Monday, November 26, 2012

Standards Based Grading: A conversation with admissions

Michael Barron Interview November 5, 2012
Assistant provost for enrollment management and director of admissions:  
I had the pleasure of visiting with Michael Barron at the University of Iowa Admissions Office.  We talked about our new assessment system and I asked him some questions about the college admissions process.  Mr. Barron spoke about the limited contact between K-12 and post-secondary institutions and how that relationship can be improved through conversations such as ours.  Italicized below are my notes summarizing the conversation. 
What is the reason for using the RAI (Regents Admission Index) for college admission?
The RAI index is a formulaic value comprised of standardized test scores (ACT, SAT), grade point average, class rank, and the number of courses taken in core curricular areas.   Michael was on the committee with the Board of Regents that adopted the use of the index.  It was noted through research on the committee that class rank and GPA, “added statistical value that we could not ignore” and therefore were included in the RAI.
How does the admissions process work for schools like Solon that does not use class rank?
We have “100 systems” of grading variance in any given year when we look at transcripts from high schools.  “When one is missing, the RAI is not used.  Instead, our staff reviews the academic record using a more holistic approach.  “We want to look at the whole child”. 
How familiar are you with standards based grading and assessment?
I was invited to Muscatine where they were discussing competency-based education.  However, most of my colleagues “do not know about competency-based education or the K-12 movement to common core standards.” 
I gave Mr. Barron and update on standards based grading at Solon High School.  What are your thoughts about our assessment system?
I see “no cause for alarm”.  We too are trying to use a more “holistic admission process.”  I also explained our reason for taking homework out of the grade.  “I don’t see a problem with that.”  He continued to say that as long as there is not a statistical increase or decrease in the distribution of grades, then our assessment system should not affect the admissions process. 
What is the best way for us (K-12) to communicate this to post-secondary institutions?
He suggested we look at a “profile” to send with our transcripts.  Colleges would benefit from some explanation/description of the change, describe the process, and characterize the methods of assessment for calculating grades.  Ultimately, post-secondary institutions would like to know that “you have removed variables that inflate grades.  We trust the grades from your high school represent learning.”

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Principal Evaluation Feedback

Purpose -Thank you to all of you that completed surveys regarding my performance as high school principal.  As always, it is a pleasure to serve the Solon Community School District.  Superintendent Miller will use the results of the survey as part of my principal evaluation.  This feedback is critical to my continued growth as a school administrator.  
Process- Surveys were collected and compiled based on results from 24 teachers, 6 classified staff, and 130 parents.  

Solon High School staff responded with favorable ratings in the following areas.  One area that I will continue to focus on is supporting and increasing student achievement through professional learning and development.  

Solon High School parents responded with favorable ratings in the following areas.  Through communication with parents and visibility in the community, I have worked to build trust and create a positive school culture.  

Area of Focus
Solon High School staff responded with ratings that indicate a need for improvement in the following areas.

Solon High School parents responded with ratings that indicate a need for improvement in the following areas.


Again, I would like to thank everyone for completing the survey.  One of my goals is to do a better job of including both staff and students more often in the decision-making process.  I have made some progress this school year with including our building leadership team on professional development planning for all teachers.  The leadership team and I meet six times a year to plan and implement our professional development goals.  Additionally, this team provides input on a variety of school issues.  
I plan to expand the role of the student principal advisory group to include more opportunities for student input and communication.  Additionally, I know I need to do be in classrooms more often.  I commit to being in the classrooms working with the students and staff for at least 5 hours/week.  This would also help students feel a stronger connection with the school principal.  
Another goal is to effectively handle problems that arise.  I will prioritize these issues daily.  I personally follow-up with every email and phone call that I receive.  I will encourage students and parents to work with their teacher before getting involved.  This helps the student and parents resolved their issues directly with the classroom teacher.  I will be encouraging parents to visit first with classroom teachers to resolve issues.
I will continue to be open and available for everyone.  If you have any questions about this data or any other school issues, please contact me at or by phone at 624-3401 ext. 1103.