EducationPlus Executive Director Dr. Don Senti Announces Retirement

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(April 15, 2016) St. Louis, MO… EducationPlus Executive Director Dr. Don Senti has announced his retirement effective June 30th, 2016. Dr. Senti has worked in public education in a variety of capacities for almost 50 years. Prior to EducationPlus, he served as the superintendent in the Parkway and Clayton School Districts. “I’ve been blessed to work with great students and educators throughout my career,” said Dr. Senti. “But I’m 71 now, and I’m really looking forward to retirement and spending more quality time at Busch Stadium cheering on our Cardinals.”

During his five year tenure, Dr. Senti led the rebranding efforts that transformed the Cooperating School Districts (CSD) into EducationPlus. “We want to thank Don for his years of dedicated service to EdPlus,” said Executive Board President Dr. Tom Muzzey. “His efforts have increased the regional influence of our cooperative and helped to improve the educational outcomes for the more than 300,000 students we serve in our member districts.”

The EducationPlus Executive Board has selected former CSD Executive Director Dr. John Urkevich to serve as interim Executive Director as they conduct a thorough search for a permanent replacement.

EducationPlus is a non-profit educational service agency that brings school districts together to share resources, information and ideas through exemplary, nationally-recognized services in educational technology, cooperative purchasing, staff development and more. EducationPlus serves as a proactive voice for education and is a voluntary, membership-driven organization with 62 member school districts in the St. Louis metropolitan area.

EducationPlus 2015-16 Scholarship Award Recipients

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The EducationPlus Scholarship Committee is proud to announce the recipients of our professional development scholarships for the 2015-16 school year, as well as the recipient of the 2017 John A. Urkevich METC Scholarship. The candidate pool for all awards was outstanding and it was a difficult decision for the committee. Thank you to all the applicants, and congratulations to our scholarship award recipients!

 

CSD Insurance Trust Scholarship Recipient

Matthew Riffee

Francis Howell North High School

Francis Howell School District

 

Gary K. Wright Scholarship Recipient

Kimberly Sonderman

Parkway Early Childhood Education Center

Parkway School District

 

Gerald D. Troester Scholarship Recipient

Molly Beck

Ladue Horton Watkins High School

Ladue School District

 

John Oldani Scholarship Recipient

Jessica Bulva

Francis Howell Central High School

Francis Howell School District

 

2017 John A. Urkevich METC Scholarship Recipient

Cathy Holway

Combs Elementary School

Ferguson-Florissant School District

 

Robert D. Elsea Scholarship Recipient

Michele Motil

McCluer High School

Ferguson-Florissant School District

 

The mission of EducationPlus is to provide member school districts with high quality and cost effective services, resources and leadership to achieve educational excellence for all students. EducationPlus is the region’s premier education resource and a global leader at the forefront of advocacy and innovation, delivering customized educational solutions, anticipating student needs and expanding effective learning for all.

State Schools of Character

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CharacterPlus®, a resource of EducationPlus®, congratulates the 18 member schools that have been named a “Missouri and Illinois School of Character” by Character.org. Missouri again claimed more State Schools of Character this year than any other state. These schools have demonstrated that their focus on character development has had a positive impact on academic achievement, student behavior and school climate. Nationally, only 68 schools and 4 districts from 16 states received the honor this year, 25% of the schools recognized were CharacterPlus members.

Recognition as a State Sstate-soc-badgechool of Character is a prerequisite to Character.org’s National Schools of Character (NSOC) program. The goal is to recognize schools and districts that demonstrate an exemplary level of implementation of the Eleven Principles of Effective Character Education (http://character.org/more-resources/11-principles/).

