Monday, September 24, 2012

Cashton Middle School Daily Announcements

In an effort to help students and parents keep track of current assignments and learning objectives, each middle school teacher posts daily learning objectives and current homework assignments daily on the Cashton Middle School Daily Announcements page.  Students and parents can access this site if they are unsure about when an assignment is due or to determine what was missed if they were absent from school.  For easy access parents can subscribe to posts via an RSS reader or by bookmarking the website.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

New State Initiative May Require All Students To Take The ACT

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction is supporting a new state initiative that would require all Cashton High School juniors to take the ACT college admissions test. Currently, the test is taken by students who are considering attending post-secondary institutions upon graduation.

Under the plan, all public school ninth-grade students would take the ACT EXPLORE assessment in spring of the 2014-2015.  The ACT PLAN would be administered in tenth grade and the ACT and WorkKeys assessments in 11th grade.  The cost for these tests would be covered by the state.  The ACT would replace the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination (WKCE) for math, reading, and language arts administered to tenth-graders in the fall.  The ACT assessment package will add growth measures and improve college and career readiness measures for Wisconsin's new accountability system.

ACT has decades of experience measuring academic achievement and career aspirations and is the preferred college admissions in Wisconsin.  Last year, 72% of Cashton High School students took the ACT test.  The EXPLORE assessment is designed for students to explore both high school and post-high school options, helping to identify strengths and areas where intervention may be needed. The 10th grade PLAN helps students continue coursework selection and planning for college and career readiness.  Both assessments prepare students to take the ACT.  The ACT is benchmarked for college readiness; providing a minimum score that yields a likely passing grade in credit-bearing college coursework.  The WorkKeys provides a job skill assessment that helps students prepare for the workforce whether they plan to go directly into employment, train for a trade, or pursue a technical college or university degree.

What this means for Cashton
Cashton High School has high ACT test participation rates and a formal ACT preparation curriculum .  However, requiring all students to take the test will shift require a shift in our Career and College Planning sequence.  The use of the entire ACT suite (EXPLORE, PLAN, and WorkKeys) will provide valuable data for teachers, students, and parents.  The fact that these test are taken in 8th, 10th, and 11th grades allows for students to assess their current academic progress and make informed decisions about courses of study.  In addition, the testing suite provides an opportunity to track student growth aligned to national performance indicators. Having students take the test later in their high school career also allows for an accurate assessment of each students' college and/or career readiness.  In preparation for this initiative, our school, has immediately began researching the possible implementation of these tests prior to the 2014-15 school year.

For more information:  LINK

Friday, September 7, 2012

A New Accountability System for Schools

Wisconsin is launching a new school accountability system.  The system will provide balanced, descriptive information about school performance using multiple measures.

To develop the system, the Department of Public Instruction worked closely with policy makers, parents, teachers, and the business community.  The new accountability system applies to all public schools and takes effect with new school report cards based on 2011-12 student performance.

Each year, schools will receive one of five accountability ratings based on an overall score that results from performance in these priority areas:

  • Student Achievement in reading and mathematics on state assessments
  • Student Growth, measured year-to-year improvements in achievement
  • Closing Gaps in performance between specific student groups
  • On-Track to Graduation/Postsecondary Readiness
Also, poor test participation, dropout, and absenteeism rates can reduce priority area scores.

New School Report Card
The new school report card will show at which of the five levels the school is performing.  It will provide detailed information about the priority areas and performance of student groups to help each school understand its score and carry out data informed improvements.  The following link provides a few examples of what the new school report card looks like (LINK).

Recognizing and Supporting Schools
The DPI will recognize top-performers as Rewards Schools and work to disseminate their best practices to struggling schools.  In struggling schools, interventions will be required including the development and execution of turnaround or improvement plans.  Other schools will be connected with resources that meet their specific needs as part of a new, differentiated statewide system of support.