March 1, 2018
We have been having a robust conversation at BHHS regarding how to best ensure our students are ready for college and/or career after they graduate from high school. Do scores on the Smarter Balanced, SAT and ACT determine whether our students have the skills necessary to be successful in their post-secondary life? Or does credit accumulation and meeting all graduation requirements set forth by the state indicate a student’s readiness for life after high school?
My answer is, “All of the above.” These are not either/or questions. Credit accumulation and meeting graduation requirements, combined with meeting benchmarks on SAT, ACT, and Smarter Balanced exams, are all indicators of our students’ readiness for post-secondary life. One is not more important than the other.
Consequently, we have indicators that will continue to guide us in how we continue to improve and strengthen our academic programs at BHHS. Data from Smarter Balanced, ACT, and SAT, was critical in developing our new hybrid block schedule and the creation of cohort classes for the 2017-18 school year. We determined through data analysis and literature review that our students needed longer class periods to have the time to learn how to think critically and deeply.
For our cohort program, we focus on literacy skill development for freshmen and sophomores, and then test preparation for juniors in their cohort classes. Our seniors are assigned a cohort class if they need to complete work samples to demonstrate essential skills in reading, mathematics and writing. (Students need to complete work samples if they did not meet benchmarks set by Smarter Balanced, SAT, PSAT, and ACT.) Seniors are also assigned a cohort class if they did not complete the personalized learning graduation requirement that includes career exploration and a corresponding project during their junior year.
As we look ahead to next year, one question we are grappling with is how to ensure our seniors are using their senior year in a manner that is most productive for their learning and skill development. One concern is that we still have many seniors in cohort class as of semester 2. Our goal was to have our seniors who were assigned to a cohort class finish their essential skills and personalized learning requirements by the end of quarter 1.
Now we have some choices to make based on this data. Do we add sections in our seniors’ schedule for them to complete these requirements next year, or do we continue to develop the All our students can achieve with Bruin Pride cohort model and push for a quarter 1 completion date? If we add sections for essential skills completion, that means fewer sections of core classes and academic electives. This would also increase class sizes in mathematics and English Language arts, which is problematic when our students need literacy skill development in smaller classes with more consistent and timely feedback from their teachers.
And what about our seniors who have met the essential skills and personalized learning requirements? How do we encourage them to take advantage of the courses we are offering for dual credit and CTE all the way through their senior year? Do we force them or do we inspire them? I believe that our best shot at getting our seniors to fill their schedule their senior year is through Bruin Pride and its focus on excellence and perseverance. Through consistent role-modeling and messaging from all BHHS staff, our students will begin to believe in themselves and hold themselves to a higher set of expectations.
In this way, all the decisions we make have ripple effects. It is my job to make sure the ripples do not result in destructive tsunami-type waves. The challenge is determining the best direction forward that will have the most positive impact on our students’ learning and skills over time. Another challenge is coming up with innovative ways to meet the needs of our students instead of relying on traditional approaches that are proving to be ineffective with modern high school students.
Fortunately, I am optimistic that we will be able to continue to meet these challenges. Brookings Harbor High School can become a high performing high school in all areas. We still have a long way to go, but by challenging traditional approaches that no longer work and replacing them with innovated approaches that are founded in inspiration, hope and optimism, we will reach our goals.
November 8, 2017
With the end of the first quarter at Brookings Harbor High School, we move into the next phase of the school year. Attendance and grade data are critical data points to track throughout the school year. The data helps guide us in designing our instructional program to meet our students’ needs.
Over the course of the last three years, we have used this data to develop a strong interventions-based program for our students:
As a comparison, I have pasted the current regular school attender data from the Oregon Department of Education. State data indicates state level percentages for regular attenders and chronic absenteeism:
For BHHS, our freshman and sophomores are generally doing well with their attendance. The slip starts to happen with our juniors, and our seniors’ attendance rate shows a 23 percent chronic absentee rate. We will continue our work to encourage our seniors to attend regularly.
Grade distribution data: Overall the grade distribution shows a disparity between the students who come to school ready to roll and those students who still need to learn how to be successful students. The students who come to us with the foundational skills they need to be successful can be seen in the A data.
The students who still need to learn how to be successful can be seen in the D and F data. Over the course of quarter two, I expect the D and F data to decrease and the B and C data to increase.
I will continue to keep you posted on our progress. Thank you for the work you do for our students.
October 11, 2017
This is my twelfth year in educational leadership and administration. I have worked through the great recession when districts throughout the state and country were faced with making draconian cuts in programs we all knew our students needed. During these years, an administrator is faced with having to make decisions that are painful to everyone involved: students, families, staff, and teachers. With the passage of Measure 98 and the subsequent decision by the state legislature to partially fund the measure, I find myself in a position I have never been in before. Instead of having to beg, borrow and steal to build programs, I am able to make plans to build programs because there is money available to do so.
