Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Jeff Fastnacht on 25-11-2013

Parents we just learned that it is possible for students to change their grades (the appearance of their grades) within PowerSchool.  This issue is arising when students access their grades online via PowerSchool but then they alter the image of the grade.  What I mean is that their browser allows them to change the letter grade temporarily.  Once changed your child can have you look at their screen or give you a print out that looks just like the real thing. This has not happened in Ellendale, at least that we have heard of yet, but just be on the look out.  When the student logs off of the PowerSchool site their changes are not permanent and the grade reverts back to its original.  However, if you are asking your child to give you a print out, they may be fixing the grade before it is printed.

My advise is double-check.  Parents have access to your child’s grades in many various and efficient ways.  First, you can request a PowerSchool Parent login from the school.  This way you can go check on your child’s grades, homework, attendance, and much more yourself.  If you dont have a login please contact your child’s principal.  If you don’t like having to remember a login and password then contact us and we can set you up to receive a weekly, monthly, or even daily emails that gives you a snap shot of your child’s grades, lunch balance, and even daily announcements.  If you are a fan of apps and mobile devices we can offer you the PowerSchool app for your iPhone or android.  The app can be found here for the iPhone – or for Android on Google Play at If none of these three ways tickle your fancy then always remember you can call or email your child’s teacher.  It may be best to get it straight from the source.

In an official statement from EduTech, whom provides PowerSchool to all North Dakota Schools, they are stating…
“This does not change the student’s grade in the teacher’s grade book or
within PowerSchool. It changes the image on the screen within the browser
the student is using. The student then prints out the screen to present to
their parent or guardian. Once the student logs off or closes the window,
the screen display goes back to the correct grade, which is either the
stored or current grade within PowerSchool.”

Just to see how easy this is for your kids there is a nice YouTube video that you can watch. YouTube Preview Image



Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Jeff Fastnacht on 21-11-2013

During the last legislative session a couple changes in North Dakota law will be making a significant impact on how and when medications are dispensed in schools.  The law in its simplest terms increased the training required to dispense medications, provided the opportunity for school employees to refuse to disseminate medications, and gave some liability to schools when they do provide them.  After the creation of the law the ND School Boards Association took to the task of crafting new policy to guide schools on what they should and should not be doing when disseminating drugs to children.  This policy totaled 8 pages and 11 forms.  

At this time the policy and forms are still being reviewed by a committee of school administrators, a health care provider, an office secretary trained and responsible to provide medication to your children, and a school board member.  However, I want to warn all parents to expect significant changes to how and when EPS will disseminate drugs, both prescription and OTC .  Here is what I believe you can expect:

  • A health care provider (doctor or pharmacist) will have to complete a form with signature for any medication to be given by school personnel.
  • All medications both prescription and OTC will have to be delivered to the school by a parent or guardian in person.
  • Medications that can (should) be given before school or after 3 will be the responsibility of the parent.
  • Students using EpiPens or Insulin will continue to be able to keep these items on their person, but health plans will be more commonplace for these students.
  • All medications will have to be provided to the school in their original or pharmacy container.
  • Increased safe guards to ensure medications are not being lost, stolen, or sold to others before they are in the custody of the school.
  • Increase regulations on how medications are disposed if they are unused or left at school over the summer.

When this policy and new procedures are finalized you will surely receive more information from us.  At this time I just want to let you know that significant changes are in the works that may impact your family.


Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Jeff Fastnacht on 15-11-2013

In commemoration of American Education Week this upcoming week (Nov 18-22) I want to say THANK YOU to all the teachers at Ellendale School.  I want to acknowledge their dedication to the children in our community and the hard work they put in each

week ensuring to provide opportunities for our children to learn and flourish.  Take some time to say THANK YOU to an educator, in your life, that made a difference.

Often during these special weeks some well-meaning adults will say things like “It must be so wonderful to work with kids everyday” or “Isn’t it wonderful to have a job that is done each day at 3:30”.  I want to tell you that a teachers day is wonderful but it surely does not end at 3:30.  A report by Scholastic and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation foun

d that teachers work day averages 10 hours & 40 minutes or 53 hours per week.   Teachers are not working from bell to bell as some would believe.  In fact the study reports that on average teachers are spending 90 minutes a day beyond the school day mentoring, attending meetings, and working with peers.  Teachers are then spending another 95 minutes per day preparing lessons, grading papers, and often corresponding with parents.  Then, if that same teacher is a coach tack on 11 hours and 20 minutes per week.  It is a demanding job and one that is scrutinized by many.  Yet, they do it.  They work each day with the vision that every student can and will learn.  Thanks!

Many people in our community work hard.  I grew up a member of a ranching family and the days of feeding, checking, and working cattle were long.  The man that delivers fuel to my home I see at 7am and also at 7 at night.  The woman at the Fireside taking my order I know is on her feet over 40 hours a week.  My point is not that teachers work harder than everyone else.  It is simply to say please appreciate the work they do both between the bells and after the last one of the day, it is TEACHER APPRECIATION WEEK and again I say THANKS!

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Jeff Fastnacht on 06-11-2013

Starting in the spring of 2015 students across North Dakota will begin taking the new Smarter Balanced common core aligned test.  This test is replacing the present ND State Assessment that has been used during much of the NCLB era.  Teachers, administrators, and students have been taking sample portion of this new test in preparation of what to expect in 2015.   I thought, as parents, you might enjoy the same experience.  It will not only give you better understanding of what we have been saying are increased rigor requirements with the new common core standards but it may also be enlightening.  It was for me.

To access the Smarter Balanced practice test go to Once there sign in as a guest, which is entered for you.    When you get to the “Is this you?” page just make sure to choose the grade level you wish to try out.  This is in a small box at the bottom of the window.    The last step will be to choose the appropriate test and you can begin.

— So take a pause from this reading to experience the test.  Then pick up from this point —

So what did you think?  First and foremost it is a new testing system.  This test unlike in the past will be taken on the computer and also by completing hands on tasks.  Unlike the past many of us grew up in the A-B-C-D bubbles are almost all gone.  The test will ask your child to not only remember factual information but also apply it to solve a problem.   Students are asked to not only determine the answer to a problem but in some instances explain how or why the used a certain approach.  There is more writing on this test then in previous tests.  Lastly, it took time.  A student can surely guess and just enter any old answer.  But, if they expect to perform well it will take time and effort.

So again what do you think?  Please post your comments below.  Share the grade and test you experienced if you comments so we all can appreciate your thoughts fully.