Thursday, January 7, 2010

How's Your Legislative Lingo?

Here in Olympia, we're busy preparing for the 2010 legislative session, which begins Monday. Part of our preparation process is familiarizing (or refamiliarizing) our members with legislative terms and front-burner issues. Need to brush up on your leg vocab? Tacoma News Tribune columnist Peter Callaghan has got you covered. Check out his "Glossary of Legislative Terms," guaranteed to provide comic relief—much needed as we brace ourselves for 60 days of apprehension and angst.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all our principals, assistant principals and building administrators throughout Washington state! We're delighted to be kicking off 2010 with you!

For most AWSP members—and for the AWSP staff—it was "back to business" today. We hope you're easing back into the school year after some well-deserved R+R.

As you dive into the new decade, how about this for a New Year's resolution: Sign up for the AWSP Facebook page! Just log in to Facebook and search for "AWSP," then click on the page with the green AWSP logo. (Because it's a private group—open only to AWSP members—you'll be asked to submit a request for approval.)

!looc woH

That is, in Shorewood-speak, "How cool!"

Back in November, we reported on a lip-dub video created by Shorecrest High students to the tune of Outkast's "HeyYa." After their video went viral with a vengeance on YouTube, Shorecrest students challenged rival Shorewood High to top their production.

Shorewood did not disappoint. Check out the students' answer to the video challenge below, a lip dub to Hall and Oates' "You Make My Dreams." About 30 seconds into the video, you may start wondering, "How'd they do that?" Here's a clue: sdrawkcab. The students filmed everything backwards, even learning to lip sync the lyrics in reverse!

Who's winning? Shorewood's video boasts an impressive 586,412 hits—more than double Shorecrest's 254,442 hits. Looks like the ball's back in Shorecrest's court!

And just what does this have to do with education? Consider the following excerpt from "The New Untouchables," an op-ed by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman from Oct. 20, 2009:

A Washington lawyer friend recently told me about layoffs at his firm. I asked him who was getting axed. He said it was interesting: lawyers who were used to just showing up and having work handed to them were the first to go because with the bursting of the credit bubble, that flow of work just isn’t there. But those who have the ability to imagine new services, new opportunities and new ways to recruit work were being retained. They are the new untouchables.

That is the key to understanding our full education challenge today. Those who are waiting for this recession to end so someone can again hand them work could have a long wait. Those with the imagination to make themselves untouchables — to invent smarter ways to do old jobs, energy-saving ways to provide new services, new ways to attract old customers or new ways to combine existing technologies — will thrive.

A class of "new untouchables" right here in Washington state? Sure seems like it!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

To the Rescue!

Good news from the Olympia School District: Thanks to the tireless efforts of parents and families, the fifth-grade field trip to Cispus has been saved—at least for this school year. Parents rallied the troops to raise $49,000, which is enough to keep the Oly school board from following through on its original plan to ax the fifth-graders' annual rite of passage. Things are looking good for the Tumwater School District, too, where families are reportedly close to reaching the $30,000 goal needed to rescue their kids' Cispus trip.

In October, The Wall Street Journal ran an article that opened with Clayton Lundstrom, a Tumwater sixth-grader, who, in his own words, has "been waiting to go to Cispus basically since first grade." The article focused on field trips getting cancelled or downgraded as a result of the economy.

AWSP thanks all those who helped keep outdoor learning a part of our students' education!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Gap Fixation?

Closing the Achievement Gap. It's a prominent, if unavoidable, topic in educator circles these days (and the cover story for the next issue of The Principal News).

So, when we see a headline like "Why I have no use for the achievement gap," it catches our attention. This is the theme of today's column from Washington Post education writer Jay Mathews, who offers an unusual perspective on our nation's "gap fixation."

"You see it. It's simple," Mathews says. "It forces us to hope that white kids, or middle class kids, or high achieving kids, don't improve."

Referring to a case in which both African-American fourth graders and white fourth-graders improved over the course of two years—the first group gaining three points, the second gaining eight—Mathews remarks, "Both groups of kids got better, Why is that a something we want to avoid?"

A popular opinion? Probably not. Food for thought? Definitely.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Battle-Weary, but Appreciated

Need a pick-me-up on this chilly Friday morning? Try this recent blog entry from Shelton educator and sometimes-blogger Pamelia Valentine. Published earlier this week in Partnership for Learning's blog, The Hall Monitor, Valentine's piece recognizes the efforts of her "battle-weary" principal.

"I’ve come to the conclusion that a school has to be one of the most complicated systems in which to bring about desired transformation," writes Valentine. "Luckily for us, our leader is tenacious and willing to work shoulder to shoulder with all staff in order to create the school that he envisions."

She continues: "...I have a suspicion that this principal will not be leaving soon, and I have a deep and abiding hope that he will make lasting sustainable changes for the benefit of our students. Consistency trumps intensity every time."

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Holiday Hassles: Sound Familiar?

The holidays, for some principals, are a headache. With pressures coming from all sides of the community, the expectation for schools to be both fittingly festive and respectfully areligious can turn even the jolliest educator into a grinch. It's a difficult balance to strike. When it comes to holiday activities and decorations, what's legit? Check out this "Survival Guide for Christmas Decorations at School," by Oregonian associate editor Susan Nielsen, and be of good cheer!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Another Year of Cutbacks

This morning, Gov. Gregoire released her 2010 supplemental budget, designed to fill the state's $2.6 billion shortfall for the remainder of the 2009-11 biennium. Among her recommendations for K-12 cutbacks, Gregoire called for the elimination of the following in the 2010-11 school year:
  • Levy equalization assistance, which provides funds to "property poor districts" (for the 2011 calendar year)
  • Enhanced K-4 staffing ratios
  • Initiative 728 funding
  • State-subsidized all-day kindergarten
  • The one remaining state-funded Learning Improvement Day (LID)
  • Several K-12 grant programs, including Readiness to Learn, CTE and Reading Corps grants
  • The state's K-12 Highly Capable Program and associated professional development

In a letter to Washingtonians issued by the Office of the Governor this morning, Gregoire says she submitted the budget "with the greatest reluctance." "This document is not true to the values I believe in and which have guided me through a 30-year career in public service," she writes. "It is not a budget I can live with nor is it one I believe Washingtonians can live with."

So, what can she/we live with? Stay tuned for more proposals from the governor, including a new budget that she'll submit to the Legislature in January (and perhaps a tax package, too?).

To watch Gregoire's announcement, click here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What's the Response?

It's nearly a week after Supt. Dorn's announcement regarding math and science graduation requirements ... and what's the response? Take a look:

Gov. Chris Gregoire: "We're not backing down. The superintendent is concerned about the graduation rate. I am concerned about the bigger picture — preparing kids for life. I think parents share that concern."

