• Newsletter January 22nd 2021

    Dear Beach Families and Caregivers,

                                                          Amanda Gorman


    Happy Friday, January 22!  Our staff was so inspired by Amanda Gorman reading her poem during President Biden’s inauguration this week, and hope you were or will be, as well! We are thinking about ways we can utilize her powerful, meaningful words now, in our teaching during Black History Month, and beyond. 


    I want to provide you some information about two topics this week (two associated acronyms of course)  this week:  Measure of Academic Progress or “MAP” assessments, and “Limited In Person Instruction” (LIPI).  


    MAP or “MAP Growth'' is a useful tool, in combination with various other assessments we utilize, for measuring student growth in the areas of reading and math, over time, in order to support teachers with instructional planning. Student results help teachers plan the best strategies for meeting individual student needs and helping them grow in their learning.  It measures what students know and what they don’t know, regardless of their grade level. It measures growth over time, allowing our school teams, families, and students, to track individual student progress throughout the school year and across multiple school years. PPS has been increasing availability of the MAP Growth assessment  over the past few years; so far at Beach our staff has utilized it with 3rd-5th graders the past one or or in some cases two, school years.  


    MAP is an “interim”, not a “summative” assessment, which means it is given a few different times during the school year to check students' grasp on content and guide future instruction. Instead of asking all students the same questions (like the “state test” does), this assessment adjusts to each child’s performance—giving a more accurate measure of what they know. Teachers are currently studying best practices for utilizing the MAP assessment with students during distance learning… meaning how to best have students take this assessment from home. Teachers will be in touch with you about their plans in the coming weeks and will help you think about your student’s needs: it is okay and actually advisable to take this assessment over many different time blocks. This means students could do just a very few questions per sitting, or up to 10-20, depending on children’s stamina and mindset on any given day. The tests for older students have from 45-60 questions overall, and for younger students, 20-30. 


    It is important for parents and caregivers to understand that MAP is a computer adaptive test, which means it adjusts to each student’s learning level. It provides a unique set of test questions based on the student's responses to previous questions. If a student gets a question wrong, the next question will be easier. If a student gets a question right, the next question will be harder. If the person sitting with a child taking a MAP assessment helps the child answer a question they don’t understand, and the child then gets the correct answer, the next question will be more difficult, and the assessment simultaneously becomes skewed (and no longer helpful to teachers). So, your job as caregivers will be to help the child log on, and help monitor whether they seem engaged and able to go on to the next question, or whether it’s time to stop and have a snack or movement break!


    MAP Growth tests include multiple choice, drag-and-drop, and other types of questions. I encourage you to view a practice test to get an idea of what the questions look like.  See Student Resources in the Family Toolkit.  Also, videos are available in the Understanding the MAP Suite section of the MAP Family Toolkit.  Teachers will be showing videos to students in class, and you could also watch one with your student at home.  In time, the goal is that younger students will also take the MAP assessment (MAP for primary grades or MPG is relatively short and very interactive as you’ll see on the practice tests linked above). MAP will help our teachers get data on what students understand and what they don’t yet understand, which again, will help teachers plan for students’ individual learning needs. 


    As we plan for our Beach students to take the MAP assessment, we’ll be striving to ensure they understand the purpose of the assessment (to find out what they know and what they are ready to learn next, regardless of what grade they are in) and to ensure our students are acquiring strong learner habits and mindsets during these types of exercises-- such as thinking through a question about what is being asked, thinking about what tools and strategies they’ve already learned and can use to figure out their best guess at an answer, and taking as much time as they need to feel good about the answer choice they decide to select). Our goal is for children to develop positive mindsets when trying something new and challenging, and never want them to “click through” challenging tasks on a computer; if you see that happen whether on an app like Lexia or on an assessment, it is time to stop for a break.  More information about MAP will come from your child’s teacher in the coming weeks, and we are planning a virtual parent information night to go over this information, show a practice test, and answer your questions. Details on that to come soon.


    The second topic is “limited in person instruction, or “LIPI”. All PPS schools are developing a plan for limited in person instruction. While most people are very eager for an end to Comprehensive Distance Learning (even though there are ways CDL is benefiting some students) we are obviously still very much in the midst of the pandemic with new challenges and changing information every day. Safety, as well as inequities for children and families whose lives were already marginalized by poverty and oppression long before the pandemic, are very much on my mind and in my heart as I work on a plan for our school as directed by our governor and under the guidance of ODE and PPS leadership.  Please note that LIPI is different from “hybrid instruction”; the first step being taken in PPS is Limited In Person Instruction. 


    I’m in process drafting a plan that would begin with just a very few younger grade students who have similar learning intervention needs. Schools are developing criteria around factors such as inability to engage in CDL, learning intervention already in place, and students receiving various kinds of special services. Safety is central; by planning for and starting with individualized support for just a few students, a few hours per week, we’ll be able to learn and improve any issues that arise as we look toward the day when more, and eventually all, students can return to in person learning. 


    While just a few children and staff will begin limited in person instruction, I’m sharing information we’d ask any family to consider in regards to LIPI, put together by our (excellent!) MESD nursing staff, Rob Nicholson and Jamille Manning, in case you find it helpful.  It will be important for the limited number of families who are called to choose if you are comfortable with the risk. If you choose to not accept the offer, we will continue to work to provide intervention virtually. Our staff who would be involved with LIPI are being prioritized for vaccinations as early as next week.  Staff are volunteering as they feel comfortable;  the numbers of families and staff who feel comfortable with limited in person instruction will be connected to our program.


    Please consider the benefits of limited in person instruction (LIPI) along with the risk of exposure to illness due to COVID-19.


    1. What is the risk tolerance of your family?  
      • How are you practicing safety measures in your daily life?
      • How would your family be impacted if someone was diagnosed with COVID-19? 
      • If a student has to quarantine at home, would a family member be able to care for them?
        • Would you be able to take leave from work or find someone to care for your student?  
      • Is there someone at home at high risk for severe illness due to COVID-19?  
        • High risk individuals include older adults and people with certain underlying medical conditions.


    1. Benefits of in person instruction.
      • How has engagement and learning been for your student during CDL? 
        • Academics
        • Social/emotional
        • Physical
      • What are your expectations for learning during LIPI?
        • Academics
        • Social/emotional
        • Physical


    1. What are some of the safety measures that would be in place at school?
      • Students are visually screened before boarding the bus, entering school, and during the time at school. 
      • Students will be in cohorts of small numbers of students.
      • Students will wear masks.
      • Students will maintain social distancing between each other and staff.  Posted signs and instructions by staff will reinforce distancing measures.
      • Students will practice hand hygiene by washing with soap and water or using hand sanitizer.
      • Surfaces will be cleaned and disinfected regularly.


    CDC states:

    Factors that increase community spread and individual risk are crowded situations, close/physical contact, enclosed space, and time of exposure. Actions to reduce risk of COVID-19 are wearing a mask, social distancing (6ft goal), hand hygiene, and cleaning and disinfection. 


    Resources for parents/guardians:


    Checklist: Planning for In-Person Classes