Saturday, November 22, 2014

High School Report Card Delay Advisory Update

Dear Colleagues and Manchester Families:


I would like to update everyone on the recent district report card delay and offer some clarification on what has happened as there seems to be a fair amount of mis-information “on the street”.


In a May report published by the Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, author Julia Freeland writes: "In 2005, the New Hampshire Department of Education mandated that all high schools measure credit in terms of mastery of locally selected competencies, rather than by time-based metrics.  Removing seat-time from state regulations opened up more opportunities for students to advance upon mastery and for educators to measure student progress in terms of authentic learning, rather than in hours and minutes.  Under the 2005 regulations, New Hampshire school districts were required to create competencies and begin measuring credit in these terms by the start of the 2008–09 school year " (Policy to Practice, Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, May 2014).    


In 2009, Manchester was at the forefront of this statewide effort in adopting competency based grading.  At that time, our grading systems were not capable of capturing these standards so our software vendor wrote special programming to automatically factor in an equal weighting of the standards into the traditional grading formula.   This was intended to be a temporary solution until the systems evolved to accommodate true standards or competency based grading.  As systems evolved and other districts around the state, and around the country implemented true standards based grading, Manchester continued with the automated grade scoring. By mid 2013 our software vendor Follett (Aspen is the Follett product name of the Student Information System) had fully supported standards based reporting capability within the grade book.


In January of 2014, the Manchester School District administration, under new leadership and with a renewed strategic vision to improve instructional practice, made the decision to move forward with true competency based grading and leverage the built in Aspen capabilities.  As a first step toward this goal,  the programming that had automated the grading process since 2009 had to be abandoned for a more authentic standards based model, one in which the system in its current version is intended to support.  


This process was begun in April of 2014 and initial training was rolled out in June of 2014, with the aim of supporting this new grading methodology for the start of school in September 2014.   I want to be clear that the disruption caused this 1st grading quarter was a result of a process and training change, and was NOT related to a technical system failure.  The system is working as designed.  We recognize that all teachers may not have had enough time or notice at the school level to learn this new grading data entry procedure and as a result we needed more time to get all teachers up to speed on their training.  This was the first step.  We needed to align the grading process steps with the grading methodology.  The goal is to institute a true standards based report card for the start of the 2015 school year, but this first step was necessary in moving forward to achieving a true competency based report card.


It is important to understand that a true competency based report card is quite different from a traditional report card.   In addition to showing traditional A, B, C, D point score, it goes into much more detail about mastery of specific competencies as a supplemental report.  This is all designed to help learning become more student centered and allow students to advance their learning with more relevance to their individual needs.


For the remainder of the school year we will still be calculating a combined standards/traditional grade by running a program at the end of the quarter to merge the two grading methods.   This will give teachers ample time throughout the year to develop the “habits of mind” in adopting the grading method of a true competency based model. This step also enables MSD to leverage increasing capabilities of our vendor software upgrades by eliminating customizations which constrain our ability to keep current with the vendor's software development roadmap.


I hope this announcement has provided some clarification on the matter and if anyone has any questions, please feel free to contact me.  My contact information and detailed information about our technology strategy may be accessed from our website at trc.mansd.org as well as from my signature below.


In addition, for those who would like to learn more about NH's competency based education history, here is an informative link.




Sincerely,


Jeffrey F. DeLangie Sr.
Director
Technology Resource Center
Manchester School District
195 McGregor Street, Suite 201
Manchester, NH 03102
603-624-6300 x162
jdelangie@mansd.org
Read about our technology vision - http://trc.mansd.org/tlf
Follow our tech plan - http://trc.mansd.org/living-tech-plan

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

High school reports cards delayed until Monday

Due to a technical issue with the system teachers use to input and calculate grades, first quarter report cards will be delayed until Monday, November 24.  The date was pushed back to ensure that teachers have the extra time they need to post grades based on the Manchester School District competency grading system, which measures both skills and academics and shows the truest indication of mastery and understanding of the material. 

We are sorry for the delay but want to make sure that the issue is resolved and grades reflect the correct level of each student's performance in every class.


