• Potential game changer

    Posted by David Jeck on 10/9/2019 2:00:00 PM

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/08/us/act-test-superscore.html

    This story will probably received little attention outside of the sphere of those interested in, or impacted by, ACT testing, but it is an important breakthrough hinting that retesting "strands" in SOL tests is possible. 

    Years ago, when I was a division testing coordinator (Greene County), I asked why high school students couldn't be retested only within the strands that they struggled with (example: one of the strands in the Algebra I SOL test is fractions. If a student did poorly in that section only, causing he or she to fail the test, why couldn't they be given time to review fractions, and then retake only that part of the test?). The answer back then was no, it was not possible. The Commonwealth wasn't ready for it...but this story tells me that it may now be possible. If it is possible, we need to do everything we can to make it happen. It is absolutely devastating for many students to face the prospect of retesting, particularly if the attainment of a verified credit is at stake. Moreover, and now that we allow retesting of students beginning in third grade, it makes so much sense to lessen the trauma associated with testing and retesting...and make no mistake, it is traumatic for many students (and teachers).

    This just makes a lot of sense, and it sounds like it now may be possible. 

     

        

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  • "We Teach The Way We Assess"...which is a huge problem

    Posted by David Jeck on 9/18/2019 11:30:00 AM

    When asked what Google looked for in future employees, a Google executive answered this way:

    “We aren’t looking for people who know a lot of facts. We’re Google. We have all of the facts. We are looking for people who can take an ill-defined problem and work collaboratively in order to solve it.”

    At least for the good folks at Google, seasoned and even successful standardized test takes are not in demand. The ability to memorize and regurgitate chunks of information is not a necessary skill set. After all, just about every adult male or female in this country carries with them a high powered computers that are typically a million times more powerful than the computers used to put a man on the moon. (Puiu, 2015) Employers are looking for problem solvers, skilled communicators, multi-taskers, independent workers, team players, and abstract thinkers who can work with others in order to achieve sometimes ill-defined objectives. (Palijug, 2018) Our responsibility ought to include preparing students with the skills they need in order to better meet the demands of the 21st century career market and, to no lesser degree, skill set expectations associated with the military, higher education, and the trades. Moreover, but on a much larger scale, we need to be striving to equip kids with a tool box that matches the demands of our planet, then figure out the best way(s) to assess the skill attainment.    

     

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  • Sir Ken

    Posted by David Jeck on 8/27/2019 4:00:00 AM

    I interviewed five CLMS students as part of my podcast series. The kids were great: talkative, engaged, funny...a pleasure to be around. I was floored, however, by a comment from one of the 6th graders on the panel who, just before I closed the podcast, asked if she could share something. She called it a "fun fact." 

    The student, Sarah, stated that the current educational system is based on the training of factory workers during the industrial age. Guess what? She is basically correct. Even our system of dismisal and tardy bells is a bi-product of the industrial age and early k-12 (free) public education.

    Sarah's comments were/are directly in line with the thoughts of Sir Ken Robinson. Please take a few minutes to view Sir Ken's TED Talk. It's excellent:

    https://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_changing_education_paradigms

     

     

     

     

     

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  • Thoughts from New Teacher Dinner

    Posted by David Jeck on 8/9/2019 1:00:00 AM

    The 37th Annual New Teacher took place last night and it was amazing! The thing that stood out most prominently for me was the number of new teachers who were born and raised right here in Fauquier County. This was very exciting for me personally, and is a testament to the educational culture that has been nurtured by our most valuable resource: our teachers!  

    I spent a few minutes talking to the new teachers about the incredibly important role they will soon be playing in the lives of our students and, while I had not planned to share anything too deep, I did offer this thought via one of my favorite quotes:

    Mother Teresa

    Schools should be safe places, both physically and emotionally, where kids and adults can go in order to be nurtured, cared for, treated with dignity, and shown peace. It is our responsibility to foster this type of environment for students and staff. The fact is, students learn more and are much more likely to be successful if they are cared for and feel connected to at least one adult within their school. Imagine a school environment where every stakeholder felt a responsibility to care for one another?  

