The PROSE Newsletter: October 2015 Issue
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Volume 2 | Issue 2 | October 2015

Are You a PROSE Critical Friend?.....You Should Be!!!

The PROSE 2015 Kick-Off was a great way to foster school collaboration and build PROSE community.  Special thanks to Goldie Maple Academy, Community Health Academy of the Heights, International High School at LaGuardia Community College, and KAPPA International High School for sharing their masterful thinking, and hosting great breakout conversations around: Use of Time, Option PROSE, Collaborative Structures, and Mastery-Based Learning.  

In the spirit of collaboration and community, the PROSE panel is excited to host a series of informal "Critical Friends" sessions where small groups of staff from PROSE schools can meet to discuss issues of common interest. These could include topics related to your PROSE proposal, or issues that are generally related to other work you’re doing as an individual or as a school.  Examples of topics that PROSE schools have suggested for these meetings include: how to effectively use peer feedback as part of the Option PROSE process; and how to stagger the teacher schedule across a four-day work week to extend student instructional time.  The size of the groups will vary by interest, but sessions will include discussions with 5-10 people, as well as a facilitator from the PROSE team. 
If you or other members of your staff are interested in suggesting a topic, please complete the form or contact   

Brooklyn New School Engages the Community with Performance Based Assessments!!!

When Giselle Martin-Kniep from  Learner-Centered Initiatives spoke at the PROSE Midyear Symposium, she asked the question, “Where do you see yourself as a school in five years?” This gave all of us at The Brooklyn New School (BNS) pause. BNS is a school where inquiry, collaborative learning and deep Social Studies units culminate with grade-wide museums.  Here students from third to fifth grade showcase their extensive knowledge through hands on projects, verbal presentations and written work.  The entire school visits these museums, along with families and visitors from other schools. As we discussed our five-year goals, it became clear that we wanted to create a way to gauge student growth from year to year as well as note how each individual child felt about their own learning. We looked to the Consortium High Schools as a model – Performance Based Assessments (PBAs). In high schools these PBAs showcase student learning through extensive papers and projects and culminate in oral presentations before a panel of assessors that include teachers, administrators, and in some cases parents or community members. They push students toward life-after-high school and college readiness.

For our elementary PBA we are looking to document the rich learning and growth of our third through fifth graders with a focus on our dynamic Social Studies curriculum.  Students in the third grade study Ancient China, in the fourth grade they study New Amsterdam and in the fifth they do research about the Maya. Each grade has projects that are undertaken as a class as well as individually.  Our PBA team for each child (based on a pilot study we did with 16 students last Spring) will include 2-4 adults (parents included as well as faculty from all grades) who will ask probing questions and carefully listen as students express their understandings and reflect on what they have learned. Our elementary school shares a building with Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies (BCS), a fellow PROSE school and a Consortium High School.
We have planned a training session with BCS based on their use of PBAs; we’ve established research groups to learn more about the process at other schools and we’ve scheduled reflective sessions to analyze the small pilot conducted last spring. As in all things BNS, parents are a part of the process.  Along with a parent group developed as an offshoot of our School Leadership Team, we plan to share the development groundwork with parents, as well as the completed rubrics coupled with parent suggestions for concrete activities and conversation starters that can support student learning.
In addition to four half days to be used for professional development around our new PBAs, we are including another half day in June to facilitate a BNS tradition, June Share. On this day, all students in all classes welcome their families into their classrooms to share their work from the spring term.  This special day allows the entire school to come to life with student work on exhibit for all to see.  Families are invited to "move up" with their children to tour the work and classrooms of the next grade, to create excitement and anticipation for the next year of school.  Families can also visit previous grades with their children as tour guides, to reflect on growth.  On this day, children on all grade levels are speakers, guides and experts.  They showcase skills they have used throughout their BNS years and are featured during the PBA experience. Last year's calendar allowed this day to take place on a half-day, and feedback from families was incredibly positive.  We had at least 95% attendance from all families, and many families took a day off from work to enjoy celebrating with their children in the afternoon.  This year, after children are dismissed, teachers will enter final June assessments into our database, and work together to reflect on student progress as a school community.

 November 2nd - PROSE Critical Friends Session: The first Critical Friends Session will be held at 52 Broadway on Monday, November 2nd from 4 PM - 6 PMFill out the Critical Friends Interest Form to tell us which topics you are interested in discussing. Based on school-submitted suggestions on the form, we will select the top four topics chosen by PROSE schools for the session and will send a follow-up email with more information.   Per Session will be paid to teachers and supervisors of participating PROSE schools. We look forward to seeing you there. If you have any questions, please contact  We look forward to hearing your ideas and building community!!
RESOURCE CENTER: PROSE FAQs 2015: If you missed the PROSE kick-off event on October 9th, no need to sweat.  Schools can access the PROSE FAQs on the PROSE wikispace. 

The 2015 PROSE FAQs provides information regarding the PROSE Critical Friends Group, the PROSE Professional Learning Community (PLC) on the new and improved WeTeachNYC platform, and the process by which schools can request a visit from the PROSE panel.  If you are interested in being added to the PROSE PLC, please email us.  WeTeachNYC is an online space for educators developed by the NYC Department of Education.

 Policy Update

Answers to many of the Frequently Asked Questions from PROSE schools have been posted on the PROSE Knowledge Base.

Calendar Change Requests:
Schools that need additional time for staff development can request calendar changes. However, please consider the following guidelines:
Calendar change requests cannot be considered during weeks with testing, shortened sessions, parent teacher conferences or other non-instructional days, as well as during the first week of school and/or the day after or before a 3 day weekend or citywide school recess.  New York State Education Department (NYSED) permits up to 3 shortened sessions per semester, given that schools can still meet the weekly instructional time requirement.  The office of the Deputy Chancellor of Operations will not be considering non-instructional day requests for full non-attendance days prior to April 1, 2016. Every year the calendar configuration varies and unfortunately with Labor Day being so late in September and most of the moving holidays landing on school days, there are less aidable days in our school calendar this year. Schools who are able to indicate a clear rationale, and need, for a calendar change can apply for one to two full non-attendance days that take place after April 1, 2016. Approval will be contingent on the state of our school-day count.
Earlier this month, the PROSE team hosted a Kick-off event for all PROSE schools. Attendees were given the opportunity to hear from a panel of PROSE principals and chapter leaders as they discussed the innovations being implemented at their schools.  Almost 90% of respondents found the school panel presentations extremely useful or somewhat useful.
Meet the PROSE Team: Kizhaya Roberts

Kizhaya Roberts serves on the PROSE team as the Senior Director.  She began her career as a Special Education Teacher in the Bronx, NY. She has served as a High School Principal during the past six years. She developed strategic plans that support the learning of all students. Last year, Chancellor Carmen Fariña visited Kizhaya’s school in order to issue a press release regarding the vision for community schools throughout New York City. The Chancellor’s office recognized her leadership in the area of raising expectations and promoting high achievement for staff and students by addressing the needs of the whole child.
"Innovation and reform should be the province of the public sector.  It should be synonymous with traditional public schools.  The PROSE program, which allows district schools to operate outside traditional rules, will help bridge the gap between what many charters promise and how they actually operate."
~Mayor Bill deBlasio
Copyright © 2015 Office of School Design & Charter Partnerships, PROSE, All rights reserved.

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