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Friday, September 28, 2018

SBG update

September 2018

Now that we have completed one full year of all grade levels utilizing Standards Based Grading, we've been hearing more questions about the practice, not so much why we do it, but "Why are we doing something so different than everyone else?"

I can give you the answer I gave staff a few years ago, "Its the Right Thing to do!"  That probably comes off a little arrogantly, but through research and development of the SBG practices we are actually doing something many of the best schools in Iowa are utilizing.  We are following research based structures and processes that will result in a better education for your students.

So to answer question about our standards based movement you can visit by Matt Townsly ( of UNI, formerly Solon Curriculum Director.  He did this survey in late 2017, so its a year old now, but the only differences are the additional schools investigating SBG.  In this study we see that we are not alone, the numbers:

  • 14 schools in Iowa, including NFV are in Full implementation, that is all grades practicing Standards based Grading and reporting.  These include
    • Des Moines
    • Ankeny
    • Sioux Center (2A)
    • Montezuma (1A)
    • Solon (3A)
    • Van Meter (1A)
    • Clear Creek Amana (one of the fastest growing districts in the state)
  • 19 schools in Iowa are Almost fully implementing, meaning they have not yet adopted it in all grade levels.  These include:
    • Cedar Falls
    • Charles City
    • Crestwood
    • Emmetsburg
    • Norwalk
    • Pella
    • Waukee (again fast growing district)
  • 29 are Beginning implementation, meaning that at least 1 teacher is piloting SBG with plans to expand to higher implementation within 2 years.  These include:
    • Aplington Parkersburg
    • Dunkerton
    • North Scott
    • Urbandale
    • Johnston
    • Xavier (Private School)
    • Newman Catholic (Private School)
    • Waverly Shell Rock
  • 44 Schools are investigating SBG, locally that includes:
    • Jesup
    • East Buchanan
    • Sumner Fredriksberg
    • Don Bosco Catholic
And recently we hosted a group from Oelwein who are asking to see how and why NFV implements Standards Based Grading.  Thats 62 districts using Standards Based Grading, thats nearly 20% of all districts in Iowa, and growing, with another 44, that adds up to 33% involved, 1 out of 3.

Change is difficult for everyone.  We are on the right track.  College admissions are adjusting and SBG will not hinder college application efforts.  Some Universities are utilizing SBG in their own classrooms, specifically in Education Departments.  We are proud of our staff's efforts to to make this system work.  we will continue to fine tune it, but there is no impetus to change as we truly believe "It's the right thing to do."

7 Big Rocks | Productivity | BigRocks | Time Management | You can design...

This demonstration is a depiction of how we have a tendency to busy ourselves with seemingly urgent
but unimportant time wasters.  Distractions like a Facebook notification, getting lost on YouTube with
funny cat videos, or watching yet one more football game, home improvement show, or rerun of Friends.
Fill your time with too many of these and you don’t get to the important stuff, paying the bills, meeting
work deadlines, talking to your kids about their day, or taking care of your health.

This is one of the topics our 2 day training in September was about.  Stephen Covey, the author of
Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, a hugely successful self help book.  It’s been an iconic addition
to many businessman’s book shelf for close to 30 years.  NFV is embarking on a cultural program based
on Covey’s 7 Habits called The Leader In Me,

This program is widely used in Waterloo and Cedar Falls school, many district around Des Moines have
picked it up, it is a national movement in schools to teach students these 7 Habits as a way to improve
their approach to learning, relationships and life.  

The Habits:

  1. Be Proactive - the habit of personal responsibility
  2. Begin With the End in Mind - the habit of a personal vision
  3. Put First Things First - the habit of personal time management (The Rocks)
  4. Think Win-Win - The habit of mutual benefit
  5. Seek First to Understand, Then To Be Understood - the habit of empathic communication
  6. Synergize - The habit of Creative Cooperation
  7. Sharpen the Saw - the habit of daily self renewal

The first step in the program is to get the adults in the school to use the 7 Habits.  More effective adults,
who manage their time, collaborate effectively and pay attention to self care will be better teachers and
role models for your children. We will slowly role out 7 Habits education in the Middle School, expand it
to grades 4-5 this year.  9th Graders are reading The 7 Habits of Effective Teens, with the goal of
gradually absorbing the lessons of the 7 Habits throughout the district.  

Another focus of the Leader In Me is the concept of student leadership.  As NFV students gain
awareness of the habits, they will be asked to get involved in school decision making.  Its called
Student Agency and Voice. Student agency and voice refers to the values, opinions, beliefs,
perspectives, and cultural backgrounds of individual students and groups of students in a school and
allowing those students to have a voice, to make decisions, be heard in meaningful ways and to have
choices in their learning.

That’s going to be tough for us old timers used to controlling every day in every way.  We’ll need to work
at it. We are committing to it. All in! Don’t expect immediate changes or a visible re-invention of our
schools.  This journey is a crock pot, simmering all day to get better and better, not a microwave just
warming around the sides of issues. We hope the Habits will permeate through the communities and
improve more than just school environments.  

For more information see CASEL evaluation of Leader In Me;, or go to this introductory page and watch the introductory videos of
Leader In Me on the right hand side of the page. Want to see some effectiveness data? .