Friday, August 30, 2013

The Opening Day Address to Staff from BOE President Greg Ardrey

Good morning and welcome to the start of a new school year!
I am excited to be here today to ring in the beginning of a new academic year. On behalf of the board of education, I want to welcome ALL of you –veterans and newcomers alike. Whatever your status, you’re now officially members of the family here in Janesville.
And just like any other family, we may not always see eye-to-eye, but we are connected and support each other in good times and bad.
We’re here today because we ALL have ONE fundamental thing in common. We’re ALL educators, and I would hope that we’re ALL proud to serve the children of the School District of Janesville.
I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment (handbook, dress code questions, budget, weather, etc.), I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream, that we will serve our community by educating every child.
The work we do during the school day, after the school day ends, on nights, weekends, and even during the summer is VITAL to the future of our students, and to the future of society. That’s an ENORMOUS responsibility and one I hope we proudly accept, despite the challenges we are facing.
Last school year, our school district, our schools, our administration, staff and our students won many awards and recognitions – at both the state and the national level.  These accomplishments are too many to list, but I can say that the accomplishments are notable. I am so very proud to be volunteering in a school district, whose collective personnel, strive for greatness; people who are so passionate about the success of our students.
This coming year, you have both the opportunity and the responsibility to drive quality education in our classrooms.  In my work Alliant Energy, I see more and more evidence that from the foundation of elementary school experience to the graduating high school seniors, you are a critical element to the future success and even the livelihood of our students.
With tomorrow being the historic 50th anniversary of the great civil rights march on Washington DC, in which Dr Martin Luther King gave his ‘I Have A Dream’ speech, I have a dream today that we will serve our community by educating every child
I have a dream today that we will provide the foundational education that sets up our students for their future. 
I have a dream today that when we step into our classrooms, that we take the time and put forth the effort to communicate to our students on their level and build a relationship with each and every one of them.
I have a dream today that we will do our best to help the students’ dream of what they want for their future lives.
I have a deep appreciation for the dedication and hard work required to be a successful teacher.  I applaud your efforts.  My board colleagues and I are big fans.  As we head into our new school year, I want to thank you, to encourage you and to remind you how important you are to our students and to our community.
Have a great year!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Tips for Developing a Positive Relationship with Your Child’s Teacher

You’re getting ready to meet your child’s teacher, and you know it’s important to develop a positive relationship with him or her to benefit your child. The following tips from the newsletter were compiled from the National Parent Teacher Association and the National Education Association:

When you have concerns, call or email your child’s teacher requesting an appointment to discuss what’s on your mind. 

To help you organize your thoughts, state to yourself what your reasons are for the meeting.
Find out how much time the teacher is allotting for your meeting. If you think it’s not enough, let him or her know.

Before the meeting takes place, tell your child you will be seeing the teacher. Reassure your child that you are meeting with the teacher in order to help him or her. 

Make a list of your questions, and don’t hesitate to ask them.

Try to begin positively. Tell what progress you have noticed in your child, etc. Thank the teacher for meeting with you.

Here are some general questions you might want to ask:

  • How much time should my child be spending on homework?
  • How much should I be helping my child with homework?
  • How will the school measure my child’s progress?
  • Is my child participating in class?
  • Does my child complete and turn in all of his or her homework?
  • How is my child getting along with the other children?
  • What kind of classroom rules do you have? How do you enforce them? Is my child following them? 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

What's Right in the School District of Janesville

What’s Right in the School District of Janesville (SDJ) is a forum to recognize outstanding performances and achievements by SDJ employees, students and schools.

Staff Awards or Commendations

ESC – Administrative and Human Resources

  • Mary Ann Kahl – Handbook and Christine Carlson – insurance enrollment (many comments have been given regarding the importance of and effectiveness to having the enrollment meetings).

  • Michelle Kahl and Mandy Harper – Secretary Orientation meeting.

Craig High School

  • Nate Scafe, VISTA Volunteer, should be recognized for creating an online parent tutorial for Family Access and online registration AND for leading our school in developing a mentorship program in partnership with First Lutheran Church.

Edison Middle School

  • Andy LaChance and Carl Schenzel- recognized for teaching summer school class Motorhead Tech.  Andy and Carl were interviewed by LocalVision TV about their efforts with students fixing small motors, lawn mowers, etc.

