School Beat


March 30, 2011 // 0 Comments

Lessons Learned by LARRY WATTERS Principal, Parkside Elementary School There is a poem and poster entitled “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum that I had hanging in my classroom years ago. Some of the significant instructions Fulghum had listed on the poster include: “Share everything. Play fair. Don’t hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don’t take things that aren’t yours. Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat. Flush. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. Live a balanced life—learn some and think some and draw and point and sing and dance and play and work every day some. Take a nap every afternoon. When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together. Be aware of wonder.” These words of wisdom, although hopefully learned in kindergarten, are not always acted upon as we become adults. That is why so many of us in Rockford Public Schools (RPS) have been blessed to work in a profession where we are reminded of many of the tenants mentioned above by those that have learned them most recently: elementary students. I was reminded of one of the tenants the other day as I learned of a first-grader who decided to pick up trash from the entire playground. When asked why he decided to spend his time picking up our playground, he responded with, “I want to make the world a better place. Besides, I use the playground. Don’t you think I should help keep it clean?” Clean up your own mess. A fourth-grader, when challenged by his teacher to make a difference in the world, made “puppy chow” and sold it at his mother’s workplace, raising over 50 dollars. He used the money to purchase movie gift cards for a family whose mother was battling serious medical issues. When asked his intent, he answered, “I wanted them to enjoy a night out and not worry about their mother’s illness. I wanted to do something to help.” We all should hold hands and stick together. During conferences, the elementary school buildings hold book fairs. Each student in the building is able […]


March 24, 2011 // 0 Comments

Common Core State Standards by DR. RYAN KELLEY Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum Rockford Public Schools We continue to witness the impact of the challenging economic times upon our families, friends and neighbors. Many experts believe that the primary method to improve the economy is to have a higher educated workforce. A workforce that possesses the highly publicized 21st Century Skills—critical thinkers, problem solvers, communicators, and being collaborative, creative and innovative. No matter where a student lives, he/she should be provided these skills in order to be better prepared for postsecondary education and their career. As a result, the development and implementation of the Common Core State Standards is taking place across the country. The standards for math and English language arts can be reviewed online at The standards in the other core subject areas are still in the developmental stages. We know that in Rockford we are already providing our students with a world-class educational experience, and they are college and career ready. However, we can always improve. To make certain that we are preparing our students for the implementation of the Common Core State Standards, we have many teachers and administrators working together with educators from across the state. If you would like more information about this topic, I invite you to access the Web address previously mentioned, or call me at (616) 863-6556.  


March 10, 2011 // 0 Comments

Your Input Welcome! by CAROL HILLMAN Rockford School Board Trustee With small signs of spring beginning daily, the spring fever and longing for Spring Break also begin. Despite snow days, that Spring Break indicates a stepping back from hectic daily life, and a chance to refuel before the last stretch of the school year. You can be involved soon after the Spring Break to help our district vision. One of the many effective tools used within our district is the “RAMS—Rams Action Model for Success” publication that has become an expected way for the competent staff to reach goals that lead to the motto of “continuous improvement.” RAMS VIII is in process and will be ready for implementation by January 2012. An integral part of shaping this publication is you. This community can have an important role in what the district views as important objectives during the three years following the implementation of RAMS VIII. Those three years are expected to have staff adopt the direction the RAMS publication dictates. This becomes a document to execute and guide the district. Staff is held to these goals and must report at periodic times during the year on how the goals are being addressed. Accountability makes this document integral in district successes. You, the community member, are asked to involve yourself in this developing document. A survey will be available to you soon after Spring Break that you are asked to fill out. It will be available in a Web version as well as a hard copy form, and you will be invited to participate by e-mail.. If you need a hard copy, simply call the Rockford Public Schools Administration Building at (616) 863-6320 or stop in to any front office of the school buildings. For your convenience, however, copies will be available to you via the website at Speaking as a board member, current parent of the district, and a Rockford community member, I am truly proud of this systematic and professional procedure. I have seen first-hand during my eight years as a board member how seriously your opinion is taken and, thus, how effective the document is for the district. It supports the goal of being as transparent and available to the community as […]

