May 5, 2013
Dear Parents and Guardians of 3rd, 4th, and 5th Grade Students:
The adoption of the new Common Core and NC Essential Standards curriculums this year has brought about many changes. One area that will see very big changes will be in the area of EOG tests. I want to share with you some of those big changes as we understand them at this point.
The first change will be in the rigor of the tests. The new tests will be much more challenging to match the new Common Core standards. Reading passages will be longer and contain more challenging vocabulary. Students will be asked higher level questions, including questions that will based on more than one text. Math questions will also be more challenging, including multi-step questions that check for student understanding of concepts, not just their ability to pick a right answer. Fifth grade students will have some questions that will contain gridded responses, which mean the students will have to correctly grid in the right answer – there will be no multiple choice options.
Another major change is in the reporting of test results. Since the tests are new this year, we will not receive any results this year. The NC Department of Public Instruction will not release any results until they have had time to review the results and verified the accuracy of the tests. The target date for releasing the scores will be in the fall, most likely sometime in November of 2013, well after the 2013-2014 school year has started. Since we will not have test results back this year, there will be no re-tests. Decisions about promotion will be made based on a student’s performance in class, as well as on the benchmark exams we are administering this year.
There will also be changes in the administration of the tests this year. The math portion will only take one day instead of the two days in previous years. Also, since there will be no re-tests, the testing dates will be later than in previous years. The fifth grade science test will be administered on Thursday, May 23. The grades 3-5 reading tests will be administered on Wednesday, 5/29, and the grades 3-5 math portion will be on Thursday, May 30. Make-up tests for those absent will be on May 31 and June 3.
Please know our teachers and students are working very diligently to prepare for the exams. I am sure that the results will, as always, reflect this preparation. If you have any questions about the EOG exams, please feel free to contact your child’s teacher for more information.
I want to take some time to say thanks for all of your support for our recent events here at school. We had a TREMENDOUS response to our Spring Fling! Over 760 students and parents, along with 37 staff members came out to have some pizza, watch our students perform the flash mob song celebrating reading, and of course celebrate reaching our goal of reading 100,000 minutes as a school (between April 1-15) by allowing a student to throw a pie in my face! Several of our families with students in grades 3-5 also were able to get information from the grade level teachers about the upcoming EOG tests. Many of you also had the opportunity to support our Media Center by shopping at the book fair. Thanks to all who came out to support this great event!
Prior to our spring break we also had a large number of parents and grandparents (over 150) who were able to come and visit our classrooms on “Math Counts” Day, as we highlighted our math curriculum and welcomed you to come to participate in some fun math activities with your children. Again, thanks to all of you who were able to make this a part of your schedule.
I would also like to highlight that we have students excelling in various areas. Five of our students recently were selected to display some art at the Educational Leadership building on the campus of NC State University. We have two teams participating in the Science Olympiad competition in April (the results are not available as I write this), and we will be highlighting the accomplishments of these students on our morning show and on our web site. (www.dillardes.net)
I would also like to invite you to participate in the Tech Trek, our 5K run to raise money for technology. We will be sending information home, and you can get more information on our web site as well. In addition to the run, we will have some fun activities planned for our younger children such as a fun run, and the fire department will be here to show off their shiny red fire trucks to the kids. There will be a silent auction (we have already had several very nice gifts donated for this), where you can advantage of getting some nice things at a very good price!
As we get closer to the end of another school year, let me say again thank you for your awesome support. We couldn’t do it without you!
We will be sending additional information home regarding the changes in testing that are taking place this year in grades 3-5 to keep you informed, please look for this information in the Monday folders. As always, feel free to contact us if you have any questions.
Looking forward to a successful ending to the school year!
James Douglas, principal
In the last newsletter I shared with you some of the things we are doing to support our students’ acquisition of key vocabulary terms. Our students have really responded well to our “Word of the Week”. This month I would like to share with you something we are planning for March in order to support our students’ math skills.
We would like to invite you to join us on Wednesday, March 27 for “Math Counts” Day!
On this day each grade level will be doing something that involves using math in the “real” world, and we are inviting you to come and join the fun! Teachers will be sending information home in Monday folders in the next few weeks to let you know about the exact time and activity in which your child will be participating. This will be a great chance for you to visit the school, see a little bit about how your children are learning math. (Which, I am sure you are aware of by now, is very different than the way many of us learned math!) It will also give you a chance to see some ways you can help reinforce the math skills that your students are expected to master under the new Common Core State Standards curriculum.
I know that many of you have questions about the changes to the End-of-Grade tests this year. I plan to share some information with you in the next newsletter to update you on those changes.
Thanks so much for all of your support! Please plan to join us on “Math Counts” Day. We would love to have you come visit and participate in the fun. Hope to see you then!
Our students and teachers will be busy in January and during the remainder of the school year. Students will be taking benchmark exams and other assessments so we can determine their academic progress to date and make decisions about instruction for the remainder of the school year. With the end of the quarter on January 18, we will have made it half the way through this school year! Report cards will be distributed on January 28, and teachers will be contacting you soon for mid-year conferences.
