School Beat

Smart Snacks in Schools

February 5, 2015 // 0 Comments

By John Henry- Food Service Director, Rockford Public Schools. This past July, school districts across the country were required to follow the “Nutritional Standards” that are required by The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, signed into law by President Obama for all foods sold during the school day, not just the School Lunch Program, which has always had strict guidelines. All foods must meet the following criteria: Be a “whole grain- rich” product or Have the first ingredient a fruit, a vegetable, a dairy product, or a protein food Be a combination food that contains at least ¼ cup of fruit and/or vegetables Contains 10% of the Daily Value Nutrient Requirements: Calorie Limits Snack items less than 200 calories Entrées less than 350 calories. Sodium Limits Snack items less than 230 mg Entrées less than 480 mg Fat Limits Total fat less than 35% of calories Saturated fat less than 10% of calories Trans fat: zero grams Sugar Limits 35% of weight from total sugar in foods These standards are required to be in place until ½ hour after the final school bell rings for the day.   They have affected some of the old traditions students and schools typically enjoyed in the past, like bake sales, school stores, Ram Café, and other kinds of fundraising activities. The nutritional standards have generated much controversy as recently noted in an AP article published 12/8/2014. Advocates feel there will be fewer problems as kids get used to the new foods and the food industry adapts to these standards, while others feel limits on sodium and requirements for more whole grains are challenging, costly, restrictive, and do not meet students’ expectati

Setting High Expectations

January 23, 2015 // 0 Comments

By: Lissa Weidenfeller, Principal North Rockford Middle School A key to student success is the belief that all students can learn. Not only does the staff need to believe that, but the students need to believe that themselves. Regardless if a school is urban, rural, low income, middle-class, culturally diverse, research has discovered one common theme—high expectations have a huge impact on student success. This is true of expectations that are set by teachers, parents, and students themselves. People may think they are setting and communicating high expectations, but do the students believe they are being challenged and that they can learn? A student’s attitude and feedback can be a great indicator of their success. It’s important for parents and schools to ask their students and monitor their feedback in order to have continuous improvement. Recently, NRMS students and parents were surveyed and asked this very question. Parents were asked, “Does your child know the expectation for learning in all classes?” Eight-five percent of the parents responded by stating that their child knows the expectations for learning in all classes. Students were asked, “In your school, is the purpose and expectations clearly explained to you and your family?” Students stated that 76% agree or strongly agree and 9% were neutral. As a school, we have taken this feedback and implemented Student Recognition Assemblies in order to continue to communicate high expectations for all of our students. We set learning targets for attendance, tardiness, grade point average, and academic growth. In addition, our teachers are posting learning targets so that the students understand the expectation for each class. We strive to communicate the expectation so that all of our students understand the expectation and can accept the responsibility for their own personal growth. According to a study by The Teacher Institute, although teachers’ opinions are valued by students, a parents expectation is critical to a student’s success. The study stated: Student self-expectations: Students were generally optimistic about their long-term academic success. Students were not as optimistic about their short-term success. Parent expectations: Students viewed their parents’ expectations as equal to—or even surpassing—their own. So, what can we do to help our students understand the expectations for learning? Below are a few tips: Establish clear rules/guidelines for […]

Social Media and Children

September 19, 2013 // 0 Comments

Social Media and Children   Kelly Amshey, Assistant Principal, ERMS   Children and young adults today live in a different world than the one that their parents knew growing up. Technology is central to their education, access to information, and ability to communicate. One aspect of the era of technology that is critical for parents to discuss with their student(s) is the use of social media. Social media websites are a common part of today’s world and are utilized by adults, young adults, teens and, in some cases, pre-teens. While social media can be a fun way to communicate and express one’s self, these websites can also open doors to cyber bullying, predatory activity, and limitations on future opportunities. Unlike personal communications, technology provides an avenue for people to communicate without seeing who or what they may be impacting. Comments posted on social media are far more likely to be cruel and exaggerated than those made in person because there is a lack of connection to the victim. Students that engage in cyber bullying may be entirely different than individuals who would bully within the walls of the school. Another dangerous aspect of social media is the anonymity, which can be useful to predators. Some individuals may post false images and profiles in order to establish online relationships with young people. Upon building trust, they are often able to solicit personal information and may attempt to contact them in person. Social media may also be problematic when individuals choose to post comments, images, and/or video that reflect poorly on their character. Colleges, places of employment, and scholarship committees often report that they investigate through social media and use the information in the decision-making process. Poor language, indications of illegal activity, mean behavior, or explicit pictures may impact the future of a young person. What can you do to decrease the risk that your child is harmed by the use of social media? Recommendations vary, but most important is that you discuss the risks of using social media with your child frequently. Teens are pre-teens need to hear about and be reminded of the concerns to assist them in making positive decisions. Secondly, establish a family rule that indicates the minimum age or grade level for […]