SCHOOL BEAT — February 10, 2011

February 10, 2011 // 0 Comments

Michigan schools lying? by RANDALL C. SELLHORN Trustee, Board of Education On Thursday, Jan. 12, the Grand Rapids Press front page headline which read “Michigan schools-lying to parents? Report blasts state for hiding behind standards lower than nationally accepted” was a bit of a shock to me and, I am certain, to others. Lying? The Press reported that a “long established and well respected” Washington, D.C. education advocacy group had released a report that indicates the standard used to determine proficiency on the Michigan Education Assessment Program (MEAP) for fourth-grade and eighth-grade students was below the standard used in the National Assessment of Education Progress 2009 (NAEP). The report also accuses the Michigan Education Department of having lowered the standards for proficiency on the MEAP. If you missed it, you could probably find it on MLive. This may shock you, but I really don’t care about the Michigan Education Department having lowered the MEAP cut score for proficiency or using a different standard for proficiency than the NAEP. Surprised? Read on. I will try in this short space to explain to you why you shouldn’t be concerned either. The Press article and subsequently the Education Trust–Midwest’s report doesn’t make any statement about the Michigan Merit Curriculum learning objectives for students. The Michigan Merit Curriculum is the learning objectives for high school graduation. They only take issue with the achievement levels required for a student to be rated “proficient.” First we all have to make the assumption that the learning objectives for the MEAP and the NAEP are similar if not the same. Don’t know that, but to accept the report’s premise you need to. That fourth- and eighth-grades cut score for proficiency is being questioned and not for any other grade is puzzling. One could assume all other grades’ MEAP cut scores are adequate and similar to the NAEP cut scores? I have friends at my work that are actuaries skilled in statistical measure that will say, “Are you using statistics like a drunk uses a lamp post? Are you leaning on statistical evidence for support or are you using statistics for illumination?” It is our work jargon for saying, “Have you selected one item of statistical evidence to support your position and ignoring the […]

SCHOOL BEAT — February 3, 2011

February 3, 2011 // 0 Comments

Information Literacy: Building the Bridge of Knowledge  by CINDY KITZROW Principal, Cannonsburg Elementary School Director of Library & Media Services  Information literacy rose to national consciousness in the U.S. with President Barack Obama. His proclamation stated, “Rather than merely possessing data, we must also learn the skills necessary to acquire, collate and evaluate information for any situation… Though we may know how to find the information we need, we must also know how to evaluate it. Over the past decade, we have seen a crisis of authenticity emerge. We now live in a world where anyone can publish an opinion or perspective, whether true or not, and have that opinion amplified within the information marketplace. At the same time, Americans have unprecedented access to the diverse and independent sources of information, as well as institutions such as libraries, that can help separate truth from fiction and signal from noise. The role of the school library/media center has changed drastically in the last decade. It is no longer just a place to go and check out books or to look up information for research in the encyclopedia. We have become the “Information Literacy Partner” in our schools. We build the “bridge of knowledge” by providing the right resources needed for teachers and students to achieve their goals. Reading has always been the heart of education. The knowledge of almost every subject flows from reading: •            One must be able to read the word problem in math in order to understand it. •            If you cannot read the science or social studies chapter, you cannot answer the content questions. •            One can arguably state, “Reading is the single most important social factor in American life today.” School library media specialists not only promote the love of reading, they also support the entire school program by applying their “knowledge about resources, teachers and student needs, the processes in instruction and technology.” The library promotes, supports and strengthens the entire school curriculum. Our goals are to develop lifelong learners by teaching the love of reading and information literacy. Helping students become information literate involves teaching students how to learn: to recognize how knowledge is organized how to find information, how to use the information to answer any question or […]

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