  • Matt Peerenboom- Matt was hired as the new assistant principal of Edison Middle School. He has been a Science teacher at Franklin Middle School for 12 yrs.

Madison Elementary School

  • A group of 5 teachers (Lisa Plewa, Cindy Seichter, Stephanie Gogul, Stephanie Filter and Tracy Ladick) spent 3 days attending a workshop in Minnesota with Principal McMahon learning about how to better meet the needs of our youngest at risk readers. Their enthusiasm, dedication, and desire to help all children should be commended! 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Survival Tips for New Educators

Expect things to take MORE time than you think they will. A simple little assignment that you think will take 15 minutes may end up taking the whole class period. 

Expect things to take a lot LESS time than you think they will. You will sometimes find that what you had planned for two days will take 15 minutes. Then you will be facing 30 students with nothing to do – not a good situation.  Always plan more thank you think you could possible need. 

Don’t be distraught if you have to trash one day’s lesson plan because of an unexpected schedule change. That change will seem irrelevant by the time May rolls around. 

As much as possible, handle paper only once.   Fill out forms from the office as you receive them.   Decide immediately what to keep and what to throw out.

You don’t have to do things the way the teacher next door does them. If piles work better than files for you, stick to piles.

Credit:  Survival Tips for New Teachers ~ Edited by Cheryl Miller Thurston

Thursday, August 22, 2013

September Lunch Menus Are Posted!

The School District of Janesville Food Service Department has posted lunch menus for the month of September.  Breakfast menus will be posted on August 23, 2013.  Please visit the "Menu" page on the SDJ website.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

School District Sees Slight Increase in ACT Scores from Previous Year

The School District of Janesville began redesigning high school curriculum during the 2012 – 2013 school year in response to lackluster student achievement results on the ACT and advanced placement (AP) test results. The effort known as Project Redesign is ongoing, and is a complete four-year overhaul of the curriculum, beginning with 9th grade and rolling up to subsequent grades. This effort has the ultimate goal of aligning curriculum with the Common Core State Standards and the ACT College and Career Readiness Standards*. “The School District of Janesville cannot settle for being average,” stated Superintendent Karen Schulte, “we must do better for our children and we will.”

To increase the College and Career Readiness of our students, the School District of Janesville has begun annually monitoring our students' growth with the ACT’s Educational Planning and Assessment System (EPAS) from 7th through 10th grade. Additionally, all 11th grade students participated in a practice ACT in the spring of 2013.  As part of Project Redesign, these results, along with our annual ACT data, are being used to identify students' learning needs and align the curriculum with the College and Career Readiness and Common Core State Standards. This system will also help schools monitor student progress toward the desired outcome of College and Career Readiness, as well as improved ACT scores. 

The success of the redesign efforts will be measured throughout the next four years; beginning with AP testing, ACT testing, Wisconsin Knowledge Concepts Exam (WKCE) and performance on local assessment results, as well as the increased ability of Janesville graduates to find success after high school.  Optimum results would demonstrate a slow and steady upward trend throughout the next four years.  Full implementation (grades 9 – 12) of Project Redesign will take place during the 2015 – 2016 school year.  The 2016 Parker and Craig graduates will be the first to have benefited from the full implementation (4 years) of Project Redesign.

To help facilitate the rigor of the math curriculum at the high schools, 8th grade students in the School District of Janesville will be enrolled in algebra starting with the 2014 – 2015 school year.  Currently, algebra is typically a 9th grade course.  ACT trend data indicates the average math score on the ACT increases by two points when students take Algebra in 8th grade.

The School District of Janesville’s performance on ACT testing has been relatively flat in recent years and 2013 ACT results confirm that same trend, although a slight increase was noted.  Current ACT test scores for the School District of Janesville continue to hover around the state average. 

District Wide Results:

ACT scores increased from 21.4 (2012) to 21.5 (2013).  District scores this year trail the state composite score by .6 compared with .7 in 2012. The state composite ACT score was unchanged from 2012.  The scores that were just released are reflective of the 2013 graduating class, which means the majority of students took the ACT in the spring of 2012 in the 11th grade.

