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News Releases
BGPS Kindergarten Registration Week Is April 20-24 - 03/26/15
Kindergarten registration for the 2015-16 school year will begin Monday, April 20 in Battle Ground Public Schools. Any child who will be 5 years old before Sept. 1, 2015, is eligible to enter kindergarten this fall.

Parents can find out which school their child will attend by using the district's online boundary map at or by calling the district boundaries office at (360) 885-6577.

Parents should bring verification of their child's birth date, immunization records and emergency contact information to their neighborhood school to register their child. School offices are open for kindergarten registration Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Registration materials and information is available online at Registration can take up to one hour.

A tuition-based, full-day kindergarten option is available at all primary schools except Yacolt Primary during the 2015-16 school year. More information about full-day kindergarten is available at the school your child will attend in the fall.

Orientations and Open Houses
Students and their families can visit their school, meet teachers and learn more about kindergarten. The following schools are offering spring orientations and open houses. Other schools offer similar events in the fall.

Captain Strong Primary, 1002 NW 6th Ave., Battle Ground, (360) 885-6400, parent orientation on May 21, 6-7 p.m.

Daybreak Primary, 1900 NW 20th Ave., Battle Ground, (360) 885-6950, kindergarten orientation on May 21, 6-7 p.m.

Glenwood Heights Primary, 9716 NE 134th St., Vancouver, (360) 885-5250, kindergarten roundup for parents, May 13, 10-11 a.m.

Pleasant Valley Primary, 14320 NE 50th Ave., Vancouver, (360) 885-5550, kindergarten orientation on May 19, 4:30-5:30 p.m.

Yacolt Primary, 406 W Yacolt Rd., Yacolt, (360) 885-6000, open house on May 7, 5:30-7 p.m.

Preschool Options
Battle Ground Public Schools also offers preschool options for early learners. The BGPS Community Education Department and Prairie High School offer tuition-based preschool programs for ages 3-5. Tigerland Preschool registration is open for the 2015-16 school year. Two and three-day programs are located on the campuses of Captain Strong Primary and Yacolt Primary. Tigerland Preschool is designed to prepare early learners for their kindergarten experience. To register, contact the Battle Ground Public Schools Community Education Department at (360) 885-6584. Prairie Preschool maintains a waiting list of students who are interested in attending. Enrollment begins April 21 for new families on the waiting list. Please call Prairie Preschool at (360) 885-5004 to be added to the waiting list. BGPS also offers preschools for children with special needs. Please contact the BGPS Special Services Department at (360) 885-5318 for more information. Information about BGPS preschool options is available on the district's preschool web page at
Attached Media Files: 2015_K_roundup_flyer.pdf
Terence Corbett, assistant principal at Ivanna Eudora Kean High School, toured Battle Ground Public Schools to see how teachers use technology to teach Washington State Learning Standards.
Terence Corbett, assistant principal at Ivanna Eudora Kean High School, toured Battle Ground Public Schools to see how teachers use technology to teach Washington State Learning Standards.
School Administrators Take BGPS Tech Strategy Back to Caribbean (Photo) - 03/19/15
Administrators from St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands took advantage of their proximity to Battle Ground Public Schools this week to see how the district's teachers incorporate technology into their lessons using new learning standards. The St. Thomas administrators are here for the Northwest Council for Computer Education (NCCE) 2015 annual education technology conference thanks to a technology innovation grant from the Department of Education.

Terence Corbett, assistant principal at Ivanna Eudora Kean High School, and Judy Edmeade, assistant principal at Addelita Cancryn Junior High School, toured Laurin and Daybreak middle schools and Glenwood Heights Primary School and visited classrooms as teachers led lessons on Chromebooks using Google Apps for Education and other educational apps.

In BJ Rush's fifth grade class at Laurin Middle School, students added fractions using a myriad of resources: small plastic tiles, pencils and paper, and Chromebooks. The students entered their answers in an Internet-based assessment application called Formative, which let Mr. Rush instantly see who got the answers correct, and who needed assistance. Working individually and in small groups, students strengthened their skills in one of the Washington State Learning Standards' critical areas for fifth grade math: developing fluency with addition and subtraction of fractions.

