will be moving to the cloud based Google Docs. The immediate change after Memorial Day will be that all staff and students, in grades 2 and up, e-mail accounts will switch to g-mail. The helpdesk is starting on the conversion so that we can retain our same e-mail addresses so the changeover from the usage side will be as minimal as possible.

However, there are specific modules that are much better in the Microsoft environment such as Excel. We have MS Office on machines across the district and it will stay installed and serviced until the machines are replaced. As we move forward into future years we will have to evaluate what applications will be needed on an individualized basis.

This move saves money and, from the information gained from other schools that have moved to the cloud environment, it is more efficient. Training opportunities will be on-going as needed up to pre-service of next year.

Network to be down on evening of April 13 for updates

The computer network will be shut down on Friday April 13, 2012 from 5:00 pm until completion of a Light-Speed conversion/update. This change is needed for the coming increase in Internet pipeline capacity from our current 36 Mbps to 96 Mbps.

The increase to 96 will be totally in place by the end of the school year. Under the current 36 we are topping out. The upgrade should get us the capacity we need for future wireless and other increased usage of Internet resources.

Phones may be down at times on Monday

Staff notice: CenturyLink will be working on the phone system to update our emergency systems on Monday, April 9th. There may be times when you may not be able to make an outgoing call or receive an incoming call.

If you have something planned for Monday where a disruption in phone service will be critical, please let Vicki know ASAP.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Election - unofficial vote count

Very unofficial School Board vote count
Will not be official until next week
19 possible absentee votes still out

1068  Mark Forsythe
0996  Christine Panka
0886  Ron Quamme
0744  Lynn O'Kane
0740  Jamie Wagar
0688  Brian Edwards
0445  Robert Saddler
0219  Wendy Garrity

Next generation of Science Standards

The next generation of science standards is coming. Around the beginning of 2013 the standards will be released. The first public draft will be released soon. At the DPI STEM meeting today, we got a sneak peak at one of the pages – it is quite a change. The new standards bring together the content, cross cutting concepts, and practice of science and engineering. Some notes: 44 standards K-12, grade specific standards for grades K-5, no-grade specific standards from 6 to 12. The new standards are not to be anything like the old. The description is that they will marry and integrate the content in a pedagogically coherent way: all start with practice, then go to content, then go across concepts. All of the new science standards are related horizontally, vertically, and with the Common Core.

Monday, April 2, 2012

PdC Public School grades 7, 8, 10 - Great Job on WKCE!

Under the current WKCE system we must acknowledge achievement and celebrate the accomplishments. High School Math continues to shine as they are double digits above the state average - job well done. Overall, the tested grades of 7, 8, 10 did very well. Congratulations to students and staff for theses accomplishments.


Bullying was an issue that in generations past was generally swept under the rug or written off as normal behavior. Not anymore. Bullying is a topic that brings on passionate discussion. Laws are being written to strengthen policies and enforcement. The media has latched on to the issue. There is a movie on bullying that is out. There is no lack of personal stories on the issue.

At PdC Public, we have adopted the model policy on bullying. We have prevention programs in place. We have a tough stance on bullying in our schools and deal quickly and appropriately with all incidents brought to our attention. That last part is important as much of, given the broader scope and definition, bullying now happening has nothing to do with school nor is it during school time. For example, unfriending on Facebook or excluding some kids from being invited to home birthday parties are now considered forms of bullying.

Our school staff will do all we can; but Parents, as with almost all things, must be the front line on this. The data on safety issues in schools across the nation is that schools are extremely safe and getting safer. It has been stated many times, that compared to decades past, schools are far far safer today. This is contrary to many media reports which focus on terrible tragedies. Now, does that mean that there are no issues and that we should ignore the problems? Absolutely not, and we do not ignore anything. Again, we will do all we can if it is brought to our attention and then we act in accordance to polices and practice. We take everything seriously.

There are generally two sides to all issues and the following articles outline those sides:

Accountability Reform updates

The following is an excerpt from a DPI note to District Assessment Coordinators:

As you know, the Department of Public Instruction submitted a request for a waiver from certain parts of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (also known as NCLB). In order to ensure our schools and districts are well informed about our progress and planning related to the waiver, we will be sending regular updates to our education stakeholders. These updates will be posted to the Accountability Reform website:, along with other accountability-related resources. The first update was sent in late March and is already posted on the website. We encourage you to check the webpage regularly...

Update on testing both Google Apps and Microsoft 365

The process of studying which cloud based system we will deploy next summer continues. Our tech crew has been testing both Google Apps and Microsoft 365. The high school has some working groups using Google Apps. At this time no decision has been made, but to keep everyone in the loop we will give occasional updates. BJ has given us the following update:

“As of right now I cannot endorse 365 over Google apps. Office 365 is not as intuitive and easy to use as Google apps. The biggest problem is there is no easy way that I am seeing to just create a new document. Everything has to be run through SharePoint. It basically seems that MS is trying to tie in the desktop products with the online products. Whereas, Google is pushing to be able to use everything through the web browser.”

Intuitively one would think that a conversion to 365 would be easier, but based on information so far, that does not seem to be the case. We are attempting to contact Microsoft to get some of our questions answered on concerns seen so far. The research continues …

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Based on the comparison of CESA 3 advanced scores posted earlier, there have been questions/comments about how we rank on free/reduced and how that affects/effects the scores. That is a great question. The following is a comparison using both the WKCE data rank and the f/r rank in CESA 3. this is designed for internal use only.

PdC Early Programs

Quality childhood experiences are important for school readiness as dispositions for learning and executive functioning skills are refined in the early years – that is just common sense. In addition, research studies are showing positive academic achievement links between early and often intervention and the importance of building early literacy (and numeracy) skills – see previous blog entry for more information on one slice of this.

At PdC Public Schools, we have put this in practice and have made quality early learning experiences a priority. Excellent programs are available to all four-year-olds (by 9/1) in our district for parents that desire the educational services. We offer 4K in both half-day and full-day options. Our staff has done a tremendous job with the new full-day-every-day-4K; the parental feedback and growth in this program has been wonderful. As with any new program, we had to do some tweaks. For example, we had to add five more bathroom stools. Our people have made this work and this success is to be celebrated. On the academic achievement side, the dividends are starting to flow in as the gains from all of 4K are improving. Plus, all those smiles on those kids, having a great time in a fun, safe, and positive educational environment, is truly wonderful and contagious!

In the three and four year old age band we offer the Special Education Early Childhood (EC) program. For these young children with disabilities, it is important that they are to receive services in Least Restrictive Environments (LRE) while learning with typically developing peers. Our EC staff has done a great job of incorporating activities with the full-day-4K to fulfill LRE.

We are continuing to discuss how we make these programs even better. The overarching goal of our early education programs is to narrow or eliminate early achievement gaps. By doing this, we can actually save money. Early education/intervention is an investment and a long-term strategy for success; as opposed to playing catch-up which is expensive and far less successful. It makes economic and educational sense to advocate for early programming. We want to get kids above the bar and keep them there. Future blog posts will look at some improvement options/dreams that have been kicked around internally.