Craig High School Results:

Scores declined from 22.1 to 21.9 (-.2 or 1% decrease) at CHS.  The composite score at Craig trailed below the state by 0.2. 

Parker High School Results:

At Parker High School, scores improved from 20.6 to 20.9 (+.3 or 1.5% increase) points from the previous year.  Parker trails the state by 1.2. 


At Craig High School, 77% of the 2013 graduates participated in the ACT; this is an increase from 71% in 2012.  At Parker High School participation decreased from 68% to 62% from 2012 to 2013 respectively. 

Early indicators of improvement include the U.S. News and World Report designation (both high schools were silver medalists) that documented increased achievement for African-American students at both High Schools.  These results are hopeful markers that improvement efforts at our high schools are turning the tide.  The ultimate goal is that students at both high schools reach and then exceed the ACT state average.  Wisconsin consistently performs in the top tier of states involved in the ACT.  The School District of Janesville is very excited about the upcoming changes at the high school level. 

The School District of Janesville is committed to our students being prepared as world-class learners with strong academic skills, a sense of self and readiness to become a contributing member of society. 

* The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. The ACT College and Career Readiness Standards measure students' progressive development of knowledge and skills in the same academic areas from grades 8 through 12. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

50 Technology Tools for Educators and Parents

Technology and education are pretty intertwined these days and nearly every teacher has a few favorite tech tools that make doing his or her job and connecting with students a little bit easier and more fun for all involved.

Yet as with anything related to technology, new tools are hitting the market constantly and older ones rising to prominence, broadening their scope, or just adding new features that make them better matches for education, which can make it hard to keep up with the newest and most useful tools even for the most tech-savvy teachers.

In a recent published blog, Ross Crockett ( compiled a list of new, innovative tech tools, including some that are becoming increasingly popular and widely used, that should be part of any teacher’s tech tool arsenal this year, whether for their own personal use or as educational aids in the classroom.  Many of these tools can also be used by parents.

Social Learning

These tools use the power of social media to help students learn and teachers connect.
  1. EdmodoTeachers and students can take advantage of this great tech tool, as it offers a Facebook-like environment where classes can connect online.
  2. GrockitGet your students connected with each other in study sessions that take place on this great social site.
  3. EduBlogsEduBlogs offers a safe and secure place to set up blogs for yourself or your classroom.
  4. SkypeSkype can be a great tool for keeping in touch with other educators or even attending meetings online. Even cooler, it can help teachers to connect with other classrooms, even those in other countries.
  5. WikispacesShare lessons, media, and other materials online with your students, or let them collaborate to build their own educational wiki on Wikispaces.
  6. PinterestYou can pin just about any image you find interesting on this site, but many teachers are using it as a place to collect great lesson plans, projects, and inspirational materials.
  7. SchoologyThrough this social site, teachers can manage lessons, engage students, share content, and connect with other educators.
  8. QuoraWhile Quora is used for a wide range of purposes, it can be a great tool for educators. It can be used to connect with other professionals or to engage students in discussion after class.
  9. NingNing allows anyone to create a personalized social network, which can be great for both teachers and students alike.
  10. OpenStudy:Encourage your students to work together to learn class material by using a social study site like OpenStudy.
  11. ePalsOne of the coolest benefits of the Web is being able to connect with anyone, anywhere. ePals does just that, but focuses on students, helping them to learn languages and understand cultures different from their own.


These educational tools can help you to make lessons fun, interesting, and more effective.
  1. Khan AcademyMany teachers use this excellent collection of math, science, and finance lectures and quizzes to supplement their classroom materials.
  2. MangaHighMangaHigh offers teachers a wealth of resources for game-based learning in mathematics.
  3. FunBrainIf you’re looking for a great collection of educational games, look no further than FunBrain. On it, teachers can take advantage of fun tools for math and reading.
  4. EducreationsEducreations is an amazing online tool for the iPad that lets teachers (or students) create videos that teach a given topic. Perfect for studying or getting students to show off their knowledge.
  5. AnimotoAnimoto makes it simple to create video-based lessons or presentations for the classroom and to share them with students or anyone else.
  6. SocrativeAvailable for computers, mobile devices, and tablets, this student response system engages students through games and exercises on any device they have on hand. Even better, teachers can easily assess student progress and track grades.
  7. KnewtonAdaptive learning has been a hot topic in recent months, and with Knewton it’s something that any teacher can access and use. The site personalizes online learning content for each student according to his or her needs.
  8. KerpoofOn Kerpoof, students can get creative with their learning with games, interactive activities, drawing tools, and more that are both fun and educational.
  9. StudySyncWith a digital library, weekly writing practice, online writing and peer reviews, Common Core assignments, and multimedia lessons available, this site is a fully-featured tool for teaching and learning that can be a big help in the classroom.
  10. CarrotSticksOn this site, teachers can take advantage of a wide range of math learning games, giving students practice while they have fun.

