Superintendent’s Newsletter

Dear Marcola Community,

It’s hard to believe we have already finished our first five weeks of school, the end of the first quarter is only 4 weeks away!  All of our teachers have worked very hard to diagnose your child’s current academic performance – both the strengths and gaps, and they are differentiating instruction to meet the needs of each student. Our goal is to keep students on track to success. We know that when students’ are bored we need to provide more challenging experiences and when they are frustrated we need to intervene with interventions. This type of teaching, diagnosing/measuring and prescribing takes place all year long as students are learning new concepts.

The Continuous Growth Model

We always look forward to visiting with parents and students during Parent/Teacher Conferences. I hope the parents of our elementary students have a clear understanding of the systems we have put in place to measure a student’s continuous improvement as they learn new concepts. At the elementary you see a report card that reflects your child’s performance and growth in relation to end of year expectations.

We score performance on a 1-4 scale, where a 3 is proficient demonstrating that the student has mastered end of year expectations. Therefore, in the Fall, we do not expect students to earn scores of 3 or 4 because their performance is measured against end of year expectations.

However, a student who is scoring at a level 2 on any of the standards is on an excellent trajectory towards earning a level 4 (beyond proficiency) by the end of the year. A student who is scoring at a level 1 on any of the standards in the Fall is still on a trajectory to earn a level 3 (proficiency) and possibly a level 4 (beyond proficiency) by the end of the year.

Students who are scoring 3’s & 4’s at the beginning of the year will most likely need to be challenged with content that may be above their current grade level. Students who are at a 0, may be on track towards proficiency with extra time and support.

Report Cards & Grading

You will see parts of the report card with X’s or shaded areas in cells, this means the standard has not yet been taught.  New standards will be introduced later in the year and because students will have prior knowledge of previous standards early in the year, their rate of proficiency will be increased and the time it takes to reach proficiency on the new standards will be decreased.

The chart below provides staff, students and parents with a trajectory or normal academic growth progression from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.

[supsystic-tables id=5]

Secondary Level Report Card Information

At the secondary level, we also have a 1-4 grading system.  The 1 to 4 grading system measures a student’s level of understanding of Learning Targets/Standards for specific units of study. Although a 2 is passing, it means the student has mastered the recall information, skills and concepts.  A 3 is where we want all of our students to be. A three  means the student has reached proficiency on most if not all standards for units of study and they can apply their thinking at a deeper level of understanding.  A 4 describes the student who is proficient in all the Learning Targets/Standards and can demonstrate a deeper level of understanding by learning content that has not yet been taught.   Last but not least, a 1 simply means the student has not yet mastered at least 70% of the basic recall information and needs additional support and time to do so.  If by chance a student earns a 0 or a NC, the student has not provided enough quality evidence to demonstrate a level of proficiency at 2 and above.

Depth of Knowledge Chart & Level 1 – 4 Grading

Recall & Reproduction: Level 1

Skills & Concepts: Level 2

Strategic Thinking: Level 3

Extended Thinking: Level 4

Recall & Reproduction: Level 1 

Recall of information, such as a fact, definition, term, or performance of a simple process

or procedure. Answering a Level 1 item can involve following a simple, well-known procedure or formula. Simple skills and abilities or recall characterize.
Level 1 Examples

  • List animals that survive by eating other animals.
  • Locate or recall facts explicitly found in text
  • Describe physical features of places
  • Determine the perimeter or area of rectangles given a drawing or labels
  • Identify elements of music using musical terminology
  • Identify basic rules for participating in simple games and activities

Skills / Concepts: Level 2

Skills and Concepts includes the engagement of some mental processing beyond recalling or reproducing a response. Items require students to make some decisions as to how to approach the question or problem. These actions imply more than one mental or cognitive process/step.

Level 2 Examples

  • Compare desert and tropical environments
  • Identify and summarize the major events, problem, solution, conflicts in literary text
  • Explain the cause-effect of historical events
  • Predict a logical outcome based on information in a reading selection
  • Explain how good work habits are important at home, school, and on the job.
  • Classify plane and three dimensional figures
  • Describe various styles of music

Strategic Thinking: Level 3

Strategic Thinking requires deep understanding as exhibited through planning, using evidence, and more demanding cognitive reasoning. The cognitive demands at Level 3 are complex and abstract. An assessment item that has more than one possible answer and requires students to justify the response they give would most likely be a Level 3.

Level 3 Examples

  • Develop a scientific model for a complex idea
  • Propose and evaluate solutions for an economic problem
  • Explain, generalize or connect ideas, using supporting evidence from a text or source
  • Create a dance that represents the characteristics of a culture

Extended Thinking: Level 4 

Extended Thinking requires high cognitive demand and is very complex. Students are expected to make connections—relate ideas within the content or among content areas and have to select or devise one approach among many alternatives on how the situation can be solved. Due to the complexity of cognitive demand, DOK 4 often requires an extended period of time.

Level 4 Examples

A project guiding a student through all 4 levels.

Level 1 – Collecting data samples for a research project. (Recall)

Level 2 – Organizing the data in a chart. (Skills/Concepts)

Level 3 – Using the chart to make and justify predictions. (Strategic Thinking)

Level 4Developing a generalized model from this data and applying it to a new situation.

How do I access my child’s grades and attendance?

Please be patient with us as we transition to a new Student Information System (SIS) and Gradebook.  We are currently using the Powerschool SIS and gradebook and we have had to make numerous changes and adjustments before we can share with students and parents.  This week we will be sending out information to all families for access to your child’s gradebook information. We will have to send it home via mail and a letter given to students.  We know the letter given to students may not make it home, therefore we ask that you look for the letter in the mail as well 😉

Upcoming Events

Please refer to our website for upcoming events and information about our school district. We are trying to make our website a one stop shop for anyone who needs to access information. 

In closing, please know that I am very excited about the future of Marcola School District.  As I prepare to make this my last year as the MSD Superintendent, I am excited that we have hired two very competent administrators to continue improving the quality of education we promise our students and the community as a whole.  Ms. Stacey Whaley is the new Principal of Mohawk Jr/Sr High School and Mr. Terry Augustadt is the new elementary Principal. With the additional leadership positions, I am now a .5 Superintendent at MSD and .5 Superintendent at TNW (TEACH NorthWest).   Our MSD district enrollment has increased by 140 students in the last 5 years, and when we add TNW students to the enrollment figures, we have increased by over 500 students!! If you need to speak to an administrator, please go directly to Terry Augustadt for an elementary question, and Stacey Whaley for a Mohawk question. 

We ended the week with a very successful homecoming – thank you to Alaura Taylor (Student Council Supervisor) and the Student Council and Leadership team.  We also won our homecoming Football Game 😉 Our girls VB team continues to perform as if they are ready for a State playoff game(s). Our XC team is running hard and placing in the top 10 at every meet with schools of our size.  And our FFA group continues to represent Marcola School District with great pride and leadership at all FFA events.  

Hope everyone had a great week-end 😉