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Results show Dublin’s performance success rising

 Originally published here 

Wednesday January 14, 2015 11:02 AM

This year’s Ohio Achievement Assessment showed 71 percent of Dublin’s third-graders are reading at a proficient level or above.

Test results revealed 645 students, or 37 percent, read at advanced or accelerated levels. That number grew by seven students from 2013.

The results also showed that 376 students currently read at a basic or limited reading level. In 2013, 276 students read at that level and in 2012 it was 232 students.

Craig Heath, Dublin City School’s director of data and assessment, said the 2014 results were not out of the ordinary.

“The scores this year were very similar to what we have seen at this point in the past three or four years,” Heath said.

“Our students, teachers and parents have done an outstanding job preparing for all of these assessments this year, while keeping their eyes on the most important part of education, which is student learning.”

Heath said the district was in great shape and the scores from other schools throughout central Ohio were consistent with Dublin’s scores.

Jill Reinhart, Dublin’s director of literacy and English language learning, said there is a lot to be proud of in Dublin, but there is still work that needs to be done.

“I don’t want to see any student not on track,” she said. “I won’t be happy until we have zero students reading at basic or limited levels.”

Reinhart said she is pleased with how Dublin is committed to early intervention and providing personalized assistance.

Students took the OAA assessment the week of Oct. 6. The test was a 21/2-hour combination of multiple choice, short answer and extended response questions. The results were released Dec. 5.

Students will have another opportunity to take the Third Grade Reading OAA April 28.

Those students will also be taking the Measures of Academic Progress Assessment in Reading in early April.

The MAP test is taken online for one hour and consists of 50 unique questions chosen depending on the student’s previous answers.

MAP scores can be used to meet the requirements for the Third Grade Reading Guarantee. The Third Grade Reading Guarantee ensures students will read at an appropriate grade level and score above a state-mandated score on assessments.

In order to move onto fourth grade, students must score above a 394 on the standardized test. Last year, students needed to score above a 392.

In 2013, 99.7 percent of Dublin students met the reading guarantee requirements by the time they finished third grade.

The Third Grade Guarantee only applies to students who have been in the district since kindergarten.

Reinhart said Dublin has more than 1,400 students across all grade levels, whose first language is not English.

From both the OAA and MAP testing, teachers and administrators obtain a lot of valuable information, Heath said.

Students who score in the 95th percentile on two standardized tests can be identified as gifted.

Whether students are identified as gifted or struggling readers, Reinhart said teachers individualize instructions for each student based on their needs.

“We determine what the specific problem is and then our teachers construct personalized instructions to meet their needs,” she said.

Reinhart said individualized plans are constantly re-evaluated and improved to best serve the student.

Students in grades 4-9 will take the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers which will replace previous standardized tests.

2014, article, dublin, dublinschools, dublinvillager, education, news, ThisWeek, ThisWeekNews

Parents hear draft of gifted program revamp

Tuesday December 23, 2014 9:28 AM

Page A2 of 12/25 issue

The Dublin City School District presented a Gifted Service Delivery Draft to community members recently and then listened to their feedback.

About 60 community members gathered Dec. 10 in the Wyandot Elementary School Library to listen to Kimberly Pietsch Miller, the district’s chief academic officer, present the draft and answer questions.

In the fall, the school district convened a task force to review the current gifted service delivery model.

The district is responding to new and more rigorous content standards for all students, Miller said. In addition, the community provided feedback to the district during the 2013-14 school year indicating Dublin should review gifted services for possible improvements

In addition to reviewing the current model, which has been in place for eight years, the task force studied the research about service delivery, reviewed the ability and achievement of the current student population and considered the needs of different groups of students.

One of the goals of the task force is to ensure all students reach calculus by 12th grade.

In the draft, students in grades K-3 would receive group testing and gifted intervention specialists would visit classrooms to offer extension activities.

Students who are high achievers in math or reading in grades 4 and 5 would receive differentiation in the classroom.

Differentiation is an approach in which teachers give slightly different assignments to groups of students to best fit their learning needs.

For high achievers in math, numeracy coaches would be available and so would single- and double-accelerated options in sixth grade.

Miller assured parents the district “doesn’t want to accelerate students too quickly and risk them missing out on foundational skills.”

The task force also took into consideration students’ maturity levels when thinking about when to begin acceleration.

“In this model, we would bring the high school math classes to the middle school so students can stay in their building and be with students their own age,” Miller said.

The draft stated that fourth- and fifth-grade students who are identified as having superior cognitive skills would receive more “pull-out” and “cluster grouping in the regular classroom.”

From the 12/25 issue

Pull-out instruction is when students are taken out of their usual classroom for a period of time so they can work on different material.

Cluster grouping refers to placing small groups of superior cognitive students in each classroom.

