May 02, 2011

April Update Spring testing is underway! It's great to see how everyone is well rested and here on time ready to do their best each day. Thank you for your support this week with having your child(ren) ready to test. This Friday, April 15th is Bingo Night. We hope you can come out that evening at 6:30 for some fun and prizes! On Saturday morning we will have our annual Spring Habitat Day from 8:00-12:00 to help beautify our campus. We would love any help you can give that morning. In closing, please see below for a letter sent home this week regarding placement for 11-12. Thank you. Dear GM Families, With spring upon us, thoughts are not only of this school year, but also of our next school year. Dr. Stasiak and I would like to outline our procedures for student placement for 2011-2012. At Garrison Mill, we take the placement of our children very seriously. Our staff gives much time, thought and effort in the careful placement of our children. A variety of factors are taken into consideration when making these decisions. To the best of our ability we create proposed classes of students by paying close attention to balancing a heterogeneous blend of boys and girls, learning styles, academic performance and work study habits, and using the individual teacher’s knowledge of every student. Specialists, support staff, counselors and administrators will review the proposed class lists. If there is information that you would like to share with administration regarding your child’s placement, you are certainly welcome to give us input about your child. Letters can be sent either via email or hard copy. We respectfully request that you do not name specific teachers in your letter, however it is perfectly fine to describe your child’s learning needs and the style of teacher with which he/she will work best. Naming specific teachers does have one exception, if an older child has had a teacher that you feel would/would not be a good match for your younger child then we would appreciate having that information. All letters are due by April 30th. One exciting change for next fall is that we are strongly considering the implementation of a departmentalized model for our fifth grade team. Our proposed model will have four 5th grade homerooms allowing all students to rotate between three of four teachers for Math, Science and Language Arts/Social Studies. Homeroom groupings will still be a heterogeneous blend of students and students will rotate together as a homeroom to different subjects. In closing, please remember that letters are not required but are certainly welcome. With or without a letter, each Garrison Mill student will be placed with great care. Your child’s continued success is our goal. Thank you for the trust that you place in us to meet your child’s needs. Paula Huffman Principal
GM Students Show Growth in Writing Scores! Dear GM Families: We sent home an article from the Cobb District Web Site this week highlighting the county gains on the 5th grade writing assessment. As I'm sure you know, Garrison Mill has had a focus on writing as a school goal for the past few years. We've been working hard to improve our writing, specifically focusing on the traits of ideas and conventions. This year we are happy to report that our GM 5th graders did better than ever! Our 5th grade students had a 96% overall pass rate with 29% of our students scoring in the exceeds category. Our scale score was 241 (ten points higher than last year and third in Cobb County). The article below gives additional information but we wanted to be sure that everyone saw our good news! We are very proud of our greyhounds! Paula Huffman, Principal Cobb Fifth Graders Improve Writing Scores; Subgroups Continue Impressive Gains Cobb County students' scores on the Fifth Grade Writing Assessment improved five percentage points over 2010. The 2011 results show 83 percent of Cobb students met or exceeded expectations, compared to 78 percent in 2010. Cobb students' average scale score of 218 topped the state average by four points. The writing performance of students in special populations (Students with Disabilities and English Language Learners) continues to show strong results. In Cobb, 57 percent of Students With Disabilities (SWD) met or exceeded standards compared to just 44 percent statewide. English Language Learners (ELL) in Cobb County also performed well with 63 percent of ELL students meeting or exceeding standards, 2 percent higher than the state average of 61 percent. Emphasis on writing in all academic areas resulted in 27 Cobb elementary schools showing an increase in scale scores from 2010. Brumby, Due West, Eastvalley, Garrison Mill, Sky View, Still and Teasley elementary schools each posted gains of 10 points or higher on the assessment. Sky View Elementary showed the greatest gains from 2010, with 25 percent more students meeting or exceeding standards over last year. The District's highest scale scores on the Fifth Grade Writing Assessment were posted by Tritt (246), Sope Creek (242), Garrison Mill (241), Timber Ridge (236), East Side (234), Murdock (233) and Kemp (232). Principal Paula Huffman at Garrison Mill and her staff placed a high priority on better understanding how the state scores students' written essays. Ms. Huffman said, "Once teachers understood that process, they were able to help students understand the importance of writing to the topic, a critical component in the writing process." Due West Elementary School administered a mock writing test in January, allowing teachers to prescriptively address individual students' writing strengths and weaknesses. Due West principal Peggy Fleming said, "The mock test results are being used by teachers to conference individually with each student and target areas for additional instruction before the state writing assessment in March." As a part of the statewide testing program, the Fifth Grade Writing Assessment was administered in March and requires students to write a composition on an assigned topic. The assessment provides fifth graders with a measurement of their writing performance. The assessment includes different aspects of writing or domains, which include Ideas, Organization, Style, and Conventions. Domains are rated on a scale of 1 to 5. Performance of Cobb fifth graders as a whole was similar across all domains, ranging from 2.9 in Conventions to 3.1 in Style. This information can help students, parents, and teachers understand areas where students may need to focus their efforts to improve writing skills before taking the Eighth Grade Writing Assessment. Each exam essay is scored by professionals trained to evaluate student writing skills. Evaluators score student compositions on four qualities, or domains of effective writing - Ideas, Organization, Style, and Conventions. The scale score range for the Grade 5 Writing Assessment is 100 to 350, and scores are reported in the following performance levels: Does Not Meet (100-199), Meets (200-249), and Exceeds (250-350). Summary data for the Fifth Grade Writing Assessment by school is available in Tables I and II.