We are excited to continue to get our students excited about academic opportunities. For the second year in a row we will be fielding two teams for the local Science Olympiad competition. This year we are also entering a team in the Math Olympiad competition. Starting on January 2, we are introducing the “Word of the Week” on the morning show to get students excited about increasing their vocabulary. As we shared with you earlier in the year, we are continuing the push to have our students write. We are striving to provide our students with challenging and interesting activities to support their academic success.
I appreciate all of the hard work our teachers have put in this year to implement the new Common Core and NC Essential Standards curriculum. As you conference with your child’s teacher, please ask them for ideas to support your students’ learning with this new, rigorous curriculum.
Thanks for all of your support as we look forward to an awesome year in 2013. Please make a New Year’s resolution to spend some time volunteering at the school; we would love to have your help! Best wishes for a wonderful 2013!
James Douglas, Principal
Like all of you, we are deeply saddened by the recent tragedy at the elementary school in Newtown, CT. As we struggle to make sense out of this terrible situation, our thoughts and prayers continue for the families forever affected by this tragedy.
As I am sure it is a natural to do when we have tragedies like this, we spend time reflecting on how we can keep our students and staff safe. I want to assure you that safety is the number one priority at Dillard Drive Elementary. Our administrative team meets regularly, and one of our topics of discussion is safety procedures. I have also invited WCPSS security staff to come by and let us know what we can do to improve our safety measures. We will continue to train staff on emergency procedures and practice emergency drills with our students. We will also continue to review our procedures in the upcoming days to see where we can improve.
We recently sent home an information sheet that you may want to use that gives you tips on how to talk to your children about violence. If you need additional information or support in this area, or you feel like your children would benefit from talking to someone, I encourage you to contact the school (919-233-4200) and speak to our counselor, Mrs. Martin. She will be glad to support you and your students if needed.
As the holiday break approaches, I would also like to take this time to wish you and your family a wonderful, restful, and peaceful holiday season. It is my hope that you get to spend some quality time with your loved ones, and that you have a wonderful break and even better New Year!
James Douglas, Principal
Wow! It’s hard to believe that we have concluded our first quarter of school already! I would like to take this opportunity to share some thoughts with you about our opening of school, and what we can look forward to over the next few weeks.
I would like to thank all of you for your support and patience as we dealt with the transportation issues this year. I know that several of you have been impacted by the changes that the transportation department put in place, and we appreciate your patience as the school system continues to work through these issues. I also appreciate the dedication of our teachers and staff members who have been required to stay late to supervise students and answer phone calls about the buses. The situation seems to have stabilized for our school at this point, however the district is continuing to hire more bus drivers. One of the most frustrating parts of the problem was that no one from transportation could be contacted when there was a concern. The district opened up a new call center to answer questions about transportation. If you have any transportation concerns that you still need help with, the number to call is 919-856-7890.
Students and teachers are working hard to master the more challenging new Common Core and NC Essential Standards curriculums. Your teachers will be able to share more information with you about your student’s progress as they meet with you for parent conferences. Students in grades 2-5 will also be taking benchmark quarterly exams that will let us know how well they are progressing. These exams will be taken in the next few weeks. This will give us an opportunity to see how our students are progressing on the curriculum. Also, we will be soon updating our web site, including links to more information about the new curriculum.
I would like to say thanks to all of you who have supported the school through your participation in PTA and volunteer activities. It’s still not too late to volunteer! If you plan on participating in field trips or want to volunteer in the classroom, you will need to register with WCPSS as a volunteer. The registration process must be completed at school, and we encourage you to register or re-register prior to October 31. After that date, registration will only be available on Mondays. If you were a volunteer last year and re-register by October 31 you only need to complete the abbreviated form. However, if you do not re-register by October 31 you will have to complete the entire process again.
I know the transportation issues and recent actions of the school board have dominated the media recently. I want to assure you that our teachers remained focus on helping our students learn, and we are not letting these things distract us from our core mission of learning and teaching. Again, thanks for all you do to support our school. You help make Dillard Drive Elementary a great place to learn and work!
James Douglas, Principal
I would like to take this opportunity to thank a very special individual who has given so much of her time, energy, and effort to support the students, staff, and families of Dillard Drive Elementary school. She was one of the first individuals to meet me when I arrived, and I have found that, although she is not on the payroll here, she spends a lot of time here! Our school has certainly benefited by her involvement, her investment of time and resources, and her ideas. This hard working individual is none other than our outgoing PTA President, Mrs. Tonya Wollum!
Mrs. Wollum has worked on our PTA for a number of years, the last two as the president. During this time she has made such a positive impact on our school. When you see her, please join me in telling her “thanks” for all that she has done to make DDES a better place. She has been instrumental in organizing parent workshops, raising funds for technology and other purchases, as well as other items too numerous to mention here. Our PTA, our students, and our staff will certainly miss her!
