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May 1, 2007

GradeCheck system outlined
After four months of operation at the middle school and recent implementation at the high school, the district’s on-line grading system is getting good marks from students, parents and teachers. Instructional Technology and Assessment Coordinator Katie Little updated School Board members on the implementation of GradeCheck.

GradeCheck was designed to help middle and high school students keep track of their progress and to encourage greater responsibility for learning. Parents also are able to view their child’s progress through a link on the district Web site.

All Templeton and Hamilton teachers make weekly updates to their on-line grade books by Wednesday each week, and the information is uploaded to the server each evening. In cases when a class assignment extends beyond a week, teachers tell students when the grade will be posted.

Templeton Principal Patricia Polczynski said GradeCheck has been a positive communication tool at her school for students, parents and teachers. There were some implementation snafus early on, but users were patient as the problems were resolved, according to Polczynski.

Students actively check GradeCheck and they better understand the impact that an assignment can have on their overall grade.

“They see the value of their assignments and it has been eye-opening for them,” Polczynski said.

To emphasize the importance of students taking responsibility for their learning, the GradeCheck Web page provides guidelines for students and parents. Parents are asked to have their child communicate with their teacher before the parent makes contact with school staff. Parents and students are encouraged to focus on overall grade trends rather than zeroing in on one or two marks.

GradeCheck was implemented at Templeton in February and at Hamilton on April 23.

Project Lead the Way moves along
The first phase of Project Lead the Way (PLW) took effect at Templeton this school year, and the program will continue to expand next fall at Hamilton. Educational Services Assistant Superintendent Dean Schultz reported on progress made and plans underway for the program that focuses on engineering principles and concepts by immersing students in real-world problems.

Two Templeton teachers were trained at the Milwaukee School of Engineering last summer and the school revised its Technology Education curriculum so that seventh-graders now take “Gateway to Technology and Engineering” as a required course. In addition, eighth-graders have a “Machines, Work and Energy” unit in science and they may take “Technology and Engineering” as an elective.

Hamilton will begin offering PLW courses this fall when three sections of “Introduction to Engineering Design” will run. Classrooms are being remodeled to accommodate the class.

PLW is intended to help students learn skills for high-tech fields, and it has attracted nontraditional students. Schultz said that the Appleton School District, which district staff members visited to see the program in place, reports that more girls and others who typically do not enter engineering fields are enrolling in the classes.

School Board Member Deborah Briggs said she will be interested in knowing how many nontraditional students who experience the program in middle school will decide to enroll in the high school courses.

The Kern Family Foundation provided the district a three-year grant totaling $42,000 to offset some start-up expenses of the program which have included staff training, curriculum revisions, remodeling, computer equipment and classroom materials.

The district plans to monitor enrollment in the program and offer more classes at Templeton and Hamilton in future years.

Jaye Mier recognized
Templeton choral music teacher Jaye Mier was recognized for providing outstanding choral opportunities for middle school students for the past 14 years. Polczynski recognized Mier for growing chorus into a popular program at Templeton, providing a culture of community and safety for students, offering high-quality concerts and musicals and playing a behind-the-scenes role in the school’s Veterans Day Program.

Board officers elected
School Board members kept Gabe Kolesari as their president, James Long as vice president, Dawn Van Aacken as clerk and Michael Hyland as treasurer.

Personnel business
In personnel business, the School Board:

  • Appointed Wendy Horsens as Marcy library-media specialist, Kathleen Mueller as Marcy kindergarten teacher, Eric Ebert as Hamilton social studies teacher and Jennifer Emory as Marcy emotional behavioral disabilities teacher; and
  • Approved a leave of absence for Templeton speech and language specialist Jennifer Kryscio for the 2007-08 school year.