Lesson Planning and Tools

Use these tech tools to pull together great lessons and design amazing and memorable student projects.
  1. Teachers Pay TeachersHave great lessons to share? Looking for something to add to your classes? On this site you can do both, selling your own class materials and buying high-quality resources from other teachers.
  2. PlanboardMake sure your lessons are organized and that your day runs smoothly with the help of this amazing online tool designed just for teachers.
  3. TimetoastTimetoast is a pretty cool for student projects, allowing them to build sleek, interactive timelines in minutes.
  4. CapzlesThere are so many different ways that Capzles can be used in the classroom, there’s bound to be an application that fits your needs. What does it do? Capzles makes it simple to gather media like photos, videos, documents, and even blog posts into one place, making it perfect for teaching, learning, or online projects.
  5. PreziWant to build presentations that will wow your students? Make use of this online tool that makes it simple to do all kinds of cool things with your lessons, even allowing collaboration between teachers.
  6. WordleCreate stunning word clouds using Wordle, a great complement to language lessons of any kind.
  7. QR CodesQR codes (or quick response codes) are showing up with greater frequency in education. If you’d like to get in on the trend, you’ll need a tool to create and manage the codes like Delivr and one to read codes, like any of those listed on this site.
  8. QuizletQuizlet makes it easy for teachers to create study tools for students, especially flashcards that can make memorizing important information a snap.
  9. MasteryConnectHow are your students performing with regard to state and common core standards? MasterConnect makes it simple to track and analyze both, as well as other elements of student performance.
  10. Google DocsThrough Google Docs, teachers can create and share documents, presentations, or spreadsheets with students and colleagues as well as give feedback on student-created projects.
  11. YouTubeNot all schools allow YouTube, but they are missing out as the site contains a wealth of great learning materials for the classroom. There’s even a special education-focused channel just for teachers and students.
  12. TED-EdTED isn’t just a great place to find inspiration anymore, the site also contains numerous videos that are organized by subject and can help you to teach everything from how pain relievers work to Shakespearean insults.
  13. Glogster:Glogster is a social site that lets users mash up music, photos, videos, and pretty much anything else you’d like. It’s a great way to create learning materials and a handy tool for creative student projects.
  14. CreazaWant to bring your student projects into the 21st century? Creaza can make that possible, offering tools to brainstorm, create cartoons, and edit audio and video.
  15. Mentor MobOn Mentor Mob, you or your students can create a learning playlist, which is essentially a collection of high-quality materials that can be used to study a specific concept.

Useful Tools

These tools can help you to stay connected, organized, and increase the ease of building multimedia lessons and learning tools.
  1. EvernoteCapture great ideas, photos, recordings, or just about anything else on your Evernote account, access it anywhere, and keep it organized. A must-have tool for lesson planning.
  2. TwitterThere are so many ways Twitter can be used in education. Teachers can connect with other educators, take part in chats, share their ideas, or even use it in the classroom to reach out to students.
  3. Google EducationGoogle offers a number of great edtech resources for teachers, including email and collaborative apps, videos, lesson plan search, professional development, and even educational grants.
  4. DropboxEasily store, share, and access any kind of data from anywhere with the easy-to-use and free Dropbox service.
  5. DiigoDiigo lets you treat the web like paper-based reading material, making it simple to highlight, bookmark, take notes, or even add sticky notes.
  6. Apple iPadOne of the most widely used, though expensive, tech tools being used in today’s classroom is the Apple iPad. With a host of educational apps being developed for the device, it’s become a favorite of teachers and students alike across the nation.
  7. AviaryAviary is a suite of tools that make it easy to edit images, effects, swatches, music, and audio or to create and modify screen captures.
  8. JingIf you’re teaching kids about tech or just about anything else, a great screenshot program is essential. Jing is one great option that allows teachers to take screenshots as images, record up to five minutes or videos then edit and share the results.
  9. PoppletYou and your students can use Popplet to brainstorm ideas, create mindmaps, share, and collaborate.
  10. Google EarthFrom geography projects to learning about geological processes, Google Earth can be an amazing and fast way to show students anywhere in the world.
  11. DonorsChooseNeed funding for a classroom project? You can get it through this site that hooks up needy teachers with willing donors.
  12. SlideShareWith SlideShare, you can upload your presentations, documents, and videos and share them with students and colleagues. Even better, you can take advantage of materials that other have uploaded as well.
  13. LiveBindersLike a real-life three ring binder, this tech tool allows you to collect and organize resources. Much better than a binder, however, the site also comes with tools to connect and collaborate and a virtual whiteboard.
  14. AudioBooThrough this tool, you can record and share audio for your students or anyone else.
All of the above information obtained in this blog can be viewed in it's original format at:

Monday, August 19, 2013

Information on School Voucher Applications

Friday’s headlines in the Gazette stated that Rock County Christian School received ten slots for vouchers.  Many of us our wondering how that will affect the School District of Janesville’s (SDJ) budget.  We already know that more than 2,400 students applied for the statewide school voucher program, most of them already in private schools.

The number of applications now means a random lottery divides the 500 available seats in the program to the 25 schools that had the most applicants.  DPI released figures showing 1,566 of the 2,069 income-eligible applicants in the top 25 schools did not attend a public school last year. The applicant total also means none of the schools participating in the Milwaukee Choice Program will be allowed to accept students applying through the statewide program expansion.

The 25 schools and districts allowed to participate include: the Green Bay Area Catholic Education system of schools, St. Francis Xavier Catholic School System in Appleton, Regis Catholic Schools in Eau Clair and Rock County Christian in Janesville.

DPI will give 10 seats to each of those schools and districts, while the remaining 250 seats will be chosen by random lottery. There is a preference given for siblings in the lottery, but no preference is given to children currently attending public schools.

GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said the applicant total showed high interest and the need to expand it in the next budget. But critics assailed the high number of private school children seeking spots in the program.  Vos said while he was happy with the number of applications, he found it unfortunate that the number of children would be capped at 500 this year and 1,000 next year.  “This clearly proves the need for further expansion of statewide school choice and I look forward to accomplishing that in the next budget,” Vos said.  Meanwhile, Rep. Sondy Pope, D-Madison, said the true intent of the program was to subsidize parents of private school students. “The voucher program is no longer providing the escape option from a failing public school; it has become a new state entitlement program that will cost the taxpayers and directly compete with our constitutionally required public school system,” Pope said. “Unintended’ mistakes still have very real repercussion on students across the state.”

So how does all of this affect the SDJ?  DPI has explained to us that a new appropriation has been set up to fund these new "voucher" students.  Appropriation is SEPARATE from the Equalization Aid appropriation, and public school districts having private school students newly-participating in this program will NOT experience a reduction of aid.  This may, however, encourage the siphoning off of SDJ public students to the private schools given that there is state funding. This could eventually (maybe) lead to less public students, less revenue limit, and eventually, less Equalization Aid.  This is just speculation at this point, but I think we need to be ready for possible changes related to funding in the future.

Friday, August 16, 2013

2013-2014 Registration Information

Parents have the ability this year to complete most of the registration process online, using their Family Access account. If you do not have a Family Access account, please contact the school directly. A parent/Guardian account will give you access to all of your child’s information and allow you to make online payments, using eFunds.   Video Tutorials are available to view to assist you in this process.

2013-14 Registration Information

On our web page you will find the registration day schedule, enrollment fees and all forms/applications that will need to be turned in on registration day.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

SDJ Innovative Technology Conference a HUGE Success

The School District of Janesville sponsored an Innovative Technology Conference on August 13, 2013 at Parker High School.  

The focus of the day revolved around innovative classroom practices and innovative leadership skills. Using a two track system, sessions were created for faculty and administrators.  

