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Ready, Set, Go!

September 3, 2018

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Last Wednesday and Thursday were the first two days of the 2018-2019 school year. Teachers are students, too! All staff reported for work and put the finishing touches on the planning and preparations for the new school year. Instructional staff attended a Professional Learning Symposium at Saline High School. There, teachers learned from the best that Saline has to offer: our own teachers! Topics from how to create a paperless classroom, blended learning, global awareness, social/emotional wellness, and vocabulary enhancement to how to involve students’ voice in their learning were explored. Over 45 sessions, led by Saline Area School staff, gave teachers an opportunity to share, learn, discuss, and explore.

On the second day, staff members were challenged to consider classroom culture, bias, and diversity of thought. Dr. Jay Marks delivered a challenge for SAS to expand cultural proficiency as individuals, buildings, and as an organization.  In general, we engaged in the pursuit of excellence and modeled lifelong learning.

During this time of professional learning, one could see, feel, and hear the excitement. The teachers are ready, anxious even,  to have the students return for another year of learning and growing together. The rush of energy that the students bring is contagious and infectious.  The longer I am in this role and the more “opening of school” days that I see, the more I truly understand what makes a school work. However, I also see that while schools may be led by adults, schools are for the students. Adults can focus on new programs, new ideas, time-tested strategies, infusion of technology, and paperless classrooms. However, in the end, the greater the ability that we, as adults have, to connect and build positive relationships with our students and community, the more successful we become as an organization.

 

I am looking forward to a great school year! See you in the morning!

 

Saline High School – Class of 2018

June 3, 2018

 

Saline High School
Senior Class Survey

Recently, the members of the Class of 2018 completed an online survey to indicate where they would be sending their final transcript. The results for the 381 responses are below:

Michigan Colleges (236) 62%
Out of State Colleges (75) 20%

Michigan Public Colleges (208) 55%
Michigan Private Colleges (28) 7%

All Four Year Colleges (329) 74%
All Two Year Colleges (80) 18%

Technical or Vocational School (3)
Military (8)
Working Full Time (10)

Interesting Numbers:

Michigan Private Schools
Adrian College 5
Albion College 4
Alma College 2
Aquinas College 1
Calvin College 1
Concordia University – Ann Arbor 1
Hillsdale College 1
Hope College 5
Kalamazoo College 2
Kettering University 2
Lawrence Technological University 1
Northwood University 1
Siena Heights University 1
University of Detroit Mercy 2

Michigan Public Schools
Central Michigan University 4
Eastern Michigan University 38
Ferris State University 4
Grand Valley State University 14
Michigan State University 49
Michigan Technological University 9
Northern Michigan University 2
Oakland University 2
Saginaw Valley State University 1
University of Michigan – Ann Arbor 47
University of Michigan – Dearborn 3
Wayne State University 4
Western Michigan University 9

Michigan Community Colleges
Lansing Community College 1
Schoolcraft College 2
Washtenaw Community College 41

Public Out of State Colleges
Arizona State University 1
Bowling Green State University 5
Delta State University 1
Indiana University 2
Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis 1
Georgia Southern University 1
Miami (OH) University 2
Ohio State University at Lima 1
Ohio University 1
Purdue University 3
University of California – Los Angeles 1
University of California – Santa Cruz 1
University of Cincinnati 1
University of Colorado – Boulder 1
University of Florida 3
University of Kentucky 3
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 1
University of Toledo 3
University of Wisconsin at Madison 1
University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point 1
Utah Valley State University 1

Private Out of State Colleges
Auburn University 1
Ashland University 2
Baldwin Wallace University 1
Belmont University 1
Brigham Young University 2
Butler University 3
Case Western Reserve University 1
Chapman University 1
Elmhurst College 1
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Daytona Beach 1
Indiana Wesleyan University 2
Johns Hopkins University 1
Lake Forest College 1
Lipscomb University 1
Maranatha Baptist Bible College 1
North Park College 1
Northwestern University 1
Nova Southeastern University 1
Oberlin College 2
Ohio Northern University 1
Ohio University 1
Syracuse University 1
Tiffin University 1
University of Dayton 1
Wellesley College 1
Wittenberg University 1

Continuous Improvement

June 1, 2018

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No matter how good we think we are doing or how strong we feel our system is performing – we must have a deep belief that we can improve. In order for this to happen, we need systemic ways to gather feedback and ideas.

We want Saline to be an inclusive, positive environment, where you know you make a difference and your voice is heard.

That’s why we offer Let’s Talk!, an innovative customer service solution that allows parents, students, employees and community members to be a part of critical school and district discussions. With Let’s Talk!, you can ask questions or submit comments whenever it’s convenient — 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If you have something to share about our school, go to Let’s Talk, and select the school, department or topic of your choice. We want to hear about whatever’s on your mind.

You may remain anonymous, but if you leave your contact information you’ll receive a thoughtful response within 48 hours.

Let’s keep Saline Area Schools the best it can be — one conversation at a time!

School Quality Survey: What We Learned

May 30, 2018

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Saline Area Schools is strongest when everyone in our community feels safe, welcome, and valued for their input.

That was a key finding from our recent School Quality Survey, which we conduct every year to better understand our educational community. The findings help us determine our strengths, identify opportunities for improvement, and build stronger schools.

I was pleased that 2,404 people participated in the survey, including 1,522 parents and guardians, 244 staff members, and 638 students in grades 6-12. This is a higher number of responses than last year. I truly believe that every voice matters when it comes to our district and schools. Because we heard from so many people, I’m confident we can make meaningful changes across the district.

