Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Mounds View To Lead State With 100% ACT Exam Participation

For strong District 621 communications, Please vote 'John Hakes for Mounds View School Board' on November 8th !!

Dear Reader: You might also enjoy The ACT-Plus Writing Exam as a College-Ready Proficiency Standard

Feb. 22--The Mounds View School Board heard plans from personnel regarding District 621's intent to have 100% of its juniors taking the ACT exam this April.

Calling it a "unique Mounds View experience" (i.e. no other district in the state is doing this), Curriculum Director RoAnne Elliott said the exam's administration will ready students for a "wide range of choices" when they graduate. Elliott said the move will also send a "ripple effect across the system" that the path to post secondary experiences doesn't start in high school, but a lot earlier than that.

To help make students & families aware, Elliott and Mary Roden, Director of Assessments & Evaluation, shared a comprehensive plan being for optimizing student success.

First, the District's Naviance Access System (available to all students at home or from school) has been beefed up to include diagnostic exams in core subject areas, test-taking strategies, and full-length tests on line.  Additionally, sophomores whose results on the 10th grade PLAN test illustrate a need for assistance will receive special support from 621.

On Saturday, March 5, ISD 621 will provide a full-length, timed, practice administration of the ACT.  March 26th students will be given feedback on that performance.  These tools, along with the "home field advantage" of administering the exam at its two high schools and area learning center, should increase opportunity for success.

Board member Bob Helgeson raised the concern that 100% of students being tested will likely cause Mounds View's average ACT score--a perennial strong suit of the district-- to drop.

"If the number does drop, it doesn't mean we have less rigorous courses at our schools," said Mary Roden, "and it will provide a new baseline for attacking curriculum and instruction in our schools."

April 27th, the Wednesday of the administration, will also have 9th and 10th graders practicing timed tests (although not ACT exams) with the 11th graders. High school principals Wikelius and Gengler are gearing up for an atypical day.   ACT, Inc.'s testing "constructs" will require the test sites to follow prescribed schedules with no lunch period for students, with students working on through an approximate 1:30 release time for the day.   Seniors will be given the 27th off, in hopes they will use the time to finalize their college plans for the subsequent year.

If you would like to hear the official ACT prep. report for yourself, see agenda item "5.3 ACT- Test Prep" at the following link:

621 "ACT Test Prep" Video Clip

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cure Insomnia With Analyses of "Student Performance Spending"

Recently, I completed this "brief" for a public policy course I am enrolled in at UMD.
In case you just cannot bring yourself to read it, the shorthand is this--

National leaders both in and out of the Education Department are trending toward district control through granting and accountability measures.

The Center for American Progress and Comptroller of Public Accounts (TX) have both produced studies for measuring "student performance indexes for the dollar" in the country and state of Texas.

Summary: Education Spending & Student Performance

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Lift Popular Culture's Curtain to Help Students Find Their America

Recently, my wife and I tuned into a broadcast of the Grammy Awards that are given to top musical artists.  While not expecting it to feature my favorite music, staying socially literate does have its value, and you never know when there might be a new song to like.

"This is the Grammy Awards?" my wife asked in an astonished voice, at the visual of the stage performers dodging flames in costumes that concealed their humanity.

 "Yep, this is America-- important to know what's out there," I replied.

"It may be your America," she responded. "But it's not my America."

A person's country can be a lot of things. Without getting too philosophical here, that is especially true of free countries.  Thank God ours is the most free of 'em all.  But it is also plausible that we often allow culture to be defined by a celebrity-based media having little relationship to value in our country.

Okay, enough from the pulpit-- the opening entry of this blog promised resources, so resources you will get.  How might a person help a student acquire a set of  "Only in America" knowledge, experience and skills?

One approach is to turn off all the household boxes once in awhile & get out in the field.

If you know an adult student interested in a blend of historical mystery, natural wonder, and a learning experience second to none, you might consider an archaeological expedition at the estate of one of America's founding families:

Montpelier's Archaeology Field School    (For Seniors or College-Aged)

Montpelier Expedition Programs                (For Adults of Any Age)

Perhaps you heard about the discovery of chess pieces possibly used by two founding fathers.  This archaeological program of 15 years is where that occurred.  Now, not every expedition yields pieces so interesting.  But even the discovery of horseshoes with people trained to interpret them, is amazing, as I learned during a 2010 school ...

Montpelier (the home) was reopened to visitors in 2008, after a major project restored it to the "Madison era"
of our fourth U.S. president.

The Montpelier Estate is near Camp McGowan, a Civil War encampment used in the winter of 1863.

What's really fantastic about this travel experience is getting to sleep in camps like this one--- wink wink! Volunteers
stay instead at a nearby house that had a new addition put on to it for this year's programs.  Let me know if you would like additional information about this alternative cultural experience :)