October 18, 2019
Stanford Educational Opportunity Project

Every school administrator and teacher should visit the website https://edopportunity.org/ .  Stanford University conducted a study measuring educational opportunity in every community in America. This is a national database of academic performance. Basically, it uses the socioeconomic status of a district or school and the academic performance of those students. Every school district and individual school is depicted in an interactive chart on the website.

For example, the website compares Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to a Maryland   school district, Anne Arundel County Public Schools. CPS is a school district with below average socioeconomic status and below average academic achievement in 3 rd grade. Anne Arundel has an above average socioeconomic status and an above average academic achievement in 3 rd grade. CPS’s academic achievement between 3 rd grade and 8 th grade shows above average increases every year while Anne Arundel shows below average academic achievement. CPS almost catches Anne Arundel by 8 th grade.

While educators generally believe that socioeconomic status is a predictor of student success, it does not predict student growth. Districts like CPS have a much higher student growth rate than Anne Arundel. If you examine the data at this website, you will be able to find your own school district and your own individual schools.

Using Data to Drive School Improvement

I have mentioned in earlier Updates that Dr. Don White and I lead an ISBE-approved administrative academy on using data to drive school improvement. Dr. White is conducting a very interesting study in his school district. He has examined data from the Illinois Report Card and has determined three other school districts that “look” like Mokena Elementary School District from the variables of student enrollment, socioeconomic status, student mobility rate, expenditure per student, etc., but whose student achievement scores are better than Mokena’s. Dr. White and a district committee have then developed a series of questions to ask those districts about their educational programming, to try to determine why these like school districts are scoring higher than Mokena. They hope to use this information to drive school improvement initiatives. Dr. White shares this process and data at our academy as a model for school districts to follow.

In addition to using Illinois Report Card data, districts could also use the Stanford project data to find like socioeconomic districts throughout the United States and conduct similar research to determine what these districts are doing to get higher academic achievement results.
Fitness Tips

We all need motivation to take care of ourselves. We should eat healthy and exercise on a regular basis. Joe Thiel, owner of Fitness Together in Springfield, sent me this information. I thought I would pass it along to you as a reminder that we need to take care of ourselves, our family and our friends as well as all the students and employees in our school districts.

7 Habits of Highly Fit People
Lots of people ask me how to quickly and easily get fit. While I know they are hoping for a simple answer, the reality is that getting and staying fit is a lifestyle, not a quick fix. Sorry, but someone has to tell you the truth.

So what do fit people do in their "healthy lifestyle"? Take a peek at the following 7 Habits of Highly Fit People:

Habit #1: They Don't Buy Junk
Fit people know that if they keep junk food in the house it will land on their waist sooner or later. So they don't buy any. Even buying junk food for your kids or spouse is not advised since: 1) you'll likely eat some of it eventually, and 2) your loved ones shouldn't be eating that junk either. It's called junk for a reason.

Rid your home of chips, cookies, candy, baked goods, pre-packaged snacks and anything else that belongs in a vending machine. Replace the above with fresh fruit, veggies, nuts and other healthy whole foods snacks.

Habit #2: They Have Priorities
Fit people make exercise a priority. Along with keeping a job, paying the bills and going to the doctor, exercise is an important part of their lives. What I've found is that fit people put exercise before leisure time. Sure, fit people enjoy leisure, but it is scheduled around their workout time.

Treat exercise time with the same importance that you would a business meeting or trip to the dentist.

Habit #3: They Stop When Full
Fit people stop eating when they feel full. Sound simple? It is, but how many times have you stuffed yourself simply to clear your plate? Or, how many times have you eaten another piece of cake despite being stuffed? The next time you feel full; take it as a sign to stop eating. Yes, even if your plate isn't empty.

Habit #4: They Push Themselves
Not only do fit people make time to go to the gym, they challenge themselves during each workout. While it is easy to simply go through the motions while exercising, you're cheating your body out of great results when you don't push yourself. Exercise should make you sweat, make your muscles burn, and leave you with a feeling of accomplishment.

Find ways to make each workout more challenging. For competitive people, the best way to push yourself is to exercise with a friend of similar strength. Another great way to challenge yourself is to set small attainable goals. These goals could be to push heavier weight, to sprint longer, or to do cardio at a higher intensity setting.

Habit #5: They Don't Eat and Watch TV
Fit people know that eating in front of the TV is mindless eating. When your attention is on your entertainment and not on your food, you’ll be less tuned in to what and how much ends up in your mouth. Eating in front of the TV is also very habit forming. Ever notice how you crave munchies just as a reflex of sitting in front of the TV?

Eat before or after your entertainment and pay attention to what and how much goes into your mouth.

Habit #6: They Drink Water
Fit people drink lots of water. And not just in addition to other beverages, but instead of them. Water is their main drink, while other drinks are occasional treats. Calorie-filled drinks are one of the quickest ways to consume excess calories which quickly turn into fat. Consider water your beverage of choice. Drink plenty of it each day and drink other beverages only a few times each week.

Habit #7: They Are Supported
Fit people don’t leave their motivation to chance. They know that if their personal trainer, boot camp instructor or workout partner is waiting for them, then they are less likely to skip a workout. It is so easy to hit snooze or to talk yourself out of the gym as soon as your behind hits the couch after work. Fit people take the option of skipping out of the equation.

Tip of the Week

Have you written a positive note to a staff person this week? Have you written a positive note to a student or a parent? Get started now, make it a routine. Write one positive note per day to one person.

For more information, please contact:

Dr. Richard Voltz
Associate Director
Professional Development/Induction-Mentoring
2648 Beechler Court
Springfield, IL 62703
Follow me on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/rvoltz