Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Calamity Day Update

Dear Mechanicsburg Staff, Students, and Community Members:

As you know, the district has currently used a total of eight calamity days.  

The state of Ohio allows all districts to close for up to five calamity days per school year, which do not have to be made up. If school is closed for more than five days, the state requires those days to be made up in some way.

According to the Mechanicsburg Exempted Village School District calendar, we have 3 calamity days built into the board approved calendar.  Those dates are March 21st, 24th, and 25th. We will be in session on the 21st, and 24th as of today, January 29th.  

Additionally, in order to increase instructional time with students we are canceling the teacher professional development day scheduled for February 14th, 2014. This day will become a “regular” student in session school day.  Adding this day of school will give us a full week of instruction with students (hopefully) and one additional built in make up day (3/25) before the end of the school year, as it seems we are in for what they say is a very “snowy” February.  The teacher professional development day will be placed at the end of the school year, as the state has approved us for 3 waiver days and those are considered to be part of the total number of student days required.  Additional adjustments in the calendar may be necessary as we move through this “exceptional” winter season.  

With the potential for 4 make up days ( 2/14, 3/21, 3/24, 3/25) during the school calendar, the district is not currently seeking emergency “blizzard bag” approval from the department of education.  If this position changes, we will provide each family with log in information or hard copies of work to be completed at home during a calamity day.  

In addition, it is being reported  that Governor Kasich has asked law-makers to consider adding additional calamity days for each district.  Therefore, it is important to understand that our plan to make up school days will continue to unfold as we hear more from state legislatures.  We will keep you posted as we are provided more information, which may be available as early as week’s end.

Please refer to the district website,, and one call announcements for more information.  


Dan Kaffenbarger

Danielle Prohaska

Monday, January 27, 2014

Updates to Student Growth Measures

Many of us are half way through our 1st year using student growth measures.  As you take time to reflect on practices and refine your processes and thinking around SGMs, please see the information below.  

The ODE recently posted documents to assist and guide districts in decision making around student growth measures.  As always, would love to discuss this further with anyone that is interested!
Guiding Questions to Inform District Conversations with Approved Vendors provides a list of questions for administrators to consider when making decisions about purchasing approved vendor assessments that can be used to determine growth scores. This document was written to guide and support administrators in evaluating the alignment of the assessment to district and school goals. This document is located at

Districts can find recommendations surrounding the use of shared attribution here:

Assessment Literacy FAQs (updated 1/16/14) are available at this link:

A sample district level SLO for vocabulary acquisition in all curricular areas has been posted here:

Friday, January 10, 2014

An Unlikely Journey Part 2

I found my way to the school setting as a speech language pathologist.  After losing many patients in acute and long term care facilities, I decided that I needed more reward in my profession.  I thank Judy Saylor for my first opportunity as a speech pathologist for Madison Champaign ESC.  

I entered my new position in August of 2001 and found out quickly that both districts were desperately seeking programs that provided structure and support for services rather than isolated treatment for struggling students.  I was one therapist in 2 districts with 80+ students on caseload.  I had no professional peers to plan with during the day.  No experience writing Individualized IEPs in such a large volume.  With few resources and no school experience, I should have failed.  But as you know, I obviously didn't cave under the pressure.  But why?  I can reflect back now and pinpoint a few things:

  1. Listening - I listened to every teacher, administrator, and parent who had concerns or needs that my program could address.
  2. Perspective - rather than looking at each classroom individually, I stepped back and looked at the overall system.  How could I build a system of support that would benefit the whole rather than just a few grades.  
  3. Collaboration - I worked with any educator that would take me, pushing into various classrooms to see how I could support classroom learning and generalize strategies to support students all day long.
  4. Questioning - I was not afraid to ask questions, seek clarification, call others, and ask for honest feedback.  I did not pretend to know it all but I was committed to learning all I could to be a valuable resource for teachers, students, and families.  

Thursday, January 9, 2014

In preparing to transition to the superintendent position, I hope to use this Blog as a means to communicate necessary information that impacts next school year and the individual that will follow in the Office of Teaching and Learning.  

New Way to Determine Kindergarten Readiness Coming Fall 2014

Understanding a child’s learning and development is critical to both families and educators. In this and previous school years, children took the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment - Literacy (KRA-L) when entering school. In fall 2014, a new kindergarten readiness assessment called Start Strong is replacing the KRA-L. 

Start Strong will give kindergarten teachers a comprehensive picture of a child’s learning and development at kindergarten entry, pinpointing where each child is in physical well-being and motor development, language and literacy, mathematics, science, social studies and social skills.

Teachers will have from the first day of school until Nov. 1, 2014, to complete the Start Strong assessment.

The language and literacy portion of the Start Strong assessment may be used to meet the reading diagnostic assessment requirement of the Third Grade Reading Guarantee for kindergarten if the language and literacy items are administered bySept. 30.

Between April and September 2014, all kindergarten teachers will receive training on Start Strong, including score reporting and using the data. The Ohio Department of Education will make the training schedule available in January.
Please check (search Start Strong) in the coming months for further updates on Start Strong. Contact the department’s Office of Early Learning and School Readiness at614-995-9974 or if you have questions.   

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

An Unlikely Journey

As I prepare for a new chapter in my education career, many people have asked how I ended up as the next superintendent for Mechanicsburg Exempted Village Schools.  Quite frankly, it was an unlikely journey that I find leaves me with an interesting perspective on education, teaching and learning, leadership, collaboration, and vision.

With a gentle nudge, I embark on sharing my story with you through this blog.