    Looking forward to a great 2019-2020!

     

    Dave 

     

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  • Finding Equity

    Posted by David Jeck on 5/1/2019 1:00:00 AM

    We sometimes fumble around looking for the proper and clearly stated definiton of what the provision of equity among students actually means. The visual most often associated with what equity is is very good:

     

     Image result for equity graphic

     

    Recently, I was inspired by the words of the 2018-19 National Teacher of the Year, Virginia's own Rod Robinson. Please take a moment to listen:

    https://twitter.com/i/events/1121048068604846082

    Getting every kid what they need, when they need it, and how they need it. Really well said and somethng I will not forget when asked to define or apply equitable practice.

    We still have a long way to go as a school division, as a state, as a nation...but we can get there!  

     

     

     

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  • Cyber Security Program

    Posted by David Jeck on 3/25/2019 4:05:00 AM

    Very excited that the FCPS Cyber Security program will begin at full strength at High School next fall. With this program in place, we will have a "magnet" program at each of our high schools for students with career interests in:

    iSTEM/Robotics = KRHS

    Environmental Sciences = FHS

    Cyber Security = LHS

    This is very exciting news particularly for students looking for practical, hands on, innovative, and rigorous learning experiences!

    NONE of this would have happened without the work of great innovators like Bill Davidson, Nikki Jenkins, Eric McCaslin, John Kraut, and many, many others.

    Thanks, also, for the partnerships and funding that have allowed us to get these programs off the ground sooner rather than later:

     

    Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation
    Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and Friends of the National Zoo
    Dominion Energy
    John Marshall Soil and Water Conservation
    Goose Creek Association
    VA Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
    Fauquier Excellence in Education Foundation
    Project Learning Tree
    VA Department of Forestry

    PATH Foundation 

    Lord Fairfax Community College 

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  • Honesty, Responsibility, Integrity, and Courage

    Posted by David Jeck on 2/25/2019

    As a seasoned adult, I understand that being an adult is hard work. As far as I am concerned, there are four components of adulthood that have risen to the top in terms of their importance: honesty, responsibility, integrity, and courage. For the purposes of this blog post, I'd like to share a concern/frustration that involves all four.

    For whatever reason, I've seen a much greater incidence of anonymous correspondence and, in some cases, correspondence coming from fictitious sources. I've received direct correspondence, or correspondence through social media, whereby individuals have actually created fictitious identities in order to spread false and damaging information. Some of it is clearly political. Some of it is meant to harm the reputations of individuals within the school division...typically for no good reason. Some of it demands some sort of action on my part. Some of it is flat insulting.

    I don't have any idea how many people read this blog, so this is probably nothing more than me ranting to myself...but, if you are listening, please know that we are better than this! Hats off to the folks (and there are a lot of them out there) who are willing to share concerns bravely and respectfully...and with their names attached. I appreciate you very much!

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  • What the Governor and House of Delegates proposed 5% raise looks like, exactly

    Posted by David Jeck on 1/30/2019 3:05:00 AM

    Please understand that I am not looking a gift horse in the mouth, nor am I unappreciative of the proposed 5% raise for teachers and staff coming from the Governor's ammended budget and now from the House of Delegates. I am very appreciateive, but you've got to look closely to understand exactly what is being proposed. Example: the proposal does not mean that any school division will receive funding for a 5% raise next year. Explanation:

     

    "The Governor’s amended budget increases the state share of the Compensation Supplement for funded SOQ instructional and support personnel in fiscal year 2020 in Chapter 2 from 3.0 percent to 5.0 percent. The Compensation Supplement has an effective date of July 1, 2019, and provides the state share of a 5.0 percent Compensation Supplement for funded SOQ instructional positions and support personnel, Academic Year Governor’s Schools, and Regional Alternative Education Programs. Funded SOQ instructional positions include teacher, school counselor, librarian, instructional aide, principal, and assistant principal positions funded through the SOQ staffing standards for each school division in the biennium. School divisions must certify to the VDOE by June 1, 2019, that salary increases of a minimum average of 5.0 percent have been or will have been provided to instructional and support personnel during the 2018-2020 biennium, either in the first year or in the second year or through a combination of the two years."

