Overwhelming Change

I work with a lot of principals that have accepted jobs at schools that are struggling.  Without fail, someone at Central Office will give them the unwanted advice of, “Don’t overwhelm the staff with too much change.”   But when the only positive practice occurring on campus is that daily operations resemble school, not overwhelming…

Smooth Operators

Recently I was talking to some aspiring campus administrators when one of them asked me, “How do effective leaders monitor the learning environment to ensure smooth operations?” This is a good question with a multifaceted answer.  And here is the short version of my response. 1. The leader needs to possess and maintain a good…

Common Assessment “Failure”

For most people in the general population failure is so mentally painful that they shy away from anything where failure is a distinct possibility.  Now consider those is our profession (education). As a group, we are much more risk adverse than our peers in other professions. So actually, we run away from failure before we…

A Superintendent Writes… The Foundation Trinity

A LYS Superintendent shares the following: SC, I was recently listening to a principal discuss The Foundation Trinity with a group of teachers during professional development.  The principal concluded that the success of the campus was due to implementation of The Foundation Trinity. My response… “Sort of.” Certainly, The Foundation Trinity is an excellent system,…

Smooth Operators

Recently I was talking to some aspiring campus administrators when one of them asked me, “How do effective leaders monitor the learning environment to ensure smooth operations?” This is a good question with a multifaceted answer.  And here is the short version of my response. 1. The leader needs to possess and maintain a good…

A Check List for School Improvement

The Quality of Delivered Instruction Is No Longer Enough. I’ll repeat that. The quality of delivered instruction is no longer enough to ensure adequate student performance.  But why?  The brutal, yet consistently ignored truth is that the expert delivery of the wrong content will not produce improved student performance.  Which means that student success is…

A School Asks… Common Assessments 101

A campus implementing the LYS Common Assessment model sent in the following implementation questions: SC, We have some concerns with the 30-minute time limit on common assessments.  For ELAR, there is a fair amount of reading a piece of text or multiple pieces of text before reaching the ten questions on the assessment.  As a…

A Reader Asks… The Timed Checkpoint

A reader asks the following: SC, We are new to using the LYS Short-term Trend Analysis Form in our PLCs.  At our last meeting there was much debate over the time allotted to giving the quick 10-question checkpoint. We allow 30 minutes for the checkpoint, but the instructional leaders at campuses feel that many of…

Top LYS Tweets From the Week of October 2, 2016

If you are not following @LYSNation on Twitter, then you missed the Top 10 LYS Tweets from the week of October 2, 2016 when they were first posted.  And if you are on Twitter, you might want to check out the Tweeters who made this week’s list. 1. “If you want to be a leader…

The Embarrassment of “Low” Common Assessment Scores

So you buy into the concept of short-cycle common assessments but the embarrassment of “low” scores are causing teachers to freak out.  Calm down, take a deep breath and repeat after me, “All low scores are not equal. And all low scores are not bad.” If fact, if your common assessment score are too “high,”…

Do You Want Grades or Information

There are way too many campus-based educators who hate and openly fight the short-cycle common assessment process.  A primary motivation for this behavior is that these educators value good grades over good information. If you want grades, common assessments are not the way to go. Instead you should go with the traditional test comprised of…

A Reader Asks… So Why are We Collecting Data

A recently relocated LYS Teacher asks the following: SC, “Are we (the campus) using data to help our students improve or are you (leadership) using students to gather more data for your use?” Here’s the background to the above question (which I was “smart” enough to say out loud). In a planning meeting with leadership,…

Top LYS Tweets From the Week of February 21, 2016

If you are not following @LYSNation on Twitter, then you missed the Top 10 LYS Tweets from the week of February 21, 2016 when they were first posted.  And if you are on Twitter, you might want to check out the Tweeters who made this week’s list. 1. To the principal who has the school…

A Superintendent Writes… Common Assessment Reflection – Part 1

In response to the 1/16/2015 post, “Common Assessment Reflection,” a old school LYS Superintendent writes: LYS Nation, What to do with common assessment data?  What a question.  And a good answer was provided.  But I think Cain’s response can be substantially expanded.  First, keep in mind there is a big difference between data and information. …

Checkpoints and the Un-informed Leader

Sometimes I’m in a district and I witness leadership making a huge mistake. Today was one of those days. Today, I heard a Superintendent tell his Principals that if their checkpoint scores didn’t improve then their jobs would be at risk. Definitely a case of backwards thinking. Checkpoint scores are about providing the following information:…

