ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA — August 27, 2009 — More than 80,000 students will begin the 2009-2010 School Year in Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools around the world.
DoDEA plans, directs, coordinates, and manages pre-kindergarten through 12th grade education programs for Department of Defense (DoD) dependents that would otherwise not have access to a high-quality public education. DoDEA schools are located in Europe, the Pacific, the United States, Cuba, and Puerto Rico and Guam. DoDEA also provides support and resources to Local Education Activities (LEAs) throughout the United States that serve children of military families.
The Non-DoD Schools Program (NDSP) provides support and funding for the education of eligible sponsors assigned at locations where DoD does not operate a school within commuting distance. For more information about the NDSP, visit www.dodea.edu/schools/nonDoD.
All DoDEA schools are fully accredited by the North Central Association (NCA).
DoDEA operates 191 schools configured into 14 districts located in 12 foreign countries, seven states, Guam, and Puerto Rico. DoDEA operates and maintains more than 1,400 facilities around the globe.
Construction will be complete for four new schools or additions in these locations for the 2009-2010 School Year:
DoDEA will release results of the 2009 TerraNova, Third Edition, Multiple Assessments (TerraNova 3) in mid-September.
The NCES report, "Achievement Gaps: How Black and White Students in Public Schools Perform in Mathematics and Reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), "found that DoDEA was only one of two states whose gap was smaller than the nation's average gap in all of the grade and subject areas studied in the report. DoDEA's score gaps are consistently below 20 points on the test's 500-point scale. The national average gap across grade levels four and eight was 27.5 points.
DoDEA's schools continue to have some of the smallest achievement gaps between Black and White students of all ages according to results recently released in a report from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
What are standards and what impact do they have on students in the classroom?
Curriculum, instruction and assessment are the important elements for obtaining high student achievement. Conducting comprehensive reviews of curricular programs and standards ensures system-wide alignment. Coherent academic standards are critical in guiding school level improvement plans, professional development and program evaluations. Well articulated standards serve as the basis for gathering data about how we assess student and school progress.
Content standards require ongoing review and periodic updates. Recently, curriculum specialists together with classroom teachers reviewed and made recommended updates for all DoDEA core curriculum standards. DoDEA contracted Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL), to provide objective guidance and rate the updated standards on breadth, depth, clarity and specificity.
The updated standards, for the most part, are the same with regard to breadth and depth; but the revisions reflect more clarity and specificity. The updated standards are easier to read, include examples of what the standards should "look like,"and give teachers a clearer picture of the grade level and content expectations.
As of July 2009, all core academic content standards (i.e., Science, Mathematics, Social Studies, and English Language Arts) received a favorable rating from McREL.
The updated standards are published on the DoDEA website, with the exception of the high school mathematics standards, which are expected to be approved by McREL during the school year.
What role will standards play in the classroom?
As a school system, DoDEA has spent several years training teachers on how to use standards so that all our teachers have the same expectations for rigor and excellence.
Standards are the foundation of sound teaching and sustainable student achievement. They provide the basis for gathering data, assessing student progress, and are a road map towards continuous improvement.
Working collaboratively with educators and administrators to implement standards-based instruction will help DoDEA enhance instructional practices and increase student performance and achievement.
In School Year 2008-2009, nine different task groups began addressing the areas of K-12 Mathematics, Pre-Kindergarten-12th Grade Literacy, Professional Technical Studies, Professional Development: Data Driven Differentiation, Professional Development: Administrator Performance Appraisal, and Virtual School. The task group participants meet several times throughout the school year and represent a cross section of educators, administrators, and association representatives from all levels of DoDEA including the most important level – the classroom.
The task groups in each topic area are charged with a variety of duties including reviewing data, current issues and program evaluations, and student achievement information. Following their reviews, they will make recommendations to the DODEA Director and Deputy Director for improvement, modifications, or the elimination of programs. Task groups meet until their activities are completed and in some cases this may span several years.
The majority of the Task Groups established in School Year 2008-2009 will continue to work during School Year 2009-2010. Four new Task Groups will begin work in the fall of 2009. They include: 21st Century Skills Steering Committee, Middle School Review, Early Childhood Education, and Scheduling/Staffing.