From The Seattle Times: (11/20/2009): "Dorn lets students off the hook with a proposal to delay graduation requirements until 2014 for math and until 2017 for science ... Another delay is unacceptable. It sends a disheartening message to students who want to excel and who understand that the route to higher education — whether college or trade school — is by meeting high standards."

From The Tacoma News Tribune (11/20/2009): "Dorn’s plan is exactly the wrong approach for tough economic times. Settling for less from Washington’s students means settling for a lesser future for the state. Our collective well-being depends on high school graduates whose diplomas mean something, on students who are ready to compete in the world. Math and science are increasingly important factors in that equation."

From The Everett Herald (11/20/2009):
"It's too early to raise the white flag. High expectations are useful motivators, as was shown when the state's graduation requirements in reading and writing kicked in four years ago. The year those tests first counted, test scores saw their biggest jump."
From The Spokesman-Review (11/21/2009):
"The problem with math instruction has been well known for years. It’s confounding that other states can teach the subject competently but Washington keeps turning in an 'Incomplete.' The rationale for extending deadlines is always the same: 'Are we really going to block the graduation of large numbers of students?' By that logic, the state will only institute math and science requirements after it’s been demonstrated that a higher percentage can pass. This is like watching high jump practice and then deciding where to place the bar so that most competitors will clear it. When the consistent message is that the state will call off accountability, then it’s impossible to gauge students’ best efforts."
From The Tri-City Herald (11/24/2009):
"We're reminded of that Orwellian euphemism for retreat — 'Advance to the rear.'"

From The Wenatchee World (11/24/2009):
"This is an interesting way to hold students accountable, by not holding them accountable. It is an interesting way to set the bar high, by lowering the bar."

From The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin (11/24/2009):
"Dorn is taking education — and education reform — in the wrong direction."

What are your thoughts on Supt. Dorn's proposal for changing/delaying the math and science graduation requirements? And what kind of a reaction are you seeing in your schools?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Retreat on Math and Science?

A "two-tier" bar for passing the state math assessment? End-of-course assessments for science? A delay of both math and science graduation requirements?

Those are just a few changes Supt. of Public Instruction Randy Dorn will be proposing to the 2010 Legislature, according to a statement released by OSPI this morning. Dorn announced his recommended changes today at the WSSDA Annual Conference in Seattle. (To see Dorn's presentation materials, click here.)

"It's time to set our graduation bar for math at the right level," wrote Dorn in an op-ed piece for The Seattle Times. Gov. Gregoire disagrees. According to the Associated Press, "Gregoire says the superintendent is concerned about the state's graduation rate but she is concerned about preparing kids for live."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Get the Scoop

The focus of tonight's episode of TVW's The Impact: Schools.

In the segment below, Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn gives his perspective on the State Supreme Court's recent ruling in the “fair funding” lawsuit. Be sure to check out the end of the interview, when Dorn drops a few hints about the "major policy speech" he'll deliver tomorrow at the WSSDA Annual Conference. (Think "math" and "science.") In his words, "I know that it's probably going to make one group not so happy, and everybody's going to say different things. But I believe we're actually increasing the standards in the future in math ... I believe going to end-of-course exams in science is better than the culminating tests..."

And in this segment, State Board of Education Executive Director Edie Harding discusses the SBE's proposal to require state intervention in persistently low-performing school districts.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hey Ya!

To the tune of Outkast's "Hey Ya," Shorecrest High School students are taking YouTube viewers on a fast-paced, high-energy tour of their hallways, packing 4 minutes and 29 seconds with entertaining school spirit. The "lip dub"video, which has gotten more than 18,000 hits on YouTube in less than two weeks, is the product of an assignment by Shorecrest teacher Trent Mitchell. After just six rehearsals and some impressive choreography, the students nailed it one take. Take a look for yourself!

Will we see more knock-out videos from the Shoreline School District? Looks like it. In a new twist on "school rivalry," Shorewood High's video production students have accepted a challenge from Mitchell to produce a better video.

Monday, November 16, 2009

'Meet the Press' Tackles Race to the Top

President Obama's Race to the Top program was in the news quite a bit last week (read here, here and here), when the U.S. Department of Education announced its final set of rules for states planning to compete for RTTT funds. (Among the competitors will be our own Washington state.)

The topic of RTTT also found its way onto yesterday's Meet the Press, during a segment that featured Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and civil rights leader Al Sharpton. Duncan, Gingrich and Sharpton recently teamed up for a national, multi-city education tour, which has focused on the need to reform public education. (As they say, "Politics makes strange bedfellows.")

The panel of three had a lot to say about the many thorny issues wrapped up in RTTT. Check out the clip below for a discussion of teacher accountability. Or, to watch the panel discussion in its entirety, click here.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Reading + Running = Time for Teachers + Parents

An article in Monday's Skagit Valley Herald focuses on a reading-and-running program at Mary Purcell Elementary (Sedro-Wooley SD), in which students spend the last 15 minutes of the school day either reading a book or running laps outside.

According to the article, "The end-of-day reading and running program is meant to keep the kids occupied as their teachers use the time to contact parents on student progress."

The previous school year, students were sent to art and music classes and occasionally the library while teachers contacted parents. But, because the music teacher, art teacher and librarian positions were cut this year, the school came up with a Plan B: reading and running.

It's an interesting solution to the issue of teacher-parent contact time—time that had almost been cut from teachers' schedules until an 11th-hour agreement in contract negotiations brought it back. But the solution is not without problems. Some parents say the end-of-the-day program amounts to a "complete waste of time," while many teachers are still concerned about the broader issue of losing the specialists in art, music, technology and library.
Are there any other schools out there with a successful reading and running programs? If so, we'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

See You in Yakima!

It's time! The 2009 AWSP Principals' Conference kicks off tomorrow in Yakima! It's not too late to attend. Simply download the walk-in registration form and bring it to the AWSP registration desk at the Yakima Convention Center. We'll be happy to sign you up for the program, right there on the spot.

And, remember: A one-day registration option is available! Only able to attend the kick-off sessions on Sunday? Want to catch Mike Schmoker's keynote session and the other Monday events? We can make it work! Check out our Sunday-only and Monday-only registration fees.

See you there!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Feeling Squeezed?

News from "the other" Washington: "Principals are squeezed from both sides."

OK, so this may not be a shocker to you, no matter which Washington you're from. But it's worth a read all the same.

When Washington Post columnist Robert McCartney recently spent time with principals of the year from the D.C. region, he asked them about their work and how it's changed over the years. Their answers, says McCartney, were "disturbing."

Chalk it up to micromanagement, NCLB, tight budgets, low morale, impatient parents, the pitfalls of the Internet and the looming threat of swine flu. Sound familiar?

