It is hard to believe that this is the last PTA newsletter of 2013 and another year has flown by! As we get ready to close out this calendar year and prepare for 2014, I would be remiss if I didn’t take some time to thank our staff, students, and parents for all you do to make our school such a wonderful place to learn and work!
To our parents, thanks for the many ways you support our school! Thanks for taking time to com out to attend the special events (like getting to dunk Mr. Douglas and Mrs. Rembach for meeting the school wide reading goal), Tech Trek, field trips, Science Olympiad, and parent-teacher conferences. We appreciate the nice treats that come in on holidays and special events, as well as your kind and encouraging comments for the hard work our staff does on behalf of your students. More than ever we need your support, and we want you to know it is truly appreciated!
Thanks to our students for your hard work! We know that the change to the new Common Core State Standards has been a huge shift for you just like it has been for our teachers, but you have worked hard to master the material we are giving you. You have responded well to our new Dillard Dollars reward program, and I have enjoyed playing basketball with those of you who have chosen to spend your Dillard Dollars to play a game with me (even though I have a losing record). We appreciate your hard work and great attitude!
I would also like to say a great big “thank you” to our teachers and staff! There have been many challenges this year, as the state and district have implemented lots of new programs (that often don’t work right), initiatives, and laws that have taken lots of your time and energy. However, you continue to prepare and teach your students daily, and challenge them to learn and grow. I cannot tell you how proud I am to be associated with you, and how much I appreciate all you do day in and day out for our students. You have responded well to every challenge, and I can’t wait to see what you are going to do in 2014!
It is my wish that you have a wonderful, restful, and relaxing break. I do hope that, during this holiday season, you get lots of opportunities to spend time with your families and loved ones, and get to make some wonderful memories with your children. I look forward to working with you for a great 2014!
On November 7, 2013 the state will be releasing the results from last school year’s (2012-2013) End-of-Grade (EOG) assessments. While we usually get the results immediately when students take EOG tests, the state delayed the results from last year since it was the first year for the new tests that align with the new higher standards of the Common Core. The delay was to give the state time to review the results and insure accurate reporting, as well as to determine the new percentages to use for scoring purposes.
While the official scores have not been released, we do know from information that has been provided from the NC Department of Public Instruction (DPI) that the results are going to look very different than in previous years. Not only did students take a much more rigorous test last year, the percentage of correct answers needed for a proficient score (level 3 or 4) was also raised. Because of these higher expectations, many students will score lower than they have in previous tests. (For example, we have been told that, statewide, less than 50% of students taking the EOG’s will be scored proficient!) It is not that the students have dramatically decreased in their ability, but the bar has been moved in terms of their expectations. Obviously, this will be a radical change for our students, parents, and teachers.
While the scores for schools and school districts will be released on November 7, individual scores will not
be available on that day. If your students took an EOG test last school year, you will get a letter with their score and an explanation of the score in a few weeks. We will send them home with students just as soon as they are provided to us from WCPSS.
In addition to the proficiency scores, the state also uses a “growth” measure. It is important to also know how your child grows from year to year. For instance, a student could be considered “not proficient” on the test, but made excellent growth over the last year. The opposite could be true as well. A student may be “proficient”, but if they are not growing then we need to support them in order to see that they continue to grow. I anticipate that the scores released will also included a growth measure.
It is our expectation at Dillard Drive that all of our students demonstrate growth! Our teachers are working hard to insure that each child’s individual needs are met, and that all of our students continue to grow and become more proficient on EOG tests, as well as a variety of other assessments by which they are measured.
Once the official results are released, we will share them with you. You will be able to access them through the official NC DPI web site, and we will also share information with you on our school’s web site (www.dillardes.net
). In addition, we will review them with our staff and use the data to improve our instruction and see how we can better support our students.
Thanks for all of your support for the students and staff at our school! Your support is crucial as we move into this era of higher expectations that we all hold for our students!
We are very excited to welcome you to the 2013-2014 school year! We have had a GREAT start to the school year, and are looking forward to seeing our Dillard Drive Dragonflies excel again this year! As we get started this year, I would like to highlight a few things we worked on over the summer in order to support our students for this new school year.
This just in…Dillard Drive has been chosen as a Title I “Reward School”! This honor is based on student academic performance, and is given to the top 10% of Title I schools across the state, based on the performance of our students over a three year period. This is recognition of the hard work and commitment of our students and staff, and we are proud of this accomplishment. We will have more information to share later!
Additional Technology Purchases!
Thanks to your support of our Tech Trek last year, we have been able to supplement the technology our students will get to use at school. We used these funds to purchase an iPad cart that can safely and securely store and charge up to 30 iPads, a Macbook Pro to manage the iPads, and several iPads for students to use. Our teachers are receiving training on how to incorporate them into the classrooms, and we hope to add to these purchases as the year goes on to insure all of our students get to use them in the classroom this year.
We were very fortunate this summer to have had two groups provide volunteers to help us beautify our campus. This was in addition to some upgrades from WCPSS, which included re-striping our playground concrete areas, the parking lot, and carpool area.
Volunteers from Belk’s were here early summer to install some nice benches and planters, as well as soccer goals and a basketball goal (for the K-2) playground. Just prior to school starting, Home Depot, the volunteer organization Activate Good, along with several of our parents and staff members helped with some clean-up projects around campus. Home Depot also has some other projects slated for the fall, which include planting some shrubs and installing a raised garden bed for science projects! Thanks so much to these volunteers!
Our Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PBIS) team met this summer to re-vamp our PBIS program. Our students get the opportunity to be rewarded with “Dillard Dollars” for their good behavior, which they can use to purchase items from the reward cart. In addition to buying items like novelty pencils, erasers and the like, students may also purchase items like additional computer time. If they save up $100, they could even purchase a game of basketball with Mr. Douglas!
Thanks for Your Support!
I would like to say thanks to all of you for your support of our school. We certainly want and need you to be a part of our education program at DDES! Please take some time to sign up and volunteer in your child’s classroom! Join the PTA and be active in supporting our school! You will enjoy it – and our school will be the better for it!
Looking forward to a wonderful school year!
James Douglas, Principal
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!