Final Laps

May 28, 2009

Though testing is far from over, we already are showing some solid finishes.

Our “unofficial” overall reading scores are running slightly ahead of last year’s.  With 113 reading retests on tap for Friday, we can only gain more ground.  So every reading retest counts, and we must do all we can to get as many over the proficiency bar on Friday’s final lap for reading as possible.  And we recognize the staff is running hard each morning during remediation to do just that!

Our “unofficial” overall math scores are running significantly higher than last year’s.  With 65 math retests on tap for Monday, we can also pick up prized ground here.  And we applaud all who are chipping in to make the afternoon math tutoring a success.

Unfortunately, on the AYP racing circuit, it is not just overall scores–but also sub-group scores–that define our place on the podium.  We are still in the race with EC and Econ Disadvantaged sub-groups in both reading and math.  But they are projected to be photo-finishes at the wire.

Therefore, we can only do as we’ve done all year:  dig in, give it our all, and keep our eyes on the prize of every student making growth…right up until the end.

In the words of the great football coach Vince Lombardi, “I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious.”

Finish strong!



May 22, 2009

Daniel Pink (2005) writes:  “In any symphony, the composer and the conductor have a variety of responsibilities.  They must make sure that the brass horns work in synch with the woodwinds, that the percussion instruments don’t drown out the violas. But perfecting those relationships–important though it is–is not the ultimate goal of their efforts.  What conductors and composers desire–what separates the long remembered from the  quickly forgotten–is the ability to marshal these relationships into a whole whose magnificence exceeds the sum of its parts.”

Our EOG testing process has an ongoing symphonic quality; without a doubt, Su-Lin and Elizabeth are masters of orchestration.  They have marshalled up test administrators, proctors, environments, accommodations, materials, schedules, retests, and results in an efficient, effective and organized manner.

It is artistry to make music of the madness that is EOG testing. Within the last seven school days, we have done Extend2’s in reading for 21 students, extend 2’s in Math for 17 students, EOG’s in reading for 363 students, and EOG’s in math for 364 students.  And we just received a spontaneous arrangement sent at 10:19 last night that sets up for today the first series of Extend2 retests and EOG make-ups for 30 students.

The players tune up their instruments again today for another round of high stakes testing.  We are all the music-makers, following the conductor batons of Su-lin and Elizabeth.

And if our first listen to the testing results that were delivered yesterday afternoon is any indication, this year’s EOG symphony at NES may be some long remembered music to our ears.

The Commitment to Excellence

May 20, 2009

…is habitual hard work.

The EOG teachers and proctors are just one example of that ethic.  They supply and organize materials.  They circulate among student desks for 135 minutes straight.  They make sure student test items and answer keys are in the same zip code.  They attend to the geometry of the various papers on student desks.  They oversee errant pencil markings and eraser blemishes on answer keys.  They pick up pencils and calculators that drop to the floor.  They pick up heads that drop to the desks.  They bring tissues to runny-nosed kids and escort those that “gotta go.”

They read scripts verbatim, mind the clock, and lead stretching during breaks. They guard against misadministration. They keep test items secure.

They cannot do anything more.

Here’s to our teachers and proctors for their great personal investment in this endgame!

Right now, our entire staff is operating like a juggernaut focused on a common cause.  It is what leads Millie Temple, our liaison from Central Services, to call us the “most structured testing environment” she has ever seen and a “PERFECT model!”

I could not agree more with Millie’s assessment.

Soar on!  Soar on!

Random Acts of Heroism

May 20, 2009

…OR…why Newport Elementary School will triumph.

Heroic Acts from 5/19:

  • The morning duty staff in the media center adapt to the avalanche of students who missed the memo and showed up there before school.
  • The U-11 soccer stars set the “golden” standard on the morning news.
  • The cafe ladies deliver 430 to-go breakfasts pre-EOG.
  • 2 first grade and 2 second grade teachers answer the call to remediate our Extend2’s in reading. Grade level teachers provide resources.
  • The other teachers in those grades absorb the students from the four classes to make the remediation happen.
  • Vicky, Dean, Shawn and the PE department convert the gym to a cinema. Later, they break it down and set it up again…this time with surround sound.
  • The PE teachers structure some much needed recreation for assorted students who are not in the formal EOG environment.
  • The cafe ladies handle the unpredictable lunch arrival times of the test-takers.
  • Three teachers/proctors sacrifice their afternoons to monitor the slow finishers.
  • Many teachers handle discipline in their classrooms as the HC and specials operate on an EOG schedule.

These are among the random heroic acts of individuals who put team first and victory at hand during the Reading EOGs.

This staff is truly remarkable and appreciated. Soar on!

Poletti’s 12 Points Of Effective Leadership

May 16, 2009

haulin netLong time, no write?  Definitely.  Trying to bring a large elementary school out of “School in Improvement” status is a time and energy zapper. Now testing begins.  We can do little but watch to see the fruits of our labors.

Actually, I’ve been doing a lot of writing by capturing some of the humorous lighter sides of elementary school life.  Currently, I’ve got sixty-three pages of manuscript on that project.

And on the family side, my oldest daughter will be going to UNC next year, my middle one is heading to the North Carolina School of Science and Math, and my youngest completed a five-sport year as she exits middle school.

As I reflect on this year…and on my various leadership roles over time…I am able to rarify my position of educational leadership.  The work-in-progress goes like this.

  1. Forge a vision from your worldview.
  2. Ignite it with passion.
  3. Without losing aim–use interpersonal skills to share, adapt and evolve that vision.
  4. Build consensus to the  point of common cause.
  5. Trust and empower others in a participatory and distributed network of ownership.  Recognize and allow them to share their gifts,
  6. Become extremely accountable to one another and monitor with vigilance.
  7. Connect the dots.
  8. Care for those in the organization.
  9. Maintain a rigorous and holistic personal fitness regimen.
  10. Utilize 21st century tools and systems to communicate and get the work done.
  11. Value every minute of organizational time.
  12. Value even more every minute of non-organizational time.