Thursday, October 30, 2014

Ohio’s New Assessments

As you know, Mechanicsburg had a Waiver Day/Professional Development Day on Monday October 27, 2014.  During this time, the teachers attended sessions focusing on Ohio’s New Learning Standards in  English Language Arts and Math, as well as preparing for Online Assessments in all content areas.  It was a jam-packed day of learning.  Boy were our brains exhausted!  

With Ohio moving to new learning standards and state assessments this year, teachers spent time understanding the features of online testing, exploring practice questions and  watching tutorials to assist in preparing students for new/revised content and online testing.  

Parents can access the following sites to explore what online testing includes as well as practice at home. (English Language Arts)

There have been many changes in testing for this school year.  Instead of taking OAAs this year, students are now taking Ohio’s Next Generation Assessments (except for 3rd grade which will still take a paper pencil reading OAA in the fall).  These assessments are all online.  

Here is a list of this year’s Next Generation Assessments
  • Grade 3: ELA and Math
  • Grade 4: ELA, Math and Social Studies
  • Grade 5: ELA, Math and Science
  • Grade 6: ELA, Math and Social Studies
  • Grade 7: ELA and Math
  • Grade 8: ELA, Math and Science (Algebra 1 if enrolled in course at Bunsold)
  • Grade 9: If currently enrolled in the following courses - Algebra 1, Geometry, English 9,
  • English 10, Physical Science, American History, U.S. Government

OGTs (Ohio Graduation Tests) not the Next Generation of Assessments are in effect for students in 10th-12th grade unless they are currently taking American History and/or US Government.  Those students currently enrolled in American History and/or US Government will take the Next Generation Assessments in those courses this school year.  

The Next Generation of Assessments consist of two sections taken at different times during the school year.  Individual grade levels and buildings will be sharing those exact dates with you as testing times approach.  

Mechanicsburg is preparing for Ohio’s New Learning Standards and Next Generation Assessments in a variety of ways.  This is a learning experience for all of us and a challenge that we are prepared to address.  You may see changes in how students take classroom assessments, taking online tests created by the teacher to become more familiar with the skills of online testing.  There will be changes in the timing of when content  is presented to better match the timelines for each section of the test.  Our students are also using devices more frequently in the classroom to increase their comfort and skill level in demonstrating learning via technology.  

The more practice your children have in “dragging and dropping” answers using the cursor, typing answers in sentences, scrolling and highlighting words on the screen, and completing online tables, the more comfortable they will be when they take the new state assessments.  

Please feel free to talk with your classroom teachers, building principals, or myself if you would like to know more about online state testing.  Our hope is to keep you informed so that you can talk with your children about online testing and help us in preparing them for testing this year!


Danielle Prohaska
Superintendent of Schools
Mechanicsburg Exempted Village Schools

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Do you like Pickles? Get your jars ready!

Supt Blog Vol. 1 No. 4

I would suggest taking a few minutes to check out the Empty Pickle Jar video.   Whether or not you are an avid follower of Simple Truths messages, this one is worth watching, re-watching, and reflecting on as an mother (parent), spouse, leader, and educator.  We recently watched this video as an administrative team.  During that activity, the administrative team was asked to write their priorities on a golf ball.  What are the major things in your life?  Family, Friends, Church, and Community.  The BIG things in life!  

From there, we talked about the pebbles in the jar.  The pebbles are the things that matter to us at our place of work - the students, the instruction, the programs, the families, and the community we serve.  The pebbles fill in around the golf balls and help us feel whole, give us a focus for our work, and provide us with feedback on our worth as educators.  With golf ball and pebbles in place, one may say the jar is full.  But as the video goes on, we see that there is always room for sand.....pesky sand.  

Sand is what bogs us down, gets in the cracks, and even fills up the jar leaving less room for pebbles and golf balls.  Sand represents the trivial things that won’t help us shine the pebbles or drive the golf balls in our lives.  As the video shows, if begin with sand in our jar, we won’t be able to add the golf balls and pebbles later.  You have to START with the golf balls.  

We cannot be lead learners, coaches, spouses, parents, friends, mentors, and team members if we don’t know what our golf balls and pebbles symbolize.  We have to embrace the big things, the critical elements of focus, address the sand that fills in the cracks, and then brush away the excess sand that may bog us down.  As administrative team members, we must help each other when we focus more on the sand and less on the pebbles.  

It is a challenge to let go of sand even as it slips through our hands because little grains are ALWAYS left behind.  However, our strength and impact comes when we stand up at the tee and drive the golf ball down the fairway.....Or if you play more like me, when we take the time to find it in the trees and toss it back into the fairway.