McCartney marvels at the principals' high level of job satisfaction, despite the many demands they face, and concludes: The rest of us should be grateful that these valuable public servants are happy in their work, considering all the grief we're dumping on them.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

An Experience Worth Fighting For

Here in Olympia, we've been hearing a rallying cry for AWSP's very own Cispus Learning Center.

When parents from Tumwater and Olympia learned their schools' annual student trips to Cispus could be the victim of district budget cuts, they took action. (Check out the "Save Cispus for Thurston County Students" page on Facebook.)

Recently, The Olympian and KIRO-TV ran stories about the parents' efforts to preserve the outdoor education programs. And today, we hear from The Olympian that the "Cispus school trips might survive." Turns out, the parents are making a difference by bringing this issue to the attention of their school boards and communities.

In Tumwater, the board will hear a proposal that the community be allowed to raise the $36,000 needed to continue the sixth-grade Cispus program next spring. In Olympia, parents have received welcome news: The amount they'll need to raise—$49,000—is about $21,000 less than what they originally expected.

According to Tumwater parent Raechel Laneer, the students' experience at Cispus is one that can't be replaced. (We agree.) Richard Louv would be proud.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Fight the

The H1N1 virus is is expected to rear its ugly head again this fall—a prediction that has prompted a wave of outreach efforts to schools, administrators, parents and students. Among those efforts: publications, press releases, press conferences and...a video game?

That's right, if you need practice battling the swine flu virus on a worldwide scale, look no further than The Great Flu, a new online video game recently unveiled by Dutch researchers. Players have the power to stockpile vaccines, set up surveillance systems and (gulp!) shutter schools—all on a limited budget (at least that part is realistic!).
If you're looking for more practical tools for preparing for H1N1, Part Two, try the new communication toolkit from the Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Health and Human Services. This toolkit, designed to help school administrators better prepare for and respond to influenza outbreaks during the 2009-10 school year, includes action steps for schools, teachers and parents as well as template letters and a Q+A section.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Good Luck, Chris!

Today we're sending our good luck wishes to Christine Lynch, 2009 Washington State Middle Level Principal of the Year.

Chris is currently in Arlington, Virginia, where she is interviewing for the prestigious MetLife/NASSP National Principal of the Year Award. As a national finalist, she joins two other middle level principals and three high school principals in the interview process. In September, NASSP will annnounce one one middle level and one high school principal as the 2010 National Principals of the Year.
If it seems like Washington principals are on a hot streak lately, you're right! Chris is the fifth Washington state administrator to be a contender for a national principalship award since 2005. Earlier this year, Michael O'Donnell of Cle Elum-Roslyn High, Cle Elum-Roslyn School District, was named one of three finalists for the National Assistant Principal of the Year Award. In 2008, Stacey Locke from Eisenhower High, Yakima School District, was a finalist for the National High School Principal of the Year. In 2006, Springy Yamasaki of Skyridge Middle School, Camas School District, was named National Assistant Principal of the Year, and in 2005, Bellingham High’s Steve Clarke, Bellingham Public Schools, was a finalist for National Principal of the Year.

We couldn't be prouder of Chris and the rest of our AWSP members, who—whether in line for a national award or not—deserve a standing ovation.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Congratulations, Sen. Tom!

Yesterday, AWSP announced that it will be honoring Sen. Rodney Tom with the 2009 Torch of Leadership Award. The award recognizes a state-level public servant who has demonstrated support of principals and the principalship in the education of all students.

Sen. Tom who represents the 48th district, kept education a top priority this legislative session, even when the demands of a downward economy made it difficult to do so.

As a member of the Basic Education Funding Task Force, he helped craft ESHB 2261, which ushers in a new plan for full funding of basic education in Washington state. He also backed bills supporting the state’s principal internship program and the Washington State Leadership Academy.
“Principals will play a vital role as we move forward with education reform within the constraints of stagnant revenues," said Tom, upon learning of the award. "Very few areas in education give us better leverage than making sure every school has a great principal. There is not a great school in Washington state that does not also have a great principal; the two go hand-in-hand."

The senator will be honored with a formal presentation of the award at AWSP’s 2009 Principals’ Conference, Oct. 18–20, in Yakima.

Friday, May 29, 2009

'Younger and Freer'

"Principals Younger and Freer, but Raise Doubts in the Schools," says the headline of New York Times article published earlier this week. The article focuses on principals under 35 in New York City.

According to the article, 22 percent of the city's principals are under 40, compared with 6 percent in 2002, and about 20 percent have less than five years of teaching experience, double the percentage in 2002.

The NYT makes a few jabs at the New York City Leadership Academy, an intensive training program for aspiring principals. Data from the city's report card system indicates that Academy graduates were less than half as likely to get A’s as other principals. However, those graduates ofter face greater challengers, accepting placement in NYC's lowest achieving schools.

The article's conclusion offers an analysis that, well, isn't exactly breaking news to principals, novice or veteran: "Experience counts."

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Yesterday, Don Rash, AWSP's director of middle level programs, joined TVW's The Impact for a 10-minute discussion about teacher lay-offs in Washington state. Appearing with John Dekker of the Washington Association of School Administrators, Rash spoke with host Jennifer Huntley about the challenges that principals and students face when a school loses its teachers.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Sexting: More than an Awkward Situation

Sexting. If you're an educator, you've no doubt heard about it. In fact, chances are, you've already dealt with it in some form of the other.

If just hearing the word "sexting" sends shivers down your spine, consider the case of Ting-Yi Oei, assistant principal at Virginia's Freedom High.

"My Students. My Cellphone. My Ordeal," which recently appeared in The Washington Post, offers a first-hand account of the devastating spiral effect of one sexting incident. Oei responded to a reported case of sexting, and ended up on the wrong end of a criminal investigation into child abuse and child pornography. (To hear the defense attorney speak about Oei's case, click here.)

The lack of clarity around sexting is posing some real challenges to building administrators. Recent sexting incidents, including Oei's, illustrate just how easily schools, communities and personal lives can be thrown into upheaval. While procedures and policies are being hashed out, principals and assistant principals are in a precarious position, having to navigate their way through uncharted waters.

For helpful resources, including tips for parents and teens, visit the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy’s Sex and Tech Web page.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Quick Update on H1N1

If you have access to a television, radio, newspaper, Internet connection or, well, any conscious human being, you probably know that swine flu has (probably) hit Washington state.

The Department of Health has identified six suspected swine flu (H1N1) cases in our state. One of those cases involves a student at Madrona K-8 in Seattle. The child's mother chose to keep him home from school when he became ill (good job, mom!). As a precaution, however, Seattle Public Schools and Seattle/King County Public Health decided to close the school through Wednesday, May 6.

