Today, as is the tradition, Susan Phillips, Principal of Chets Creek, delivered her "State of the School" address. Each year the principal goes through several slides that show the faculty where each grade level is at this time of year based on the "Chets Creek Diagnostic." These K-5 assessments in Reading and Math (and 5th Grade Science) were written by Chets Creek teachers and have been edited and revised over the years. Each assessment is given three times a year. We use this data to analyze where we are compared to previous years and to predict how we will do on our state mandated test, the FCAT. Because we have historical data, we are able to predict our success within a few percentage points! This data also helps us identify and target the "bubble" kids that can go either way and that will need that extra push of intervention in these last few weeks.
Our principal reminds us of our targets - not as a scare tactic, but as a reality check. Can we really improve on 97% of our bottom quartile kids making gains? She emphasizes how important K-2 teachers are to this process, even though they are not part of the state's test. She realizes that our 3rd - 4th - and 5th grade scores stand on the shoulders of the strength of our primary school. She also reminds us again today that it is about relationships. "If you can't relate to a particular child, then find someone who can. It might be a kindergarten teacher, a teacher assistant, someone from the office, one of the custodians, but find someone that will care and hold that child accountable." We know, from research and from our experiences, that children that feel like someone cares will work harder and will want to succeed, not only on a test, but in life.
The principal ends her speech today by asking each of us to take out our dream journals and to respond to several statements, including, "Within our reach lies every path we have ever dreamed of taking. Reflect on the path that you need to take in these next few weeks to prepare your students for our state assessment." And finally, "What is the gift that you can bring to your neediest children right now?" Dreaming is how we get there, but life is the path that we take.