May 3, 2020

Survey Results

Thank you for participating in last week’s survey to provide some formal feedback on our “instructed, required, and assessed” model for K-8.  We had 164 responses representing 237 students.  The distribution of grade levels represented by respondents was nearly identical to the actual distribution of enrollment across K-8.  In other words, no grades were over or under represented.  The number of responses from students when using email to distribute the survey was low, but we do have some data that we can use to look at parents’, students’, and teachers’ responses.  We began analysis on Friday afternoon, and some preliminary results will be shared with staff at our Monday morning “meeting.”  Below are a few summaries:

When forced to choose between the quantity of required work being “not enough” or “too much” (weren’t the forced choice answers tough?), parents, students, and teachers all leaned toward the “too much” side.  It also seems that the amount of time it is taking some students to do the work is longer than what we have been estimating, but we will probably need to do a deeper analysis by grade level to know the full story.

Responses regarding the difficulty of work were split:  students leaned toward it being too hard, teachers leaned toward too easy, and parents were split between the two ends of the spectrum.  One of the more interesting splits was regarding what percentage of required work students should complete at an acceptable level of mastery to have an overall “Pass” for the quarter.  Students were actually the toughest on themselves: 64% of the students said the “Passing” level should be at 80% or better.  Teachers were the most lenient and more reflective of our traditional grading scale of “passing” being around the 65%-70% range.  Parents were in between students and teachers.

Regarding what represents “Passing” for the fourth quarter, we’ll stay with the guidance we’ve been using:

  • Core subjects, other than religion:  65% of the required work should be at an acceptable level of mastery, and students can keep submitting or re-submitting work until the end of the school year
  • Specials:  50% of the required work, which is often as simple as drawing an animal and coloring it or logging physical activity for the week
  • Religion:  We want kids to still be practicing their faith, and teachers are sharing ideas for doing so.  However, in some situations, it seemed awkward to have kids submit something for an activity like attending Mass, praying the rosary, or reflecting upon something they watch on Formed.org.  Therefore, no religion grade will be given for the fourth quarter.

General Concern About Engagement Levels

One of my general concerns mirrors what I’m hearing from other schools and districts.  From what I hear, engagement levels of elementary and high school students are good, but middle school students have the lowest levels of engagement.  I would say that some of our JFK data is similar and shows the highest rates of engagement in grades 3, 5, 1 and 6 and the lowest rates in grades 7 and 8.  No matter where one goes, there’s just something about those middle school years that make them tough!

Not Too Many Answers This Past Week

It didn’t feel like we answered too many questions last week.  In some ways, it seemed like all we did was ask more.  We still do not have a start date for next school year, although conversations seem to be focusing around August 10th or 24th.  Governor’s Reynolds’ statement on April 17th that she was waiving the requirement that school cannot start before August 23rd still has not been converted into an official proclamation, and there’s still some discussion among legislators.  Without a start date, of course, the rest of the school calendar cannot be built.  Add in that we have to wait until the DCSD sets its calendar so we know what the bus transportation might look like, and it’s a frustrating waiting game.

We’re also feeling frustrated as we await the Iowa Department of Education’s guidance for “Return to Learn” plans.  At JFK, we had a team of employees brainstorm questions that we think might need to be answered.  We had four pages!

If you have ideas or just additional questions, please pass them along to me.  Even though it may not be possible to think of everything, we want to think about as much as we can while we have the chance.

Algebra Aptitude Testing for 7th Graders

Normally, we would use a paper/pencil Algebra aptitude test for all 7th graders to help make recommendations regarding students who might want to consider taking Algebra at Assumption as an 8th grader.  This year, we will be using a digital tool associated with the ALEKS program used at the high school.  Seventh grade students/parents will be receiving a “snail mail” letter with log in and password information soon.  The test should be taken by May 15th.

School Office Hours

The school office will be staffed 8:00 – 4:00 p.m. on Mondays – Thursdays.  Emily Sanderson will be in the school office on Mondays and Thursdays, and Angie Hillebrand will be there on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.  They are also available via email.

Donations, Tithing, Tuition Payments and Registration for Next Year

Both the school and the church are still dependent upon your regular contributions and payments.  Donation buttons are located on the front page of both the school (green) and parish (blue) sides of our website.  Tuition payments can be mailed, dropped off at the parish office, or made via debit/credit card over the phone.  Emily Sanderson is in the school office on Mondays and Thursdays.

Tuition payments for this school year:  Fr. Jake and Finance Council approved the following statements regarding flexibility for tuition payments.  They want to work with people even if it goes well into or through next school year too.

“From March 30th, 2020 through August 31, 2021, the Finance Council gives the Pastor authority to negotiate with families on how to pay their tuition payments.

All families who request a school contract for the 2020-2021 school year will not be denied a contract based upon how much tuition they owe the parish.

Any questions or concerns about tuition payments or contracts can be directed to Fr. Jake Greiner, greinerj@diodav.org or by calling 563-391-4245.”

Tuition Contracts for Next Year:  We still want to continue the registration process for next school year.  Returned tuition contracts helps us plan for next year as well.  Please return your tuition contract as soon as you can, even without paying the registration fee now.  That can be paid later, if necessary.  At the present time, we are extending the discounted registration fee (discounted to $100) until June 1st.  If you need another copy of your tuition contract, please contact Emily Sanderson at emily.sanderson@olvjfkmail.com.  Emily and Angie Hillebrand are also contacting families via phone to offer reminders and help.

School Meals

Recognizing the need that some families have for meals, ANY child between the ages of 1-18 years old may receive a lunch and breakfast at no cost at one of the following locations beginning on Monday, March 23, 2020, between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.  It is not a requirement that the child currently be receiving a free/reduced price lunch; it is available to any child.

  • Achievement Service Center, located at 1702 N. Main Street
  • Davenport Sudlow, located at 1414 East Locust Street
  • Davenport Williams, located at 3040 North Division
  • Davenport Frank L. Smart, located at 1934 West 5th Street
  • Davenport Wood, located at 5701 North Division, Davenport

The child no longer has to be present to receive the free meal.  A sack lunch and breakfast for the following morning will be handed out on Monday through Friday.

Please open the trunk of your car or leave a seat open where staff can place the food.  This step will help reduce contact and practice a higher level of social distancing.

OLV parish bulletin:  Click HERE or use the following link/url:  https://www.olvjfk.com/olv/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2020/05/May-3-2020.pdf

Rosary

In this week’s video, Fr. Jake leads us in praying the Rosary.  (The pauses are our parts.)

Stay well!  Our Lady of Victory,…pray for us.

Chad