Lose the Battle, Win the War

With 3-week checkpoints, if they are administered correctly, the assumption should be that performance will be lacking.  After all we are asking high rigor questions almost immediately after students have been first exposed to the content.  As long as the poor performance is not due to being off pace, everything else can (and generally will)…

A Reader Asks… Better Checkpoint Implementation

A LYS Principal asks the following questions. I will embed my answers after each question for easier reading. SC, I love the daily e-mails addressing improving schools (The LYS Nation Blog) and love The Fundamental 5 (Cain & Laird) and The Foundation Trinity (Cain).  As you know I have moved to a new district and…

Field Notes From The Fundamental 5 Summit – Part 1

Last week, the 3rd Annual Fundamental 5 Summit was held in Austin, Texas. Over 300 educators from across the country attended and participated.  Here are some of the highlights of from the Summit, as reported on Twitter. Lively learning last longer. (By @tra_hall) Never give students of any age anything… Make them get up and…

Top LYS Tweets From the Week of June 28, 2015

A number of you in the LYS Nation are now Twitter users.  If you haven’t done so yet, we want you to join us.  To let you see what you are missing, here are the Top 10 LYS Tweets from the week of June 28, 2015. 1. “Texas public schools are fully funded.” A lie…

A Reader Writes… Does the Passing Standard Matter – Part 3

In response to the posts, “Does the Passing Standard Matter,” “Does the Passing Standard Matter – Part 1,” and “Does the Passing Standard Matter – Part 2,” another LYS Curriculum Specialist writes: SC, I can’t stop thinking about this conversation strand.  I don’t think this should be about the teachers.  It is about the kids…

A Reader Writes… Does the Passing Standard Matter – Part 2

In response to the 1/29/2015 post, “Does the Passing Standard Matter,” a LYS Central Office Administrator writes: SC, I have thought a lot about these posts. I do have mixed feelings but agree with some points that you and the other writer make. But I also hear the voices of our teachers and principals. A…

A Reader Writes… Does the Passing Standard Matter – Part 1

In response to the 1/29/15 post, “Does the Passing Standard Matter,” a LYS Central Office Administrator writes: SC, I am a proponent of having a minimum performance expectation of a Checkpoint (common assessment) at 70%. 70% is the passing standard for classroom assignments. We all know the passing standard for the STAAR is different for…

A Reader Asks… Does the Passing Standard Matter

A LYS Central Office Administrator asks the following: SC, Quick question. When the state doesn’t require 70% of the EOC (End of Course Exam) questions to be answered correctly to meet the state’s standard – why are requiring 70% proficiency on our checkpoints? We realize we need to get to this 70% level for the…

Quit Doing Things That Don’t Matter

I just met with the leadership team of a campus I am coaching.  The campus trails its peers when it comes to student performance and is working to catch up.  Today was a process check-up meeting.  I asked how things were going and the report was: 1. Common assessment scores are a significant concern, with…

A Reader Asks… Common Assessment Reflection

A LYSer asks the following: SC, I have attended a number of your conference sessions over the past several years and always feel that your information is very pertinent and valuable.  Our campus will be conducting 3-week common assessments this year and I am curious about your thoughts on the reflective process following these assessments.  What are your recommendations…

A Reader Asks… The 13 Question Final Exam

A LYS campus instructional leader calls me out. SC, A 13-question final better than what we already have?  Empty boast or the real deal? SC Response My goals with a comprehensive final are to: 1. Assess student mastery of the content. 2. Determine if the scope of the content was covered. 3. Determine which concepts we,…

A Reader Writes… But I Want a Full Benchmark

A teacher sent this to the curriculum department in a district that has worked to implement 3-week checkpoints this year. To the Curriculum Department: I understand not having a Checkpoint in November because of the upcoming benchmark.  But here is what I do not understand. Why only 30 questions for 2 hours. If we are…

A Checkpoint Discussion (Brutal Truth Version)

The following is an exchange I had with a district curriculum director concerning 3-week checkpoints (common assessments). DIRECTOR This is a question I’m getting fairly often now, “Why don’t the checkpoints get progressively longer as the time for the EOC exam nears?  I restate and remind our teachers about the purpose of checkpoints.  But the…

Top LYS Tweets From the Week of September 7, 2014

A number of you in the LYS Nation are now Twitter users.  If you haven’t done so yet, we want you to join us.  To let you see what you are missing, here are the Top 10 LYS Tweets from the week of September 7, 2014. 1. Instructional leaders never forget that your attitude is…
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