Common Sense is not Common Practice – The Final Can Only Help You

When is the best time to determine the level of student learning? At the beginning of a course? The middle of a course? Or the end of a course?   I hope you said, “The end.” Because that is when the determination really matters.  Because up until the end, it’s just practice.   Except with…

Common Sense is not Common Practice – No Finals Exeptions

This is a great time to set in motion a better, common sense practice to replace an all too common bad practice… Exempting students from finals.   “But Sean, we have to exempt students from finals so BLAH, BLAH, BLAH.”   I’ve heard it all.  And in all cases, the school is willing to sacrifice…

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 Bad Practice – Finals Exemptions

Though I find it mind boggling, exempting students from finals is now more common, than not. If you are doing this, STOP. It is bad practice.  And don’t give me the “It’s a student motivator or it gets kids to come to school” excuses. That is lazy and weak.  You are better than that. So…

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…

Top LYS Tweets from the Week of June 11, 2017

If you are not following @LYSNation on Twitter, then you missed the Top 10 LYS Tweets from the week of June 11, 2017 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. I do love some Fundamental 5! (By…

Just Measure It

A lot of the school leaders and educators that I work with are new to concept of constant, incremental growth.  Quick side notes: 1) Slow and steady progress beats the “Lightning Bolt” nine times out of ten. 2) Lighting bolts happen once. If you get one, great! That gives slow and steady a head start.…

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 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:…

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…

PowerWalks Hero Schools (February 2015)

In furtherance of a LYS Nation tradition, we will take this time to tip our caps to the campuses that have embraced the most important step in creating and maintaining an action oriented professional learning community.  These are the campuses that have conducted an extraordinary number of formative classroom observations in a given month. In…

PowerWalks Hero Schools (December 2014)

In furtherance of a LYS Nation tradition, we will take this time to tip our caps to the campuses that have embraced the most important step in creating and maintaining an action oriented professional learning community.  These are the campuses that have conducted an extraordinary number of formative classroom observations in a given month. In…

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 Shares… PowerWalks 2.0 is Awesome

A LYS Principal share the following: SC, As you are aware, I have been using PowerWalks since it was first introduced.  It was a pretty exciting instrument then, but nothing compares to the new version that you launched this school year.  PowerWalks 2.0 is amazing!  I love how you can see the scoreboard for schools…

A Reader Asks… Common Assessments – Part 2

In response to the 8/15/2013 post, “Lesa Cain on Common Assessments,” a reader asks: SC, I’m not having success with common assessments that aren’t counted as a grade in a high school. Building relationships hasn’t been an effective motivator at our school with this piece and I think they kids are rapidly pulling away and…

A Reader Writes… The Power of Instructional Coaching – Round 2

With an update to the 1/10/14 post, “The Power of Instructional Coaching – Round 1,” a LYS Assistant Principal continues the conversation. SC, Here is the update from the second round (November) of PowerWalks conversations.  For these conversations we used the following questions: PowerWalk Conversations Round 2 1. Do you find daily Lesson Framing beneficial in…

The Power of Instructional Coaching – Round 1

A LYS Assistant Principal writes: SC, We conducted our first round of PowerWalks conversations with our teachers in late October and our biggest takeaway from these initial conversations was the lack of critical writing taking place on our campus. We couldn’t hide from the data; in our classrooms critical writing activities were an infrequent occurrence. …

A Reader Writes… Common Assessment Review – Part 1

In response to the 10/23/2013 post, “Common Assessment Review,” a teacher writes: SC, We recently had our 9-week assessment. Up to this point my students have concentrated on a novel and the elements therein; expository writing based on the novel; and argumentative writing. The assessment had a poem and an expository piece about a poem.…

Top Tweets From the Week of October 20, 2013

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 October 20, 2013. 1. When it comes to the privatization of public…

A Reader Asks… Common Assessment Review

A reader asks the following questions. SC, I’m currently a teacher working in an LYS school district. I have a question regarding Common Assessments, specifically addressing questions on “reviewing for common assessments”. As an educator, I’m looking for my students to be successful on their assessments, so I’m wondering if we should review the covered content…

Top LYS Tweets From the Week of October 13, 2013

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 October 13, 2013. 1. Establish an intervention time that keeps kids from…

A Teacher Shares… Testing for Testing’s Sake

A LYS Teacher shares a familiar story.  The Pigs and the Scale 
 The farmer wants his pigs to be fat. Of course he does. The fatter the better. 

He became concerned when he realized that even though he fed them all the same, some pigs were fatter than others. The problem, he concluded, was…

A Reader Writes… Final Exam Exemptions – Part 1

In response to the 11/19/2012 post, “Final Exam Exemptions” a principal writes: SC, Well said.  I believe that there are two different paradigms that come into play when you discuss final exam options.  You have a “Culture of Learning” as one paradigm and a “Culture of Grades” as another.  If the real focus is on…

When and How to Use Common Assessment Data

In a district that is beginning to implement an integrated and aligned common assessment program (a good thing for teachers and students) a principal was overheard stating emphatically he would not use any of the common assessment data until after the first semester. That is well within his right. After all, it is his school.…

Assessment vs. Benchmark

I often speak to large groups about assessments and invariably an audience member will offer that they administer benchmarks in their district and ask, “Isn’t that the same thing?” Or ask, “Is one better than the other?” To answer each question, “They are not the same thing.” And in terms of usefulness to teachers, “One…

Crunch Time Campus Common Assessments

I was meeting with two LYS school leaders (Suzy Meyers and Gail Ownby) yesterday and the conversation turned to data, assessments and the 30 days left until the state tests. Suzy has some areas of concern on her campus and needed a way to get timely data and ensure that classes are both catching up…

A Reader Asks… PowerWalks

A regular LYS reader asks, “I’m very interested in PowerWalks. Our district utilizes the 3 minute walk through, which takes longer than 3 minutes, that’s for sure. Not sure that I’m 100% committed to this way of doing walk throughs. I’m looking for something that will benefit my teachers and students better.”SC ResponseSome quick background…

A Reader Asks… Interview Prep

A reader asks: “SC,I have an interview for a principalship next week. As part of the interview process, they have asked me to outline my plan for the first 90 days, if they hire me. Since I’m going to get this job, I don’t want this to be an empty exercise. Any ideas on what…

A Reader Asks… Dress Code

An LYS reader sends in this, “Sean, Help! How do you get 2000 kids to tuck in their shirts and keep them tucked in?” SC ResponseThe Alpha and Omega to this issue is staff modeling and staff enforcement. Without that, you suffer the challenge of Sisyphus (Google it). In all candidness, you have bigger issues…
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