I would also like to thank all of you who have joined the PTA and supported the school as you are able. I am sure that Mrs. Wollum would be one of the first to point out that she had lots of help from others in doing all that she does. Thanks to all of you who have volunteered your time and efforts to do so many things for our school. Your efforts are so much appreciated by the administration and staff at DDES.
And to all of our parents, we recognize that we could not do it without your support! Thanks for all you do to help us as we endeavor to provide your children with the skills and knowledge to be successful in the next stage of their academic career! We are looking forward to the great things our students are going to do on the EOG tests this year, and beyond!
I want to share some of our efforts to increase the level of technology use by our students. We know that our students are living, learning, and working in a vastly different world than we adults have known. This is probably most evident in the amount and kinds of technology that is available for them to use. To give our students increased ability to interact with and use the latest technology, we have been pursuing opportunities to increase the availability of these items in our school.
Wake County voters approved a bond referendum a few years ago that included money for technology. We combined this money, along with some Title I funds allotted to us and some local funds, to upgrade in the following areas:
· Purchased 13 new Smartboards (interactive white boards) to be placed in the classrooms. (This will give us a total of 26 Smartboards in the school.)
· Purchased 31 new desktop computers in order to upgrade the computer lab. The current 31 computers will be moved into the classrooms to insure all classrooms have at least four working computers available.
· Purchased 4 iPads to be used in the Special Education classes.
· We also purchased additional printers to use throughout the building.
We are very excited about adding these items to support instruction at our school! However, as awesome as these additions are going to be, we still have a long way to go to get to where we want to be. We would like to purchase several additional Smartboards so all of our students and teachers will have access to them. We would like to purchase clicker response systems for the Smartboards, which allow teachers to get instant feedback on students’ understanding of curriculum. We would like to purchase additional laptops and iPads for individual student use. We also want to continue to upgrade our existing desktop computers (some of which are 10 years old!), and add an additional computer “mini-lab” in the Media Center that would allow for more students to research and prepare presentations and reports using the latest software.
We have applied for a grant that, if approved, would add lots of technology to our school. (We have not heard back about this grant at the time of writing this…although we hope to hear any day now.) In addition, I would like to thank the PTA, as well as Angela Poovey (counselor) and other staff members – also PTA members – who have spearheaded the effort to raise additional monies for technology purchases in our school through the 5K “Tech Trek” run. Please be sure to be a part of this exciting event, and help spread the word to others, as the funds raised from this event will be used strictly for technology purchases.
We do not want to upgrade our technology just for the sake of having the newest gadget available. We know that computers, Smartboards, iPads, and other technology devices are just tools for us to use to help our students to learn to read well, write well, develop critical thinking skills, and to analyze and solve problems. It is our hope to provide them with these tools in order to prepare them for the future learning tasks and work tasks that they will be involved with later in life.
Thanks to you all for your support! Please feel free to contact the school if you have any additional questions or concerns.
James Douglas, Principal
Happy New Year and welcome back! I hope that all of you had a wonderful, restful, and happy holiday break!
Students and teachers are back to school, hard at work! In the early part of January, students are taking benchmark exams. These exams will give us an idea of where they are currently performing academically, and will give our teachers important information they can use to help the students to SOAR academically.
Don’t forget that round one of the new student assignment plan is active effective January 17. If your child is currently enrolled at Dillard Drive Elementary, and you want to stay, you do not have to do anything. If you have a rising kindergarten student, you will have to go online and choose a school after they have been registered. If you have questions about registration or school choice, please visit the school’s web site for a link to information about the plan.
I am very excited about the new clubs we are organizing. Based on feedback from parents, we have organized these opportunities for our students. At this time, our “club day” will be Wednesdays immediately after school from 3:45-4:30. We chose Wednesday because many of our teachers and students are involved in after school tutoring programs on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We are ending the activities at 4:30 in order to allow you plenty of time to participate in your family activities that you may be involved with on Wednesday evenings. Club sponsors will be sending home information specific to their clubs.
We continue updating our web site with new information. Please be sure to frequently visit the site for updates about our school, as well as upcoming events and activities. You also can find more information there about the choice plan for student assignment and our new club offerings. The website address is: www.dillardes.net
As always, thanks for your support!
During the last month we have been busy! We have updated our website with a brand new address: www.dillardes.net. Mr. Smith and the 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders put on a wonderful production! We are conducting a food drive to support the Food Bank of North Carolina. We have also held our book fair that not only gives our students an opportunity to get some new reading materials, but also serves as a fundraiser for our Media Center. In addition to all of this, our teachers have continued teaching the curriculum and our students have continued to work and learn.
Looking forward to January, our teachers and students will have an equally busy month! Many of them will be taking mid-term assessments that are important to give us information about their progress this year. We will use the results to determine how we will adjust our instruction to help them continue to excel. We are also looking forward to letting you know about some clubs and extra-curricular activities that your students will be able to get involved with soon. We think these activities will provide lots of fun and excitement, as well as support the continued growth and development of our students. More information on these activities will be coming in January.
Thanks again for all of your support – it truly makes a difference! I hope that you and your family have a very enjoyable and safe holiday break. We’ll see you next year!