Battle Ground Sch. Dist.
Help Battle Ground Public Schools Get F.I.T. - 11/19/14
Battle Ground Public Schools is inviting community members to participate on a Facilities Improvement Team (FIT) and be a part of a community-driven process that will provide the district with a long-term facilities management plan for current and new buildings. FIT members will contribute to the district's long-term educational goals by making recommendations for facilities that meet the academic needs of students and keep pace with community growth. The ongoing committee will meet on a regular basis, and members are expected to serve at least a one-year term. Applications are due by Friday, Dec. 12. Go online to watch a video and fill out an application form on the district's FIT web page.
We will include updates about the Facilities Improvement Team's progress in our weekly electronic newsletter, the BGPS Bulletin. The newsletter highlights the great things happening in Battle Ground Public Schools. You can read previous issues of the Bulletin and subscribe online.
BGPS Aspire Program Benefits Highly Capable Students (Photo)
Students in BGPS' Aspire Program practice a Reader's Theater project
aspire verb ?(TM)-?^sp?(-?(TM))r
: to want to have or achieve something
Three third grade boys focused on the monitor of the Chromebook computer in front of them. One boy placed his hands on the keyboard and deftly typed a few words. Together, the third graders worked to revise "The Animal Defense Convention," a script jointly written by third and fourth graders in Captain Strong Primary's Aspire magnet program for highly capable students. Upon the script's completion, the students would present it as part of a Readers Theater project to their parents and other students.
The BGPS Aspire Program provides accelerated learning opportunities in an intellectually stimulating environment that strives to explore academic subjects at an advanced level to meet students' learning needs. Highly capable students are identified as the top 3 to 5 percent of the student population based on testing that looks for kids who intuitively jump to the correct answer with very little instruction.
Battle Ground Public Schools offers Aspire Program testing to students once each year. For the first time, the testing will be available to all grades (K-12). This year's deadline to nominate students for the testing is approaching: Nov. 18 for kindergartners and Dec. 5 for first through 12th graders. The testing takes place in December for kindergartners and January and February for other grades. Parents can nominate their children for testing, and teachers can recommend students for testing; however, parents must give their permission to have their children tested.
The BGPS Aspire Program is critical to the well-being of highly capable students. "The myth is that the gifted students can take care of themselves because they are smart," said Jill Smith, Battle Ground Public Schools' executive director of federal programs and instructional support services. "They have needs. They can get bored and frustrated. Most of them come into class already knowing 40 percent of the content at their grade level." Some students can be gifted and still have learning or other disabilities. Many have alternative learning styles that are not met in a regular classroom experience.
State law requires districts to provide highly capable services, and BGPS receives state funding to provide some of these services to the top 2.78 percent of students. Other funds that pay for highly capable services come from levy dollars, grants, and state-provided basic education funds. BGPS currently has 617 students enrolled in its Aspire Program.
BGPS has two Aspire Program options. The magnet option for third through eighth graders brings Aspire students from all over the district to Captain Strong Primary and Chief Umtuch Middle schools, where the students are in classes comprised of highly capable students at the same grade level and with teachers who specialize in the education of gifted students. The cluster option is available for kindergarten through 12th grade at every school, where groups of highly capable students are placed in regular classrooms, also with trained teachers.
About half of the students who test into Aspire choose the magnet option, and the other half stay in the cluster option at their home school. It's also possible for a student to be gifted in one area of learning, such as math, but not another. These students usually choose the cluster option where it is easier for the teacher to provide learning opportunities specific to students' needs in one subject area.
The benefits of the Aspire Program are many. Not only are students grouped with like-minded peers, but their learning is accelerated and individualized. The acceleration often occurs because teachers can eliminate concepts the students already know and avoid unnecessary repetition, providing more time to introduce other concepts and add levels of complexity to what students are taught.
More information, including the Aspire assessment process, program options, and nomination materials, are on the district website at http://www.battlegroundps.org/district/aspire-advanced-placement.
Aspire Testing Nomination Deadline Approaches
Parents must nominate students to be tested for the Aspire Program in Battle Ground Public Schools. A nomination packet is available online or from school offices. Parents must turn in nomination packets by Nov. 18 for kindergartners and by Dec. 5 for first through 12th graders. All nominated students are tested, and students can be tested the next year if they don't initially test into the program. Testing begins Dec. 1 for kindergartners, in January for first and second graders, and in February for third through 12th graders. Testing is administered over two mornings. The CogAT cognitive abilities test assesses verbal and non-verbal reasoning skills. The IOWA Assessment evaluates students' reading and math skills.
