Why We Use The College and Work Readiness Assessment

CWRAIf you’ve read some of our blog posts about the classes offered here at Eagle Rock, you know we push the boundary of one’s imagination to create engaging classes for those who are disengaged (see This Trimester Offers Classes from Statistics to Dystopia and Eagle Rock Classes That Add New Meaning to the Term ‘Non-traditional’ for a sampling of our classes). This then brings up the question of how do we ensure students are demonstrating the knowledge, skills and attributes to make the most of their lives now and in the future? After extensive research, we decided to adopt the College and Work Readiness Assessment (CWRA+).

As Larry Myatt (Co-founder, Education Recourses Consortium) wrote here on the Eagle Rock Blog back in October of 2013, performance-based assessments are difficult to measure but decisive nonetheless. As a result, the CWRA+ has been used by more than 300 middle schools and high schools throughout the United States and internationally. These schools work with students from all walks of life, from the most privileged to most severly disengaged. CWRA+  — which is an initiative of the Council for Aid to Education (CAE) — effectively assesses higher-order thinking and written-communication skills. These include analysis and problem solving, scientific and quantitative reasoning, critical reading and evaluation, developing an argument and critiquing various sources of information, as well as writing effectively. Because of our adoption of the CWRA+, we can stand side-by-side with other schools around the country in demonstrating we are graduating young people with the intellectual skills necessary for life success after high school.

Specifically, the CWRA+ provides evidence that the student being assessed has demonstrated critical-thinking skills throughout high school, thinks independently, and can come up with creative solutions to complex problems. We believe this is superior to the more familiar standardized assessments where the measure of student success relies on Continue reading…

Meet The Team: Eagle Rock Tech Associate, Daniel Madson

Our tech associate Daniel Madson’s days are spent resolving matters of how to and why. He manages the network, computer resources and peripherals here at Eagle Rock, and develops and maintains our school’s database, as well as manages our audiovisual resources, all the while keeping a close eye on our Learning Resource Center.

On a good day, he’s able to supply solutions and considerable thought to all of those how tos and whys that keep him deep in the bowels of the tech side of our world. He’s also a proud member of Aspen House.

Meet Daniel Madson:

Eagle Rock: What did you do prior to coming to work for Eagle Rock?

Daniel: Well, I’ve been in the Estes Park (Colo.) area for 27 years. The bulk of that time was spent at the YMCA of The Rockies where I worked as a housekeeper, painter and conference services team member. I culminated my career at the “Y” as Conference Services Manager. Although not educationally related, I believe it was my years spent at the YMCA that best prepared me for my time at Eagle Rock. My experiences in working with young adults and an internationally diverse staff have proven very valuable to me in navigating the Eagle Rock community. I have many wonderful friendships and memories as a result of my 15 years at the “Y”.

I also spent six years at Valhalla Resort here in Estes Park. It was a small family operated not my family, of course — vacation resort. It was the kind of place where everyone shared in all tasks, from the owners to the freshest summer hire. We all worked very closely together. It was really like being part of a family with its triumphs and tribulations. It was at Valhalla where I started to venture into the world of IT, where by necessity I built their first website and helped with troubleshooting the reservation system and other computer/network issues.

Eagle Rock: What attracted you to Eagle Rock?

Daniel: Years ago, Eagle Rock didn’t have a full time technology position. As technological needs and demands evolved, it was determined that Eagle Rock should develop a fulltime position to meet those needs and demands. Technology skills aside, my experiences and the concept of community at the YMCA and Valhalla helped my realize Eagle Rock would be a good fit for me.

Eagle Rock: When you’re not working, what do you like to do in your spare time?

Daniel: I love city simulation games. They provide a great distraction and really help me recharge. They also help me come to grips with my god complex. I also enjoy exploring the science behind the Continue reading…

Eagle Rock’s PDC Checking Off Items on its “To-do” List

Once again, a quick look at our “to do” list here at Eagle Rock’s Professional Development Center (PDC) shows we’re running in all directions to get things done. And by get things done, we mean working hand-in-hand with educators who seek us out for our expertise and thoughts in retaining, reinvigorating and re-engaging the students in their particular areas of the country.

In February, we hosted researchers from the University of Michigan to study our approach to personalized learning. Researcher Jeremy Golubcow-Teglasi heard of us through his study of the Big Picture design and connected to our work.

Later that month, on Feb. 25 and 26, Opportunity Nation heard from our very own Dan Condon (Associate Director of Professional Development) at a conference in Washington, D.C. (read: Eagle Rock Participates in National Opportunity Summit).

During that same week, Innovations High School in Reno, Nev., invited Sarah Bertucci from Eagle Rock and Eunice Mitchell from Big Picture Learning to collaborate on supporting staff as they shift into Year Two of their Big Picture journey. They have a well-established student culture in Year One and we are working to help them sharpen their focus on instructional practices going into Year Two.

