Voorheesville Central School District Professional Development Plan
 
Please click here to view the District's plan.
 
 
Curriculum Development Work
 
Summer is a time for rest and relaxation, but is also provides a third "r" for teachers: reflection. This July and August brought a return of our Summer Curriculum work here in Voorheesville. Whether working independently or with peers, teachers in all three buildings developed and updated curriculum for the start of the new school year.
 
 
Educators in each building worked diligently to refine our alignment of Common Core math standards.  In the elementary school, work was done to establish consistency amongst grade levels, while integrating parts of the NYS math modules into our curriculum. In the middle school, new strategies to enhance the standards were investigated and developed.  At the high school, where Common Core testing has recently begun, teachers attended professional development and collaborated on creating new curriculum.
 
 
In addition to this math work, teachers collaborated on units of study in ELA that reviewed alignment between grade levels as well as to the Common Core Learning Standards; developed new electives for Mixed Media, Fashion Arts and Global Cooking; planned lessons incorporating new technology practices (Google Classroom, Flipped Classroom, Mimio); created new opportunities in  both Science Technology Engineering Art Mathematics (STEAM) for our fifth grade students and social studies at the high school level.
 
 

Teaching is the Core Grant work continues

 

Voorheesville CSD has been working to implement the action plan developed through the Teaching is the Core (TiTC) grant, a $399,946 grant from the New York State Education Department that aims to support improvement of assessment practices in regional schools. Through the grant, a consortium of 12 districts, led by Capital Region BOCES, is collaborating with Learner-Centered Initiatives consulting group to review and improve testing practices in participating districts.

 

District teams have conducted reviews of current district assessments, learned to develop high-quality assessments and scoring rubrics and created action plans to begin to implement improved testing practices. Information about this process can be found here.
On March 5 and 6, district teams participated in all-day professional development, focused on the creation of high-quality tests and consistent scoring rubrics and how test results can be best used to meaningfully inform instruction.
 

Later in the month, consultants from eDoctrina met with district teams to review the capabilities and use of the software system, which can be used to streamline curriculum planning and learning goals, support meaningful analysis of student assessment data and implementation of targeted interventions.

 
All consortium districts, including Voorheesville Central School District, met individually with LCI consultants in early May to review and strengthen the district action plan. In June, districts will collaborate through peer review sessions to share feedback on plans and address challenges and successes of putting them into action.
 

Ongoing professional development will continue throughout the month of June, including further exploration of scoring rubric design and the creation of multiple choice questions that meaningfully assess student learning.

 

The TiTC grant period concludes June 30; however, the knowledge gained through the grant will allow Voorheesville to sustain the ongoing review and improvement of testing practices to strengthen instruction and student learning.

 

For more information on high quality assessment, please visit our PowerPoint presentation.

 
 
Teaching Is the Core Grant
 
The Voorheesville CSD is participating the Teaching is the Core (TiTC) grant through a consortium of 12 districts, led by Capital Region BOCES and funded through a $399,946 grant from the New York State Education Department. The initiative aims to thoughtfully review and improve assessments in consortium districts to ensure they inform instruction and support learning goals.  
 

During the first four months of the 2014-15 school year, the district assessment team (comprised of elementary, middle school, high school teachers as well as the Director of Curriculum and high school principal), collected and analyzed district assessment artifacts through the lens of specific Data Analysis protocols.  These protocols, developed by Learner-Centered Initiatives, who delivered the training, assist the team in answering the essential question “Are we measuring what matters?”  Through this training, the assessment review team has gained knowledge about effective assessments, developed rating criteria to guide an audit of existing assessments, used those criteria to examine current practices and identified assessments to maintain, eliminate, modify or create based on those evaluations.

 
The results of the assessment review are posted here.  While only a portion of the district’s assessments were reviewed during the 10-month grant period, the establishment of a meaningful assessment review process will allow Voorheesville to review additional assessments in the future, and identify and implement improvements. 
 

"The assessment review process has given participants an opportunity to take a close look at assessments in the district and consider how their current systems can be improved to better inform instruction and reflect student learning,” said Kim Nugent, Capital Region BOCES data-driven instruction coach.

