Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Jeff Fastnacht on 15-10-2015

Each day as I open up the news online I am met with another article of a child that is being left in the cold, beaten, left in a hot car, starved, or even killed by a parent.  It is sickening.  It boggles my mind how this behavior can persist in our nation, in our society.  Parents, can we get ourselves together!

I realize this post will probably offend some, so be it.  I am writing this today, figuratively standing on my soap box, advocating for those in our community, in North Dakota, that do not have a voice.  So before I begin, I make no apologies if you are offended… I am speaking for these children.  Child neglect is nothing new, it has been around thousand’s of years.  We have dealt with predators, abusers, and delinquent parents before.  But why, does it seem to be more pervasive today than ever before?  Let me share some thoughts…

The middle class is shrinking in the US which is causing a larger number of kids to be categorized as children of poverty.  Research is clear that poverty is the single greatest threat to a child’s well being. (nccp.org 2015). In the US more than 16 million children – 22% – live in families considered to be below the poverty line.  Local-State & Federal policies need to begin to address this issue ensuring that families are given the opportunities to pull themselves out of this poverty cycle.  Children in poverty must be afforded health care, good nutrition, and educational opportunities to ensure they have every opportunity to break the poverty cycle.  However, I want to be clear… poverty should never be an excuse for any parent to neglect their child.  As a person that has visited a third world country poor in America is affluent compared to poor in Haiti.  As parents, poor or affluent, our financial standing cannot be a crutch for how we treat our children.

Drug use among parents does seem to be increasing.  The number of parents shown in the FORUM each week that are losing their children due to actions taken while under the influence is staggering.  Alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, you name it… none of these are making any parent better.  In my view, trust is a critical element for the parent/child relationship.  When a parent is an abuser of drugs children understand this at a young age.  They soon realize these actions are wrong but they must cover up the illegal activity in their own homes, on their parents behalf.  What implications does this have on a child.  Drugs use by a parent not only impedes their own lives but how can they provide a healthy, loving, nourishing environment when they are craving their next high.  There are avenues to get help… parents take the step.  Families get the help you need.  We cannot continue to have parents raising children while high.

*Stepping Up One Step*
Parents you can get mad at me if you wish.  You can post negative comments to this blog, so be it.  But GET YOURSELVES TOGETHER.  Each and every day members of our society must complete competency tests to drive, dispense medication, teach, practice law, or even coach.  But, parents you can conceive a child with little more than a desire.  Then take that precious gift, given to you by your creator, and neglect it for some no good reason.  Get help if you need it.  If you can’t care for your child get help within your family.  Ask a neighbor to care for the child before you beat it to death.  Stop using drugs today and if necessary get help.  If all else fails work with social services or another agency to find a family that is able to care for your child.  But, for heavens sake lets stop injuring and killing those that have no voice.  Lets stop this insanity of shaking and beating our children.  Please – Please – Get the help you need.  All of our futures.. depend upon it.



Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Jeff Fastnacht on 12-10-2015

In the next few weeks parents of students who were in grades 3 thru 8 or 11 last spring will be getting their child’s results from the first session of the Smarter Balanced assessment.  This assessment replaced the old bubble sheet test and is aligned with the ND ELA and Math Standards aligned with the common core.

Your child’s results will be provided to all families during Parent-Teacher Conferences on November 5th.  So please be patient with us as we prepare the reports for you.  However, before you review the results I want to share with you information on how to interpret your child’s performance and then some thoughts about the test itself.

When you obtain your child’s results for both Engligh-Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics you will see a scoring page similar to this one (see image).  On the scoring page you find information about the test, year it was given, and actual testing day along the left side.  In the middle is your child’s actual performance.  At the top is their overall score, in this case a 2631 Level 3.  The score is probably not as important to you as the level.  The levels are:  Level 1 – Novice, Level 2 – Partially Proficient, Level 3 – Proficient and Level 4 – Advanced.  On the bar you will find your child’s score highlighted with a bracket around it.  The brackets are the error band and signify the low to high band that your child would probably score in if given the test again, during the testing session.  Lastly, at the bottom of the page you will find the competency areas and how your child performed in each.  Based on your child’s report you can determine if they performed below, at, or above in each of these areas.

So what does this mean for you?  Some have articulated that taking this annual test is like a check-up.  Yes, in my view any state/national test of this nature is just a check-up.  It is that child’s performance on one single day in time and just that; nothing more, nothing less.  Can it be a benchmark for you as a parent, yes.   But, I would propose that you have better benchmarks to watch than this in Ellendale.

As I once mentioned in a previous blog post (http://blogs.edutech.nodak.edu/fastnach/2015/02/13/making-my-eyes-cross/) I will not be putting too much attention on the results of the smarter balanced test at this time.  I, and I hope you, will keep your eyes on the meaningful results we provide you from the NWEA MAP diagnostic.  The MAP tests were just completed for the fall session.  They were almost painless to administer and again teachers had valuable instructional data within hours, versus months with the state assessment.  Teachers, use data from your child’s performance on the MAP test to refine instruction, determine appropriate instructional groups, and focus their limited time & energy.  The school year is short and the actual time a teacher has to work with any one student is even shorter.  By using data from the MAP tests, your teachers, can focus like a laser on the specific skills your child needs assistance on.  The results of the MAP test should be coming to you shortly.  Be watching for them and I encourage you to discuss your child’s performance with their teacher(s).  Again, I am keeping my eyes on our students performance on the MAP.  I hope you continue to do the same.