From Governor Shumlin’s Inaugural Address: “…In a democratic society, educating our citizens is our single greatest obligation. I hereby call for an end to the war of words launched from Montpelier that pits property tax payers against our children, teachers, principals, and school board members, and invite instead a respectful conversation on how to create the best education system for our future; how to produce the best workforce for the jobs we’ve just discussed. We take pride in Vermont’s quality education system that is the envy of the rest of the country. Let’s build upon our success by doing even better. The objective is simple: every Vermonter must have the same opportunity for success that Claire Ogelsby made possible for me; economically, intellectually and socially. Part of achieving that success is ensuring that our children don’t grow up in poverty. Almost one in three Vermont children live in low-income households. Without proper nutrition, quality early education, or a stable home, these children too often enter kindergarten far behind their peers, and the spiral begins. They are more likely to drop out of school, abuse substances, and become statistics later in life. We can make a difference in their lives, and we will. We can also do better at ensuring the success of all of our students in school. While we are rightfully proud of our outstanding education system, we are not delivering what is required for every student. Time spent in class does not measure acquisition of skills. For those who quickly demonstrate clear levels of achievement, let’s accelerate their path to enriched programs in that area of study. For students who do not learn in traditional ways, let’s support creative approaches that may be outside the four walls of our classrooms. From early education to higher education; from dual enrollment to technical school; we have the most innovative offerings in the country. Our challenge is to break down the silos into a seamless system that allows each individual learner to integrate the array of programs that inspire lifelong learning.”
School Transformation…Be the Buzz! A Statewide Conference for High-School Youth and Adult Teams (November 12, 9:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., Goddard College)
Audience: Students, Principals, Teachers and School Board Members
How do we create a compelling case for change? How do we engage the community in transformation efforts? What strategies will help people re-imagine schooling? How do we use student-developed action research to inform transformation? Members of Vermont’s “Youth and Adults Transforming Schools Together” initiative will share effective strategies to address these questions. Participants will leave informed and inspired. They will also leave with a Tool Kit of activities, videos, dialogue options and readings to open the door to school-wide transformation in their own communities. For more information and to register visit http://education.vermont.gov/new/html/dept/calendar.html#buzz.
Contact: Helen Beattie at email@example.com
DOE Contact: Sigrid Lumbra at (802) 828-0200 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Office of Education Technology
As we look at our broadband access in Vermont in the latter part of 2010 and reflect on the current overall state of broadband services, it is important to define what broadband access represents in the context of teaching and learning in our schools.
- If there was broadband access at all schools that did not limit opportunities for learning, what would students in our schools be capable of doing?
- If high quality, high speed broadband access could help schools with day to day functions such as reporting, evaluating, and continuously improving, what would be possible?
As we consider these questions and look realistically at the rapid rate of change we are experiencing in the world of technological innovation, it is imperative that Vermont’s K-12 public education community define a vision as we move into the future. The Transformation of Education, defined by the State Board of Education in 2008, took as two of its key tenets,–student centered education and the advent of flexible learning environments. Broadband access for all schools is critical in meeting these tenets. We envision that Vermont schools will use broadband resources in teaching and learning contexts to:
- Expand student learning opportunities with a variety of distance learning programs, both within and outside the state. Today’s online courses are not simply lectures presented online, they include robust activities including access to and participation in video, audio podcasts, and innovative course programs that require students to engage in gaming-type environments. For example, Conspiracy Code is an online US History course that takes place in a virtual gaming environment. As these courses become more sophisticated and multiple schools are using them, robust broadband access will be essential. Online courses engage students and provide all schools and students with an array of options. Vermont looks to online course delivery as a key avenue for providing flexible learning environments that take learning beyond the traditional school day.
- Use video conferencing resources: The Learning Network of Vermont provides access via high quality videoconferencing cameras to over 110 sites across the state. Coupled with an integrated desktop system, available at almost any computer, this system provides multiple opportunities for sharing and disseminating communications and collaborations with other classrooms, cultures and countries. Investment in virtual field trip opportunities continues on both the state and local levels. These examples should be continued and expanded in order to create enhanced learning opportunities for students in all subject areas.
- Gain access to media-rich resources via multiple devices throughout the school day. These resources include but are not limited to audio files, picture files, video, (both downloaded and streamed).