 

In the next phase of the grant program, the district team will collaborate with LCI and through peer networks with other district assessment review teams to develop and implement an action plan for strengthening assessment practices. By exploring diverse assessment techniques and best assessment practices, the consortium aims to foster educator networking and the establishment of a process that can be replicated with other assessments in future years.

 
 
 
 
Multiple Pathways approved
 
 
NYS Board of Regents approved the proposal for "Multiple Pathways" for high school graduation.  Now, instead of being limited with one way to earn a Regents diploma, students are offered additional options- or pathways- in which to do so.  Previously, students have had to pass five Regents exams: one English, one math, one science and two social studies.  The new regulation allows students to follow the "4 +1" option in which they must pass four Regents (any math, any science, any social studies, English) and then choose one additional assessment option.  This "Plus 1" assessment includes an additional Regents assessment in math, science, social studies, or even CTE or the arts. The regulations were approved for students entering 9th grade in September 2011. 
 
  
January Professional Development
 

After the rush of the winter holidays, most people think of January as a time to slow down.  Nothing could be further from the truth in Voorheesville!  The first month of the calendar year has brought with it many opportunities for our teachers to meet, reflect and collaborate on their craft.

 
In response to the results of a faculty survey last year, the district provided a workshop on January 16th for high school staff with Amy Hawrlychek, CASDA consultant, on the topic of "Asking Good Questions."  During the session, teachers spent time learning and practicing different instructional strategies that can be used for questioning students as well as examining the importance of question types and levels in the classroom.
 
 
During the same half day, the VMS faculty met as both grade level teams and departments to review technology competencies.  The result of this work session was to develop a building specific list of the technology skills that all middle school students should be exposed to during their time in the building and then work to ensure that those skills are integrated throughout the VMS student experience.
 
 
At the end of the month, two high school departments continued work with the Common Core Standards.  The high school math teachers came together to work with BOCES consultant Abbie Mouravieff-Apostol on Common Core expectations. This full day session examined how the Common Core shifts in mathematics are demonstrated in state released sample questions and through the math modules.  English teachers spent time during an extended department meeting to work with Mrs. Conroy in preparation for the new Common Core English Regents. 
 
  
At the elementary school faculty meeting, Mrs. Fiero shared information on a math workshop she and other ES teachers attended and emphasized using New York State's modules as a resource.  Teachers also discussed the use of a common approach to (math) problem solving for all grades in the elementary building.
 
 Using Data to Inform Instruction
 

 In the first quarter of the school year, teachers met by grade level or department to review state assessment data and analyze the results.  In the elementary and middle schools, Mrs. Conroy shared reports generated by BOCES that revealed student performance on released questions from the 3-8 exams.  In the high school, the Department Chairs worked with teachers and demonstrated the analysis capabilities of  “DataMate,” an online software program that houses district Regents results. In response to the analysis, teachers created grade level goals and action steps. 

 

Elementary and Middle School students will take a benchmark assessment mid-year so that teachers can check the progress students are making on Common Core standards.  “Not only is this is a great way for teachers to see the growth made towards their grade level goals, but it will also be used to identify the strengths and weaknesses of individual students in their classroom," explained Mrs. Conroy.  "From there informed instruction can be planned for the class and differentiated for individual students.”

 

Voorheesville Awarded Grant 

 
The Voorheesville Central School District, as part of a consortium of twelve school districts, was awarded a “Teaching is the Core” grant by New York State in August. The grant, which is led by Capital Region BOCES, was one of 31 funded in the state, and provides districts with the opportunity to review current assessments and assessment practices.
 

Jen Borgioli, a consultant with Learner Centered Initiatives, is facilitating the review process. The grant is intended to help districts minimize unnecessary assessment and and provide training on best practices for developing high quality assessments.

“We are very excited about the opportunity to look at assessment practices throughout the entire district.  Our review team includes teachers from each building at various grade levels and content areas,” said Karen Conroy, Director of Curriculum.  “Eventually, these leaders will be able help train other teachers in the district on these best practices.” 


 


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