"While this is a time to prepare, it’s not time to panic," warned Supt. Randy Dorn in a statement released this afternoon. We couldn't agree more. Most likely, principals and assistant principals are responding to a high degree of anxiety (and maybe a bit of panic) in their school communities.
Need some level-headed conversation about swine flu? Education Week will be hosting a live chat tomorrow, 12-1 p.m. PST (3-4 p.m. EST), on "Helping Schools Plan and Respond." The chat will feature Massie Ritsch, deputy assistant secretary for external affairs and outreach, U.S. Department of Education, and Jeanne McCann, managing editor at If you are interested in participating in this chat, click here.

In the meantime, if you have sample letters or advice you are willing to share with fellow principals, please send them to ... or just post a comment here!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Preparedness for Swine Flu

Lots of headlines about swine flu us all pause to consider, Are we prepared for a pandemic?

According to the Washington State Department of Health, there are no known cases of swine flu in Washington. However, as a precautionary measure, the state will be receiving antiviral medication for about 230,000 people from the federal Strategic National Stockpile.

For helpful resources, check out these links:

Preparing Schools for Swine Flu (OSPI)
Swine Flu Information and Resources (WSSDA)
Swine Flu Information for Washington State (Washington State Department of Health)
Swine Flu Guidance for Schools (U.S. Department of Education)
Swine Influenza (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Celebrating Our Principals of the Year

“None of us is as smart as all of us.”
Those words of wisdom come from Kennewick's Bruce Cannard, who was recently named the state’s top elementary school principal of the year.

Bruce was selected as the 2009 Washington State Distinguished Principal by AWSP and its elementary component board, the Elementary School Principals Association of Washington.

For Bruce, it's all about the power of collaboration. Since stepping into the principalship at Edison Elementary—a school with a large number of English language learners and a high level of poverty—he has built relationships among colleagues, students and parents. Known for his strong rapport with Edison students, Bruce is often spotted joining students for a chat over a brown-bag lunch, or practicing his Spanish skills to make a new student feel welcome, or getting a laugh out of the students as his alter ego, Bernard. Congratulations, Bruce!

Congratulations also to the Association's other Administrators of 2009, who were named earlier this year:

High School Principal of the Year: Aaron Leavell, Bremerton High, Bremerton SD
Every decision he makes, says Aaron, “has students at the center of it.” Leavell’s dedication to student achievement touches young people who otherwise may have given up on their education. He has established several programs to provide individualized learning, including a full-time online academy for students struggling with credit recovery, a center for students who have children or hold jobs during the school day, and a program for students with severe behavioral problems.

Middle Level Principal of the Year: Christine Lynch, Shaw Middle, Spokane PS
Christine is known throughout the school for bringing passion and purpose to her job as principal, which, she says, is “the best job in the world.” She has rallied the Shaw community to take collective responsibility for its students’ success. Supported by this sense of partnership, she is committed to making her motto—powerful instruction for all students—a reality. Says Christine, “I could never do this work alone."

Assistant Principal of the Year: Mike O'Donnell, Cle Elum-Roslyn High (Cle Elum-Roslyn SD)
Mike has fostered a culture in which students are empowered—and expected—to perform to their potential. His development of a student achievement database has allowed staff to gather, organize and share assessment data. With the database in place, the school has seen increased dialogue between students, advisers, teachers and parents. He also implemented a new program that links the earning of academic credit to attendance, yielding a 62 percent decrease in tardies and absences in just one year. Mike was a one of three national finalists
for the 2009 NASSP/Virco National Assistant Principal of the Year Award!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Relationship-Based or Technology-Based: Is It One or the Other?

Having just recently returned from the 2009 NAESP Annual Convention in New Orleans, my mind is racing. And it's not from too many beignets!

On Thursday, I had the opportunity to attend a pre-conference workshop on "Relationship-Centered Leadership." The presenter, Tom Wojick of The Renewal Group, explored the power of strong relationships with students, staff and faculty. His discussion of emotional and social intelligence clearly resonated with workshop attendees, who were eager to apply his insights to their work in schools.

The following morning, keynote speaker Ian Jukes officially kicked off the convention, delivering a rapid-fire presentation on the exponential growth of technology. His phrase, "Info-Whelming," certainly hit the nail on the head. As attendees left the presentation, I overheard many describing the information as "scary," "daunting" and even "painful."

On Saturday, former Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell (Ret.) knocked our socks off with a presentation that brought attendees to their feet. In his address, Gen. Powell called for young children to get "more lap-top time"—not more time on their computers, but more time "on the laps" of families members who care for them. At the core of his remarks was a focus on relationships between children and parents, family members, principals, teachers and mentors.

And, finally, on Sunday, I attended a breakout session by Matthew Hayden, elementary/technology teacher, Bristol Township SD (Levittown, PA). Hayden did a nice job of answering the question, "OK, I realize technology is changing the classroom—but how is that relevant to me and what can I do about it?"

With each day of the conference, it became more apparent that we all are trying to reconcile the implications of technology with human relationships. Can an education leader value technology and relationships equally? Or does technology result in a "disembodied" education for a children?

In a breakout session, Jukes offered this thought: "If you are an educator who can be replaced by a computer, then you deserve to be replaced by a computer." In other words, technology is a great tool—but it is not a substitute for human-based teaching and learning.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Happy Square Root Day!

Today, 3/3/09, is rare holiday: It's Square Root Day, a celebration that happens only nine times every century. Ron Gordon, a Redwood City (California) teacher, describes the holiday as a "calendar comet."

"You wait and wait and wait for them, then they brighten up your day—and poof—they're gone," Gordon told the Associated Press.

Mathlete or not, better enjoy Square Root day while it lasts. The next observance is not until 4/4/16.

Here at the AWSP office, we're gearing up for Pi Day, 3/14...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day 2009

Whether or not you voted for Barack Obama, you can't deny the historic magnitude of this day. That's how educators across the country see it, anyway.

The New York Times recently reported on how the "Inauguration Is Inspiring Classrooms Nationwide," describing ways that teachers and administrators planned to incorporate this morning's ceremony into their classroom instruction. The article quotes Linda Lane, deputy superintendent of instruction in Pittsburgh: “We are totally committed to reading, writing, science and history. But we also know that some history doesn’t come out of a book. Some history you get to be part of.”

Schools have snapped up this opportunity to engage kids. And why not? Each generation lays claim to a "history-in-the-making" moment in the classroom—a moment when students are permitted to put away their books and focus their attention on news as it unfolds. For many of us, "our" moment was one of great tragedy and sadness (think Kennedy's assassination, the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger or September 11, 2001). Whether it's about diversity, democracy or the peaceful transfer of power in the United States, this morning's chapter in history had a decidedly positive undercurrent for kids who remember it as "their moment."