Schools will hold this status for three years. If they become a National School of Character, they will hold title for five years. This year seven CharacterPlus schools and one district reapplied to become a State School and District of Character showing the sustainability and growth this process offers. The schools recognized this year as State Schools of Character are:

  • Bayless School District – Bayless Elementary and the Bayless School District
  • Belleville #118 School District ( IL)- Abraham Lincoln Elementary
  • Fox School District – Don Earl Early Childhood Learning Center and George Guffey Elementary
  • Lindbergh Schools-Sappington Elementary
  • Mehlville School District – John Cary Early Childhood Center
  • Parkway Schools- Barretts Elementary and Craig Elementary
  • Rockwood School District – Bowles Elementary, Geggie Elementary, Uthoff Valley Elementary, Woerther Elementary and the Rockwood School District
  • Saint Louis Public Schools – Kennard Classical Junior Academy and Woerner Elementary
  • Lincoln County R3 School District- Lincoln Elementary
  • Valley Park District- Valley Park Middle School

Honorable Mention:

  • Cape Giradeau School District- Alma Schrader Elementary
  • Parkway Schools- Parkway Southwest Middle School

The State Schools of Character program in Missouri is administered by CharacterPlus and is generously supported by the NFL Rams. Thanks to a State Farm Good Neighbor grant, the principals from Kennard Classical Academy and Woerner Elementary have been part of a Saint Louis Public Schools CharacterPlus principal cohort to help train and implement character education in their schools.

 

Homeless Student Transportation

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Last year EducationPlus helped to facilitate the formation of the St. Louis Regional Collaborative for Educational Excellence with the intent of helping the Normandy Schools Collaborative and Riverview Gardens School District become fully accredited by the 2017-2018 school year. Twenty six districts in the St. Louis region are part of this effort to help NSC and RGSD boost student achievement, strengthen curriculum and recruit, train and retain qualified administrative, teaching and support staff.

Coordinating transportation for homeless students in the unaccredited districts in order to reduce costs is also one of the stated goals of the Collaborative. There is also the opportunity for all districts in the region to realize substantial savings with a more effective transportation system for all students. “Our area school districts spend millions sept-042of dollars every year to transport homeless students,” said EducationPlus Executive Director Dr. Don Senti. “With a more efficient system we could save millions and spend that money in area classrooms where those dollars would have the most positive impact.” As part of these efforts, the Collaborative established a Homeless Student Transportation Committee to study the financial impact of transporting homeless students.

The McKinney – Vento Homeless Assistance Act gives homeless students the right to continue attending their “school of origin” or enroll in any public school that non-homeless students who live in the same attendance area are eligible to attend. While certainly well-intentioned, the financial impact of McKinney – Vento is huge, costing the two unaccredited districts hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. Those transportation costs are on top of the more than $750,000 that NSC and RGSD spend annually to transport transfer students to other accredited districts. As these two districts work to regain accreditation, it is important they preserve their fiscal resources for the benefit of their remaining students.

Part of the work of the Homeless Student Transportation Committee was to conduct a survey of all EducationPlus member districts to try to determine the financial impact of homeless student transportation on the entire region. Survey responses were received from 42 different school districts that indicated that in the 2014-15 school year those districts had 10,368 homeless students, of which 3,113 required transportation for a total cost of approximately $6.1 million. For context, that number of homeless students requiring transportation is approximately equivalent to the total number of all students in the 47 smallest districts in Missouri.

The survey indicates that districts use a variety of methods to transport homeless students including taxicabs, district buses and cars, contracted transportation with other districts, Metro buses, Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corporation (VICC) buses and parent vehicles as well. The Committee is now working to create a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a comprehensive study to determine potential improved efficiencies that can result in substantial cost savings and improved transportation services for area students. For more information, please contact EducationPlus Executive Director Dr. Don Senti at dsenti@edplus.org.

The Every Student Succeeds Act Becomes Law

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PresidentObamaESSALast month President Obama signed into law the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), effectively ending the era of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) after 14 years. The measure reauthorizes the 50-year-old Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), originally signed into law in 1965 by President Lyndon Johnson. The new law returns a great deal of federal authority and power on educational issues to states and local school districts.

The U.S. Department of Education has already offered some initial guidance to states on how the transition process will work from NCLB and the waivers (which expire on Aug. 1, 2016) to this new law which will take full effect during the 2017-18 school year.

