The Fall 2014 Commentary states that the former Parkside Intermediate School houses the district's alternative school for at-risk students. Could you please be more specific regarding what this means?
The Westlake City School District offers an online-learning option for students whose educational teams have determined that an alternative offering is more appropriate. Typically, this option occurs after there is documentation that traditional classroom and school day experiences have not proven to be successful for the individual student. This is a supervised online session where students work completely independently for an abbreviated school day.
What changes have been made to the Third Grade Guarantee in terms of qualifications needed for a third grader to advance to fourth grade?
There have not been any changes to the Third Grade Reading Guarantee. The ODE has yet to provide the “official” cut score for promotion from the district selected alternative assessment, NWEA Measures of Academic Progress, to determine proficiency. When the ODE finalizes the official cut off scores for the 2014/15 school year, we will update this response and provide a guidance document to help parents understand the three options outlined in the law. We expect ODE to finalize the official cut off scores by the end of November.
What does a C in the Gap Closing section on the state report card mean?
Gap Closing won’t be measured until 2016, but Westlake did earn a “C” in Annual Measurable Objectives, which compares the performance of students in identified subgroups to a state goal in reading math and graduation rates, and emphasizes any achievement gaps that exist between the groups. The state goal – which changes every year – is set to a level that expects districts to accelerate the learning rate of these groups so that they achieve at the same levels as students not in an identified subgroup. As with other progress measures, a “C” grade means that we are performing at an expected level compared to others in the state. A grade above “C” would indicate we are performing better than others in the state. The ultimate goal is for all groups to achieve at high levels.
WCSD is ranked #1 in gifted in the State of Ohio. What about the students who aren’t gifted? Don’t they deserve more?
The Westlake Schools ranked #1 in the state in opportunities provided to and performance of gifted students on the 2013-2014 State Report Card. The district also ranked in the top 4% of districts in the state on value-added, which measures student achievement for ALL students over time. This is in line with the Westlake Schools’ mission of helping each student achieve his or her maximum potential.
What does it mean that WSCD failed to achieve proficiency in an educational category?
Westlake met 23 of 24 state test indicators – a measure of students scoring at least 80% on 24 state tests – falling just short in 5th-grade science (78.8%). Westlake also earned a B on its Performance Index, which measures the performance of all students on all state tests. Westlake’s 106.8 score ranked in the top 10% of the state’s 610 districts. Our staff is researching all of the data to find ways to improve our services to our students.
Are Westlake schools participating in the common core initiatives?
The Westlake City School Districts follows the content standards set by the State Board of Education.
In June 2010, the State Board of Education adopted Ohio's New Learning Standards in English language arts and mathematics, the results of a multi-state effort. The board also has adopted Ohio's New Learning Standards in science, social studies, fine arts, world languages, and several other subjects. These more rigorous standards, geared to college and career readiness, will drive learning in Ohio classrooms by 2014-2015. Additional information about the standards can be found on the Ohio Department of Education link here.
Have the kindergarten half day schedules been finalized yet?
Letters were prepared the week of June 23, 2014 and will go out soon to registered families. All Kindergarten Half Day sections are remaining as they were in 13-14; all AM except for Bassett, which was PM.
Why doesn't Westlake get involved in a healthy activity initiative and promote it district wide, coupled with Nutrition and other wellness speakers in the spring?
The Westlake Schools Wellness Committee has been active over the past several years implementing a variety of healthy activities throughout the district. The committee used a “School Health Index” tool from the CDC to perform a needs assessment and identify areas of strength and weakness, followed by an action plan to address those areas. The committee began a Community Family Wellness Night at the K-4 level that includes games, nutrition, fitness, Internet safety, dental health, concussions, eye health and adult health screenings. WHS hosts an annual Wellness Day with many of the same activities geared toward teens and adults. Our K-8 students annually participate in Walk to School or Bike to School Days each spring. All of our elementary schools have garden clubs. You can keep up to date on our wellness activities here.