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Farewell to a Leader

A tip of the hat and a round of applause for Dr. Terry Bergeson, Washington's Superintendent of Public Instruction for the past 12 years. Today is Dr. Bergeson's last day in office. Throughout her career, she has been tireless in her dedication to students, relentless in her advocacy for K-12 education. For that, we say Thank you!

We wish Dr. Bergeson and her departing staff at OSPI the best of luck as they head off into very bright futures.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Hold on Tight

It is official: The 2009 Legislature is now in session.

So, Happy First Day of Session! Well, it may not be so "happy," given the state's current $5.7 billion deficit. The budget crisis promises a 105-day roller coaster ride for lawmakers, with plenty of twists, turns, drops and bumps.

Educators will need to hold on tight, too. You may not be able to avoid the twists and turns that affect K-12 education, but you can help your legislators navigate the course. Contact your elected lawmakers and let them know what matters to you.

Click here to look up contact information for your legislators. For practical tips on communicating with elected officials, log on to and click on "Contact Your Lawmaker" under the "Legislation" tab.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Tune In: Principals on the Tube

Set your DVR! The new season of TruTV’s The Principal's Office kicks off this Thursday. Included in the reality show’s cast of characters: Kalama High School principal Mike Hamilton and vice principal Nate Salisbury.

In October of last year, Mike and Nate allowed a TruTV film crew to follow them on the job for a period of two weeks. The daily challenges of life in the principal's office were "caught on tape" — and soon will be revealed to curious viewers across the country. Your first chance to watch the Kalama administrators in action comes Thursday with the episode, "Dirty Dancing," which features Nate attempting to thwart potential outbreaks of freak-dancing.

Will we see more of Mike and Nate through the season? Watch and find out! “The Principal’s Office” airs Thursdays at 10 p.m.

Oh, and if Kalama High School looks familiar, don't be surprised. Twilighters will recognize it as Edward and Bella's school building in the film "Twilight." Alas, to see the real high school featured in Stephenie Meyer's novel, you'll have to make the trip to Forks.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Happy 2009!

Happy New Year! After a bit of a hiatus, The Comp Book is back in action for 2009! Thanks for your patience.

We’re starting off the new year with one of our favorite topics: technology in education.

In today’s Washington Post, education columnist Jay Mathews discusses "this year's educational buzz phrase": 21st-Century Skills.

When President-elect Barack Obama introduced Arne Duncan as his nominee for secretary of education, he said, "We need a new vision for the 21st century education system, one where we aren't just supporting existing schools but spurring innovation." If we are to believe Obama's campaign promises, new technology will be an important part of work in the classroom—and in the White House. Word is, sometime this week (tomorrow, according to the BBC) Obama will name his Chief Technology Officer, a new cabinet-level position.

So, what is "a 21st-century education system"? Is it characterized solely by the technical demands and capabilities of our schools today, or is it more pedagogical than that? Mathews prompts his readers to ask if the 21st-century education is really a new concept or just another name for effective teaching.

A 21st-century education purportedly prepares students for a new and changing world, the world they'll encounter when they enter the workforce. But is that any different from what educators have always aimed to do in the classroom, i.e., prepare their students to succeed after graduation?

Is technology the only thing that defines a 21st-century education, or is there more to it than that? What are your thoughts?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Principals' Conference Begins!

Greetings from the 2008 Principals' Conference! It's a beautiful Sunday morning in Spokane, where principals and assistant principals from across the state are gathering for three days of outstanding breakout sessions and keynote speakers.

Pre-conference begins today with three sessions:
- Creating a Strong RTI System for Reading and Math
- Diversity Is Here to Stay: How to Understand, Accept and Unite Cultures in Your Schools
- New Mathematics Standards and Changes to Assessments

This afternoon I'll be speaking to a fun group of elementary principals about using technology. Looking forward to their enthusiasm!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Silver Lining to a Very Grey Cloud

Could there be a silver lining to the bailout plan?

Hard to imagine when, just last week, Edward R. Kealy, executive director of the Committee for Education Funding, soberly told Education Week, "This bailout is basically going to suck the air out of education funding for years to come" (unless, that is, the next president is committed to boosting education spending).

But for some schools in Washington state, the plan brought good news: The revised bailout bill, which was approved by Congress on Friday, included a timber provision, extending the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act for four years and $3.3 billion. The money will go to 700 counties in 39 states—states that once depended on federal timber sales to pay for schools, libraries and other services.

The federal program, which legislators had been trying to renew for years, had been set to expire last week with the end of the fiscal year. As it turns out, Wall Street wasn't the only place to experience a wave of relief last Friday.

With the program back in place, Washington state will receive $43 million.

Now, what to do about having the air sucked out of education for years to come...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

E-quipping Our Students

By the end of this month, middle and high school students in Kennewick will have their own district-based e-mail addresses, according to an article in yesterday's Tri-Cities Herald. Students will use the e-mail to submit and receive assignments and communicate with their teachers. (Sorry, kids, dogs don't eat e-homework!)

Meanwhile, neighboring Pasco School District is using Moodle, an online course management system that provides exciting opportunities for collaboration between staff and students.

Kudos to the Kennewick and Pasco School Districts! Changes like this—as basic as they may seem—show a true commitment to meeting the challenges of the 21st century.

How is your school or district using technology to strengthen its learning community?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Itz a gr8 dy 2B an editr

Before SMS (a.k.a. "text talk") became a language, the statement above would have read: "It's a great day to be an editor." Oh, the language woes that have befallen us since the dawn of text-messaging.

While spelling may be the primary victim of the SMS Age, punctuation has had its share of hard knocks, too.

Editors, language arts teachers, grammarians and generally fastidious writers—take heart. This is your day to shine! Today is National Punctuation Day, an opportunity to boldly and shamelessly embrace the correct usage of commas, colons, semicolons, apostrophes, brackets and quotation marks.

Go ahead, tell your students or colleagues the difference between an em dash, an en dash and a hyphen. Show 'em how to insert an ellipses. Justify the use of the serial comma. And strike the ampersand from that sentence. All in the name of good punctuation!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Get Your Head in the Clouds

Did you find yourself wondering, as you watched the Democratic and Republican conventions, just how often the topic of education found its way to the podium? If so, here's a tool to help clear things up (or cloud things up, as the case may be): word clouds.

"Word clouds" — yet another child of Web 2.0 — illustrate the frequency at which words occur within a certain text, such as a speech. The more often a word occurs, the bigger it appears in the cloud.

These word clouds, recently created by, provide a quick snapshot of how many times the national convention speakers used certain words and phrases. Look for "education," "schools" and "students" in these clouds — it's more challenging than you might expect. The New York Times also developed word clouds for the convention speeches, but their clouds don't even include education-related verbiage. Check out what words were deemed cloud-worthy by the NYT here.

Speaking of the national conventions... Do you think the candidates failed to adequately address education at their party conventions? The (Vancouver) Columbian agrees.