As you know, Measure 98’s focus is to expand and create programs at the high school level that focus on Drop-out Prevention, Dual Credit offerings, and Career Technical Education (CTE). This is exactly what I have been focusing on since I came to Brookings Harbor High School, so the plans for expansion and creation of these programs are already in motion. Now that we know there is funding available, I wanted to update you all on some of the nitty-gritty in terms of what happens next.
For the 2017-18 school year, the funds are available now. I have met with teachers as well as the administrative team to build a budget that identifies resources we need in the classrooms now so our teachers and students have what they need. These resources include chrome books for students and teachers in dual credit classes; chrome books for students who are disabled as well as struggling learners, sturdy shop laptops to use for digital manufacturing and robotics; CNC machines for robotics and welding, to name a few. I am working closely with Mr. Gallagher to finalize some of the plans to get these resources purchased as soon as we can.
For the 2018-19 school year, I am participating in a three-part principal’s seminar series to plan for Measure 98 funds. Because the legislature was so late in determining the funding levels for the 2017-18 school year, the parameters are very straightforward. The money needs to support expansion of CTE, dual credit and drop out preventions programs. For the 2018-19 school year, however, the plans will have to be formal and detailed to submit to the state. The first seminar is October 22 and 23 in Bend. The focus of this seminar is “Implementation of Measure 98.” The second seminar is on January 19 in Salem, with the focus being “Finalizing your Application.”
The last seminar is on April 27 in Clackamas focusing on “Preparing Your Final Budget.” All our students can achieve with Bruin Pride.
I am confident that participating in these seminars will position Brookings Harbor High School well in implementing Measure 98 in a manner that greatly benefits our students. There is no time to waste! I am very excited about this. I will plan to update you regularly regarding the progress I am making to ensure our students get the full benefits of this measure.
Lisa Dion, Principal
September 15, 2017
Brookings Harbor High School has successfully launched its new hybrid block schedule (attached). This schedule includes two days of four classes that are ninety-minutes. There are also three days that run all seven periods that are fifty-one minutes each.
The development of the bell schedule was a process that lasted two years. Creating our new schedule depended upon collaboration and active engagement from teachers, staff and students. We surveyed teachers in 2015-16 to determine what their ideal bell schedule would look like based on student learning needs. We conducted research and analyzed a variety of schedules to determine what design would fit our identified needs. We looked at student achievement data and course grades. We delved into philosophical discussions about instructional time, student learning, curriculum and instruction. Teachers reached out to other schools to learn what they are doing with their schedules. We learned about what worked best for them and what did not work.
We identified pitfalls that needed to be addressed, such a daily prep time issues, and sought to remedy those. We continued this work into the 2016-17 school year, which ended with a trial run of a draft block schedule in May, 2017. After the trial run, we debriefed as a staff and discussed issues that arose during the trial run of the schedule. We asked students via email what their experience was and what they thought would work best for them. We then went back to the block schedule design and made the necessary adjustments based on the feedback from the trial run.
My goal from the beginning of this effort was that any change we made to the bell schedule would be one that was sustainable over time. We consciously worked in a methodical and thoughtful manner to ensure we were making the most appropriate decisions for our students and staff regarding our new schedule design.
After two years of work, I am proud that we were able to successfully launch the schedule the first week of this school year. I am also confident that the work we did will result in a healthier and more productive work environment for our students, their teachers, and our entire staff. Thank you for your support of this effort.
August 11, 2017
It is good to be back and gearing up for the 2017-18 school year. We are building our high school program on a firm foundation, thanks to the support of the board and Superintendent Gallagher’s leadership and vision. We are planning the expansion of our career and technical education programs, drop-out-prevention, and dual-credit offerings. Our freshman on track rate is close to 92 percent. Our graduation rates are steadily climbing. With Bruin Pride as our guide, our school culture is marked by the belief that all students can learn in a healthy, supportive environment and successfully complete high school ready for college, career or entrepreneurship.
One challenge we are committed to tackling this school year is cyber-bullying. Cell phones and other communication devices, while important tools for daily life, too often are a means for bullying, destructive, and demeaning communication. It is clear that most of our students do not have the tools to communicate in a healthy way through social media. Instead, social media provides them with a way to vent complicated and negative emotions in a manner that often hurts their peers. Then their peers react in a similar manner and a vicious circle is established. Friends and family, feeling helpless as they watch their student struggle with emotional pain, often get involved in a manner that perpetuates the misconduct online. All these destructive communications end up following students into the classroom.
Every negative and hurtful message sent via text or some other form of social media stops all learning in its tracks. We are bringing in the Lea Sevey, Executive Director of Oasis Shelter Home, and Keri L. Moran-Kuhn, Associate Director for the Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, for our staff retreat on August 29. They will lay some foundational work for our teachers on the topics of cyber bullying, adverse childhood experiences and trauma informed practices. Our messages to families and parents in our communications home have focused on establishing a partnership between home and school to address the issues of cyber-bulling and social media. A solid partnership between home and school will provide the kind of support our students need in order to unplug and free themselves from abusive online communications and relationships.
I will keep you posted on our efforts. Sincerely,
Lisa Dion Principal