In middle school, superior cognitive students would receive “social-emotional skills support.”

The current draft does not address gifted high school students.

The state of Ohio requires school districts to identify students who score above the 95th percentile on standardized testing. However, the state does not mandate service, once students are identified as gifted.

In Dublin, 22 percent of students scored above the 95th percentile in math and 16 percent scored above the 95th percentile in reading on standardized tests.

About 8 percent of Dublin students have been identified as gifted in the area of superior cognitive ability, Miller said.

During the meeting, parents asked questions about the current middle school gifted delivery model, whether test scores from elementary would be taken into consideration and what changes they should expect next year.

Miller reminded parents the only time a child would “fall out of the gifted education program is if a parent, teacher or principal suggested it.”

The first part of the service model plan would be implemented next year, Miller said.

This first stage would likely include name changes (for example, LEAP would be renamed) and changes in the elementary schools.

The task force will meet in early January to revise the draft, taking feedback from the meetings into consideration.

Additional community meetings will be held in January to gather feedback on the revised draft, Miller said.

A final plan is expected to be reached by March.

Sara Hallermann, a parent of three gifted students, said the meeting answered her questions.

“I think the Gifted Education Task Force is doing an excellent job in revamping the service model to better meet the needs of gifted students,” Hallermann said.

She said the meeting was positive and helpful, even though sometimes the content was controversial.

Hallermann appreciated that Miller explained the rationale of each decision and assured parents that everything is grounded in research.

Another parent, Rae Kroger, said the meeting was informative.

“They did a really good job at answering diverse questions,” she said.

Kroger said the district is moving in the right direction.

At the end of the meeting, community members were given an opportunity to write down what components of the service model they liked, components they want to see included, any questions they had and any additional input.

“We don’t want to glaze over anything,” Miller said.

“I want all students to achieve at high levels.”
Deb’s Details: This article happened during a crazy moment in my life. I was on my way to where the meeting was held when I was rear-ended! I’d never been in an accident before. I was a little late to the meeting because of that but I don’t think it affected my ability to get the facts. At the meeting, it was clear that the parents were very concerned and passionate about the gifted education program. The meeting lasted almost three hours.
I wanted this article to explain to those who couldn’t attend any of the three meetings what was discussed and emphasize how it’s not too late for them to give their suggestions to the school board.

dublin, dublinschools, dublinvillager, education, ThisWeek, ThisWeekNews

Creativity Summit

Educators share ideas about fostering creativity

Wednesday December 17, 2014 9:04 AM

More than 35 Dublin teachers and administrators attended the district’s first-ever Creativity Summit Dec. 11 to discuss ways to foster creativity in one another and students.
Teachers discussed what they think creativity is, why it is important and how creativity can be developed in staff members.
The summit was held at Dublin Coffman High School in the media center.
“Problem-solving and innovation are borne from creativity,” said Kimberly Pietsch Miller, Dublin’s chief academic officer.
“We want to connect our teachers to one another to discuss big ideas. We want to bring people together across grade levels and content areas to learn from each other.”
The concept of the creativity summit is partly based on the work being done at Eli Pinney Elementary School by teachers Jason Blair and Matt DeMatteis.
In June, Blair and DeMatteis spoke about the work they are doing in their classrooms.
They’ve been engaged in the “Wonder Project,” which is designed to expose students to concepts and ideas not normally found on standardized tests.
In the fourth grade, DeMatteis is helping students address philosophical questions about themselves and the world around them through the use of an integrated curriculum approach in partnership with Media Specialist Jamie Riley.
In the fifth grade last year, Blair worked with students on developing “creativity spots” throughout the building intended to be used for small group activities and creative learning.
Their creative, cross-curricular approach intentionally takes students far outside the world of required state tests.
“Creativity is something we prioritize in an educational climate of more and more assessments,” said Todd Hoadley, Dublin’s superintendent.
“Providing our students with a well-rounded education is part of our core mission and in order to do that effectively, we need to develop the critical-thinking skills essential to creativity.”
In order to develop students’ creativity at the highest possible level, teachers and administrators must foster the creativity in one another.
“Developing interest-based learners is a must for our students’ success and the health of our society,” Miller said.
“If we can help develop interest-based lifelong learners, former students can take their curiosity and creativity to the business world, which can lead to innovation,” she said.
“Our ability as a society to innovate is one of the backbones of our country and important to the success of our economy.”
Miller said creativity is important for students because in today’s world, innovation and problem-solving are some of the most important job skills.
“Both of those skills require creativity, so it just make sense that we are trying to foster that,” she said.
“Unfortunately, in the age of accountability, sometimes teachers will say, ‘I can’t be creative,’ but they can be creative.”
Travis Armstrong, a seventh-grade social studies at Davis Middle School, said he was excited to see the support of creativity from all grades, from everybody.
“You feel more comfortable to be creative when you know there are people in every building, grade and subject willing to do the same thing,” he said.
Kristen Bennett, a seventh-grade social studies teacher at Sells Middle School, said she “came to learn more about how creativity engages students and teachers to become better thinkers and problem-solvers.”
At the end of the meeting, small groups were formed so teachers could better connect with one another. They will continue to meet in January to plan opportunities to visit each other’s classrooms.
From the newspaper
2014, dublin, dublinvillager, education, schools, ThisWeek, ThisWeekNews

