Last SAGE Update
April 12, 2018
Parents and Guardians,
This is a last reminder that SAGE opt-outs are due tomorrow, April 13, due to testing beginning next week. Please see the Facebook page or the Facebook feed on the school’s website for a link to the opt-out form if you need one. The forms can be turned in to the main office. Students who opt-out of SAGE will be provided an equivalent assignment/assessment to work on while the class completes SAGE tests.
We will have one content test each week for the next four weeks. Writing is next week and will be followed by science, English, and math. The week of May 14-18 will be a make-up week for any students who missed testing during the assigned week.
Mr. Murray and I have met with numerous students the last few days to discuss SAGE and what we do with the information we learn from the tests and why it’s important for them to take their time and do their best on the tests. I think it would be good to recap those conversations here for you as well.
There is a value in the data that we receive from the tests. One of our goals as a school is to improve what we do. In order to improve, we need accurate data points to let us know where we are. If students take their time and give their best efforts to SAGE, it becomes a great data point for us to use. The information will let us know which students need supports in specific content areas. It also lets us know which students are ready for extensions and/or increased rigor in specific content areas. Teachers use the data to help them evaluate their classroom instruction and look for areas where they may need to provide additional instruction in the future. All of these benefits are lost when the data point being analyzed isn’t accurate. This is why it’s important for students to take their time and put their best effort into SAGE.
This message will be delivered to the entire student body via announcements throughout the SAGE testing window as well.
This is also a good opportunity to remind everyone that it is helpful to the students and their mind function if they come to school well rested (get plenty of sleep at night) and full-bellied. During one of the weeks of testing (details will be provided closer to the dates so it’s easier to remember) there will be free breakfast for all students to be served in the cafeteria.
March 23, 2018
End of 3rd Quarter:
Next week is the end of third quarter. We will have classes Monday-Wednesday and then students are out of school from Thursday, March 29, until Wednesday, April 4, for Spring Break. Please discuss with your students their status in each of their classes. The Parent Portal is a great spot to go to initiate this conversation as you will be able to see each of your student’s classes, their grades in those classes, and any missing assignments.
As we get closer to the end of the year, we also draw closer to SAGE testing time. We are changing our testing methods this year to take advantage of our new school schedule. We will be moving all tests to their own weeks. Last year we ended up with students being asked to do multiple tests in a day, and that lead to some test fatigue amongst the students. This year we will have the Writing Test administered during English classes the week of April 16-20. There will only be one writing prompt on the test this year, so we are also hopeful that students will be able to focus and put their best work into their one prompt instead of having to worry about doing two. Science will use the computer labs during their class periods for testing during the week of April 23-27. For English, we will use an AM Assembly schedule Monday-Thursday (April 30-May3) and have all students test for an hour a day during the assembly time. Students will be assigned specific rooms to go to for the test and complete the test on Chrome Books. Finally, math will test the week of May 7-11. We are still working on the format for math testing, but we will provide that information when it is finalized. Make-up tests will be the week of May 14-18.
As you may remember from last year, our two goals for SAGE were to increase student participation in taking SAGE and to increase our student growth data. We accomplished both items. We had far fewer opt outs last year, and in the 11 different content specific areas that were tested, student growth went up in seven of them. This is great data that highlights for us what classes our students are learning in and how much they are learning in those classes. It also allows us to see the specific content areas where there is a need to improve instruction and student learning. Knowing our student growth has helped teachers plan instruction. The growth data is used by teachers to identify specific content standards that need additional instruction.
This year’s goal is to focus on student effort on taking the SAGE. Getting students to take the SAGE last year was a big first step; this year we are focusing on what we can do to help them put good effort into the SAGE. We have been reviewing the data from our Semester 1 Benchmark Post-test to see which students are rushing through their testing. The benchmark data provides us with the amount of time a student spends on the test. We can also pull this information from the SRI testing. We are compiling these lists and Mr. Murray and I will be speaking to students individually about testing and taking their time and putting forth their best effort so the results can be more reflective of what they know and how well-prepared they are for the classes that come next.
The change in the testing schedule and testing methods is also one of the ways we are hoping to create a better testing atmosphere for the students. Taking multiple SAGE on the same day can be draining for students and cause them to not perform with as much focus. We also know that first thing in the morning and right at the end of the school day are hard times for students to be awake and focused for testing. Ultimately, if students are not going to take time on the SAGE and allow the tests to be reflective of their knowledge and learning, then the assessment isn’t valuable. An additional piece that we would like to add as we work toward things at school to help the students take their time and put in good effort on SAGE is some help from parents. It would be great if you could also have a conversation with your student as we move into the SAGE window about taking the tests seriously and working diligently on them.
