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Thursday, August 06, 2020


News from Keri Gelenian, Head of Schools/RA Principal

January 2016

Dear Rivendell Families,

Happy New Year! We have much to be thankful for at the start of 2016:

  • I would like to welcome our new interim superintendent, Mike Harris, to Rivendell.
  • Our modern language students had 5 placements at the annual Hanover poetry recital competition.
  • The Rivendell Academy Players did a fantastic job performing, And Then There Were None. The show raised $2,500.Waits River students spent a half-day visiting Academy classes. We hope to grow our Waits River enrollment at RA. 
  • Our afterschool academic skills program started in October. We have seen mostly 7th and 8th graders for literacy and math support.
  • Laszlo Bardos and Rachel Sanders have applied for a $100,000 Rowland Fellowship. We wish them luck. The grant will help support professional development in the district.
  • The Academy would like to thank everyone who played a role in the memorial for our beloved Gerry Suich. The memorial was a reflection of Gerry’s influence on the lives of RA students.
  • Thank you to all students for your positive response to our initial problems with the After School app. RA has played a big role in highlighting the harmful effects of anonymous social media applications. Thanks to Cindy McLaren and Michael Galli for all their work bringing Emma Bogardus to RA and for extensive media coverage. Emma was an inspiration.
  • A big thanks to James Graham for supporting morning weight training.
  • Ms. Rizos, Ms. Brynne and the Guatemala travelers have been recycling, stacking wood, raking and doing other dirty jobs to raise money for the Guatemala trip. Rivendell has a recycling container at the Fairlee dump. Please contribute.
  • Thanks to Ms. Hall and teachers for all their efforts with college applications. Soon the nervousness of completing all the paperwork will be replaced by waiting for the results! Good luck seniors.
  • Our soccer teams were once again recognized in Vermont and nationally for outstanding sportsmanship and academics.
  • A big thanks goes out to Nora Clark (Class of 2006) for creating a series of videos on the lives and accomplishments of Rivendell graduates.

Academic News

Based on last year’s standardized test scores, RA is ranked 5th in the state of Vermont. RA’s rank defies the economic disparity that exists in our district compared to 8 other top schools. Our average score of 91.11 was only 6 points below the top school, yet our free or reduced lunch percentage was 39% compared to 12%. Similarly, Westshire Elementary is ranked 10th in Vermont, only 10 points below the top elementary, but with a free or reduced lunch percentage of 42% compared to 7% in the top performing school. Recent comparisons of State by Education Week places Vermont schools3rd in the nation. http://www.edweek.org/ew/qc/2016/2016-state-report-cards-map.html?cmp=eml-sb-sr-qc16-20160107n

This news has caused quite a stir on local Facebook posts! Keep up the conversations and bring them to the board meetings.

Here is how we look compared to the rest of the state on 8th and 11th grade testing. Note: The scaling on the graphs gives the illusion that we are almost twice as successful as other schools. This is the result of not starting the x-axis scale at 0. (A 9th grade student pointed this out.)

sbac scores RA

Our performance continues to be high in all subject areas. Our scores are high despite the fact that we do not overtly track students or focus instruction on standardized tests or any single set of standards. We hold high expectations in individual classes and our graduation requirements are rigorous. We focus on students who struggle and do all we can to provide them with individual support and attention. Our teachers care about the quality of students’ ideas and thinking. We teach big ideas. We trust our students.

We are seldom satisfied. There are still too many very capable students receiving one or more failing grades. We have many students who could be making the honor roll. At the end of the first trimester I met with a dozen 10th grade students who fell in these two categories.

First Trimester Grade Results:

The following graphs give a picture of students’ performance during the first trimester. Given the strong correlation between test scores and GPA’s last year, we have a bit of evidence that GAP and test scores are related.

ra 1stsem grade results

The numbers seem to tell the following story about students’ performance:

There is a movement of kids up (100-90) and down (69-55) in GPA, with the middle (84-70) getting smaller. We need a stronger showing in the middle range. Ideally, we need to move the bottom up to the middle. From 2011-13 the % of GPAs in the failing range was approximately 6%-7%.

ra 1stsem grade results2

Grades 7, 8 and 10 seem to be accounting for the overall drop in GAP. There were 4 7th graders who failed 3 classes, 4th graders who failed 3 or 4 classes and 4 1th graders who failed 3 or 4 classes.

failing grades honor roll


Act 46 and Rivendell

There are a number of things to consider when looking at Act 46 in relation to Rivendell. First, as a result of being an interstate district, Act 46 does not compel Rivendell to consolidate. Recently, we also found out that the tax penalties also do not apply. Second, Rivendell has consistently met the equity concerns of Vermont lawmakers and the DOE as evidenced by our broad academic programs and our consistently high test scores that defy our high free or reduced lunch numbers. Also, our spending increases have been minimal over the last 6 years, given increases that are not under our control—fuel, bussing, health insurance, maintenance, etc. Third, our board has been discussing merger possibilities with neighboring districts; Thetford Elementary in particular (200, K-6 students). Including a district like Thetford Elementary makes sense because it increases the overall tax base of the district.

Keri Gelenian