Students learn about giving back to community


By DEBBIE GILLUMWednesday December 10, 2014 8:59 AM

Photo from Janet DiSilvestro
For the fourth year, Olde Sawmill Elementary students are learning the importance of helping those in need through a year-long service learning project.

It’s called the Penny Harvest and it is a three-phase program from the organization See Kids Dream, which integrates community service into education.

This is the seventh year that See Kids Dream has been involved with central Ohio schools.

It’s grown from seven schools to now 40 schools, according to Laura Grindle, one of the co-founders of See Kids Dream and the director of programming.  

“We wanted to give the opportunity to all kids to volunteer and get involved in their community so that is why we reached out to schools,” she said.

Grindle said the most important thing about the program is that kids have the ability to make decisions themselves.

“Student voice is such an important part of service learning. They get more engaged and excited about learning when they have a say in how the money is spent,” she said.  

The Penny Harvest at Olde Sawmill started when students charted their ideas onto a “Symphony of Concerns” bulletin board that featured a musical instruments for each issue. Then they voted on issues that they felt were important in their community.

Next, the students spent four weeks raising money. The grade level that raised the most won a pizza party.

Photo from Janet DiSilvestro
Instead of doing fundraising projects, all the money came from students finding loose change, like in couch cushions, floor of the car, etc.  

In the past three years the students have raised around $2,500 each year.

Janet DiSilvestro, Gifted Instruction Specialist at Olde Sawmill and LEAP teacher, said this year their goal is $3,000.

LEAP (Logic, Enrichment and Pursuit) is a class of identified fourth or fifth grade students who receive extended training in academic content and thinking skills. They must have scored at the 95th percentile or higher in their academic area of strength.  

Students and parents were invited to Whetstone High School for a Purpose For Our Penny assembly on Dec. 10.

It was a kick-off of the research phase of the project and also a celebration of their fundraising efforts.

Non-profit organizations were invited to set up tables and talk with students.

This was a great opportunity for students to collect business cards and start initial inquiries about the organizations.

“During the event, parents came up and told me, ‘I had no idea my child could do this’ or ‘I had no idea my child was so passionate about this,’” Grindle said.

Starting in January, student leaders will research the various philanthropic organizations that address the problems that students have mentioned on the “Symphony of Concerns” bulletin board.

They will deeply research the issues and try to understand the factors causing the issues in their community.

Representatives from the organizations are then invited to come to the classroom and meet with students.

“This gives the students an opportunity to learn how to meet and greet, ask questions that are not already answered in the flyers and websites and how to take good notes as the person is being interviewed.” said DiSilvestro.

Grindle said that organizations are often impressed by the tough questions the kids ask them.

“The kids really want their money to make the most impact and so they aren’t afraid to ask lots of questions,” Grindle said.  

The last phase of the Penny Harvest is to choose who to give the money to and how much they should receive.  Every student in the school gets to vote on the one organization they want to give our money to.

“In the spring, we invite those winning organizations to our school and we have a school wide assembly to present our big checks to them. It is a very moving, amazing time and the students all feel such a part of the decision making process,” DiSilvestro said.

The assembly is organized by the students, which teaches them event planning and logistics skills.  

Through this year long project, the students become community leaders- who just so happen to be children.

On May 20, there will be a Power of the Penny event where students can share with other community leaders what they have learned and work together to make a difference.

“Helping others,” Grindle said, “is just inherent in all of us, no matter what our age.”

Deb’s Details:

I’m so impressed that elementary school-age children are doing such a mature project. We did a similar project in college where we chose a charity to donate money and volunteer hours to. It’s a big process. I think this project sounds so beneficial and I was happy to give it some press.
Talking to Laura Grindle on the phone was a highlight of my day because she was just such a positive sounding woman and one of those people who reminds you that the world can be a good place.
It would have been nice to have gotten a picture of their project or to have spoken with one of the children.

dublin, dublinvillager, education, news, newspaper, schoolboard, schools, ThisWeekNews

Task forces supply updates board of education



Wednesday December 3, 2014 9:36 AM

Written for The DublinVillager weekly newspaper and ThisWeekNews
Original article can be found by clicking here

At the Dublin Board of Education Meeting Nov. 13, several task forces provided board members with updates. The district is working toward meeting its goals for the year by getting updates from the respected task forces.