Schools for profit or principles

September 19, 2013 // 0 Comments

Schools for profit or principles   Randall Sellhorn, Board of Education Treasurer   Being a school board trustee has been a concurrent career for me. By vocation I work for a national insurance company. By choice my career of significance is being an advocate for the students attending our community schools. I read a great deal about business activity around the country in my vocation. And I read a lot about education as part of my commitment to stay current with the finances, security, administration and the politics of schools. Recently one of the business publications I follow crossed into both areas of interest. Crain’s Detroit Business recently published an article about National Heritage Academies (NHA). Chandler Woods Charter Academy in Belmont is a NHA school. By my observation of the students who transition to RPS in middle or high school from Chandler Woods, it is a good school. The difference between RPS and Chandler Woods, is that Chandler Woods is a for-profit business, like my employer. While I believe the best choice for families with school-age children in our area is to send them to the Rockford Public Schools, other area schools such as Chandler Woods Charter, Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Consolation, and Rockford Christian are also good options. They have to be in order to attract students from Rockford families. In fact, attracting families from traditional public schools was the political purpose of charter public school academies: to create a competitive environment for schools, make available education choices for families in communities where schools were unsatisfactory, and to improve education for any student in Michigan. According to Crain’s Detroit Business, National Heritage Academies will operate 22 charter public schools in the Detroit area — more than twice the number operated by any other charter school competitor operating schools in the Detroit area. Crain’s also reports NHA is the largest operator of Michigan charter schools, running 47 schools. The next largest management company is the Leona Group, which operates 21 schools, Crain’s reports. NHA Vice President of Partner Services and Government Relations Nick Paradiso told Crain’s that NHA is now looking to expand further outside of Michigan. Paradiso cited Michigan’s declining population, telling Crain’s that “We’re seeing a greater […]

Michigan Department of Education’s Scorecard Changes in Measuring Accountabilit

August 29, 2013 // 0 Comments

  As part of the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001, Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) was created as a way to measure educational standards within public schools. In Michigan, AYP measured year-to-year student achievement on the MEAP for elementary and middle schools and the Michigan Merit Examination (MME) for high schools. Other indicators, such as participation, attendance rates, and graduation rates were also considered in this measure. Under the AYP system, the Michigan Department of Education issued school districts and individual schools “report cards,” assigning letter grades based on the established indicators. Rockford Public Schools has earned straight A’s for seven consecutive years through this method. Beginning with the 2012-2013 school year, the Michigan Department of Education released Michigan School Scorecards as the indicator of school and district compliance, assessment participation, and assessment performance requirements. These scorecards will use a color coding system in place of the grading system used under AYP. Color designations in order of highest to lowest are: green, lime, yellow, orange, and red. The first scorecards have just been released, indicating that each of the Rockford Public Schools has earned a passing color of either yellow or orange, with the overall district earning red. How can a district that previously earned straight A’s suddenly be measured as average or below average? The simple answer is that the MDE is using subgroup population statistics and this is adversely impacting the results of over 95 percent of school districts in Michigan. Without using subgroup populations the overall indicator for RPS would be at the highest level. The method being used is clearly flawed and does not accurately represent what is happening in Michigan’s schools. The scorecard indicator is certainly not indicative of student performance at Rockford Public Schools. A recent article in the Detroit Free Press outlined the MDE’s criteria relative to the color coding system. Based on that report, Rockford Public Schools would receive the rating of lime green, with over 70 percent of the 120 areas of measurement attained. The MDE fails to mention in the article the other measures they have created that restrict districts from being accurately labeled. We are working to obtain clarification of all criteria. In summary, the Rockford Public School District will continue […]

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