Dear Bonsall School Community,

To continue our momentum in using technology to increase student learning and support for all students to be highly competitive in their chosen career path and/or higher education, we need to all take the opportunity to give the federal government our thoughts on the importance of supporting the use of technology to improve our students’ future.  This opportunity is only available until 10/16/13.  The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is asking for public input on support for increasing telecommunication and bandwidth in schools.

E-rate is the way that schools are supported financially to increase communication and bandwidth in school communities.  Here is a link to further describe E-rate:

http://99in5.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/UnderstandingERate.pdf

Here is a link where your voice can be heard: http://99in5.org/

Please take a few minutes to let the FCC know that we are already maxed out on our bandwidth, and as we increase our use of technology to improve student learning we need much more.

You might have heard from the media that the California Legislature has passed Assembly Bill 484 that changes testing for this year, and except for Science in grades 5 and 8, the California Standards Test (CST) is being replaced.  The Legislation suspends most Standardized Testing and Reporting  (STAR) assessments and authorizes the Measurement of Academic Performance and Progress (MAPP), that is the California version of Smarter Balance Assessment aligned to the new Common Core State Standards.  It isn’t a coincidence that the new MAPP test sounds much like the Measurement of Academic Progress (MAP) test we already use as our formative assessment.   Bonsall’s transition from the CST to the MAPP shouldn’t be as hard as it will be for most school districts.  Given that we have been taking MAP tests for the last several years, computer-adaptive testing won’t be a new experience for our students.  Having more open-ended questions instead of only multiple choice will be a bit different, so our teachers will make adjustments in instruction to align with the new MAPP assessment.   We will participate in a field test of the MAPP next spring, sort of a “test of the test” with no student results reported.  The field test will be for math and English language arts in grades three through eight.

To take a Practice Test of the new Smarter Balance Assessment, go to: http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/sa/practicetest.asp.   And click on the “Take the Practice Test” image near the bottom: Use the Guest user and session.  We are looking forward to the rigor, critical thinking and application of knowledge this assessment requires.

During this lull in the high-stakes accountability of standardized testing implemented by the State of California, Bonsall schools will focus more on writing and continue to use our MAP tests so parents, teachers and students can measure growth in student learning.  We also plan to use this time to focus more on the non-cognitive skills that lead to a brighter future for our students; our Character Counts program will include more self-management to increase student use of the executive functions available when the frontal lobes of the brain are engaged. A good book  concerning this is “How Children Succeed” by Paul Tough.  An example of this was last week when the students at Bonsall West walked the track in total silence as a memorial for the victims of the 9/11/01 attack on the World Trade Center.

Finally, as we go through all these transitions like unification, new standards and assessments, and a new funding formula, it is important that we minimize the negative effects of stress.  Another TED talk I’d like to share on this issue is:

http://www.ted.com/talks/kelly_mcgonigal_how_to_make_stress_your_friend.html

It is my great fortune to be going through all these transitions with such a great school community as we have in Bonsall.

Sincerely,

Justin Cunningham, Ed D

Advertisements