Here are some top findings:

  • 97% of parents, 96% of staff members, and 83% of students who took the survey rated their school as excellent or good
  • More than 90% of participants said their school has high learning standards for all students
  • While 78% of participating staff members and 65% of participating parents and guardians said teachers successfully show how lessons relate to life outside of school, only 34% of participating students said the same
  • There is a noticeable discrepancy between student and staff member perceptions regarding teachers providing timely and helpful feedback on student work
  • 90% of staff members, 88% of parents and guardians, and 68% of students who took the survey said students receive the support they need to prepare for the future
  • While 87% of participating staff members and 78% of participating parents and guardians said students at their school receive support that addresses their individual needs, only 60% of participating students said the same
  • More than 84% of participants said their school is safe
  • 91% of staff members, 76% of parents and guardians, and 65% of students who took the survey said that students are treated fairly regardless of race, culture, religion, sexual orientation, gender, or disabilities

Thank you to everyone who took the time to share their thoughts. We’ll use all of the feedback to develop responsive campus and district action plans and make meaningful improvements throughout Saline Area Schools.
Have questions about the survey results or how we’re using them? Let’s Talk! I look forward to hearing from you!

Educational Research – I don’t trust much of it. Here is why.

May 22, 2018

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Recently, I had an opportunity to listen to a respected superintendent from Canada say something I have thought for a long time, “Much of the research in education is not replicable at scale.”  There are just too many variables to control when looking to replicate results across schools and communities that are vastly different from one another. When I hear about something that “works,” it often prompts me to dig deeper and try to assess similarities to our community of learners.  No program works equally well for every student – it is the creative work of skilled educators seeking to understand why and where an application or initiative fails or succeeds that is most valuable. Simply put, it is a process.

The other aspect of some educational research that is problematic is that the research often takes two correlated trends and presents it as one situation causing the other. The real explanation is usually much less exciting.  For example, consider the claim that students who take Advanced Placement courses in high school perform better in college. When looking at the research related to this topic, it is clear that students who take AP courses DO perform better in college.  However, taking AP courses in high school alone does not establish causality. Studies that merely find that students who are involved with the AP program in high school and subsequently perform better in college do not necessarily provide proof that the AP program caused the students to be successful in college. It is no surprise that the same motivated, hardworking, and academically advanced students who take AP classes in high school are still motivated, hardworking, successful students when they get to the university. So how can we know if it was the AP program that caused these students to do better in college?  To be clear, I am supportive of students taking a challenging course load aligned with their interests. If this means AP courses, great! However, many students that have not taken AP coursework in high school do very well in college, too.

Many of these research statistics that come from what is known as observational studies. In some cases, researchers have tried to use other factors like socioeconomic status to determine if they can see an impact.  This demographic approach is a good start to try to ascertain aspects of the student profile that could help inform us of issues related to student performance.

Moving educational research from correlation to causation would go a long way to eliminating hidden effects that prevent us from fully understanding the impact of our instructional decisions.  In the end, I feel that as educators – we have played a role in this push for “proof.” Learning and education is a human function. Trying to control it to the point of highly replicable results – while a noble goal – is just not realistic.  Focusing on the whole child and understanding each student’s unique needs is critical.

Most Likely to Succeed – June 13th

May 10, 2018

Most Likely to Succeed Trailer from One Potato Productions on Vimeo.

We will be taking part in Most Likely to Succeed’s worldwide campaign to re-imagine education.  The acclaimed film Most Likely to Succeed offers an inspiring look at what students and teachers are capable of – if we have the vision and courage to transform our schools.  Directed by acclaimed documentarian Greg Whiteley, the film has been an official selection of two dozen of the world’s top film festivals, including Sundance, Tribecca, and AFI DOCS.  It’s been featured at leading conferences on education, including ASU/GSV, SxSWedu, Harvard/Goldman Sachs, and NewSchools Venture Fund.  Audience members call it the most compelling film ever done on the topic of school.  In the past year, more than 2,300 communities have booked a screening of Most Likely to Succeed.

The screening will take place at the Saline District Library at 6:00pm on Wednesday, June 13th in the Brecon Room.  This will be the second screening in Saline in the past two months. The purpose of this event is to foster meaningful discussion among educators, administrators, parents, and students about how current obstacles can be overcome and step towards change can be taken on a local level.  This event is open to the public.  Please visit mltsfilm.org for more information about the film and movement.

For additional information, please contact Superintendent Scot Graden at 734.401.4001

 

Community Conversation – May 22nd

April 29, 2018

Community Conversation

With the school quickly coming to an end it’s a good time to host a “Community Conversation” meeting. Over the last nine years I have had the opportunity to host numerous “Community Conversation” events to learn more about what interested community members see as the strengths of Saline Area Schools, and what areas they felt we needed to focus attention on for improvement. Through these conversations and other opportunities, I have learned a great deal about how many of you see our district and it has helped guide me, along with the Board of Education, as we move forward.

There are a lot of issues we can discuss – district growth, social & emotional health, and many more… You bring the topics.  With that said, I would like talk about the issue of screen time as it relates to parenting & Saline Area Schools.  What role do we play as a school district?  What role should we play?

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In an effort to continue this dialogue, I will be making time available on Tuesday, May 22nd from 9:30am- 11:00am at Carrigan Cafe, 107 S. Ann Arbor Street. Please stop by, say hello and bring any thoughts about the district you feel I should know.

If you can’t make it, feel free to use “Let’s Talk” and let me know your thoughts.

Thank you,
Scot Graden

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