Did you miss the Fall Discussion Forum?
On September 8th, Dr. Vallez presided over the first of a quarterly event at which the principal offers information about school developments andtakes questions from the audience. This meeting was chock full of important news about recent test scores, school improvement plans and new community-building initiatives for the 2011-2012 academic year. The Power Point presented that evening (available here) offers a more complete picture of the topics discussed. She began with a report on positive student achievements on the ISATs in both reading and math which reveal a general pattern of improvement from 2010 to 2011, making our graduates better candidates for selective enrollment schools; while this is obviously good news, we would like to see those numbers rise more still in the years to come. Dr. Vallez explained her philosophy not in teaching to the test, but rather in promoting good thinking skills that will help students in the greater world beyond school tests. No doubt, the desire to create strong learners informs her school improvement plan: IAMS' dual-language program must be stable to fortify improvements in literacy, math, science and social sciences at all levels. Dr.Vallez wants students to be accountable for their learning in both languages, and cites the importance of consistency in lesson plans, across levels and from year to year. She also talked about efforts to improve the learning climate especially for the middle school, by creating a stronger identity for 6th, 7th, & 8th graders who will retain the same teacher two years in a row, explore technology-based projects, and have enhanced responsibilities. The principal also shared a recent initiative implemented to build community across all grades was a "one-book, one school" event, for which everyone read the story 14 Vacas para América by Carmen Agra Deedy and Thomas Gonzalez. Recognizing the historical significance of the events of 9/11, the book introduces themes of compassion transcending culture, language and geography, which were then extended during a school-wide assembly. Finally, Dr. Vallez explained that teachers are working hard on professional development and early dismissal days to implement school improvement plans. More than 30 parents attended the forum and asked many questions; since parent participation is central to student success, please mark your personal calendars with the dates of the Winter and Spring Forums: Tuesday, December 6th and Thursday, April 12th. Subsequent topics will be chosen by parents, so start considering suggestions!