The keynote presenter was Will Richardson who spoke to an audience consisting of over 200 participants.  Richardson’s presentation was titled, "From 'Old School' to 'Bold School': Making the Jump from Traditional to Modern Learning."  You can read more about Will Richardson at:

The breakout sessions were focused on classroom transformation and were designed to be practical and applicable. 

I would like to thank the following people for their hard work and dedication to the event.  I apologize if I missed anyone.  The collaborative effort of this group was AMAZING!

Bob Smiley
Kathy White
Shelley Gard
Nicole Andreson
Amy Beetstra
Stacci Barganz
Craig Fischer
Emily Dittmar
Brad Troeger
Carrie Mergen
Brent Williams
Dana Simons
Becky Carter
Sean Harper (along with Ryan Semans from Tierney Brothers)
Ann Marshall

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Developing Teenagers’ Executive Function

           “Students in my classes over the years have blurted out highly inappropriate comments only to have maturity catch up with the front of their brains seconds later,” says author/ consultant and former middle-school teacher Rick Wormeli in this helpful article in AMLE Magazine. “They think jumping off a one-story building will work just fine if they have an opened umbrella to slow them down. They shoplift a Snickers bar even if they have the cash to pay for it.” And they do things like crossing a busy street while talking on a cell phone. What these adolescents are struggling to develop is executive function, a key set of skills including planning and prioritizing, organization, time management, goal-directed persistence, sustained attention, task initiative, emotional control, response inhibition, flexibility, working memory, and metacognition.

            Many teachers’ response to undeveloped executive function in their students is to say something like, Come on, step it up, get organized, use your time wisely, show respect, get your act together. “These comments are a little like telling a student who doesn’t speak our language that he is intellectually incapacitated,” says Wormeli. Here are his suggestions for helping students gradually improve their executive function:
  • Break down big projects into smaller chunks. Then help students develop the skill of doing this themselves.
  • Confirm, reconfirm, and reconfirm all directions. Students may not have tuned in the first two times.
  • Cue from afar. “Communicate indirectly (for example, note, text message),” say authors Richard Guare, Peg Dawson, and Colin Guare. “The idea is to create distance between you and your teen so that the cue can work without the two of you being in the same space at the same time.”
  • Announce upcoming events and schedule changes in advance. “No surprises, if possible,” says Wormeli.
  • Practice transitions from one activity to another. This may seem more suited to elementary school, but adolescents need it too, says Wormeli.
  • Remind students of due dates. It’s best to put these at the top of every assignment or on the opening page of an electronic file.
  • Remove clutter. Students’ immediate work area should be clear of stuff that may distract them.
  • Regularly do a book-bag dump. Once a week, students should get everything out of the bag and sort it out. Students who keep reminders on an iPad should look through all of them once a week to make sure the organizational system is working well.
  • Frequently provide effective, constructive, descriptive feedback. “Focus on decisions students make, not the quality of the work,” Wormeli suggests. “It’s specific feedback that motivates and matures, not the label on the performance.”
  • Make every goal transparent. Examples of the final product are very helpful, as is experience critiquing others’ products. “In doing this, they build a robust internal editor that helps them compare their own work with given exemplars in real time,” says Wormeli. “They monitor their own progress and adjust their effort without feeling threatened.”
  • Provide compelling visual aids. These are important for everything students have to learn.
  • Help students identify risks. Adolescents are naturally drawn toward risk-taking, which is pleasurable because it increases dopamine production in the brain. Schools can use role-playing, ropes courses, opportunities to get into new sports, clubs, and programs, examining real-life scenarios, and connecting to their core values – the people they want to be and their families want them to become. Students should know how executive function skills help them achieve what they want in their lives.
  • Graphically display progress. Frequent mapping of how students are doing with respect to goals is helpful.
  • Get students to exert themselves physically. “Aerobic exercise can grease the wheels of executive brain function,” says author Annie Murphy Paul.
  • Create a positive emotional atmosphere. This is the opposite of being an adversarial “gotcha” taskmaster.
“Looking at Executive Function” by Rick Wormeli in AMLE Magazine, August 2013 (Vol. 1, #1, p. 41-43)

Additional information can also be viewed at

Monday, August 12, 2013

Retracing Erasing Janesville Gazette Article

This past Sunday, August 11, 2013, an article in the Janesville Gazette discussed an inquiry that the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) had made concerning an “above average” number of student erasures on the most recent Wisconsin Knowledge and Concept Exam (WKCE)  administered last Fall 2012.  The inquiry was based on erasure marks from Franklin Middle School.  We are highlighting key discussion points shared with the Gazette and Channel 3 News concerning this inquiry.