The new legislation will eliminate most federal standards and penalties, and will allow states to develop their own accountability standards and responses. While giving more control to the states, it will also require that states at least address and provide support to the lowest achieving students and schools. The new law also provides a great deal of flexibility on how states and districts spend their federal education funds. For more details check out the White House Report on ESSA.

Gateway2change Student Summit on Race Returns!

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On Tuesday, October 27th more than 330 high school students from 33 area high schools met again at Ritenour High School to continue their work on the “STL Student Summit on Race.” The theme of this first Gateway2change event of the 2015-16 school year is “Activating Hope” and student participants reflected on their values and self-perception. Using design thinking, compassionate communication and “empathy and hope” interviews students worked together to increase their understanding of different perspectives on race and relationships.

Students will usG2c 1e these acquired interviewing skills in the coming months as they solicit feedback from the greater St. Louis community. As these students gain a greater understanding of different perspectives around regional diversity issues, they will begin transitioning their efforts into Change Agent Projects. These projects will help empower students as they work to actualize their potential as solution creators. Working with their Sibling School, students will use information gathered from the empathy and hope interviews to design their projects together.

The recently released Ferguson Report highlights the need for students to get involved in the national conversation about diversity and racial equity, something that these students began last year as part of the Student Summits on Race. Out of those efforts came the sibling school partnerships, community service efforts, community collaboration, and the Gateway2change movement. For more information including a list of participating schools, visit our website.

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In October the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) will release the Annual Performance Report (APR) for school districts across the state. This is the third year of APRs released for the Missouri School Improvement Program 5 (MSIP 5). The purpose of this school district report card is to “distinguish performance of schools and districts in valid, accurate and meaningful ways so that districts in need of improvement can receive appropriate support and interventions, and high-performing districts can be recognized as models of excellence.”

The APR shows how well school districts are meeting the performance standards which consists of:

  • TestingMissouri Assessment Program (MAP) and End of Course (EOC) tests
    • Academic Achievement
    • Subgroup Achievement
  • ACT, SAT, COMPASS, ACT WorkKeys, and ASVAB scores
  • Successful completion of advanced courses
  • Career education placement
  • College placement
  • Graduation rates
  • Attendance rates

In Missouri, test scores count toward half of a K-12 school district’s annual performance score. Statewide test results for the 2014-15 school year were based on the Missouri Learning Standards for the first time, and show a majority of Missouri public school students are proficient in English, but less than half meet the threshold in math. Because this was the first time students took grade-level Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) and End-of-Course (EOC) tests based on the Missouri Learning Standards in those subjects, state education officials say they should not be compared with last year’s scores.

DESE advises school districts to compare test scores with the state and peers in other districts versus comparing scores to past results. “The 2015 grade-level and EOC assessments in English and math set a new baseline with higher expectations for student performance and should not be compared with MAP results from previous years.”

As a result of the transition this year to assessments aligned to the Missouri Learning Standards in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics, and the removal of optional EOC assessments, DESE has decided to change how the APR is calculated. ELA and mathematics within Standard 1 (Academic Achievement) and Standard 2 (Subgroup Achievement) will be “Hold Harmless” which means that the calculation will include either the 2014 or 2015 score, whichever is higher. The same does not apply to science and social studies within Standards 1 and 2, nor to Standards 3, 4, and 5. These standards will be calculated in the same manner as in years past and will include 2015 data. DESE will also exclude optional EOC assessments from prior year data in calculating the 2015 APR.

This school year, children will be tested again on Missouri Learning Standards. But the Missouri legislature is forcing the state to change the tests for 2016 and 2017, which will also produce scores that are hard to compare to earlier test results. Missouri legislators have required DESE to develop its own tests for the 2017-18 school year, which means students will be taking three different tests over the next four years.

Kick it Up a Notch at METC with Featured Speaker Nikki Robertson!

Nikki is a veteran educator, librarian and Instructional Technology Facilitator for James

Nikki Robertson

Nikki Robertson

Clemens High School in Madison, Alabama. She is passionate about 1:1 Digital Initiatives, collaboration with other education professionals, and assisting students in becoming well informed, critically thinking digital citizens.