Thank you for your understanding and patience.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Manchester School District placed on the College Board’s 5th Annual AP® District Honor Roll

Manchester School District is one of 547 school districts in the U.S. and Canada honored by being named to the College Board’s 5th Annual Advanced Placement® District Honor Roll for increasing access to advanced placement course work while simultaneously maintaining or increasing the percentage of students earning scores of 3 or higher on AP Exams. Only six districts in New Hampshire have achieved this objective this year. Along with Manchester, the Exeter, Goffstown, Lebanon, Oyster River and Windham school districts are on the honor roll.

Reaching these goals indicates that the district is successfully identifying motivated, academically prepared students who are ready for the opportunity of AP. Since 2012, Manchester School District has increased the number of students participating in AP while improving the number of students earning AP Exam scores of 3 or higher.

“We are extremely proud of our high school teachers and counselors for encouraging students to challenge themselves in AP subjects that include world history, physics, English literature, computer science, and studio art,” said Superintendent Dr. Debra Livingston. “That means more students every year are committed to raising the bar on learning what they can achieve, and the teachers work hard with students to prepare them well for the exams.”

The first step to delivering the opportunity of AP to students is providing access by ensuring courses are available and that the doors are equitably opened so all students can participate. Manchester School District is committed to expanding the availability of AP courses among prepared and motivated students of all backgrounds.

“The devoted teachers and administrators in this district are delivering an undeniable benefit to their students: opportunity. When coupled with a student’s hard work, such opportunities can have myriad outcomes, whether building confidence, learning to craft effective arguments, earning credit for college, or persisting to graduate from college on time.” said Trevor Packer, the College Board’s senior vice president of AP and Instruction. “We applaud your conviction that a more diverse population of students is ready for the sort of rigor that will prepare them for success in college.”

Helping more students learn at a higher level and earn higher AP scores is an objective of all members of the AP community, from AP teachers to district and school administrators to college professors. Many districts are experimenting with a variety of initiatives and strategies to determine how to simultaneously expand access and improve student performance.

In 2014, more than 3,800 colleges and universities around the world received AP scores for college credit, advanced placement, and/or consideration in the admission process, with many colleges and universities in the United States offering credit in one or more subjects for qualifying AP scores.
Inclusion on the 5th Annual AP District Honor Roll is based on the examination of three years of AP data, from 2012 to 2014, looking across 34 AP exams. The following criteria were used.

Districts must:
·         Increase participation/access to AP by at least 4 percent in large districts, at least 6 percent in medium districts, and at least 11 percent in small districts; Manchester is a medium-sized district and saw an increase of 10% over those two years.
·         Increase or maintain the percentage of exams taken by African American, Hispanic/Latino, and American Indian/Alaska Native students; the rate in Manchester rose from 5% in 2012 to 7% in 2014.

·         Improve performance levels when comparing the percentage of students in 2014 scoring a 3 or higher to those in 2012, unless the district has already attained a performance level at which more than 70 percent of its AP students are scoring a 3 or higher; Manchester’s percentage of those students scoring at least a 3 in 2014 was 75%.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

MST culinary programs to benefit from FeedNH.org fundraiser!

T
he Great NH Restaurants' Charitable Trust drive to raise funds for local non-profit organizations is ending November 16:

T
​he​
 Thanks for Giving fundraiser  has chosen FeedNH.org as the beneficiary for this year's campaign.  The Manchester School of Technology Culinary Arts Program is one of four local non-profit organizations that will share the proceeds of this fundraising effort.
​ MST students provide many hours of community service and this is a great way to support and thank them for their efforts!​

How does it work? Give $5 get $10!

​S
top in at the Manchester School of Technology's main office or send an email to Virginia Stephen at 
vstephen@mansd.org
 
​to purchase
 certificates. 
For every $5 you donate you will receive a certificate for $10 off your next visit. (Certificates are valid through December 2015  - yes, 2015!)
​​
​You can also v
isit any Cactus Jack's or T-BONES location from 
October 20 - November 16 to donate! 

FeedNH.org who has committed to support the following Manchester Community organizations:

F is for Families : Families in Transition
is for Education: MST Culinary Arts Programs
E is for Elderly: Meals on Wheels
D is for Disadvantaged: New Horizons Veterans Service Program


feednh.org


Children in need find help at McDonough Elementary School

McDonough Elementary School teacher DeLorie Belanger has regularly purchased shoes, boots and other clothing essentials for her students in need throughout the years. Then one day, not even a month into the school year, she noticed one boy who was wearing a pair of shoes that were falling apart. Belanger gave the boy her own son’s sneakers to replace them.