Over the next few months, The Comp Book will be watching McCain-Palin and Obama-Biden for their responses to tough education questions. For a brief overview of each candidate's position on NCLB, the achievement gap, merit pay and more, go to Edutopia 's recent Guide to the 2008 Presidential Candidates' Education Agenda.

FYI: You can create your own word cloud for any text using Just plug in the text and, voilĂ , out comes your word cloud. Great potential as a fun classroom tool!

This is a word cloud for today's blog entry.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Little Man, Big Voice, Huge Message

As kids return to the classroom this week, they face a barrage of back-to-school messages from principals, teachers, parents and other adults. How about hearing a word or two from the students themselves?

Check out this keynote address by Dalton Sherman, a student from the Dallas Independent School District. Who says young people today aren't taught the art of oration?

Friday, August 29, 2008

The AYP Blues

A little blue this morning?

It's no surprise if you're a school official in Washington state, where this morning's headlines are peppered with phrases like "failing," "falling short" and "missing the mark."

Those characterizations spring from yesterday's AYP update from OSPI specifically, that 628 schools and 57 districts are in "improvement" status, up significantly from last year's 280 schools and 30 districts.

But lost somewhere in much of the coverage is an explanation of why we are seeing such a drastic increase in schools "needing improvement." Consider:
  • 2008 is a “step year.” According to Washington state’s stair-step approach to AYP, the percentage of students who must meet proficiency increases in three-year increments. This year, because it is a step year, the percentage of students who must meet proficiency has increased for all grade spans — elementary (3-5), middle (6-8) and high school.

  • The “n size” changed to 30. Within each grade span, schools and districts are accountable for the performance of all students and several student subgroups: American Indian, Asian, Black, Hispanic, White, English language learners, special education and low-income. Before schools and districts can report on a subgroup’s performance, there must be a minimum number of students in that subgroup to ensure statistically reliable data. Prior to 2008, 40 was the minimum number of students required in the English language learner and special education subgroups. This year, however, the minimum number of students for accountability calculations is 30 across all subgroups.
Ah, the complexities of No Child Left Behind. If only the challenges we face were as simple as a short, punchy headline.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Newsflash: Principal Returns to School

Since when does a principal heading back to school in August make headline news? Since the name on the door to that principal's office is "Ms. Phelps."

When Debbie Phelps, mother of Olympic phenom Michael Phelps, returned to Baltimore recently
, the media spotlight followed her — from Beijing right to Windsor Mill Middle School, where Monday she welcomed back 600+ students.

No doubt, Phelps’s version of "What I Did On My Summer Vacation" will outshine most at Windsor Mill, but the students aren't complaining. They'll reap the benefits of having a celebrity principal, who has her sights set on gold-medal performances in the classroom
and on the Maryland School Assessment for reading. This week, The Baltimore Sun reported:
Earlier this month, Phelps presented her students with a challenge called "Read Your Way to Beijing." On Aug. 8, the students received recorded phone messages asking them to read as many 100-page, age-appropriate books as possible between then and Sept. 8, she said. The winners of a drawing will get to spend an afternoon or evening with her son at the ESPN Zone, she said.
Together, Debbie and Michael Phelps have raised awareness of other education issues, including bullying and learning disabilities. Read about Michael Phelps's struggle with A.D.H.D. in the New York Times article "Phelps’s Mother Recalls Helping Her Son Find Gold-Medal Focus," and watch this joint interview with mother and son, in which Michael applauds his mom's commitment as a principal and describes his memories of being bullied in school. (Hint: To watch the video, download Silverlight when prompted and bear with the commercial; then, to view the mother/son portion of the interview, slide the arrow directly under the screen to the 15:00 mark.)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Blog Hot Summer

There is a long-held believe that summer is a quiet time in the education world.

Quite the opposite here at AWSP, actually. The office is more like a bee hive!

In fact, in the last few weeks, things appear to be getting busier. First, there's the AWSP/WASA Summer Conference June 29-July 1 in Spokane. We're the office of record this year, so AWSP has full responsibility for the planning and execution of the event. Our staff is working like crazy to provide a quality end-of-year professional development experience for our members and those at the superintendent's association.

This is also the time of year when our membership department goes into overdrive, tracking all of those position changes in the districts. By August, they'll know the whereabouts of just about every school principal, assistant principal and superintendent in the state. AWSP relies on some wonderful retired members to then take information out to new administrators to talk with them about the benefits of joining the Association. If you know of a new principal in your school or district, be sure to let them know why you like being a member!

Add to this the Basic Education Task Force hearings on school funding, the State Board of Education's work on the revised 9-12 mathematics standards, their Meaningful High School Diploma/Core 24 initiative and the systems accountability project. Plus there's the Higher Education Coordinating Board's proposal to revamp minimum college entrance requirements. Oh, and there's that continuing battle at the federal level over NCLB (Washington principals will be visiting with state Congressional reps next month in D.C.). And don't forget the statewide races for governor and superintendent of public instruction!

Last, but not least, there's some staff changes taking place at the office this summer. Our long-time director of elementary programs and professional development. Terry Barber, will be retiring at the end of the month. North Thurston Principal Paula Quinn will be joining the team in September to assume his duties. And I will also be moving on this month to oversee communications for another statewide association here in Olympia, the Association of Washington Business. The search is on for a new communications director who will take up this blog and all the other good work at AWSP.

Starting this blog was one of my favorite projects at AWSP and I look forward to seeing this and other technologies take off in the months ahead here. Thanks for reading and stay tuned: with everything going on, this could be a blog hot summer!

Jocelyn McCabe

Thursday, June 5, 2008

National Math and Reading Standards?

The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) has announced its support of the development of national standards in mathematics and reading. Education Daily also has a story on it today:
NASSP Director Gerald Tirozzi said the coun­try must shift to national standards to resolve the longstanding inability of educators, administrators and policymakers to make accurate state-by-state student performance comparisons under NCLB. The law allows each state to define its own content stan­dards in reading and math and set its own definition of proficiency attainment relative to those standards.

“In that wonderful year 2014, we’re going to have 50 ships showing up at Lake Wobegone and waving a different flag saying they’re proficient,” Tirozzi said, referencing NCLB’s overarching dead­line for having all students scoring on grade level. “Reading is reading, and no legislature can change the defining law of algebra. All states should be held accountable to address higher standards.”

What do you think about a move to national standards in these two core subjects/content areas?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Today's the Day: Class of 2008

At 10 a.m. today, State Superintendent Terry Bergeson will release the WASL pass rates for this year's graduating class. This is a moment that has been 15 years in the making, since the landmark education reform act was first passed in 1993. You can view the presentation live on TVW (watching it on TV or on your computer).