As a featured speaker at METC 2016, Nikki will be presenting a three-hour preconference workshop on Monday, February 8, as well as breakout sessions on February 9 and 10. On Wednesday February 10 she will be the keynote speaker for the Library and Media Literacy Luncheon.

Nikki is the co founder of EdCamp Atlanta, a free “un-conference” committed to reaching educators in public, private, charter, and higher ed environments to share innovative instructional strategies and pioneering technologies that transform education for all students.

She co-moderates the #TLChat LIVE! Twitter Sessions the 2nd Monday of each month, which provide a forum for school librarians to discuss current teacher-library topics. Nikki also produces and co-anchors TL News Night, a LIVE show presented in news show format featuring a Wrap up of “This Month in School Libraries” and deeper discussion of topical school library issues with special guest experts.

Her latest endeavor is organizing the Google Hangouts for Education website which is a place where teachers with their students can connect, learn, share and grow together as a community using Google Hangouts on Air.

2015-16 Missouri Teacher of the Year Finalists Selected

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Congratulations to the finalists for the 2015-16 Missouri Teacher of the Year award. Nominations were submitted by districts throughout the state and the finalists were chosen by a selection committee appointed by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. We are also pleased to share that four of the six are member districts:

  • Kimberly Dailey, special education teacher at Lindbergh High School,
    St. Louis, through Special School District of St. Louis County.
  • Michael Dragoni, visual arts teacher at Buder Elementary School, St. Ann, Ritenour School District.
  • Linda Glasgow, 3rd grade teacher at John Nowlin Elementary, Blue Springs, Blue Springs R-IV School District.
  • Amy Krinke, music teacher at Lee’s Summit West High School, Lee’s Summit R-7 School District.
  • Yulia Kotets, English language learner specialist at Willow Brook Elementary, St. Louis, Pattonville R-III School District.
  • Melissa Nussbaum, 7th grade science teacher at Truman Middle School,
    St. Louis, Lindbergh Schools.

The Missouri Teacher of the Year program recognizes the efforts of teachers in providing a quality education to their students. These educates are highly effective teachers, leaders and collaborative partners. The new Missouri Teacher of the Year will serve as the state’s nominee for the National Teacher of the Year competition.

The selection committee is made up of teachers, business leaders and education organization leaders and will select the teacher of the year following interviews with each finalist in mid-September. The winner and the finalists will be honored later at a banquet in Jefferson City.

Missouri’s current Teacher of the Year is Chris Holmes, journalism teacher at Hazelwood West High School in the Hazelwood School District.

The Department conducts the Missouri Teacher of the Year program with financial support provided by the Boeing Company and the Monsanto Fund. For more information, contact Sarah Potter, communications coordinator at DESE.

Visible Learning Foundations & Practice

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The LearningLab of EducationPlus is excited to share John Hattie expert Ainsley Rose will present in St. Louis on September 28. [Register here]. He is Corwin Press’ lead trainer in North America for Visible Learning, and he will provide the foundation necessary to understand the baseline research and practices of Visible Learning while in St. Louis. Educators will identify and discuss the most important messages from the Visible Learning research, learn about the five strands and know the difference between the influences that ‘do’ and ‘do not’ make a significant difference in student achievement. Following up on Rose’s one-day Know Thy Impact presentation, EdPlus will offer the four-day series, Grow Thy Impact: Visible Learning in Practice. [Register here].

Learning packages will include: Assessment Capable Learner, Feedback, Data Based Decision Making, Creating Effective Common Formative Assessments, Student-Teacher Relationships, Metacognition, Reciprocal Teaching and Space vs. Massed Teaching.

These learning packages will be presented by consultants from the Regional Professional Development Center at EducationPlus.  These regional experts have attended training with Ainsley Rose as well as hours of training at DESE events and have authored and vetted many of the Visible Learning packages being presented throughout the state of Missouri.  Participants will have the opportunity to engage more deeply into eight of the most impactful instructional strategies as described by John Hattie on September 29, November 12, February 23 and April 8. Space is limited, registration [links above] is open now.

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