Among several things, I am wondering why our district is not proactive like our neighboring districts are, namely Bay Village, in hosting several drug education sessions for middle school and high school students within the Westlake Schools? BV involves their administration, Police Dept. And their educators/officers as well as professionals within the community to address the concerns that drug usage is a problem in their schools, as well as many other suburbs. They host these meetings and open them up to the public, parents and students alike. What are we actively doing to decrease usage by our own students?
The Westlake City School District continually works to be proactive in addressing adolescent substance abuse. Our administration, police department and educators enjoy a close working relationship both inside and outside of the school district. In fact, the student speaker at the last Bay Parent educational meeting at Bay Middle School was someone that our Prevention Coordinator, Kathy McGinty, recommended to them. In addition to Mrs. McGinty, we have other staff members who are actively involved with Westshore Enforcement Bureau and University Hospital’s “Safe Kids and Safe Communities” organization. They include Dorothy Beyer, RN, school nurse and School Resource Officer, Scott Fortkamp and Officers Keenan Cook, Mark Krumheuer and Detective Roseanne McCoy, and retired Officer Ken Delfing, DARE.
The WHS “Leadership Challenge” program was recognized by the State of Ohio Department of Education with the “Safe and Drug Free School Asset Builder Award.” The Leadership program provides ongoing service projects, events and education that have their roots in evidence based research. Students from that group sit on two district-wide committees that include police, parents and educators: The District Health and Safety Committee and the District Wellness Committee.
WHS also has a strong student based organization, SADD, Students Against Destructive Decisions. They plan, organize, and host a number of programs to educate our students about risky behaviors and the importance of making good choices.
How do we know which "Block" our child is in for Final Exams?
The students are fully aware of which block they are in.
Ice Hockey is listed on the school web page as a club sport. At the Jan. 15th meeting by the school board, the athletic director told the board that Hockey was not on the pay to play list because "Hockey is self-funded so it is not included." Then on April 28th the board recognized the inaugural WHS varsity Hockey team members as varsity athletes. How did hockey's status change in the middle of its season?
After a 4 year long process of working alongside the leadership of the Westlake Hockey Organization, Westlake City Schools was proud to recognize Ice Hockey as a Varsity sport at the April 28, 2014 Board of Education meeting. This status changed at the conclusion of the current 2014 season and allowed for the current athletes to receive their Varsity Letters. Ice Hockey is not listed on the pay to participate list because as part of the process, the agreement was made to have it remain a self-funded sport.
What decision has been made regarding the Physical Education waiver?
A change to BOE Policy IKF, Graduation Requirements, was approved at the Board of Education meeting on April 28, 2014. The change includes this language, “Physical Education Exemption: A student who during high school has participated in interscholastic athletics, marching band or cheerleading for at least two seasons is not required to complete any physical education courses as a condition to graduate. However, the student is required to complete one-half unit, consisting of at least 60 hours of instruction, in another course of study.”
The District is currently developing the administrative regulation to spell out how we will implement this. More information will be posted/communicated as it becomes available.
Why were all of the business courses elimnated at the high school?
The district has had to consider eliminating a number of elective courses. Course selection & enrollment have been major components of the decision process. The district was considering eliminating business courses, but has decided some sections will run. Our Computer Education and Technology classes are being returned to the course offerings and the Counseling office is currently working with students to make them available for registration. All of the offerings that we have had in our Program of Studies have contributed to the excellent experience that our students have had. Unfortunately, in the wake of two levy failures, reductions to the course offerings and/or sections are necessary. We stated at the start of this process that we would try to base cuts on student enrollment where possible. Business classes are unfortunately one of those cuts at this time.
Have the dates been set for Summer School (Gym) at Westlake High School?
The dates have not yet been set. We hope to have the summer school schedule finalized by mid March.