At Daybreak Middle School, sixth grade teacher Heather VanValkenburg used Kahoot!, a game-based classroom response application, to teach English language arts concepts. Mrs. VanValkenburg employed the application to help students learn about figures of speech. Students identified phrases as metaphors, similes or personification by choosing from multiple options on their Chromebooks when presented with a sentence. Using the technology application, students demonstrated their understanding of figurative language, a sixth grade Washington State Learning Standard for language.

Battle Ground Public Schools also uses a cohort program and job-embedded training to help teachers seamlessly integrate technology into their lessons. The Google Cohort is a year-long professional development and collaboration network for learning how to use Google Apps for Education and the Advanced Technology Academy is a group of teachers who offer technology assistance to their peers.

"These are strategies that we can take back home and say, 'These things are working,'" Corbett said. The assistant principal would like to get Chromebooks in his classrooms, and said many schools on St. Thomas are working toward that end.

Washington is one of 43 states that have adopted national learning standards for English language arts and math as part of its state learning standards. The U.S. Virgin Islands also has adopted the national learning standards. To integrate technology with learning standards in the classroom and provide a platform for taking state assessments on learning standards, Battle Ground Public Schools has purchased nearly 3,000 Chromebooks this year. The computers are kept in carts that each store and charge 30 of the devices and easily roll from classroom to classroom for checkout.

BGPS' director of technology, Scott McDaniel, and April Vonderharr, a fourth grade teacher at Glenwood Heights Primary, led the tour this week. McDaniel and Evyan Wagner, BGPS education technology coordinator, also presented a session on "Revolutionary Googling" Wednesday morning at the NCCE technical conference. "Technology implementation is about people," McDaniel said. "We meet our teachers where they are and take them where they need to be."

Battle Ground offered the St. Thomas visitors a tour when Vonderharr, who is working on her administrative credentials at Washington State University Vancouver, learned they would be visiting for the NCCE conference and wanted to see technology in action in a classroom. NCCE is working with 24 teachers and six administrators from six schools on the island, and paid for the visit with the three-year technology innovation grant to improve technology use in classrooms and develop technical leaders in schools on the island of St. Thomas. The St. Thomas administrators also visited Vancouver iTech Preparatory School in the Vancouver Public Schools district.
Chief Umtuch Middle School students learn how math, science, and art contribute to the creation of string design projects
Chief Umtuch Middle School students learn how math, science, and art contribute to the creation of string design projects
Middle School Students String Together Art, Math, Science (Photo) - 03/18/15
In Chief Umtuch Middle School's visual art classes, students learn about geometry in an engaging way by creating their own string art pieces. The seventh graders study geometric concepts, including vocabulary, and then create a line design with string and small nails.

Art specialist Linda Peterson began teaching students the art of string design about 17 years ago after a visit to the Seattle Art Museum. At the museum, Peterson was captivated by a string art piece that looked like a bridge. At first Peterson thought its lines were curved, but she later discovered that math, science and art had intersected to form a geometric art piece with curves made from straight lines. Though the string forms straight lines between points, the different angles and positions where strings intersect gives the appearance of curves.

For the string design project, Peterson's art students begin with a 12-page line design packet that covers geometric concepts and constructions. Students go over the first three pages of the packet with Peterson to understand the process, and then continue independently. Students create geometric line designs and choose different colors of string to help maintain the visibility of the design's curves. "Creating these geometric designs gives students the opportunity to show creativity and imagination while using mathematics," Peterson said. "Taking our designs to a much larger scale has showed students the visual impact that the curves and colors of their work has on the onlookers in our school halls."

The string design project meets Washington State Learning Standards for art by teaching students to create, conceptualize, organize, develop, refine and complete artistic work as well as convey meaning through the presentation of their work.

"My goal is for students to understand the intimate relationship between art, math, and science," Peterson said. "Art helps make math and science visible."
Mike Hamilton
Mike Hamilton
Hamilton Recommended for BGHS Principal Position (Photo) - 03/16/15
Battle Ground Public Schools Superintendent Mark Hottowe has recommended Mike Hamilton as the new Battle Ground High School principal. Hamilton is currently the principal at Kalama Middle/High School. The recommendation will go to the BGPS Board of Directors for approval at its regular board meeting on March 23.