BGPS Classified Staff Support Student Learning (Photo)
Battle Ground Public Schools classified employees Tom Hasart and Bree Loyd check in a supplies delivery at Prairie High School. Hasart works in the BGPS warehouse and Loyd is Prairie's assistant secretary.
Tom Hasart sorted the boxes stacked waist-deep in the Prairie High School office. He had just brought in the last of a few loads from the delivery van parked outside, and then checked in the packages with Prairie's assistant secretary Bree Loyd.
Hasart delivers boxes of supplies (consumable goods like paper and batteries), equipment orders, and mail that Battle Ground Public Schools (BGPS) receives in its warehouse near Battle Ground High School to schools around the district. "I love the mail run," Hasart says. "I love helping our students by bringing them the supplies they need to learn."
Hasart is one of about 600 classified employees who work throughout the district to support student learning and keep the district running. Some classified staff, such as school secretaries, security, and education assistants, work directly with students, while others work at a keyboard, in buildings, or behind a wheel to provide services. Many classified positions require college degrees or certification in a specialized field such as heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) repair or technology.
Most of BGPS' classified staff belong to the Public School Employee union. The district office has about 40 classified positions that are not in the union. The 600 classified staff, together with 830 teachers and 60 administrators, make up all of BGPS' 1,490 employees. "It takes a large collaborative effort to provide a quality education for our students" said Mark Hottowe, BGPS superintendent. "Our classified staff play an important role in our district and work alongside our teachers and administrators to provide the support needed for overall success."
BGPS classified positions are divided into major job classifications that describe the role of the position in the school district. Many job descriptions for specific positions are on the school district's website. The different areas in which classified employees support student learning include
Administrative support: Most of these jobs are located in the district office and support the entire district. Positions include human resources staff; payroll, accounting, and benefits staff; paralegal; and department secretaries in teaching and learning and special education.
Basic education assistants: Crossing guards, teaching assistants, student store operators, preschool assistants, and school health assistants usually work directly with students throughout schools.
Campus security: Campus security, stadium techs, and trackers work to maintain the safety and welfare of our students in school and at school-sponsored events and sports competitions.
Custodial: The people in these positions work to maintain attractive, sanitary, and safe facilities for students, staff, and public. They provide equipment and furniture arrangements for meetings, classroom activities, and events and make small repairs on equipment.
Maintenance: HVAC technicians, telecommunications technicians, maintenance assistants, and grounds operators make repairs to equipment and maintain the property, landscaping, and buildings that the district owns.
Media tech: Print shop operators prepare printed materials from creation to print. Media technicians maintain library, media center, and computer equipment for school libraries and the district's Title I and Learning Assistance (LAP) programs, while science resource technicians prepare experiment kits and maintain an inventory of supplies, organisms, and critters for school science labs.
Professional tech: This is one of the two largest categories of classified employees. It includes many positions, for example, career guidance technicians who assist students in exploring career opportunities; network support technicians who maintain the district's server and computer networks; and braillists who assist blind and visually impaired students and interpreters who assist students who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Special education assistants: The people in these positions often work in the classroom either one-on-one or with small groups of students who receive special education services.
Secretarial: This is one of the two largest categories of classified employees. It includes many positions, for example, community education staff members who plan, coordinate, and support the district's Community Education program; secretaries across the district who are often the first point of contact with people who visit school buildings and other programs; and registrars who maintain student records.
Paraeducator: The people in these positions provide one-on-one and small group tutoring in math and reading to students in the district's Title I and LAP and English as a Second Language programs.
Warehouse: These positions are based in the BGPS Warehouse near Battle Ground High School and include staff who transport orders of equipment, materials and supplies to buildings across the district and stock and maintain inventory.
PHS Forensics Team Hones Critical Thinking, Speaking Skills (Photo)
PHS Forensics Team students toss a coin to determine whether they'll argue the affirmative or negative of a topic.
Prairie High School's Forensics Team is beating back glossophobia, or the fear of public speaking. Team members are putting their reasoning and communication skills to the test this weekend during the T-Wolf Invitational at Heritage High School, their first District IV Tournament of the year. Students will speak and argue their points in a variety of competitions ranging from impromptu and expository speaking to public forum and Lincoln-Douglas style debates.