Editorials are slowly coming forth, but the tone so far suggests that credit deficiencies are the greatest barrier to graduation -- not the WASL.

Check out today's Longview Daily News editorial here.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Let Your Fingers Do the Walking

Or the searching, as the case may be.

Bob Mc Mullen, our director of high school programs, recently discovered this quick and handy shortcut while looking for a particular citation.

Administrators may be interested to know that the RCWs and WACs for Washington state are all searchable via the Washington State Legislature's Web site. You can do a quick keyword search ("graduation requirements" might be a good, and popular, example right now).

Thanks, Bob! Search on!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Did They Vote For Kids?

Well, did they?

That's what the Children's Alliance wanted to find out, and you can, too when you download their 2008 legislative scorecard. The group analyzed the votes of Washington state lawmakers on children's issues during the 2008 legislative session. Each legislator received a score of 1 to 5 stars based on the percentage of votes cast "for children."

And yes, there were some perfect scores.

Let's Put Some Responsibility on the Students

So says Kelly Flynn, an education columnist with the Flint (Mich.) Journal.

Her column, which appeared in her paper over the weekend, comes at time when Washington state students are on the cusp of graduating with the most rigorous graduation requirements in state history (though some take issue with that, too). Says Flynn in her column:

Let's put some responsibility back on the student.

See, what we seem to forget is that it's all there for the taking. If you want an education in this country, you can have it. The information, textbooks, workbooks, journals, reference books, videos, technology and lab equipment are available, to one degree or another, in every single school.

Is this up-by-the-bootstraps, tough love approach on the mark or off the charts?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Memorial Day

We're closing the pages of The Comp Book for the holiday weekend.

More fun and games next week as we start the march toward graduation and summer break.

High School on TV

Like many things, high school is always a little cooler on TV or in the movies.

So naturally, the Culture and Lifestyle editors at Newsweek couldn't let the hard news side of the office have all the fun with their "Top High Schools "report. Check out their analysis of the fictional high schools from TV and the movies against those on the magazine's real life list.

From Grease's Rydell High School (the real-life Venice High in California) to Ferris Bueller's Glenbrook North High in suburban Chicago and Napoleon Dynamite's awesome Preston High in Idaho, find out how the Hollywood high school alma maters fared here.

America's Top High Schools

Newsweek is out with its annual ranking of the country's "top" (their adjective) high schools.

The ranking is based on a ratio created by Washington Post education columnist Jay Matthews. According to the magazine, the secret recipe is:
the number of Advanced Placement, Intl. Baccalaureate and/or Cambridge tests taken by all students at a school in 2007 divided by the number of graduating seniors. All of the schools on the list have an index of at least 1.000; they are in the top 5 percent of public schools measured this way.
All told, 23 schools in Washington made the complete list of 1,300 top schools. But four Washington state schools made the top 100; all four were in Bellevue. They include the International School (number 10), Newport High (31st) and Interlake (45th) and Bellevue High (62nd).

You can view the list of all 23 Washington schools here.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Principals on the Class of 2008

Today, State Superintendent Terry Bergeson asked a group of high school principals to talk with her about the pending graduation of the class of 2008. This was a great opportunity for AWSP members to share their thoughts on the critical issues facing their schools, students and staff in the wake of the first graduation of kids under the (now not so) new graduation requirements. Today's participants included:
  • Stacey Locke, principal, Eisenhower High (Yakima P.S.)
  • Whitney Meissner, principal, Chimacum Middle/High (Chimacum S.D.)
  • Vicki Puckett, principal, Woodinville High (Northshore S.D.)
  • Scott Seaman, principal, Tumwater High (Tumwater S.D.)
These folks were candid with the superintendent and shared some gritty examples of students on the bubble - and not just because of WASL deficiencies. In fact, credit shortages are more likely to prevent kids from graduating in June than WASL. Here's some of the exchanges I captured during today's session:
  • "There's been a lot of extra work on the part of assistant principals and counselors to track each member of this class."
  • "There are two things that keep me awake at night: I'm afraid I've missed someone and the fact that WASL tracking and administration is a full-time job."
  • "It feels like the kids [this year's seniors] are really taking this seriously. It's interesting to watch this year's juniors and sophomores and how they've all of a sudden stepped into the planning."
  • "We've put a lot of responsibility on these kids and have tried to build the structures to help them. "
  • "The focus we've had on these students for the last 12 years -- on trying to prepare them for success once they leave -- it's clearer than it's ever been before."
It's clear from listening to these leaders that they deeply care about the success of every student in their schools and that they are concerned for the adults in the system who are trying to make sure no students slip through the cracks.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

They've Got Game!

And you better bring a sharp pencil!

The students in Thomas Jefferson High's Math Team were recently profiled on KING 5 News in Seattle. This is a dream team for any principal: the team attracts students of all ages (freshmen and seniors!), boys and girls of all races and backgrounds. And they mean business!

The group has been in the top 10 in the nation for 13 years straight and is sending 50 kids to the national math championships this summer. Congrats to TJ Principal Mark Marshall, Team Coach Tom Norris and to all the students (and parents) involved in this great program.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

WA Scholars Event

Tomorrow, AWSP and the Higher Education Coordinating Board will be hosting the annual Washington Scholars ceremony and luncheon here in Olympia.

The morning session will begin at 9:45 in the chambers of the House of Representatives where friends, family and educators will join in recognition of their achievements. This is an award that is given by the state to three graduating seniors in each legislative district. Students are in the top 1 percent of their graduating classes and are selected based on their academic achievement, in addition to their leadership, community involvement and other extra-curricular activities.

The reward?

A four-year scholarship for tuition at any four-year public or private university in Washington state.

The Legislature started the program in 1981 as a way of honoring these kind of students. But it also helps ensure some of the state's best and brightest advance their education here in Washington. You can read more about the scholarship program here.

TVW will be covering the morning program live tomorrow. Our five morning interest sessions on the role of state government in lobbying, media/communications/the law and the Supreme Court will also be broadcast via the TVW Web site.

Then tomorrow at noon, the Scholars and their families will be joined by their legislators at a special luncheon at Saint Martin's University in Lacey. Gov. Gregoire and State Superintendent Terry Bergeson are among the honored guests speaking at the luncheon.

It should be a nice day for these students, their families and accompanying principals and teachers.

Deadline Nears for Special Circumstances Appeals

High school principals, heads up!

The deadline for filing special circumstance appeals for high school students who missed the math WASL is looming on the horizon. To be considered for the appeal, applications must be received by OSPI by Thursday, May 1. Supporting documentation can be filed after the deadline, but must be received by May 12.

You can download the appeals application here. Or go here to learn more about the special circumstances process.