Task forces proving updates included:


Brion Deitsch spoke about how the engineering architectural firm of Garmann/Miller Architects is reviewing the elementary schools.

In January, the task force will formally report findings and make a recommendation.

The district hopes to have the elementary school additions completed by the summer of 2016.

Gifted Education

The Gifted Education Task Force is working on identifying types of services the district could offer to students with high cognitive ability and/ or high academic achievement.

The task force shared ideas with peers and PTOs for feedback.

There will be continued discussions concerning the area of advanced math.

Middle School Schedule

Another important issue of the district that is being addressed is the middle school schedule. Dustin Miller, Grizzell Middle School principal, is heading the project.

From the Dec. 4 ThisWeek News

The task force learned through researching current trends that middle school students need a schedule where they can be engaged, connected, safe, artistic and learn in short bursts.

The task force is currently examining current middle school trends and created a short open-ended survey for teachers.

Community nights will be scheduled at each middle school in order to listen to parent feedback.

They also plan on visiting two of the “Top 10 Best Suburbs for Education” to observe and discuss middle schools.

Staffing Plan

Chris Valentine reported to the board that the task force is discussing future staffing needs and improving the staffing plan.

Deb’s Details:
Originally, this article was part of my School Board Meeting article but my editor suggested that the task force update would be a separate article.
If I could do it over again, I would try and interview one or two of the task force leaders. I wanted to make the article longer and get more details and information. It felt like a pretty vague article to me but I did the best with what I had at the time.

2014, article, dublin, dublinvillager, education, news, newspaper, schools, ThisWeekNews

Dublin’s advanced placement programs receive honor

By DEBBIE GILLUMTuesday November 25, 2014 9:07 PM
Written for ThisWeekNews Dublin Villager newspaper

Dublin City Schools is one of 547 school districts in the U.S. and Canada to be honored by the College Board with placement on the 5th Annual Advanced Placement District Honor Roll for increasing access to AP course work and improving scores.
This is the second consecutive year that Dublin City Schools has earned this honor.
“We are extremely proud of this achievement,” said Todd Hoadley, Dublin superintendent.
“It is remarkable for the 11th largest District in Ohio to be able to increase the number of students who take AP?exams while also increasing scores,” Hoadley said.
According to the most recent Ohio Department of Education statistics, Dublin students took the most AP Exams in Ohio during the 2012-13 school year.
Reaching these goals indicates the district is successfully identifying motivated, academically prepared students who are likely to benefit from rigorous AP course work.
Since 2012, Dublin City Schools has increased the number of students participating in AP by 8 percent while improving the percentage of students earning AP Exam scores of 3 or higher by 1 percent.
The AP Exams take place in the spring and are scored on a 5.0 scale.
College credit may be earned for scores above a 3.
The exams can be taken in a variety of subjects, ranging from chemistry to European history.
In 2014, more than 3,800 colleges and universities throughout the world accepted AP scores for college credit, and/or took them into consideration during the admission process.
Thirty other Ohio school districts, such as Hilliard, Granville and New Albany, achieved this honor.
“The devoted teachers and administrators in this district are delivering an undeniable benefit to their students: opportunity,” said Trevor Packer, the College Board’s senior vice president of AP and instruction.
“When coupled with a student’s hard work, such opportunities can have myriad outcomes, whether building confidence, learning to craft effective arguments, earning credit for college, or persisting to graduate from college on time,” Packer said. “We applaud your conviction that a more diverse population of students is ready for the sort of rigor that will prepare them for success in college.”
Helping more students learn at a higher level and earn better AP scores is an objective of all members of the community, from AP teachers to district and school administrators to college professors.
Many districts are experimenting with a variety of initiatives and strategies to determine how to simultaneously expand access and improve student performance.
Inclusion on the AP District Honor Roll is based on the examination of three years of AP data, from 2012 to 2014.

Districts must increase participation or access to AP by at least 4 percent in large districts, increase or maintain the percentage of exams taken by African American, Hispanic/ Latino, and American Indian/ Alaska Native students, and improve performance levels when comparing the percentage of students in 2014 scoring a 3 or higher to those in 2012.

Deb’s Details:
This was a pretty straight forward article to write because I had a press release to work off. I wanted to make the press release my own and so I tried to reword some things.
I think this article confirms that Dublin is a highly ranked district and they put a lot of emphasis on great academic achievement. Their students work very hard and are clearly performing very well on AP tests. I remember how hard those AP tests were so I think it says a lot that they are getting 4s and 5s.
I would’ve liked to have gotten a quote from a student in an AP class or an AP teacher at a high school.