  • Franklin Middle School was one of 29 schools out of more than 2000 schools in Wisconsin that were flagged for high numbers of erasures.  Analyses have revealed that the inquiry was based on the erasure marks of eight students out of 575 students tested last year at Franklin.
  • An analysis of the proficiency scores (of the eight students identified for above average erasures) indicates no significant change in how they performed in current/previous WKCE tests or other district assessments.  The same is true for Franklin; there was no “spike” in the proficiency building score.
  • The written response (regarding erasure marks) submitted to the DPI by Franklin Principal Dr. Urness was accepted by the Office of Educational Accountability.  State officials are satisfied with the response and have no other requests for clarification or additional information. The WKCE administered this coming fall (2013) will be the last state paper and pencil assessment.  The state is moving to the new online Smarter Balance Assessment.
  • Ironically, the school district has previously received notice that students had not been erasing properly.  Therefore, the scanner that corrected the test booklets could not determine which answer had been erased.  Consequently, the scanner would pick up two responses and count the item wrong, thereby hurting the student’s score on the test.  As a result, the district has stressed the importance of students taking care to erase properly.
  • The district has determined (at this time) that no changes are advised for WKCE preparation with students and staff.  The district’s position is to continue to emphasize that students take all assessments seriously, work slowly and carefully, go back and check their work, and make corrections as necessary. 

The School District of Janesville continues to affirm this year’s WKCE student achievement results and looks forward to the upcoming state School Report Card results to be published early next month. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Embracing Change

In twenty-first century education, one thing is certain: change is happening faster than ever before. It’s as if we’re on an out-of-control roller coaster. But you don’t have to be crushed by change. There are simple strategies you can use not only to survive change, but also to partner with it, making it your ally.

Although you cannot control change, you have absolute mastery over how you react to it. That can make all the difference.

Anticipate change. If you expect change, you won’t be as shocked when t inevitably happens and transforms your world.

Be flexible.  Martial arts teach the critical importance of flexibility. This is true in our change-bombarded lives for our mental attitudes. Stay flexible about every belief. Obsolescence no longer applies only to cars and technology. It’s true for every aspect of human knowledge. Do more than just passively go with the flow. Seek positive aspects in change. This will radically adjust your attitude to become more pro-change. We must not be like the cat that hates change – preferring to stay curled up safe and snug in front of the fireplace. Everything’s evolving, including the fireplace!

Hone your sense of urgency. Keep your to-do list uncluttered. Tackle new tasks urgently. You never know what’s coming next.

Work daily on these attitude adjustments. You’ll be on the cutting edge of change – not only mastering it, but also flourishing as a result. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Making the Grade

The Rotary Corn Roast and Mud Volleyball event will be held on August 17th at Traxler Park in Janesville. This is the event’s 27th year, and the Rotarians provide plenty of free sweet corn, entertainment, and of course, the mud volleyball tournament. They also sponsor the “Making the Grade” recognition ceremony at 11:00 a.m. They recognize area high school students who achieve a 3.0 GPA and above. Please come down and share in the FUN!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Career Cruising

The School District of Janesville will be utilizing a new career planning software throughout the 2013-2014 school year.  Career Cruising is a web-based software tool that will enhance the career planning process for students, staff and parents.

Career Cruising is a web based career exploration and planning tool used by students to explore career and college options and develop a career plan. Career Cruising can be accessed from school, from home, or wherever students have access to the Internet. Features of the program include:

Assessment tools to help students identify his or her career interests, skills, and learning style.

Thorough and up-to-date information about hundreds of different occupations, including direct links between careers and related college programs.

Interviews with real people in each occupation, which add depth and realism to career profiles.

Detailed information on post-­secondary education and training options.

Advice for all stages of the job search process, including developing a job search plan, networking, writing resumes and cover letters, preparing for interviews, and adjusting to a new job.

An online portfolio where your child can develop and reflect on his or her academic, personal, and career exploration activities, and make plans for the future.

