March 31, 2014

Post date: Mar 31, 2014 7:00:42 PM

I am trying to contain my excitement about the upcoming warmer weather. I cannot stress with you enough how much I have been looking forward to the change of the seasons. I am sure most of you share my excitement. The winter of 2013-2014 has been a trying one and it will certainly be a great opportunity for students to get outside more for recess and enjoy the fresh air. I appreciate your patience with the number of indoor recesses we needed to call this winter.

I also wanted to take this opportunity to remind you that starting April 7th school will start 15 minutes early and end 15 minutes later. Doing so will allow us to end the school year on June 20th. Parents who utilize the student drop off procedure would need to drop their child off at 7:20. This would also mean that student drop off would end at 7:40. Dismissal would then begin at 2:45 as opposed to 2:30. So students would be called for pickup a little before 2:45. If you have any other questions related to this, please let me know.

The transition to Bow is starting to now really pick up for students. Bow Memorial School and the Bow School District as a whole has been nothing but gracious and welcoming throughout the whole process. Our sixth grade students are entering into the month of April which includes two separate transition activities. On April 16th students will be going to Bow Memorial School to participate in a “Shadow Day”. During this day, the DES students will have the opportunity to meet fellow Bow Memorial School students and their future 7th grade teachers. This will be a great opportunity for the students to learn more about the ins and outs of BMS and to figure out the important aspects of school life such as teachers, classes, friends and the cafeteria. The following day, April 17th, the DES students will rejoin their newfound BMS friends on a team-building excursion to New England College (NEC). Should you have any questions about either day or activities, please feel free to contact me. As many of you are already aware, there is a Dunbarton Transition page on the Bow website. If you were unaware, the link to it is as follows: .

We had two recent events I wanted to highlight. I sincerely loved the Winter Concert. It was extremely clear to me how supportive the Dunbarton community is of DES and its students. You came out in droves to watch and hear the students perform their wonderful music. I commend you. It is always wonderful when there is a strong home and school connection. Nothing will be more beneficial to your child’s education than the support you, as a parent, will provide. I also wanted to thank all the staff that came out in support of their students. It was a clear message to me that we have a staff that understands the connection to the arts and the classroom. Most importantly, the students and their music teachers (Mrs. Campbell, Mr. Jenkins, and Mr. Hodges) did a great job! I also wanted to thank Mrs. Spill, Ms. Carter and Mr. VK and the numerous volunteers for their work with the recent 4th and 6th grade talent show. I think they created a great venue for students to share their talents with the greater community. Again, you did a great job coming out and supporting the students. I attended with my own children and it was a great time had by all!

At the last school board meeting there were some questions from the public concerning NECAP testing. I wanted to take a minute to explain that we as educators do use the NECAP testing results to refine our teaching. In an effort to give a better understanding I created the following list of how educators use the information provided by the NECAP.

Educators have access the specific scores.

Educators can drill down to specific skills to see if there is a classroom trend or skills lacking in individual or small groups of students.

An example of this work is what Goffstown did with the math program this past year. By looking at NECAP results, a committee was able to create an addendum of sorts to the Everyday Math Program to address specific needs.

The creation of this program helped to raise our scores from 75% to 80% proficient or above school wide.

I wanted to further clarify that this past year was our last year of using the NECAP assessment in the areas of math, reading, and writing. We will, for the foreseeable future, continue to use the NECAP in Science. Students will now be assessed in their math, reading and writing progress using the Smarter Balanced Assessment. The major difference between the NECAP and the Smarter Balanced Assessment is the Smarter Balanced Assessment is a fully digital assessment. The website for Smarter Balanced can be found here: . As we move closer to the assessment we will be giving students opportunities to take the practice test to ensure for understanding of the testing instrument itself. You are more than welcome to take the very same practice test yourself by going on to the website and following the directions provided.

I have to reemphasize that the NECAP is only one data point and DES teachers use multiple other assessment tools to ensure for student success. Some examples of these would be the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) test given to students in 2nd through 6th grade every spring. If you would like more information on the NWEA, the website is as follows: . We also use multiple Everyday Math assessments to gauge student understanding. In the lower grades we use the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) test to determine the progress of our students in reading. The website for DIBELS is as follows: . We also utilize the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA) to determine how our students are doing in their reading. The DRA is another early grades reading assessment. I am happy to speak to anyone who has further questions about any of these assessments.

Although we are certainly in an age where the standardized test is the lay of the land, I cannot emphasize enough how important the educators are in the assessment process. Every day students are in the classroom, the educators are using their own assessment methods, whether formative or summative to determine student progress. Formative assessment is an assessment educators give to determine a student’s progress throughout a unit. By utilizing this type of assessment, an educator can take their teaching in a different direction in order to meet the needs of the students. Some simple examples would be quick check in with students to make sure they understand (thumbs up or down, student clickers to show understanding on a Promethean Board, or an exit ticket at the end of a lesson to show understanding). A summative assessment is a much more rigid form of assessment such as an exam at the end of a unit or a final exam that shows the student’s learning.

Should you have any questions concerning standardized, summative or formative assessments, please let me know.

I wish you all the best and, as always, thank you for your continued support of DES.

Owen Harrington