- Use data to make informed decisions about curriculum materials as students move through their school career. Schools are continuing to move to online systems where student information is crucial in making adjustments to curriculum depending on student need. Broadband through-put that allows schools to create wide area networks across campuses moves Vermont in a direction of streamlined data reporting and analysis both at the local and state levels. As more data is available concerning student progress and needs, broadband access must expand to keep up with demand. Federal, State and local reporting requirements and needs continue to be expanded in order to more succinctly study gaps in school support. Without the ability to efficiently collect data from ALL schools efficiently, many students will be at a disadvantage in the services they receive. Additionally, as we move to online assessment both locally and at the state level, this becomes even more important.
- Access more technology: Student Centered learning, a key component to today’s communication and collaboration-rich world, is best supported when students have adequate access to computing devices and media. One-to-One computing, the ability to allow students full time access to a computer, is becoming available in many schools across Vermont. One-to-One implementation requires robust connectivity to allow for multiple access points to the Internet throughout the school environment. As portable hand-held devices continue to be developed, more students and parents will demand access to broadband connectivity at their schools. Schools must anticipate this need and plan for growth.
- Utilize “cloud computing”: to minimize local hardware expense and redundancy, and move beyond systems that are management intensive and limited in life span. As schools move to models that store information “in the cloud” as opposed to local servers, the need for high-speed broadband access becomes even more necessary to make these systems operate efficiently.
- Develop Avenues for K-12 use of Internet2:, a non-commercial network dedicated to education and research. Providing faster speeds and allowing only education and research institutions access, this network could provide more access to high quality research tools and data for schools.
All of the opportunities listed above will require continual assessment in regards the increase in broadband capacity. Students in Vermont that are not provided with the same learning opportunities as their urban counterparts in other states continue to be at a disadvantage as they consider their path for life long learning.
In 2010, Vermont has two opportunities for expanding our broadband capacities. These opportunities, from the Vermont Fiber Connect project and the Vermont Broadband Enhancement Learning Link, represent viable opportunities for schools to work towards realizing robust broadband access in the future. The Vermont Department of Education is working diligently to move schools towards connectivity on these and future projects across the state.
Concurrently with the goal of robust connectivity, comes a need to significantly expand the E-rate reimbursements that schools can receive to cut costs as they deliver faster and more efficient broadband speeds for student learning and success. Ways this could be realized include the development of a consortium of supervisory unions that purchase common services and apply for reimbursements as a unique entity. As the consortium expands, reimbursements could be increased across the board for all schools.
The need for robust, high speed broadband access is of the utmost importance as we move forward with our efforts to transform education in Vermont. To continue with a system that does not meet today’s needs of all schools across Vermont in an equitable fashion is akin to asking students to use yesterday’s tools to build the future of tomorrow. Vermont children deserve better.
Students in Vermont are looking beyond our state’s borders and even outside our continent. They are embracing an education that is internationally involved.
Two schools have banded together to raise money for a school of similar size in Ghana, Africa. Taking the lead is the Rick Marcotte Central School in South Burlington. They are helping an alumni of Essex High School currently in the Peace Corps to build a computer lab for the students of Gwollu, Ghana. Read the full article from the Burlington Free Press.
Students from the Flynn School in Burlington hosted their traditions cultural dinner recently. The area is rich in cultural diversity and students and families shared their traditions at a dinner hosted at the school. Read all about it at the Free press!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Two Secondary Schools Selected to Represent Vermont at Regional Conference on School Transformation
The Schools Will Share Successful Strategies with Colleagues from Across New England
Amy Cole, NESSC State Liaison for Vermont
802-734-0562 | email@example.com
Two Vermont public secondary schools—Windham Regional Career Center and Milton High School—have been invited to represent their state at a regional conference on effective strategies for improving teaching and learning in the 21st century. The conference, High School Redesign in Action (newenglandssc.org/conference), will take place on April 9, 2010, and is sponsored by the New England Secondary School Consortium in collaboration with the departments of education for Vermont, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. The New England Secondary School Consortium is a regional educational partnership committed to fostering forward-thinking innovations in the design and delivery of public secondary education across the region.
High School Redesign in Action will bring together teams of high school educators in Nashua, New Hampshire, to exchange effective school-improvement programs and practices with their colleagues from across New England. The Consortium’s goal is to ensure that every public high school student in the five partner states receives an education that will prepare them for success in the colleges, careers, and communities of the 21st century, and each participating school was selected by Consortium leaders as models of proven educational innovation. All the selected schools have made significant progress raising student achievement, graduation rates, or college-enrollment numbers, among other indicators of educational accomplishment. More than ninety educators from across Vermont will be attending the conference.
“We are excited to see so many Vermont schools participating in this conference,” said Rae Ann Knopf, Deputy Commissioner, Vermont Department of Education. “It is a great opportunity for them to showcase their own work and learn from others in New England with similar goals. It’s heartening to know so many of our school leaders are committed to expanding learning opportunities and providing viable pathways for our young people to pursue postsecondary aspirations.”