We will be offering one Summer School Physical Education session from June 23 - July 11 (July 4th off) from 7:40 am-12:00 pm. The class is 14 days - students can only miss 1.5 days (miss 2 days and they will not receive any credit). Please check back for registration information at a later date.
Is there homeroom at Westlake High School? If so, what time does it start and end?
We typically have homeroom once a month. It is between 1st and 2nd period (8:45am). We have an additional homeroom at the start of each semester at 7:55am to distribute updated schedules.
Is it necessary to register a student every year or just the first time they enroll in the district?
Once a student is enrolled with Westlake City Schools, it is not necessary to go through the registration process again. However, due to our obligation to monitor continued residency within the Westlake City School District, parents/guardians are required to make the school of attendance aware of the following changes, should they occur: address; phone number; guardianship.
What will happen if my child doesn't pass the third grade OAA in reading in the spring?
The legislative requirement (ORC 3313.608(A)(2)) states that beginning with the 2013-14 school year, all students scoring below the designated level on the third grade OAA must be retained. There are exemptions to this law that include provisions for special education, second language learners and students who have been previously retained.
The district screens all students K-8 in the fall. Students who are predicted not to meet the third grade standard for scoring at the designated basic level on the test are provided intensive intervention. Should a student not pass the third grade spring OAA, they may take an alternative test during the week of July 7-11, 2014. Students who pass the alternative test can be promoted to fourth grade. The district will provide summer review for this test, as well as continued intensive intervention over the summer for students who need assistance in meeting the basic level required by this legislation.
How will the District enforce the provisions of the Digital Driver's License?
Use of the Bring Your Own Device network is completely voluntary. The main purpose of the “Digital Driver’s License” is to make sure that students and their parents understand that school policy applies when their personal devices are used at school or off campus at school related events. The policies outlined in the Driver’s License are a reflection of the established policies that have governed schools for many years. They will be enforced following traditional discipline procedures, blocked network access, and Board Policy. Discipline begins with the teacher at the classroom level and then progresses following the discipline procedures in the student handbook. Most of the time discipline results from observed behavior and either will not require unlocked access to protected data or in some cases the offender might be compelled to provide access to the protected data. In the event that there is reasonable suspicion that a law has been broken the appropriate law enforcement agency will be contacted.
What stops students from using a VPN or proxy to bypass any filters?
A combination of evolving technology, training and behavioral expectations will stop most people from using a VPN or proxy to bypass filters at school or at work. Violations result in consequences following the student handbook or employment agreement. In the Westlake City School district all Internet access is filtered. This is done because the District is required to do so under Federal Law (CIPA), to help ensure that the use of this important resource is consistent with the purposes of the District and to protect networked resources from malicious activity.
Is Westlake considering granting physical education credit to students who participate in school sports?
The school district has reviewed this policy in the past and has previously declined to take this action. However, because of our current fiscal circumstance the Board is considering a number of options, including this one. We are now seeking local input and contacting districts who operate under such a policy to see what they perceive to be pros and cons. We plan to make a decision this spring for next school year.
Why aren't the Westlake Schools performing as well as neighboring districts?
Westlake Schools educate for excellence. We are one of the top-performing schools in Ohio when it comes to state testing. We are proud that we have ranked in the top 4-7% of schools for the past 10 years. The Ohio Department of Education reports that Westlake Schools exceeded a year’s growth for all students, earning an A for Value-Added. Westlake has the highest Performance Index for gifted students on the West Side, ranking in the top 2% in Ohio.
Westlake City Schools got three “D’s” on the State Report Card. What are you doing about that?
Westlake earned an overall grade of A. However, in the Improvement category, the ratings for gifted students, students with disabilities, and the lowest 20% scoring students were D’s. Considering our high achievement level, we believe these ratings are not an accurate measure of performance – and we are not alone. That is because there is considerably less room for improvement for high-performing students. Our district’s goal is to make sure each individual child scores at his/her highest level. We remain focused on making the necessary adjustments for improvement in all areas.