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November 17, 2017
by: Ted Hamm

ReBlog: What Makes a Great School

 

This blog is part of a monthly series titled ReBlog sharing out articles that speak to the work we are doing in the schools of The Étude Group. Through these reblogs, we want to connect the work being done here in Sheboygan to the national conversation about education.

   IMG 0526 3As a parent, how do you judge whether your school is meeting the needs of your child? Grades and graduation are important, but most parents consider a range of things according to Jack Schneider, a researcher at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education and author of this blog post about What Makes a Great School. In asking parents about what they look for in a school: “Chances are, they’ll say something about the impact a school makes on the young people who attend it. Do students feel safe and cared for? Are they being challenged? Do they have opportunities to play and create? Are they happy?” Often, school rankings don’t capture the full range of what makes a school or its students successful.

     During the month of November the annual School Report Cards are released from the Department of Public Instruction. The annual School Report Card tries to distill a school’s performance down to a single number based on a 100 point scale. It consists of ratings on standardized tests, attendance rates, and graduation rates with a major emphasis on the ACT scores in Math and Reading. For smaller schools, the single number often comes down to the ACT because smaller schools, such as Étude High, do not have a large enough population for additional measures to be statistically significant. As an example, in Wisconsin, the high school accountability comes down to high stakes results from the ACT, at a time when college success indicators are moving far beyond GPA and test scores. For larger schools the number is also based on the performance of subgroups of minorities and lower socioeconomic groups. For smaller schools, these subgroups are too small and the overall performance score defaults back to the ACT scores in math and reading and the graduation rate. 

   In reality, measuring the success of students and the performance of the schools they attend is much more complex. Jack, says in his blog post and writes: “School quality is multidimensional. And just because a school is strong in one area does not mean that it is equally strong in another. In fact, my research team has found that high standardized test score growth can be correlated with low levels of student engagement. Standardized tests, in short, tell us very little about what we actually value in schools. One consequence of such limited and distorting data is an impoverished public conversation about school quality.” This gets to the core of the issue, standardized tests do not measure the totality of what a school does, much less measure its quality.

    Like the author, we at Étude have decided to measure a wider range of student achievement so that we can deliver on our values of Empowerment, Community, Authentic Learning and Intelligence. Over the last few years, we have added methods to measure what we value using the CWRA+ (College Work Readiness Assessment + Writing) as well as the Youth Truth Survey. These two measures coupled with College Clearinghouse data, attendance data and the classroom based evidence of learning that give us a composite view of our schools and where we need to focus our improvement efforts. These measures help us take a view of student engagement, school culture, a broad view of academic achievement and college persistence. Based on this data, we can make meaningful decisions about our school that help us prepare our students to be our future changemakers..

    I invite you to read Jack’s blog over and see how he looks at school quality and the coalition he has created to redefine how we measure school quality. The Massachusetts Consortium for Innovative Education Assessment provides a great model for us at Étude and here in Wisconsin on how we can truly come to a better method for looking at school quality.

 

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September 8, 2017
by: Ted Hamm, Director

A't(y)ood

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There is something to a name. Names have meaning and too often we take them granted without ever exploring their meanings. Nike is the name of a greek god of victory; an appropriate name for a athletic shoe company. Lego stems from the dutch phrase leg godt, which means “play well”. The term Étude was was also selected in order to assign a single word to our educational philosophy.

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August 30, 2017
by: Ted Hamm, Director

Personalization in Math

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For the 2017-2018 school year, we will be restructuring our Étude High School Math Department in order to provide more personalized learning opportunities for all high school students at all levels of math. We will be utilizing a combination of existing staff expertise and some online tools to offer a range of course options along with in depth exploration of mathematical concepts through projects.

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August 22, 2017
by: Ted hamm

More than Just a Party

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Today is a day of celebration for our schools. A day to unify our schools under one name, to unveil our new look (see our social media sites), and to celebrate 10 years as a public charter schools in the Sheboygan Area School District. Today also represents a year’s worth of behind the scenes work that culminates our schools working to solve an issue that has been challenging us for some time.

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November 24, 2016
by: Ted hamm

A Thanksgiving Reflection

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A friend of mine recently reminded me of the history of the Thanksgiving holiday. In thinking about the original Thanksgiving meal I am quick to forget that the origins of the this day becoming a national holiday go back to the Civil War. I have put the original proclamation below for you to read. Putting these words in the context of the time they were written, one of the most divisive times in our national history, reminds us of the intent of the day. We are to take a day, put our differences aside, to simply gather peacefully. I hope today is a day for all of us to gather peacefully and consider those things we have to be thankful for.

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October 10, 2016
by: Ted Hamm

Good Music: This is How we Fundraise

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Dear Parents, Students, and Friends,

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May 22, 2016
by: Ted Hamm

IDEAS Students Shape Tradition

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Many of you have noticed that we changed the name of Morp this year to May Ball. As with any decision in our school, this was not a decision made without student voice and research.

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April 3, 2016
by: Ted Hamm

A Parent Maker Night Primer

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Dear Parents, Students, Staff, and Friends:

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March 8, 2016
by: Ted Hamm

Presentations of Learning: Trimester 2

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Each trimester we take a day and a half have our students reflect on their learning. I feel it is important to share a few thoughts about this. I wrote in depth about this last trimester in a blog[directors-blog/presentations-of-learning-thoughts-as-a-parent-and-advisor/] sharing my perspective as an advisor at IDEAS and a parent at ESAA.

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February 26, 2016
by: Ted Hamm

Implementing the College Work Readiness Assessment at IDEAS

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Dear Parents, Students, Staff, and Friends:

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