Dear Eagle Family,
This blog space will be used to tie up loose ends, broadly review some testing data, and ultimately put a bow on a school year that was a blur. As your Principal, I thank you for a great year, ask you to help us close things up, and want to reiterate how proud I am of our school's growth and development in all areas.
That idea of "all areas" will be a big theme later in the blog, but now let's turn to those items we need you to consider...
ITEM ONE: Outstanding Balances: Please close out any outstanding balances (tuition, lunch, library books, etc.). Our policy is to hold report cards until balances are paid. The front office will hold report cards of children of families who have past due balances of $10 or more.
ITEM TWO: Enrollment: Our goal is to once again post all enrollment paperwork on our website. Details are coming, but in the interim please contact me if you DO NOT plan to re-enroll your child at Cathedral next year.
ITEM THREE: Existing Tuition Agreements: As we enter the 2018-19 school year, all existing tuition agreements on FACTS will automatically re-enroll on June 11th.
ITEM FIVE: School Supplies: Why not just knock this out now? Finish your back-to-school shopping in minutes at ClassBundl.com and save yourself the hours in the aisles this fall. Order before June 17 for up to 40% off your order AND get 5% cash back for our school.
ITEM SEVEN: Eagle Adoration: Every Sunday from 6pm-7pm a member of our Eagle Staff, or a loved one of our Eagle Staff, takes part in Cathedral Adoration. This tradition of a “Shared Eagle Hour” has been quite powerful, and the intention is for our Eagle Teachers & Staff (past, present and future). This summer I’d like to extend this hour, and the opportunity to pray for our staff, to all of you. Please click on the link; taking even just one hour this summer means the world to us because we need your prayers (and you need the practice!): https://doodle.com/poll/n3ax5p62g38i33ce
ITEM EIGHT: Summer Office Hours: The school's front office will be open for business from 9am-1pm on Wednesdays beginning June 6th.
Now let’s talk Iowa Basics testing...
Let's be honest: this is basically four days of kids filling in bubble sheets. As such, our philosophy is that while we don’t get consumed by the product of those four days, we do look for trends. Then, when we find trends, we get strategic. Secondly, I can’t and won’t compare our scores to anyone else’s – not in the Diocese, not in LPS, not in the State. Our testing tool may be different than others, our focus is the whole child - the work we do at CRC is based on what’s right for the young souls, people and learners in front of us. Lastly, these tests are broken down by content areas (subjects). Here at Cathedral so much of what we do is blended curriculum and or project/problem-based. For example, a science class may involve iPads, measurements, conversions, story problems, vocabulary, the history of the scientists involved, and the Catholic perspective on the work and people sewn into the objective. My point: we try to create authentic learning moments for children, and standardized testing is, by its very nature, the polar opposite.
We test Third through Eighth grades, and the numbers below reflect the entire building's data. With all of context, let’s dig in to some special areas and trends…
- SCIENCE TREND OF FOCUS: In 2015 we discovered holes in our curriculum and testing data that left much to be desired.
UPDATE: Oh my goodness have we ever skyrocketed in this content area! A new curriculum, a fresh approach, and a lot of work by teachers have coalesced: the average student increased their Science testing score by 5% since last school year. Furthermore, the school population boasts 41% of our students in the top quarter of the nation. These things occurred while half of our lowest scoring students moved to or above the national standard.
- MATH TREND OF FOCUS: Last fall I was transparent that we found an issue – our computation scores were dismal. We drilled down to find this issue, then we drilled down on instruction and curriculum (focus + Simple Solutions).
UPDATE: Cathedral's math score jumped 4.34% and 5% more students are scoring in the nation’s top quarter. Most importantly, we have moved the needle for our struggling students: nearly 7% of our lowest scoring students jumped up a quartile.
- LANGUAGE ARTS TREND OF FOCUS: Traditionally a strong Language Arts school, Cathedral’s scores are once again very high: 45% of our students scored in the top quarter of the nation. When one drills down they’ll see that our highest score in any sub-category Writing (our newest curriculum in 2017-18). As in other areas, our number of low-scoring students also decreased in this area. Also, due to the work of our early data collection and WINGS Special Education team we have seen targeted students jump multiple grade levels in just one year. In one case, a student who was reading three years behind her peers is now at grade level!
SUMMATION: With an overall composite score of 81% of Cathedral students scoring at or above the national average, it’s clear that we have moved the needle and created traction (FYI, I score high in clichés). Testing scores are up, and they’re especially showing growth in areas we identified using trends from past data.
Rising scores are not the goal, however. They are validation of our process.
The hard work of our teachers and staff, our focus on curriculum development, a dedication to Guided Practice that is project and/or problem based, and the persistent work of WINGS Special Education is indication of a shared mission. And a shared mission is an advanced mission.
GOALS FOR NEXT YEAR:
-We must keep our main thing the main thing: the growth and development of the whole child. It’s easy to get wrapped up in numbers and scores and forget about the people. That won't happen here.
-We must grow and support our WINGS Special Education and Dyslexia team. We need the space and resources to do this, and we’ll be relying on the community to help us get it done.
-As we enter year two of Simple Solutions we will have an eye on math and computation in the hopes of seeing sustained growth.
-Next year we introduce Wonders in Kindergarten through 5th grades. We begin Word Wisdom in grades 6th-8th. This is a complex implementation that will be demanding on our teachers. We will support them, pray for them, and provide them with every resource they need for success.
-There was a lack of confidence and effort among certain students. We must spend time teaching kids the value of their effort, as well as a can-do attitude so they have confidence and give it their best shot.
-We struggled with a lot of illnesses that interrupted testing and hurt our data. Testing week was one of our worst for attendance, and I’m not sure how to remedy that outside of praying for some better luck with viruses and the weather.
Remember – it’s one week of testing. This influences our work to some degree, but doesn’t dictate it. One thing is clear – we’ve got an amazing group of teachers leading great young students and forming the whole child.