PHS students can select from several events in which to participate. Impromptu speaking, for example, requires students to prepare and deliver a speech on a surprise topic within a 6-minute time limit. Among debate events, teams of two argue opposing sides of a topic in a public forum style debate, while Lincoln-Douglas debates challenge student's debate skills in a one-on-one format. Debate participants must be prepared with both affirmative and negative arguments on assigned topics. A coin toss lets the winner choose either which side they want to argue or to go first or second.
Speech and debate is a Washington Interscholastic Activities Association competitive team, and students who participate can earn points toward a letter in the same way that athletes can letter in sports. Students also take the skills they learn with them beyond high school. "Speech and Debate provides students an opportunity to learn and hone valuable communication and critical thinking skills and experience that they will employ for the rest of their lives," said Leah Zika, Prairie High School English Language Arts teacher and the Speech and Debate Team coach.
Like something directly from a CNN episode of "Crossfire" with James Carville, PHS students practice debating and speaking after school. At this week's practice, students weighed the pros and cons of GMOs in a Public Forum debate, and other students delivered Duo Interpretation speeches with great enthusiasm and body language that enhanced their words.
The teams schedule includes several events this year, including this weekend at Heritage High School and a home tournament November 7-8 at Prairie.
Battle Ground Public Schools Continues to Get High Marks on State Tests (Photo)
The Washington report card says it all: For the last five years, students in Battle Ground Public Schools have consistently outperformed their peers across the state on standard tests that measure student progress.
This fact is probably most apparent on last year's test results, which show that Battle Ground Public Schools beat the state on 17 of 21 tests. That is, a higher percentage of Battle Ground students passed the Washington tests than did students across the state.
"If you choose to look back at test scores over the last few years, this is not an anomaly," said Battle Ground Public Schools Superintendent Mark Hottowe. "We have a strong track record of performing well."
For the last five years, Washington has assessed student learning in third through eighth grades on the subjects of reading, math, writing and science with its Measurements of Student Progress (MSP) assessment, and has tested tenth graders on reading and writing with its High School Proficiency Exams. Statewide testing is important because it helps ensure all public school students receive a quality education. In a report released earlier this year by Education Week, Washington ranked ninth in the country for K-12 student achievement, and this ranking is based on state testing.
"It is encouraging to know that our students are performing well in a state that is already ranked in the top ten nationwide," Hottowe said.
The results for Washington's tests are reported as a percentage of students within each grade level who earned passing scores. Last year, for example, 80 percent of eighth graders in Battle Ground Public Schools passed the reading test, while just 71.6 percent of eighth graders across the state passed the same test. On math tests, 60.2 percent of Battle Ground eighth graders passed, while 55.9% of students passed the same test statewide.
These results help districts and schools decide which teaching practices and curricula best support student understanding of the state learning standards. In Battle Ground, administrators attribute its consistent, above average student results to what happens in the classroom and the dedication of the principals, teachers, and specialists at every school in the district to collaborate and grow professionally.
"When you compare our district test scores to the state and other districts, our reading is higher, our math is higher," said David Cresap, director of assessment at Battle Ground Public Schools. "There is no one thing that contributes to student success, however; it is a cumulative effort of good policies, good teachers and good supports."
Battle Ground Public Schools uses professional development time during early release days to allow teachers and administrators to meet in collaborative teams within schools and across grade levels and discuss student performance and develop skills to best meet the state's learning initiatives.
"Tests are only one area of success in Battle Ground Public Schools," says Mark Ross, assistant superintendent of Teaching and Learning. "Part of the reason we have improving test scores is because there has been an impetus for collaboration in the last few years."
Battle Ground students have shown improved test scores within grade levels across the tested subjects. In fifth grade reading, for example, the percentage of Battle Ground students who passed the test went from 68.9 in 2010 to 78 in 2014. And while 55.3 percent of Battle Ground sixth graders passed the state math test in 2010, the amount of students who received passing scores in 2014 increased to 65.2 percent. Increased learning trends persist on the results of all state subject tests over the last five years.
"Teachers are taking the initiative to determine how their students are best learning, and are working hard to meet those needs," said Allison Tuchardt, Battle Ground Public Schools assistant director of assessment. "Everyone knows that what happens in the classroom affects what happens to students after school, and are focused on giving students the knowledge and skills they'll need to be successful in life and careers."
You can view state test results for Washington, Battle Ground Public Schools and other districts on the Washington State Report Card website.