Wednesday, December 17, 2014

2014 PSAT Results for SIS

During the first week of December, SIS received an early Christmas present from the College Board, when the PSAT results were returned.

For Juniors, the PSAT results are a gauge to performance on the SAT as well as a qualifier for the National Merit Scholarship program. To qualify for the program, Juniors must score above a 150. In the 2014 PSAT the national average score for Juniors was 141.9. The SIS Junior class average was a 160.3, which means that the average SIS Junior was above the qualifying line for the scholarship. The class high score was a 220. The Sophomore class also showed a strong performance with an average of 149.2 and a high of 198. The Sophomores also beat the average for Juniors, which is simply outstanding. The Freshmen class average was 126.3 with a high of 174. We are proud of our students for their initiative, scholarship, and perseverance they demonstrated while taking the PSAT. The results are further evidence that SIS is the best school on Saipan and one of the top schools in the Pacific region. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

WASC Accreditation Training on Saipan

Saipan International School will be heading into an accreditation cycle in the spring of 2017; but, if you have gone through the process before, you know that the work starts much earlier than that. Especially if you really want your institution to improve, you need to begin the process early to have time to truly include the community in the work. I contacted WASC to find out what training and resources were available to us and they were very helpful. On December 8, they are offering a webinar about the accreditation process for folks in the Pacific. It will be at 12:00pm-2:00pm Saipan time. I will be watching the entire webinar and if people on island would like to view the event with others to facilitate discussion, SIS is open to you. Please contact the office and let us know that you are coming for the webinar. It is an opportunity for us to get the ball rolling early and also have a support base of people to turn to when we have questions and concerns about accreditation.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Student Data @ Saipan International School

SAT10 Overview and Comparison
One thing I like to do when possible is make data meaningful for students, parents, and teachers. Usually during meetings with the Board of Directors (BOD), it is the financial report that requires some explanation. All too often it is easy to simply see a bunch of numbers and still leave with the feeling,
SAT10 Grade Equivalent
"but what does it mean?" I have encouraged the BOD to ask questions about the financial report whenever they want and I try my best to point out the more important information and make it simple to understand. I think some administrators either don't bother doing this action for parents, or prefer the idea that parents not understand and therefore don't bother admin with questions or concerns. But this is a huge part of our job as admin, helping people make sense of numbers. During the last meeting, the BOD requested an academic report, so I have used our SAT10, AR, and Achieve 3000 data to put together an explanation of what type of learning is occurring at SIS.

Our first photo is the overview of the data from our SAT10 scores with comparisons to our previous year (2013) and the results from the Public School System (PSS). Our Complete Battery and Total Math are slightly down in 2014, but Total Reading is slightly up. The more interesting number isn't as obvious, but is quite important, across the board our number of students above the 50%tile are up. But what does that mean? Although there weren't as many individual students making high scores, more students scored above the 50%tile which translates to less students (including ELL students) falling below average. More student above the 50%tile is a huge improvement, because it means that all of our students are achieving more, not just the ones at the top. To give some perspective, I have included the SAT10 Grade Equivalent scores, which helps demonstrate just how far ahead our students are from their current grade level. Looked at with this lens, we see that only G6 and G8 reading are really places where we need to do some work. These are also grade levels where we have gained more ELL students this year, so that could be a factor.

Our AR Star Reading scores show some growth in most grade levels, but negative growth in G5 and G6. The grade equivalents are mostly below the current grade. One thing that needs to be considered when looking at this data is that again, it includes every student. The ones at the top and the ones at the bottom. Those who are native speakers of English and those that are just starting to learn. Later in the year, we will revisit this data and compare it with spring results. Historically, our students have shown more improvement in the second semester in reading.
Achieve 3000 is new to our school this year, but the potential for solid improvement in reading of non-fiction material is well documented. In the three grade levels where is has been truly implemented, we can already see gains, but in two of the grade levels we are below the desired score range. I don't see that as actually too concerning as of yet, the students and teachers are new to the program, so there is a learning curve in play, but the fact that scores have gone up is a positive note. We will revisit this data in the spring as well; especially because we will begin to have data from the other grade levels as they begin to use the program more.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Reflections on the First Quarter

It has been approaching five months since I officially became the Headmaster at Saipan International School. There have been successes and failures in that time, but luckily more successes. It is good to stop and reflect on what worked and what didn't work.

1. Improvement of Professional Development: Mixed review with this matter. We lost a valuable PD day because of a typhoon, so nature really worked against us on that one. But many of the teachers have taken advantage of a local PD opportunity offered by the public school system for Educational Technology. We are implementing Achieve 3000 and we received some training on the program onsite. The school as become a member of ASCD, so Educational Leadership and the online resources of the website are available to us, which be useful in the future. The books supplied by our membership are starting a small professional library as well. Moving forward, we have a couple of PD days in the second semester and we will make the most out of those opportunities.

2. Improvement of ELL instruction: Achieve 3000 is being used in G3, G6, and in the secondary English courses a bunch. The implementation is still underway, so we will not really see much data until the second semester. ELL students are learning English; I can clearly hear it on campus and see it in their work, which is great. Our Title I program is offering small group instruction for many students. AR scores across the elementary school are up, so there is more data demonstrating that students are learning and improving.

3. Improvement of Technology Integration: After seven years at my last school going through multiple 1:1 rollouts, I have learned one huge thing about technology integration -- the network needs to be reliable. If the network isn't reliable, teachers won't use technology, or at least not creative and innovative ways. The network is now split into teacher and student networks, which means the load is more balanced and provides teachers better access. It was a load of work to get to this point, but we are ready to move forward with this now. In addition, the upgraded the elementary computer lab which was in desperate need of it. Our teachers are beginning to notice the changes with the network and computers. Big steps forward here!

4. Improvement of curriculum, instruction, and assessment: Are you ever really done with this act? Not really. Curriculum, instruction, and assessment are at the heart of what we do as educators and they are continually in need of improvement. Due to the typhoon, we lost a valuable work day that would have given us a chance to move on these items, but instead, we need to begin this work in the second semester. Institutionally, I have decided to implement a curriculum review process similar to what my former school was doing. Every five years, each subject needs a thorough review that includes vertical alignment. With only one teacher per subject, horizontal alignment isn't a big issue, but vertical alignment will need to be seriously looked at by the faculty.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Comic Life 3 Training

All the computers in the lab have Comic Life 3 on them and here is a chance to learn just how it works. Contact the office to book your space in the training, because space is limited.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Comic Life @SIS

Comic Life 3 from
The folks at Plasq, who make Comic Life, have helped us out by providing a nice deal on Comic Life 3. We were able to purchase 35 copies which means the SIS computer lab has it on all computers and every faculty member can put it on his/her computer. If you aren't familiar with Comic Life, you really are missing out on software that is inexpensive, but very powerful in the learning environment. It can be used for a ton of different student products from storyboarding to science labs; a truly multipurpose tool in education. I've personally been using it for years. Back when I first started at KIS, I came across Comic Life online. I downloaded a copy and knew within minutes that I had something magical in front of me. Rich Boerner, the high school principal at the time, came through my room on a walkthrough and saw what I was doing with students. Later that week, he had purchased 500 copies of the software for the entire school based off what he saw in one lesson. I've been forever thankful for that vote of confidence from Rich. Over the years, several teachers at KIS found interesting and creative ways to make use of the program and now I have a chance to offer the opportunity to my SIS faculty. I'm looking forward to seeing what they do with it.