Windham Regional Career Center created the Windham Regional Collegiate High School Program, which reaches out to first-generation high school students and others who may not have succeeded in traditional classroom settings, offering these students the opportunity to spend the last two years of high school enrolled in an aspirations-building course of study that earns them both a high school diploma and college credit they can put toward a postsecondary degree.
Milton High School developed a comprehensive school-improvement process focused on embedding 21st century skills (such as creativity, innovation, critical thinking, and collaboration) in every part of the school, which led to the development of new lessons and teaching strategies, the creation of a one-to-one computing initiative that provided a laptop to every student in this year’s freshman class, and the delivery of the professional development needed for teachers to make 21st century learning successful in every classroom.
For detailed descriptions of the conference presentations:
“We are truly honored to be able to share the impressive work these remarkable high schools are doing,” said David Ruff, executive director of the Great Schools Partnership, the New England Secondary School Consortium’s lead coordinating organization. “As a regional partnership, the Consortium is bringing together educators from across the region to achieve the common goals that our principals and teachers all individually work toward every day. This conference is evidence that New England has a wealth of talented educators, and that we can come together across state lines to exchange the effective strategies we truly know will work for our students.”
The Consortium is funded by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, the largest philanthropy in New England focused exclusively on education, and coordinated by Great Schools Partnership, a nonprofit educational-support organization in Portland, Maine. The Nellie Mae Education Foundation has committed $1 million to support the initial eighteen months of the Consortium’s work, which includes a $500,000 partnership grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
For more information:
Vermont’s High School Redesign in Action Presentations
Title: Windham Regional Collegiate High School Program
School: Windham Regional Career Center, Brattleboro, Vermont
Presenters: Ron Stahley (superintendent), David Coughlin (director), and Tom Yahn (program director)
Contact: David Coughlin | firstname.lastname@example.org
Title: A 21st Century Curriculum: Relevant, Project-based, Student-centered Learning
School: Milton High School, Milton, Vermont
Presenters: Kerry Sewell (director of curriculum), Anne Blake (co-principal), Scott Thompson (assistant principal), Katri O’Neill (technology integration specialist), Karen Hammond (teacher), Angela King (teacher) Jason Gorczyk (teacher), Amanda Notman (special educator).
Contact: Scott Thompson | email@example.com
MONTPELIER – Reading scores for Vermont students were among the highest in the country on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), released today by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center on Educational Statistics (NCES). Overall, only Massachusetts outperformed Vermont on the fourth-grade test, while no other state outperformed Vermont at the eighth-grade level.
Vermont students were also among the highest achievers in the country when the NAEP mathematics results were released in October 2009. Only Massachusetts and New Hampshire had significantly higher math scores at the fourth-grade level and only Massachusetts had significantly higher math scores at the eighth-grade level.
Nationally, NAEP reading scores at the fourth-grade level were the same as 2007, the last time the assessment was administered. About two-thirds (67 percent) of U.S. fourth-graders scored at or above the NAEP basic level both years. At the eighth-grade level, the percentage of students scoring at or above the basic level increased one percentage point, from 74 percent in 2007 to 75 percent in 2009.
Growth in NAEP reading scores was also nominal in Vermont. In 2009, the percentage of Vermont fourth-graders who scored at or above the basic level on the NAEP Reading Assessment was 75 percent, as compared to 74 percent in 2007. At the eighth grade level, 84 percent of Vermont students scored at or above the basic level in 2007 and 2009.
“It’s always great to see Vermont students leading the country,” said Commissioner Armando Vilaseca. “But I am concerned about the lack of progress from two years ago, particularly for our students from low-income families.”
Poverty-based achievement gaps have been a persistent concern in Vermont, and the current NAEP results show no signs that the gaps in reading are closing. In grade four, 62 percent of students eligible for free or reduced lunch (FRL) scored at or above the basic level on the 2009 NAEP Reading assessment, compared to 82 percent of students not eligible for FRL. In grade eight, 73 percent of students eligible for FRL scored at or above the basic level, compared to 88 percent of their non-eligible peers. These results are not significantly different from the gaps noted on the 2007 test.
Vermont students took the NAEP reading exam during the months of January, February and March of 2009. As part of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), all states are required to participate in NAEP assessments in reading and mathematics at grades four and eight, every other year. National and state-to-state comparisons are based on data from public schools only. Results for individual schools or students are not reported. For a complete list of state and national results, visit http://www.nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard.