September 12, 2018

Quality Frameworks for Illinois School Districts - Part 3
IASA personnel have been presenting an ESSA Academy and Dashboard training in all 21 Regions of the state over the past month. We have been talking with school administrators about ESSA and the concept of districts telling their own story.
The State of Illinois ESSA Plan is being updated regularly by ISBE to more accurately reflect factors that are part of the accountability provision of the plan and the State's designation of schools. For example, it was once believed that "Chronic Truancy" excluded "bereavement" and medical homebound. However, the definition changed January 1, 2018, in the Illinois School Code (105 ILCS 5/26-2a) to not include bereavement.
NCLB used 100% criteria for students to meet proficiency standards and ESSA is using 90% targets for ISBE goals. When contemplating these high criteria standards I find it important to think of these targets as aspirational. As parents or grandparents of students in our public schools, who of us would not want the State of Illinois to reach these goals? The goals are:
  • 90% or more 3rd grade students reading at/above grade level
  • 90% or more 5th grade students meet or exceed expectations in math
  • 90% or more 9th grade students are on track to graduate with their cohort
  • 90% or more students graduate from HS ready for college and career
It is important to point out that the new Evidence-Based Minimum (EBF) funding and the Base Funding Minimum (EBM) funding should include planning for how districts are allocating resources for Low Income students, Special Education and English Learners, to meet the ISBE 90% goals and contribute to student growth (ESSA) for all students.
School administrators are encouraged to start an analysis of how the district's schools are meeting the above mentioned goals by referencing the ISBE Interim Progress charts starting on page 20 of ISBE's ESSA Plan. The state plan starts with the actual Illinois student proficiency scores for all students and also by each subgroup. The district "all" score and the applicable subgroup scores should be compared to the state scores starting in 2016. These charts depict in three-year intervals the student scores that should be the target scores for all students and for all subgroups. This analysis should be the beginning for the school improvement plan for each school.
The Importance of Reading
As I continue my work in school districts conducting coaching sessions for teacher evaluators, I often have the opportunity to observe many different types of classrooms at all grade levels. As I observe students engaging in their own learning, I am reminded of one district's strategic goal "To have all third grade students at the third grade reading level." Many research projects have concluded that "Reading proficiency by third grade is the most important predictor of high school graduation and career success." ISBE has set a goal of "Ninety percent or more third-grade students are reading at or above grade level."
I believe that reading at grade level is the most important goal we can have for students. Every district should have this goal as a top priority and invest in resources to maximize the potential to reach this goal.
We have developed an administrators' academy around the topic of "Essentialism." One of the main components of essentialism is "trade-off." In order to maximize resources around one goal then we have to be willing to give other things up. If we really think reading is the most important aspect of education at all levels, but especially by third grade, what are we willing to give up to make that happen?
"9 Etiquette Rules That the Boss Shouldn't Break"
This is an older story by Abram Brown in Inc., but I think it has such great insight I have decided to copy  the article and make it part of this Update. This article contains great advice for leaders, and you may want to incorporate some of these tips into your everyday routines.

In that corner office, you'll find yourself balancing concerns about payroll and the supply chain with concerns about being liked by your employees and customers. Sometimes that desire to be popular can get you into trouble or land you in a lawsuit. What follows is a collection of new and old social rules you need to commit to memory.
"A business etiquette mistake can become very costly depending on how severe it is, and who you're offending," says Jacquelyn Whitmore, founder and author of several business etiquette texts, including the forthcoming Poised for Success. To help you navigate these tricky situations, we talked to Whitmore and several others versed in business etiquette to construct a list of what you should avoid in the workplace.

1.    Don't Always Stay Behind Your Desk : For everyday conversations about budgets, meetings or reports, you can remain seated behind your desk. But for anything that's not part of the daily routine-meeting a client, an interview, a review-stand up. If you welcome that person and shake his or her hand while standing over your desk, you set up a power play. You seem in charge, yes, but also dominating and impenetrable, which will hurt any attempt for an honest or frank conversation. Some business executives keep a separate table in their office for occasions like this.

2.   Don't Skimp on Small Talk : Granted, small talk can prove uninteresting-who really cares that much about the weather-but this basic information helps your employees connect with you, says Whitmore. "The small talk is extremely important," she says. "You must have the BLT factor: believable, likable, and trustworthy. The only way to get to know someone is through that BLT factor."
3.   Don't Use Text-Messaging Slang in E-mails : Your spouse or child may understand what 'lol' means when you shoot them a quick text message, but in an e-mail to your client, it looks sloppy and inappropriate. Treat initial e-mail exchanges like business letters. As you get to know the person you e-mail with, you can write more casually. Something to always avoid though: emoticons. If you're happy, then just write that.
4.   Don't Avoid Compliments : Some bosses think positive feedback will encourage employees to start coasting. But no compliments to your employees at all, and you'll soon end up with a disgruntled herd. Find a justified compliment to pay someone, and make this a regular occurrence, says Susan Sommers, who runs Dresszing, a business imagine consultancy. "I think it's important for bosses to recognize talent and help talent grow because that's what keeps a company vital," Sommers says.
5.   Don't Offer Casual Comments about Clothes : This comes down to how you phrase it. If you think your employee looks nice, try something like, "Thank you for always looking so professional," Sommers says. An offhand mention about their style or clothes can seem like a come-on. "You don't say to someone of the opposite sex, 'I love your shirt,'" Sommers says. This is treacherous territory, and Sommers advises her clients to generally avoid this if at all possible.
6.   Don't Dress Sloppy : You will set the tone for work attire. First ask yourself what the day will bring. If you're a lawyer in court, then a suit makes sense, says Barbara Pachter, author of Greet! Eat! Tweet!: 52 Business Etiquette Postings to Avoid Pitfalls and Boost Your Career. But for an Internet start-up, a polo with khakis makes sense. Also, your clothes must fit well. Nothing should hang loose. Wear items neither too big nor too tight.
7.   Don't Add Employees on Social Networking Sites : When your employees or clients go home at night and log onto Facebook, it's likely a respite from the workplace and a way to connect with people outside of the office. If a boss adds them on Facebook, they can feel nervous about what to share and who to associate with. "They may not want you on there, so don't ask," Pachter says. You should avoid making first contact on social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter. If your employees reach out to you, go ahead and accept.
8.   Don't Forget Your Facial Expression : As a boss, you've likely figured out a good poker face for negotiating. No doubt you're still developing that. You should always work on your "boss face." A boss that scowls drives employees away. A boss that grins encourages an overly lax atmosphere. Shoot for an expression of concentrated attentiveness, and flash that smile when necessary, says Pachter. "Often times you don't realize it-that standard facial expression," she says.
9. Don't Engage in Water-Cooler Talk : A gossipy boss can seem insincere and even untrustworthy. This means you should not share too much of your personal life and avoid pointed questions to your employees about personal areas, like marriage, finances and children. Vicky Oliver, author of 301 Smart Answers to Tough Business Etiquette Questions, suggests sticking to discussing the business world, the competition, or other broad topics. And if a rumor spreads about the inner workings of your company, you should address it directly. "What you don't want is an atmosphere of closed doors and whispered exchanges," says Oliver. "It will kill morale and kill productivity. It just creates an atmosphere of distrust where gossip rules."
Tip of the Week
Stay positive in your communications with staff, parents, and community, no matter what the circumstances. Share the positive messages about what is happening in your schools. Celebrate your school and student successes. Perhaps time could be dedicated during each board meeting to have students and/or educators communicate the positive accomplishments in your schools.
IASA Annual Conference - September 26-28, 2018

If you have not already registered for the IASA Annual Conference, please do so. IASA has a series of offerings at the conference specifically designed for the New Superintendent.

For more information, please contact:

Dr. Richard Voltz
Associate Director
Professional Development/Induction-Mentoring
2648 Beechler Court
Springfield, IL 62703
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