GradeSpeed is a web-based program that enables parents to log-in to view grade and attendance data for their student(s). GradeSpeed will be the only authorized and supported grade book used by DoDEA employees in Grades 4-12. DoDEA looks to increase parental participation in the GradeSpeed program during School Year 2009-2010.
All teachers have secure access to GradeSpeed through the use of an Internet web browser. Teachers use the grade book portion of GradeSpeed to enter assignments, grades, and to maintain grade calculations. Teachers are also able to email progress reports to parents through GradeSpeed.
GradeSpeed is just one of DoDEA's continuous improvement initiatives designed to ensure highest student achievement. When parents have timely information about student progress and are involved in the education of their student, the entire learning environment is improved. GradeSpeed enhances that all-important connection between home and the school.
GradeSpeed makes communication between parents and teachers easier, more effective and timelier. Since GradeSpeed is web-based, the program can be accessed from anywhere. Parents who are deployed will be able to stay informed and involved in their child's academic life regardless of location.
Parents can access GradeSpeed via the Parent Portal. Parents must register at: http://dodea.gradespeed.net to establish a personal GradeSpeed access account. After their account has been established, parents will be able to login to view grade and attendance data only for their student. They will also be able to view school announcements and calendar events. There is a note feature available in GradeSpeed that parents can use to directly contact their student's teachers.
Parents, remember the following:
For more information, go to: http://www.dodea.edu/back_to_school/gradeSpeed.cfm or contact your local principal.
DoDEA completed a review of an initiative that would reduce its Kindergarten Program Pupil-to-Teacher (PTR) to 18:1 from the current standard of 29:1. The 18:1 PTR will be implemented in 19 schools that were identified as some of the locations having the highest kindergarten enrollments for School Year 2009-2010 and where principals have indicated the have the facilities to accommodate this ratio. The Kindergarten PTR initiative will mean the addition of 19 teachers and 19 full-time educational aides for School Year 2009-2010. As additional facilities become available to support the reduced Kindergarten PTR, more classes will be added across the DoDEA system.
Changes inside and outside the classroom are in store as DoDEA begins School Year 2009-2010. Perhaps the most important change outside the classroom will be the implementation of DoDEA's reorganization initiative that began in School Year 2008-2009.
DoDEA began its reorganization process with a review of every position above the school level. IT was found that each are and district had a unique way of staffing and there were inconsistencies in the way schools were supported. In order to maximize resources and provide consistent support for the mission, DoDEA decided a realignment was necessary.
In collaboration with Area Directors and District Superintendents have developed a reorganization plan was developed that would better support DoDEA's efforts to support data-driven decision making, the Continuous School Improvement (CSI) process, and more importantly, incorporate the concept of continuous improvement into every aspect of a child's education. This reorganization focuses on student needs by placing assets and resources as close to school as possible to meet student needs, increase student achievement, and achieve the goals of DoDEA's Community Strategic Plan (CSP).
DoDEA's reorganization focuses on several different initiatives at the administrative and school level:
In addition to DoDEA's reorganization initiative, the Area Directors in Europe and the Pacific exchanged leadership positions. Ms. Diana Ohman, former Director of DODEA schools in Europe, will begin a new assignment as the Director of DoDEA schools in the Pacific. Dr. Nancy Bresell, former Director of DoDEA's schools in the Pacific, will begin her new assignment as the Director of DoDEA schools in Europe. The change is another important part of DoDEA's ongoing efforts and initiatives toward continuous improvement through a review, evaluation, and refinement of its educational programs, curriculum, processes, and systems.
The change will be advantageous to the schools in each area by allowing for the benefits a different leadership perspective will bring to each school system and also provide the directors with the opportunity to broaden and further develop their career experience as senior government executives by leading new organizations.
Additional information about DoDEA schools is available on the system's web site, www.dodea.edu. Parents can access information such as school locations, addresses, school contact information, school calendars, immunization and registration requirements, curriculum guides, and school lunch programs.