According to OSPI:

"The appeal was created for students in their senior year who, because of 'special, unavoidable circumstances,' were unable to demonstrate their skills and knowledge on the high school WASL or another appropriate assessment. For example, OSPI has been alerted about numerous cases where students missed one or both days of the WASL because they were ill. Although that doesn’t guarantee an appeal will be approved, that special, unavoidable circumstance certainly qualifies as an appeal. In order for an appeal to be granted, documentation demonstrating that the student has the skills to meet standard must be provided.

Core 24

No, this does not have Kiefer Sutherland in it. (But that would be interesting!)

The "Core 24" is the short form for a new proposal by the State Board of Education to increase the minimum number of graduation credits from 19 to 24. The Meaningful High School Diploma project is one of the Board's major initiatives this year. In order to earn a diploma under the MHSD model:
"...every student will develop and follow a coherent personal plan of study that prepares them for the next step after high school- whether it's a trade, an apprenticeship program or college."
The increase would vary depending on the pathway -- work ready, college and work ready or college ready. Here's the comparison of work ready vs. work and college ready vs. college ready (differences in bold) and they each involve 24 credits:

  • 4 credits of English
  • 3 of mathematics
  • 3 of science
  • 3 of social studies
  • 3 in career and technical ed
  • 2 in art
  • 1.5 in fitness
  • .5 in health
  • 4 elective credits

  • 4 credits of English
  • 3 of mathematics
  • 3 of science
  • 3 of social studies
  • 3 in career and technical ed
  • 2 in world languages (the same language)
  • 2 in art
  • 1.5 in fitness
  • .5 in health
  • 2 elective credits

  • 4 credits of English
  • 3 of mathematics
  • 3 of science
  • 3 of social studies
  • 1 in career and technical ed
  • 2 in world languages (the same language)
  • 2 in art
  • 1.5 in fitness
  • .5 in health
  • 4 elective credits
AWSP is working with its high school board on this issue and will be discussing it with the AWSP board later this week.

Do you support the overall concept and goal of the Core 24 proposal? What specific concerns do you have, if any, about the proposal?

It's Official!

Now the work really begins!

The revised K-8 mathematics standards were approved yesterday by the State Board of Education (SBE) in a brief, 40-minute session held at OSPI. Asa result, OSPI will now shift into professional development mode and begin the task of training the state's K-8 teachers before next fall. The state has already set in motion a professional development plan to ensure this happens.

This summer, OSPI, the ESDs and several of the state' s largest school districts will be hosting trainings to get teachers up to speed on the new standards. At the same time, OSPI is also moving forward with a curriculum review to support the revised standards. The agency has six months from the time the standards are approved to conduct the review and make recommendations to the SBE for three basic curricula for grades K-5 and three for grades 6-8. The review will begin in June and will involve a team of approximately 50 educators from around the state who were selected through a competitive process.

Are you an elementary principal? Have you heard about the summer mathematics trainings in your district or ESD?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

National Board Certification Bonuses

Did you know that principals in Washington state who earned their National Board certification as teachers can now claim their state bonus as principals?

This year, the Legislature approved a bill that would allow teachers who become principals to take their $5,000 annual bonus with them into the principalship. The only catch? You must have been a teacher first -- you can't go back now as an administrator and earn the NBPTS certification in order to claim the bonus. This may be something the Legislature reviews in the next legislative cycle, according to AWSP's Director of Governmental Relations, Jerry Bender.

The original bill, Senate Bill 6930, sponsored by Sen. Rodney Tom (D-Medina), died last session but the idea was recouped in the final budget. Unlike the National Board bonus for teachers, the principal provision is not yet in statute. The bill was considered a way of encouraging teachers who earned the bonus and certification to consider next steps into school administration.

There are approximately 16 principals in Washington state who are affected by this new proviso.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Leadership Academy

Here's a new Web site to check out when you have a moment: The Washington State Leadership Academy has a new site with some preliminary information about the new venture.

The WSLA was created by last year's Legislature as part of an effort to further enhance leadership in school administrators. AWSP and WASA serve as the co-administrators of the group, in conjunction with a design team of practicing principals and superintendents from around the state. Former Bellingham Supt. Dale Kinsley is the executive director.

Do you have questions about the WSLA? Let us know.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Thanks, USDA!

This item falls under the header "You're Not Serious, Are You?"

The folks in Texas have apparently struck gold (or would that be green?) when it comes to resolving the school lunch/childhood obesity struggle and healthy snacks. The solution?

Frozen Pickle Pops. Think Otter Pops with a gherkin twist.

Yes, it's the tastiest treat sweeping schoolyards everywhere. Frozen pickle juice in a handy to-go package!

You'll be glad to know the USDA has approved the PickleSickle --frozen pickle juice pops -- for distribution in public AND private schools (see their proud stamp of endorsement on the logo above at left). And don't worry! Booster clubs can get in on this action, too... Check out this Washington Post story about it, complete with a video of one lucky student taste tester!


Friday, April 11, 2008

Elementary Honor Society

Elementary principals, listen up! There's a new program designed to help elementary schools recognize younger students for outstanding academic success.

The National Association of Elementary School Principals announced this week the creation of a new National Elementary Honor Society (NEHS). The new group is the result of a partnership between NAESP and its sister organization, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, which administers the National Honor Society and National Junior Honor Society programs. Currently, there are more than one million students represented in the 50 states, D.C., Puerto Rico and Guam who participate in the NHS and NJHS, plus 536 chapters overseas.

Under the new agreement, any school containing grades 4-6 can establish a National Elementary Honor Society chapter. For more information or to start an application for your school, visit the NEHS Web site.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Advocacy Resources

As a school administrator, keeping pace with state legislation is tough enough. The federal stuff? Even more so. But two online resources bubbled to the surface this week at the NAESP Convention in Nashville:
  • THOMAS - The Library of Congress' official Web site contains a staggering number of resources and data. Looking for federal bills or resolutions? There's specific resources for teachers, too.
  • LEAD - NAESP's Leading Educators' Advocacy Dashboard gives you all the tools you need to write your Congressional representatives -- or the media in their legislative district -- about issues affecting K-12 education. Their online advocacy service provides legislative updates, information on key bills and links to local and national media outlets. You can sign up for regular updates on the issues from this site, too. Just go to the NAESP homepage and click on the LEAD icon on the list on the right-hand side of the page.
Do you have a favorite online advocacy resource you'd like to share?

Monday, April 7, 2008

SchoolTube -- Not YouTube!

Are your students interested in new technology, but you'd like to find a more positive outlet for their files than YouTube? Want a new way to jazz up those old morning announcements?

Be sure to check out SchoolTube, a safe and fun alternative to the other video sharing Web site. All videos loaded to the site must have the approval of an adult within the school -- be it a teacher, administrator, advisors, etc. The site is free and provides a nice and easy outlet for schools that want to encourage students' (appropriate) use of new media.