There are two pieces of information to review about SAGE testing as well. First, the state requires that any students being opted out of testing need to have the paperwork turned in PRIOR to the beginning of testing; therefore, the deadline to opt a student out of testing will be April 14. Second, state law allows students to be assigned an alternative and equitable assignment if they have opted out of SAGE testing. I am asking each of the departments to create a curriculum review assignment that can be given to students who opt out of testing. Opting out of SAGE should not be viewed as an opportunity to allow students free time at school.
The main point of this, however, is that we have amazing students and a great faculty. SAGE is a tool that we can use to improve what we do and how we teach, and we would like to use it to help us. For it to be used effectively as a tool, we need all students to participate in the testing while putting their best effort into it.
Since we had White Ribbon Week in February there has been a concerted effort in the school to have students download the SafeUT App to their phones. The app was created by the state as a tool for students to be able to submit tips to their school that can help students. Tips can range into any type of behavior that is detrimental to students. The most frequent tips relate to bullying issues, but can include issues as serious as suicidal thoughts and students harming themselves.
Since our push to have students download the app, we have seen quite an increase in tips. Many of these tips have been fake, and some are more outlandishly fake and easy to recognize as being made up than others. There are two things to consider in light of this. First, please take a minute to discuss with your student the purpose of the app and what appropriate use of the app is. We have had the counselors visit classes and have these discussions with students as well. The second thing to be aware of is that we are required by the district to investigate tips we receive from the app. Mr. Murray and I receive the tips and do what we can to investigate the information we receive. When we receive a tip that has enough viable information in it that it seems like it could be real, we look into it. Our investigation may lead us to the conclusion that the tip was fake, or that the concern being conveyed is not actually a concern. We would rather investigate and find that there isn’t an issue than not investigate and have a student who needs help not get it.
The most important thing that can happen with the SafeUT app is for students to use it appropriately when they have legitimate concerns that they want to make us aware of. Churchill has a great community of students who look out for each other and are concerned when they see things they believe shouldn’t be happening. In many instances, the students come directly to me or Mr. Murray to let us know what is happening, other times we receive tips from the app. Either way is great, and we want to make sure all of the students are taken care of; however, we would like to see the use of the app become more appropriate and have less fake tips sent to us.
Try-outs for next year:
Try-outs for the dance companies is upcoming. Ballroom Dance Company will be first beginning on April 9. Workshops will be on April 9 and 10th with an optional workshop day on the 11th. Try-outs will then be held on April 12. Dance Company will follow the same format, but be held the following week. Workshops will be April 16 and 17th with an optional day on the 18th and try-outs on April 19th. Additional details will be posted to the Facebook page as I receive them. If you have specific questions, please contact Kris Page at email@example.com.
Concert Choir auditions will be held with Mrs. Taylor on April 19th. Details will be provided when I have them, but if you have pressing questions, please feel free to email Mrs. Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are having students staying and hanging out at school after school gets out. Please remember that students should be out of the building by 3:00pm Monday-Thursday and by 12:45pm on Fridays. The only reason students should have for staying after school is if they are being directly supervised by a teacher for Homework Club, sports, clubs, intramurals, or performing arts. This seems to be a bigger issue with the 6th graders being left to hang out in the school.
Class fees for fourth quarter will be charged to accounts by April 13th. Please check your student’s account to make sure you are up to date on paying fees. The process is different this year with the quarter-long elective classes because fees are charged each quarter. If you haven’t been into your account in a while, please check it on or shortly after the 13th.
I will continue to encourage everyone to follow us on Facebook. If you go to the school’s website, schools.graniteschools.org/churchilljr/, and click on the Facebook icon in the upper right corner, you will be directed to our official page. Once on our Facebook page, you can click “Like”. Facebook will be the number one source for getting immediate updates and information about what’s happening at school.
Please use the student drop-off area on the west side of the school. The bus zone on the north end of the building and the east parking lot are not good drop off zones. With the construction on I-215, the bus has been getting to school at irregular times and we need to have the zone clear so it can pull in and drop off students. Using the east parking lot as a drop off blocks the faculty parking stalls and puts students at risk because many of them walk through that lot as they come to campus from the neighborhoods.
March 24 Wrestling District Championships @ Cyprus High School
March 26 Talent Show Auditions
March 27 Talent Show Rehearsal
March 28 Talent Show, 9:20am
March 28 Last Day of 3rd Quarter
March 28 Choir Concert, 7-7:30pm
March 29 SNAD (No school for kids)
March 30-April 3 Spring Break
April 4 Choir Festival
April 6 High Honor Ice Cream Party
April 9-12 Ballroom Dance Co. Try-outs
April 12 Orchestra Festival
April 13 GPA Increase Party
April 16-19 Dance Co. Try-outs
April 18 Jazz Festival
April 19 Concert Choir Auditions
April 26 Band Festival