“After that experience, I felt like I should do something more,” said Belanger. “Many of the teachers I know purchase items for students, and the cost adds up quickly. If there were a way to collect donations, we could help more children.”

Belanger asked her husband if she could use his office as a drop-off site and then went to Facebook for help, posting a request for gently used coats and shoes on a yard sale page. The response was immediate.

“Within an hour, dozens of people were offering to give and sharing my post to help spread the word,” said Belanger.

Soon, donations were being dropped off daily, and Belanger spent her evenings washing coats and disinfecting shoes. McDonough’s principal, Ken DiBenedetto, gladly supported the project and allowed Belanger to use a large closet at school to store the donations. But there were no shelves, clothing racks or hangers. That’s when a Manchester store stepped in.

Adam Tessier from The Home Depot on March Avenue donated manpower and materials to install wardrobe rods in the closet. The store also offered, free of charge, dozens of coat hangers, as well as 20 totes for shoes, gloves, mittens and scarves. Now any teacher at McDonough has access to items in the closet to give to their students in need.

As the cold weather approaches, Belanger is hoping to fill the closet with new or gently used winter coats and boots. Her hope is that she will not only be able to meet the needs of the students at McDonough but offer items to other Manchester schools as well. Any Manchester educators can email Belanger to make a request for students. If the items are available, Belanger will make sure those students get them.


Anyone who wishes to donate gently used or new coats, boots, socks and other winter accessories for children ages 5-11 can bring them to the Allstate insurance office at 1181 Hanover Street in Manchester.

Barnes & Noble Annual Holiday Book Drive Will Benefit the Manchester School District

Barnes & Noble Holiday Book Drive
Barnes & Noble Holiday Book Drive


Once again the Barnes & Noble Annual Holiday Book Drive will benefit the Manchester School District! Last year Barnes & Noble collected and distributed over 3500 books to schools in the district. This year they'd like to expand that number to 4200 books!

Please consider adding a requested book to your basket when making your book purchases at Barnes & Noble. A table will be set up in the cash wrap line near the registers with bookmarks designating books that schools have selected. The books will be collected and distributed weekly.

Printed wish lists can also be found at Customer Service and in the Children's Department.






Monday, November 10, 2014

Parker-Varney Elementary School shows off its Innovation Learning Lab

Schools in Manchester work every day to develop new ways for students to engage and learn. Technology can play a big role, and now Parker-Varney Elementary School wants to show the community its new Innovation Learning Lab, where students receive personalized instruction according to individual strengths and needs. There are 85 computers, a projector and screen.

 
In addition to daily reading and math enrichment, the lab offers even more opportunities for enhancing students’ learning. In the coming months, they will learn computer coding, build their own computers, and work on projects with a 3D printer.


Today was the official ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the new lab. The event was conceived, planned and executed entirely by the fifth grade. After the ribbon cutting, students in all grades showcased the work they've been able to do with the technology now available.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

New kindergarten readiness videos available

Our series of videos to help families learn more about the first year of school continues with the addition of two segments focused on math skills. Check out those and others on the "Ready, Set. . .Kindergarten!" page.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

STEAM Ahead Open House on November 13

West Steam
Science Technology Engineering ARts Math
Open House For Future Steamers
Engineering the future!
Higher Learning Opportunities
Earn early College Credits   


All Current 8th graders and their families are welcome!

6:00-7:30pm Thursday, November 13th
Location: Cafeteria   
Student presentations                   
tour of the school
&
Meeting the teachers!

IMG_0037.JPGSTEAM logo.jpeg



New driver education session set to start next week

Granite State Driving School has been selected to begin operations of the driver education program in the Manchester School District. GSDS will begin classes during the week of November 10 and is in the process of contacting all of the students who had originally signed up with the district program for this session. The cost is the same as the previous price, $525 per student.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Is there an app for that?

The Verizon Foundation and Technology Student Association are looking for middle and high school students that have great mobile app ideas that could solve problems in their schools and communities as part of the Third Annual Verizon Innovative App Challenge.

Teams of five to seven students and a faculty advisor have until November 24 to enter their app concepts for a chance to be one of eight teams named 'Best in nation'. 
Each winning team will receive up to $20,000 in cash and a Samsung tablet for each team member. Teams are judged on whether their ideas solve challenges in their communities, include STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) principles and are creative, unique and innovative. No coding experience or mobile devices are required to enter.