Integrated with the portfolio to help your child create, format, and print professional looking resumes
quickly and easily.


Allows parents to view the information their child has stored in his or her portfolio, learn more about the careers and schools that their child is interested in, and communicate with their child’s career advisor.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Optimism Is the Best Policy

The way you look at life can drastically affect how much you enjoy it. If you have a positive attitude, you will be considered an optimistic person. If you have a negative attitude, you will be considered a pessimistic person. Optimists expect the best out of life. If you were not lucky enough to be raised with this attitude as a child, don’t fret, it can be learned.

Here are the tenets on which optimism is based:

  • Bad things do happen in life, but they are temporary.
  • Bad things in life are limited in scope; that is, they are small or insignificant.
  • People have control over their environments.

Here are the tenets on which pessimism is based:

  • Good things in life are temporary.
  • Good things in life are limited in scope; in other words, they are small or insignificant.
  • People have no control over their environments.

According to conventional wisdom, optimists and pessimists are both right about the same number of times, but optimists enjoy life more.

Optimists help create some of the good they come to expect, so they are probably right more than not – and they don’t waste time worrying about what they’re not right about.

Think of the benefits of being an optimist. Optimism relaxes people. When we’re relaxed, there is better blood flow to the brain, which results in more energy and creativity.

In Learned Optimism, Martin Seligman lists many studies that report that optimists are:

  • Healthier
  • Less likely to give up
  • More successful in school, on the job, and on the playing field
  • More successful in relationships
  • Depressed less often, and for shorter periods of time

-Adapted from Taking Care of Me: The Habits
Of Happiness by Mary Kay Mueller.

Friday, August 2, 2013

A 21st Century High School for a 21st Century District - Rock University High School

A new learning environment for high school students is on the horizon in Janesville – Rock University High School.  The School District of Janesville has been approved for grant funding ($200,000 a year for three years) that will lead to the creation of a high school at the University of Wisconsin – Rock County.  Planning for the school will take place during the 2013-2014 school year.

Currently, the School District of Janesville has two award-winning high schools (Janesville Craig and Parker) a charter school that is expanding (Rock River Charter School) and one that is looked to as a leader in project-based learning (TAGOS Leadership Academy). 

Rock University High School (RUHS) will serve students in grades 10 – 12 by offering an innovative, blended-learning program where the learner’s experience is personalized, self-directed, challenging, relevant, engaging and flexible. The students will demonstrate mastery in inquiry/problem-based learning imbedded in content-specific domains in order to ensure high achievement in skills and competencies for college and careers. The learning environment will be organized around the concept of STEAM education and partial world language immersion. STEAM stands for Science and Technology interpreted through Engineering and the Arts, all based in Mathematical elements.  STEAM education aims to bridge the gap between business and educational goals.

The vision of RUHS correlates with the School District of Janesville’s goals to:

  • Increase academic rigor and achievement
  • Increase student college and career readiness
  • Strengthen real-world applications
  • Lessen the achievement gap by recognizing intercultural competency as an asset

RUHS will provide a guided, integrative STEAM curriculum with an information-rich, digital-learning environment, so that all the students are prepared to be divergent, innovative thinkers, productive, creative, and contributing members of a global society. All students will receive a laptop as their learning tool as they become immersed in the STEAM Framework. The students will follow the research based Information Search Process; to question, access and analyze digital content, to communicate with each other and experts, and to create innovative projects that demonstrate their STEAM knowledge acquisition.

Stay tuned for more exciting updates about RUHS!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

I Would Like to Recognize...

Rock River Charter School (RRCS)

We have amazing employees that never stop raising the bar on supporting and educating Janesville students.  I am especially proud of the employees at RRCS.  Please read the following positive parent comments collected on Service Cards!

·      “RRCS saved my child’s future.”
·      “RRCS provides excellent service.”
·      “I am very pleased with the education my daughter has received at RRCS.”
·      “I am so happy with the changes in my son since he enrolled at RRCS.”
·      “I love the relaxed, student-focused program.”
·      “The staff always goes above and beyond to keep me informed about my grandson.”
·      “Thank you for being so supportive.”
·      “It’s a fantastic program and I am so happy it is part of our lives.”
·      “RRCS has helped my last 2 sons finish school on time and graduate with their class.”