Hamilton, who lives in the Battle Ground district, began his career teaching in the Tahoma School District and Evergreen Public Schools before transferring to Kalama. At the Kalama School District he served as a teacher, assistant principal and athletic director, superintendent intern, and principal. During his 14 years as principal at Kalama Middle/High School, Hamilton led the school to three Washington School of Distinction Awards, three Washington State OSPI Achievement Awards, a Microsoft IT School Lighthouse Award and the State Superintendent's Learning Improvement Award.

Hottowe is recommending Hamilton for the position after two final candidates participated in the March 10 Battle Ground High School Principal Forum, where students, parents and staff asked questions and completed feedback forms. Forum participants returned dozens of comment forms to the interview committee before a final decision was made.

"I want to thank everyone who participated in this process, especially the interview committee members and the staff, parents and students who participated in Tuesday's forum," Hottowe said. "We had two very strong final candidates and I am confident moving forward with Mr. Hamilton."

After board approval, Hamilton will take the leadership position at Battle Ground High School on July 1. Current Battle Ground High School principal Tim Lexow announced his resignation earlier this year after serving the district for 20 years. "We want to thank Tim for his years of service and leadership within the district and wish him the best in his future endeavors," Hottowe said. Lexow will serve as principal through the remainder of the school year.
Attached Media Files: Mike Hamilton
Laurin Middle School students conduct a biological species survey in the nature preserve next to their school.
Laurin Middle School students conduct a biological species survey in the nature preserve next to their school.
BGPS Teachers Get Science Training on the Job (Photo) - 03/12/15
The honor of carrying his group's clipboard was cause for Matt to celebrate. The Laurin Middle School sixth grader jumped out of his seat with a spirited "Yes," pumped his fist, and grabbed a clipboard with its attached plant identification guide and plot map. Sixth grade teacher Casey Rogalette smiled. To see so much enthusiasm in a student wasn't unusual, but this science lesson was.

On this day, the students would spend time in the forested nature preserve next to their school, identifying and recording the species of plants and animals in each of four sections. Mark Watrin, a teacher on special assignment (TOSA) in Battle Ground Public Schools, explained the scientific goals and led the sixth graders outside. To the students, it was one step in the process of determining which section of the preserve supports a greater variety of life. But according to the Washington State Learning Standards for science, the students got a hands-on lesson on MS-LS2-5: Evaluating competing design solutions for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Teacher Casey Rogalette got a lesson, too. Taking the lead, Mark Watrin demonstrated how to effectively teach students the state's new science standards. As the district's science TOSA, Watrin is modeling a new type of professional development, called embedded professional development, that provides primary and middle school teachers with one-on-one training on how to implement the new Washington State Learning Standards for science. The training technique is effective because teachers don't just hear about best practices, they see them in action in their own environments. With this type of training, student questions and reactions become teachable moments for teachers, too.

Research has shown that a coaching model is more effective than one that gathers a cohort of teachers in a single room for a presentation-type training, said Paula Koehler-Martin, executive director of curriculum, instruction and professional development.

"Research on adult learning and how teachers enhance their practices points to the fact that one-time professional development opportunities might spark interest," Koehler-Martin said, "but ongoing professional development, and especially in a classroom setting, is what makes the difference in teachers evolving their classroom practices and enhancing student learning." Battle Ground also has TOSAs who help implement the new Washington State Learning Standards in English language arts and math using a blended model of traditional group and some one-on-one training.

But the coaching model of training lends itself to the subject of science. Washington is transitioning over the next 3 years to updated state learning standards for science in grades K-12. Called the Washington State 2013 Science Learning Standards, they provide consistent science education through all grades with an emphasis on engineering and technology. Developed by the National Science Teachers Association and other non-profit science organizations, the standards are part of a national effort called Next Generation Science that updates current standards based on how scientific work has changed.

