Elementary School Principal Katie Volpicelli shared an update on the i-Ready diagnostic tool at the Oct. 17 meeting of the Candor Central School District Board of Education, where no members of the public (other than this member of the press) attended. i-Ready is an interactive online learning environment that provides both adaptive computer assessments and individualized instruction based on a student’s need. Volpicelli reported that students have taken the assessment tests, and now teachers can use the data to set a path for future instruction. “The program helps pinpoint skills that each student needs more attention given,” she said.
Volpicelli also mentioned classroom and schoolwide incentives for promoting attendance. In addition, the elementary school plans to send out a quarterly letter to all families focusing on their students’ attendance.
Curriculum Director Kim Nichols provided additional background information from a Harvard study on chronic absenteeism.The study (conducted by Dr. Todd Rogers) showed that letters mailed to parents were an effective way to decrease absenteeism. “Our letters could contain a visual graphic to compare a student’s attendance to others in their class,” suggested Nichols.
District Superintendent, Jeff Kisloski agreed. “When you see how your kid’s attendance compares to their peers, it makes a stronger impact,” he said, referencing the “nudge theory.”
Nichols also reported that the faculty is exploring how to implement “crew” groups next year. The idea is to use crew groups to build a positive educational environment and foster sense of belonging to the larger school community. During the October early release Wednesday, faculty and administrators broke into their crews as they worked on curriculum. “We plan to observe a school that implements the practice,” Nichols said.
While students celebrate a day off, for school faculty the Oct. 25 Superintendent’s Conference Day was packed with professional development sessions. Matt Gelder, director of instructional technology, set up a session for teachers to peruse the TST BOCES “Library of Things.” This is a lending library of instructional technology, kits, and equipment including fun stuff like Bee Bots, drones, and Makey-Makey invention kits. Other sessions focused on literacy and physical education, as well as providing time for teachers to work on grade-level content.
Athletic Director Peter Ahart reported on the end of fall sports season and beginning of winter season. The big topic of discussion among regional athletic directors at the moment seems to be sportsmanship—or, in some cases, the unsportsmanlike conduct of players, coaches, and even parents. Not Candor, though.
“This fall, Candor student athletes and coaches showed remarkable conduct on the field,” Ahart said. As school sports move into winter, he hopes to see this positive sportsmanship continue. “It’s a challenge, though,” Ahart admitted, noting that the winter events are held in enclosed spaces. Athletic directors are continuing their conversation about how to engage and enforce sportsmanship.
Looking ahead to spring, Ahart anticipated low turnout for baseball. He suggested the school give strong consideration tomerging with Spencer-Van Etten High School in order to field a varsity team with enough depth to provide substitutes. Last year Spencer didn’t have enough athletes for a team. If the schools merge for a varsity baseball team, Ahart would like to know by winter so they can get uniforms.
In other business, Matt Gelder discussed digital technology and further development of digital citizenship lessons. Jeff Kisloski reported that the Park Foundation is sponsoring grants to help schools provide good fresh, healthy school diets.
The next Candor Board of Education meeting is Thursday, Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. in the Candor High School library-media center. It is open to the public.