Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A Strategic Plan for the Next Three Years

Upon entering the district,  I initiated a three stage research-based entry plan to become familiar with the district’s stakeholders, culture, and critical issues.  In March, the Districts’ joint School Improvement Panel (SCIPs) and District Evaluation and Advisory Committee (DEAC) came together with the administrative team to develop professional learning goals for 2016-18.  In May, a mixed methods District Goals Survey was administered.  Responses were received from the District’s stakeholders:  students, parents, teachers, community members, trustees and administrators.  In June, the administrative team aggregated the quantitative and qualitative stakeholder input and drafted Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Research-based, and Timebound (SMART) goals.  These goals were developed into a three year strategic plan with input from the Trustees of the Board.  Last evening the Board voted unanimously to adopt the 2016-2019 WTSD Strategic Plan including the Strategic District Goals, 2016 Strategies, and 2016 SMART Goals.

At the end of each year, I will report to the Trustees and members of the community on our  progress towards strategic goals utilizing quantitative and qualitative indicators.  Thank you to all of the stakeholders who gave their time to provide input. Through this process we have come together as a community to create a shared vision for our District and developed a plan to make that vision a reality. An infographic was created to display a summary of the Strategic Plan and 2016-17 SMART Goals.



The following works were referenced when developing the 2016-19 WTSD Strategic Plan:
Bernhardt, V. L., & Bernhardt, V. L. (2013). Data analysis for continuous school improvement. Larchmont, NY: Eye On Education.

Bolman, L. G., & Deal, T. E. (2013). Reframing organizations: Artistry, choice, and leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Buffum, A. G., Mattos, M., & Weber, C. (2009). Pyramid response to intervention: RTI, professional learning communities, and how to respond when kids don't learn. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree.

Daggett, W. R. (2015). Daggett System for Effective Instruction. International Center for Leadership in Education.

Daggett, W. R. (2015). Rigor/Relevance Framework . International Center for Leadership in Education.

Dufour, R., & Marzano, R. J. (2011). Leaders of learning: How district, school, and classroom leaders improve student achievement. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

Gruenert, S., & Whitaker, T. (n.d.). School culture rewired: How to define, assess, and transform it.

Hoyle, J. R. (2005). The superintendent as CEO: Standards-based performance. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Jacobs, H. H. (2010). Curriculum 21: Essential Education for a Changing World. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Marzano, R. J., & Waters, T. (2009). District leadership that works: Striking the right balance. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

Oshry, B. (1995). Seeing systems: Unlocking the mysteries of organizational life. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.

Senge, P. M. (2000). Schools that learn: A fifth discipline fieldbook for educators, parents, and everyone who cares about education. New York: Doubleday.

Sheninger, E. C. (2014). Digital leadership: Changing paradigms for changing times.

Wiggins, G. P., & McTighe, J. (2007). Schooling by design: Mission, action, and achievement. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Zehng, B., Warschauer, M., Lin, C., & Chang, C. (2016, February 5). Learning in One-to-One Laptop Environments A Meta-Analysis and Research Synthesis. Review of Educational Research.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Weehawken High School Launches New AP Capstone Diploma Program in September 2016

In February 2016, the Weehawken Township School District was selected by the College Board to implement AP Capstone  — an innovative high school diploma program that allows students to develop the skills that matter most for their future college success: research, collaboration, and communication. The College Board’s Advanced Placement Program (AP) enables willing and academically prepared students to pursue college-level studies — with the opportunity to earn college credit, advanced placement, or both - while still in high school. AP Capstone complements the in-depth, subject-specific rigor of AP courses and exams. The AP Capstone Program includes a two-course sequence: AP Seminar and AP Research. Students who complete AP Seminar and AP Research with scores of 3 or higher, and receive scores of 3 or higher on four AP Exams in subjects of their choosing, will receive the AP Capstone Diploma.

The AP Seminar course, typically taken in 10th or 11th grade, will equip students with the power to explore academic and real-world issues from multiple perspectives. Through a variety of materials  — from articles and research studies to foundational and philosophical texts  — students will be challenged to explore complex questions; understand and evaluate opposing viewpoints; interpret and synthesize information; and develop, communicate, and defend evidence-based arguments. Teachers have the flexibility of choosing themes based on student interests, whether they are local, regional, national, or global in nature. Samples of themes that can be covered in the AP Seminar course include education, innovation, sustainability, and technology. By tapping into students’ personal interests, AP Capstone gives a broader array of students an entry point into challenging course work. Students are assessed through both an individual project and a team project completed during the year and a year-end written exam.


The subsequent AP Research course will allow students to design, plan, and conduct a yearlong investigation on a topic of their choosing with support from experts at the university level or in the community. Students will build on the skills learned in the AP Seminar course by using research methodology; employing ethical research practices; and accessing, analyzing, and synthesizing information to present an argument. At the end of the course students have the confidence to present and orally defend their own scholarly academic research.

The first class of AP Seminar students at Weehawken High School will start their journey through the AP Capstone Program in September 2016.





#WeeLearn in the Summer


Classrooms are silent and empty. Displaced furniture crowds hallways to make space for maintenance and construction projects. Yet, the WHS media center is BUZZING. It is summer and summer in Weehawken is for learning.


WTSD teachers and the administrative team are participating in summer professional development academies held daily in the WHS Media Center. The summer academies kicked off on July 11th and run through August 19th. Francesca Amato, Director of Academic Affairs and Innovation, is administering the entire summer academy program. All of the academies consist of a series of workshop-style sessions with a focus on providing teachers with classroom-ready strategies to enhance student achievement.


The complete lineup of summer academies is as follows:
  • PBL Via Google Apps
  • Enhancing Formative Assessment Practices
  • UBD Curriculum Mapping
  • Mathspace
  • CODE.org
  • Envision Math
  • Middlebury Language
  • Standards-based Report Cards
  • Google Apps Level 1 Certification
  • Stevens Institute NJRaise
  • PARCC Data Analysis
  • Ditch the Textbook and Turn your Social Studies Class into a Citizenship Lab


Ms. Amato is facilitating the UbD Curriculum Mapping academies. Mr. Calligy, District Digital Information Officer, will lead teachers through two Google Apps for Education Level 1 Certification Boot Camps. Mrs. McGinley is leading the Standard-based Report Cards course. I facilitated the PBL via Google Apps and Enhancing Formative Assessment Practices sessions in early July.


The participation of almost the entire teaching staff and all of the administrative team is indicative of our educators’ collective commitment to lifelong learning and research-based teaching practices. It is going to be very exciting to see how teachers implement what they learned during their summer academies in their classrooms come fall.