Washington has set a timeline that includes full implementation of the standards in the 2017-2018 school year. Along with full implementation comes a federal requirement to assess students on multiple science disciplines (including biology, physics, chemistry, geology, and astronomy) with a more comprehensive test than the current End of Course Biology exam that students take in high school.

Watrin's work with science teachers will not only help better prepare students for a more complex assessment, but also will help students acquire the skills they need to study scientific disciplines in college and become chemists, ecologists, and aerospace engineers.

Rather than focus on what science is, the new state science standards aim to teach students how to practice science by asking them to make scientific inquiries and develop theories and models. For example, instead of memorizing all the minerals, students might explore why minerals are useful. "Hands-on is important," Watrin said. "to adequately learn, the concepts need to be connected to a concrete experience. The brain learns better by doing than by just listening."
River HomeLink students testified recently before the Washington Senate Committee on Transportation about driver's education options.
River HomeLink students testified recently before the Washington Senate Committee on Transportation about driver's education options.
River HomeLink Students' Proposal Impetus for Driver's Education Bill (Photo) - 03/11/15
A group of students from River HomeLink recently got a real-life lesson on how the state legislative branch enacts laws by testifying before the Washington Senate Committee on Transportation about driver's education options.

Sen. Don Benton invited the students, in grades 8-12, to testify on Feb. 25 to the transportation committee about why driver's education courses should include state-approved online options, which is a part of Senate Bill 5975 -- Access Washington.

Currently, Washington residents are not allowed to take driver's education courses online as part of the licensing process. About 20 River HomeLink students want to change that. The group wrote a proposal last month and presented the idea of allowing state-approved online driver's education courses as part of the licensing process to numerous legislators and senators, including Reps. Paul Harris, Liz Pike, Brandon Vick and Lynda Wilson; Sens. Jan Angel, Don Benton and Ann Rivers; and others.

Following the River HomeLink students' presentation, Angel and Benton proposed SB5975, which includes allowing state-approved online driver's education courses as part of the licensing process, and invited the students to Olympia to testify before the senate transportation committee.

The students spent four weeks preparing their presentation for the legislators, said Malinda Rew, River HomeLink's ASB Secretary. "The students experienced government in a way that they would not have been able to in a classroom. They did a fantastic job and were well received by the senate committee."

River HomeLink is a K-12 public homeschool program that provides academic services for both on- and off-campus studies to students and families in Battle Ground Public Schools.
BGPS Students Put After-School Snacks to the Test - 03/11/15
Elementary students from Battle Ground Public Schools will apply their creative, culinary talents to making healthy, after-school snacks in the Sodexo 2015 Future Chefs Challenge on Thursday, March 26 at Battle Ground High School, 300 W. Main St., Battle Ground.

Finalists will prepare their recipes and present them to a panel of judges, who will assess the culinary creations for originality, taste, ease of presentation, kid friendliness and use of healthy ingredients. About 100 third and fourth grade students submitted healthy, after-school snack recipes for the contest, and the 25 best were selected to participate in the district-wide finals event.

The winning student from Battle Ground Public Schools will be considered for a regional award, and regional finalists will vie for one of five spots in the national competition, which will be posted on a special Future Chefs YouTube channel.

The national initiative, which is in its fifth year, was created to get students thinking about making healthy food choices while also encouraging them to get active and creative in the kitchen.

Students will prepare their recipes from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., the dishes will be judged from 4 to 4:30 p.m., and awards will be announced 4:30 to 5 p.m.
Ryan Cowl
Ryan Cowl
Cowl Recommended for CAM Academy Principal position (Photo) - 03/09/15
Battle Ground Public Schools Superintendent Mark Hottowe has recommended Ryan Cowl as the new CAM Academy Principal. Cowl currently serves as assistant principal at Tukes Valley Middle School. The recommendation will go to the Board of Directors for approval at the March 23 regular board meeting.

Cowl began his career with Battle Ground Public Schools in 1996 as a special education teacher at Captain Strong Primary School, where he stayed until 2008. During that time, Cowl also supported multiple summer school programs at Captain Strong, adaptive physical education at Maple Grove and provided administrative support at Captain Strong and Chief Umtuch schools. In 2008, Cowl moved to Tukes Valley, where he served as assistant principal of both the primary and middle schools until 2012 when he took on the role full time at the middle school.

Hottowe is recommending Cowl for the position after three final candidates participated in the March 3 CAM Principal Forum, where students, parents and staff asked questions and completed feedback forms. Forum participants returned dozens of comment forms to the interview committee before a final decision was made.

"I want to thank the parents, students and staff who participated in this process and gave us valuable feedback during the forum," Hottowe said. "We had three strong finalists, and the interview team appreciated the comments, which helped us make a final decision.

Upon board approval, Cowl will take leadership at CAM Academy on July 1. Current CAM Academy Principal, Colleen O'Neal, announced her retirement earlier this year after serving the district for 28 years. "We want to thank Colleen for her years of service and leadership within the district and wish her the best in her retirement," Hottowe said. O'Neal will serve as principal through the remainder of the school year and support Cowl's transition into the position. The assistant principal position at Tukes Valley Middle School will be posted on the district's human resources pages after final board approval.

CAM (Character and Academics for the Marketplace) Academy is a rigorous, academic, alternative school that serves students in grades 3-12 in the Battle Ground Public Schools district.
Attached Media Files: Ryan Cowl
Battle Ground High School Hosts College Fair - 03/05/15
Battle Ground High School's College and Career Center is hosting a post-secondary and college fair on Thursday, March 19, from 5:00 - 7:00 PM in the Battle Ground High School cafeteria at 300 W. Main St. in Battle Ground.

The event is for all students and families in Clark County and will feature area representatives from apprenticeship programs, technical schools, regional colleges, and military branches, including the Art Institute of Portland, Clark College, Washington State University, Oregon State University, the Job Corps and others. Students can ask questions about admissions, career opportunities, majors and campus life.

Battle Ground Public Schools is devoted to supporting students and helping families prepare for the transition into careers and post-secondary education, which is an important step for long-term success. Clark County students and families from all grade levels are encouraged to attend.
Marla Caesar, counselor at Laurin Middle School, won the state Middle School Counselor of the Year award from the Washington School Counselor Association.
Marla Caesar, counselor at Laurin Middle School, won the state Middle School Counselor of the Year award from the Washington School Counselor Association.
Laurin Counselor Wins Middle School Counselor of the Year (Photo) - 03/05/15
Marla Caesar, counselor at Laurin Middle School, has received the state Middle School Counselor of the Year award from the Washington School Counselor Association (WSCA).

"Marla is dedicated to our students and has a heart of gold," said Nick Krause, Laurin Middle School principal. "She continues to make strong connections with our students, is a strong advocate and truly cares about our students' well-being."

Caesar joined Battle Ground Public Schools in October 2012 after counseling at elementary and middle schools in the Camas School District for 17 years. "The award means a lot to me," Caesar said. "It's coming from people who I have a lot of respect for." Caesar appreciates the support of the school district's staff and counseling team, who have helped her to learn and grow over the years.

Caesar's colleagues nominated her for the award, and she was selected by the WSCA committee based on criteria set by the American School Counseling Association. Recipients of the award run top-notch, comprehensive counseling programs at their schools.

WSCA helps to provide professional school counselors with knowledge, skills and resources that enable students to improve and thrive in their schools, homes, communities and the world. Caesar plans on pouring the momentum and energy that she has gained from her experience back into her students. They are the ones who motivate her to do her best. "If it wasn't for the kids and who they are," Caesar said, "I wouldn't be doing this. This award is because of them."
Tim Bealer, HVAC technician for Battle Ground Public Schools
Tim Bealer, HVAC technician for Battle Ground Public Schools
BGPS Celebrates Classified Employees Week (Photo) - 03/05/15
No matter what the task is that a Battle Ground Public Schools classified employee accomplishes in his or her day, it's focused on delivering the support that students and staff need in our schools to create a successful learning environment. Gov. Jay Inslee has declared that next week, March 9-13, is Classified Public School Employee Week. It's an opportunity to shine the spotlight on the people behind the scenes and recognize their efforts in supporting student learning. "Classified employees impact every aspect of the educational experience we deliver to our students by maintaining the safety and efficiency of our schools," said Mark Hottowe, BGPS superintendent. "They play an important role in our educational mission, and I am glad to have this opportunity to recognize them."

From the time students board a school bus to the time they head home at the end of the day, every aspect of their educational experience is impacted by a classified school employee.

Join us in showing appreciation to the people who work tirelessly to prepare our buildings for each school day and provide teachers the support they need to prepare students for life's journey. The BGPS Board of Directors will read the governor's Classified Public School Employee Week proclamation at its meeting on Monday at 6 p.m. You can recognize classified employees by sharing via social media your appreciation for the work that these BGPS employees do. The Public School Employees of Washington has asked school staffs to share on Twitter photos of classified staff. Tag and look for our BGPS staff on Twitter with the hashtag #classifiedBGPS.

Battle Ground Public Schools has more than 600 classified staff supporting the efforts of 830 teachers and 60 administrators. It would take volumes to share all the classified stories in our district; here, we highlight three of the many who have dedicated their careers to supporting education in our schools: HVAC technician Tim Bealer, health room assistant Pam Mason, and attendance secretary Dot Loran.

Tim Bealer, HVAC
Tim Bealer has monitored the mechanical systems that provide heating and cooling to schools in the district for 21 years. As a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) expert, Bealer monitors the systems, schedules them to run and troubleshoots machine operation to determine when repairs are needed. "When I work on these units, I know that the students in the classrooms are happy and comfortable when I leave," Bealer said. "That gives me high self-esteem." Much of what he does is preventive maintenance, taking care of the machinery before it breaks.

Bealer monitors the HVAC systems in the district's north schools, including Amboy Middle and Yacolt Primary schools, Chief Umtuch Middle and Captain Strong Primary schools, and the Daybreak campus. In any given day he climbs ladders to examine systems in attic spaces and studies a computer monitor to determine the health of a system. He has seen many changes over the years, especially in the differences between older and newer HVAC systems. Newer systems monitor the air quality in buildings, bringing more fresh air from outside into the buildings, and exhausting carbon dioxide gas outside the schools.

Bealer enjoys interacting with students and staff in the schools and makes it his goal to smile at each person he greets. His wife, Julie Bealer, is a fifth grade teacher at Daybreak. Tim has four children.

Dot Loran, Attendance Office
Dot Loran gets to know the students at Battle Ground High School by the activities in which they participate. She knows which students take part in BMX competitions, and who has traveled overseas. This is her second year monitoring student attendance at Battle Ground High School, where students pass parent-signed notes excusing absences through a window. "It's interesting to learn the things our students are doing and experiencing," Loran said. "I get to know what they enjoy by their activities."

Loran has served BGPS students in two classified capacities in her 24 years with the district. Prior to BGHS she also worked as an attendance secretary at Summit View High School for a year and a half, and before that she helped Maple Grove students learn to read one-on-one and in groups as a paraprofessional for 20 years.

At BGHS, Loran enters attendance data and monitors attendance records for truancy. She notes reasons for absences, which the state requires, and sometimes tracks illness symptoms for the health department so it can determine if there is a trend. Loran has three children who graduated from BGHS and two grandkids, one of whom goes to Tukes Valley Primary.

Pam Mason, Health Room
At Pleasant Valley Primary School, Pam Mason's cheerful smile is just part of the care that students receive when they come to get a band aid for a scraped knee or have their temperature checked. Over the last two decades, she has assisted students as a recess aide, media technician, and for the last 9 years as a health room assistant. "I just enjoy helping the kids" Mason said. "I like to see them through, because a little scrape on the hand is an absolute disaster to them."

Mason, a grandmother of nine kids all in Battle Ground schools, cares for students under the watchful eyes of a shelf full of Eeyores, her favorite storybook character. With a smile and an abundance of positive energy, she consoles anxious kids who are worried that mom will be angry because a fall resulted in an injury and dirt on their jeans. And of course there are the "frequent fliers" who Mason says will visit her at least two days each week all throughout the year. "Some might come in to see if I'm okay or just check out what's going on," Mason said.

Perhaps one of the best parts of her position is that Mason gets to help with student health screenings on hearing and vision. She says it's gratifying to know that a student has gotten the glasses they need as a result of the school checkup. "It's those moments when I know that we've done what we're here for," Mason said. Mason's two daughters attended Pleasant Valley schools and graduated from Prairie High School.
BGPS middle school teachers break into groups to discuss sound grading practices and assessment for learning.
BGPS middle school teachers break into groups to discuss sound grading practices and assessment for learning.
Teachers Explore Sound Grading Practices (Photo) - 02/26/15
During professional development on Wednesday, Battle Ground Public Schools' middle school teachers tackled standards based grading with Myron Dueck, an international educator and expert on sound grading practices and assessment for learning.

Teachers listened as Dueck presented his philosophies on homework, grading, and lesson planning, and then broke into groups by school to discuss what they could do in their teaching practices to incorporate sound grading practices.

"It's another step in our efforts to align our work so that we are all using the same vocabulary with the same meaning behind our words," said Paula Koehler-Martin, the district's executive director of curriculum, instruction and professional development. "As teachers come together, they can more effectively collaborate on creating learning experiences for our kids."

Dueck has been working with Maple Grove teachers to help them bring consistency to their grading practices and bring homework into alignment with the learning that is happening in the classroom. The group has been using Dueck's book, "Grading Smarter, Not Harder," as a key piece of their professional development on sound grading practices. This week's professional development presentation expanded the discussion on sound grading practices to middle school teachers across the district.

In his presentation on Wednesday, Dueck specifically highlighted the issues that many students face in the home??-poverty, depression, hunger and violence??-that can negatively impact learning. Dueck explained that teachers can increase student learning by creating a streamlined classroom environment that focuses on clear learning targets and outcomes rather than homework performance or extra credit. He suggests schools adopt a philosophy that focuses on grading practices that show students' true understanding of learning outcomes and one that emphasizes out-of-classroom support such as before and after-school tutoring. This philosophy moves the emphasis away from getting points for homework completion and more toward individual students demonstrating their learning.

Dueck's thoughts on lesson plans is that they are important to the identification of clear learning targets that should be established first, and then assessments should be developed based on those targets, and learning is what happens in between.

Dueck's visit to Battle Ground Public Schools is aligned with the district's professional development plan, which emphasizes standards based grading, use of formative assessment and professional learning communities. This year, the district implemented standards based reporting for students in its kindergarten through fourth grades. The first standards based report card went home with students earlier this month:
BGHS senior Tristan Decker accompanies senior McKenzie Billingsley as she practices for the
BGHS senior Tristan Decker accompanies senior McKenzie Billingsley as she practices for the "In the Spotlight" concerts at BGHS.
Battle Ground High School Vocalists Perform at 'In the Spotlight' Concerts (Photo) - 02/26/15
More than 25 Battle Ground High School vocalists will take the stage next weekend for four performances of "In The Spotlight," a concert featuring multiple solo and group singing acts, on March 5-6 at Battle Ground High School.

The students competed in a classroom project reminiscent of a reality TV singing competition for the chance to perform in the concerts. For the projects, students chose to perform either a solo or in a group and then practiced their choice of songs in front of their peers. At practices, each act had the opportunity to improve their performance based on the constructive criticism offered by their peers and BGHS choir director Darcy Schmitt. "Feedback is an important part of a young singer's development, and I wanted to find a way to incorporate a feedback process into my students' vocal work," Schmitt said.

In the end, Schmitt selected the more than 25 students who will take the stage next weekend "In the Spotlight." Many of the students are part of the BGHS Vocal Jazz Ensemble, which recently won the Vocal Ensemble competition at the Portland Jazz Forward jazz festival.

Four performances of "In the Spotlight" will be held next weekend: 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 5; Friday, March 6 and Saturday March 7; and an additional afternoon performance at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 7. The concerts will be held in the Lair (cafeteria) at Battle Ground High School, 300 W. Main St., Battle Ground. The cost at the door is $5 per person.