    In order to receive the additional state funding, we musty certify that we have provided a 5% raise over the course of the 2018-2020 bienium; moreover, the funding applies only to SOQ funded positions, and localities must match the contribution according to their local composite index. Since our local composite index is now .611, the state share of the 5% raise from the state is about 39%. 

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  • The Importance of Context

    Posted by David Jeck on 1/22/2019 5:10:00 AM

    We read an editorial recently offering the position that Fauquier County Public School teachers are appropriately compensated as a result of salary increases and bonuses in 15 of the past 18 years. Although the vast majority of the information presented in the editorial is accurate, it is incomplete.  The problem is that when you exclude important pieces of information, readers are left with half the story.  Thus, we feel compelled to respond on behalf of the FCPS community.

    FCPS stopped providing automatic step increases more than ten years ago. As a result, the teacher salary scale is severely compressed, and school divisions to our north and east have flown past us in terms of equitable compensation. In fact, when adjusted for ability to pay, and considering the economic conditions within regions, FCPS ranks 127 out of 132 school divisions in Virginia. (Source: JLARC staff analysis of VRS salary and teacher license data from the Virginia Department of Education)

    A teacher with ten years of experience in Prince William County, one of our biggest and most well-funded competitors, makes $60,327.  That same teacher with ten years of experience in Fauquier County would make $49,555.  For FCPS to get within 90% of Prince William's average teacher salary, it would cost approximately $17 million. (Source: FCPS Human Resources calculation)

    Virginia currently ranks 34th nationally in terms of teacher salaries. That is roughly an $8600 salary discrepancy in average teacher pay in Virginia versus the rest of the country. (Source: NEA 2017 “Ranking of States” report)

    If Northern Virginia were a separate state, the rest of Virginia would rank in the bottom five nationally in teacher compensation. (Source: "The State of the Commonwealth's Budget, the Governor's Budget Proposals, and the Implications of State Income and Internet Sales Taxes" Jim Regimbal, Co-Founder, Fiscal Analytics, LTD)

    Fauquier County, like most counties and cities in the state, began the year with teacher vacancies. In fact, we still have vacancies BECAUSE THERE IS A TEACHER SHORTAGE. (Source: Teach Virginia) Fewer and fewer undergraduates are choosing education as a profession while, at the same time, more and more teachers are retiring, and school populations continue to grow. Sorry, but money talks, particularly in this part of the state.

    Since 2008-2009, Basic Aid as part of the state budget increased by 53%; however, at the same time, Basic Aid for K-12 in Virginia has DECREASED by 3%. (Source: Virginia Department of Planning and Budget)

    We agree entirely that the burden placed on local communities has been too great in providing for school budgets. We feel that the good folks in Richmond understand our problem and are willing to help. FCPS has fallen behind others NOT because the county has been unable or unwilling to help, but because the state has not fulfilled its obligation to appropriately fund public education. We are still below FY 2009 state funding levels. Can any other state agency or organization say the same? 

    If you truly believe that teachers are valuable members of our community, then please support Governor Northam's amendments to Virginia's budget. 

    Suzanne Sloan and David Jeck 

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  • Great News from Richmond!!

    Posted by David Jeck on 12/20/2018 6:05:00 AM

    Christmas may have come a bit early for public schools in Virginia. Governor Northam's proposed budget amendments include ~270 million for public schools in Virginia, a very large portion of which is earmarked for teacher and staff raises. Mid-biennium budget adjustments of this magnitude are unusual to say the least. Hopefully, this is a sign of even better news in regard to the next biennium budget proposal.

    As you may know, we face a huge problem related to salary compression in all areas, but the focus of the current budget development process is instructional staff. It is a very expensive to fix, and has become exponentially more profound for many reasons...but now we have an opportunity to repair the damage.

    We can't afford to lose any more good teachers.

    Please encourage your delegate(s) and senator(s) to support the Governor's budget. 

     

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