In mid-March, we hosted representatives from Holy Heart of Mary High School (St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada) and New Village Girls Academy (a Big Picture School) from Los Angeles. New Village was working on integrating outdoor education more seamlessly into their school, while Holy Heart was working toward more fully engaging their disengaged young people.

Later that month, we began a search for a new Public Allies Director to replace Mark Palmer, and that search resulted in the hiring of Christi Kramer from Family League of Baltimore.

Dan Condon was at MetWest High School on March 26 and 27 and we have been providing ongoing support for them around their strategic plan and making data-based decisions as they work toward achieving their goals.

At the end of March and into April we conducted observations of competency-based systems for the Iowa State Department of Education. We also visited a pair of school districts in Collins-Maxwell and Van Meter near Des Moines. This is all part of a larger project where our team is developing a cohort of trained student observers and interviewers to look at schools through the eyes of students. Our professional development center fellow, Kelsey Baun, has contributed significantly to the design and delivery of the student trainings and will soon accompany students to Iowa. Her efforts are part of her contribution as a Public Allies fellow to build Eagle Rock’s capacity to better use students to extend our national reach.

Also in early April, representatives from Innovations High School in Reno, Nev., and Big Picture Learning came to Eagle Rock for a leadership retreat focused on sharpening focus for the year ahead.

The second week of April saw Kelsey Baun travel with Eagle Rock students to conduct focus group interviews of students at four schools: Health Leadership High School, ACE Leadership High School, South Valley Academy and Amy Biehl High School (all in Albuquerque, N.M.). The intent here is to assist our partners at New Mexico Center for School Leadership to better understand personalized learning.

Below are some of the activities scheduled from now through the next several months. If you would like to know more about our work or how your school or organization can work with our Professional Development Center, please contact our associate director of professional development, Dan Condon, by emailing DCondon at EagleRockSchool dot org.

April 20 — 24, and May 27

Eagle Rock’s professional development associate, Anastacia Galloway, is leading our work in Bronx, N.Y., at Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School (FLHFHS). There, Anastacia is following up on two previous FLHFHS visits focused on deploying Fred Newmann’s Authentic Intellectual Framework. This time around Anastacia is Continue reading…

Eagle Rock PDC Lends an Experienced Hand at TEDxABQ Education

We have been deeply engaged in public education reform in Albuquerque, N.M., since 2007. In particular, Eagle Rock has been working with Tony Monfiletto since his tenure as principal of Amy Biehl High School and now as executive director of the New Mexico Center for School Leadership (NMCSL).

NMCSL is an incubator for local charter schools that serve communities in greatest need. In apparent contradiction to this long and healthy relationship, Albuquerque and New Mexico in general are well known for distrusting solutions imposed by outsiders. In fact, Gov. Lew Wallace — the former territorial governor — famously claimed in the late 1870s that, “All calculations based on experiences elsewhere fail in New Mexico.”

Fortunately, Eagle Rock’s facilitative processes are effective at surfacing local wisdom to solve local problems. We have a clear advantage as an outsider, because we demonstrate over time that we come to nurture and foster the best local thinking rather than impose a turnkey framework.

We have supported schools in Vermont and Iowa to foster competency-based systems, facilitated professional development in Detroit to enhance project-based learning, and launched Mid-Atlantic critical friends groups for Big Picture Learning principals to convene and learn from their collective experiences. In all cases, the center of our work is to identify what is most important to the local educators and systematically support them in what they care about. (To learn more about this approach and the thinking behind it, please read my April 22, 2013 blog post, Experience With Professional Development Influences Eagle Rock’s Approach.)

As a result of our ongoing work in New Mexico, I was invited to attend TEDxABQ Education held on Friday, March 27, 2015, at the African American Performing Arts Center in Albuquerque, where 17 educators offered up visions of reform rooted in their experience in that central New Mexico community. Presentations ranged from Continue reading…

Eagle Rock’s Headed on Spring Break — Here’s How To Reach Us

Come next Wednesday, April 15, it’s going to look like a ghost town around the Eagle Rock School campus as staff, instructors and students take a break from the world of progressive education. Of course, our Professional Development Center will continue work with other schools over the Eagle Rock School break.

Officially, we’re calling it a spring vacation and holiday period, and we’ll all be back in our places by Sunday, May 3. But before all that free time, we’ve still got some activities planned, highlighted by this Friday’s graduation ceremonies. If you get all emotional about pomp and circumstance, you can view the graduation ceremonies live online via the Eagle Rock channel on Ustream.

ER 65 — the 65th trimester in Eagle Rock history — ends for students on Saturday, April 11. Teachers and staff members have meetings and planning days through next Tuesday, and the break begins on Wednesday.

Eagle-Rock-School-Spring-Break-2015

If you find yourself with a burning desire to reach out and touch someone here at Eagle Rock, here’s your best bet: Send them an email, because some of the staff and instructors will occasionally check their messages during the spring break.

Chances are, most of us are taking advantage of this vacation time to, well, vacation, and  will have very limited availability by phone until Continue reading…