Monday, July 31, 2017

The school year is right around the corner.

Dear Parents,

The upcoming school year is approaching quickly and we are excited to get all staff and students back into the building! I have two data points and one update that I would like to share with you.

We are now in year five of our teacher collaboration initiative. For the past five years school has started late every Wednesday to allow time for teachers to collaborate. This time is used to unpack standards, develop our own assessments, data analysis, and to create action plans for students who are performing below or above the standard. We are happy to see that the fruits of our labor are beginning to pay off. In the chart below you can see the past two years we have seen an increase in our overall ACT Composite Score. All juniors are required to take the ACT in North Dakota during the spring semester.

The chart below shows the percentage of the senior class that has qualified for the North Dakota Academic and Career Tech Scholarship. To qualify you need a minimum composite score of a 24 or three fives on the ACT WorkKeys Assessment. Students also need a high GPA and qualifying coursework.

As part of our teacher collaboration efforts we are continuing our gradual implementation of standards-based grading and reporting. You can expect that students in grades K-4 will receive a more detailed report card based on the standards in English and Language Arts. This method of reporting allows us to identify breakdowns in learning faster and provides more information to parents. We will continue implementation into future grades and subject areas in upcoming school years.

Please stop by the school to pick up your school registration packet. You will find information regarding our NEW school app. You can follow me on Twitter at @mdmcneff and visit my blog at for current school related articles or news.

I am looking forward to an excellent year!


Dr. Michael McNeff, Superintendent

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Study Abroad Program heading to Italy.

In the summer of 2015, I was lucky enough to take part in the first study abroad trip to the country of Peru. We took approximately 30 high school juniors and seniors on the Peru trip. We were able to take in all of the fantastic sights throughout our stay in Peru. Mr. Blikre and I may or may not have gotten lost... :) It was a wonderful experience for myself and the students that were able to attend. It is something that I will never forget. Fast forward to 2017, our next group to travel abroad has spent the last two years preparing for their trip to Italy. I have no doubt that our students and advisers will have another successful learning experience overseas.

If you would like you can follow their experiences here beginning on July 31st.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Download the NEW School App!

The Rugby Public Schools' mobile app is ready for launch!

The new RPS mobile app for both iPhone and Android smartphones is ready for launch! We are excited to bring this new technology to RPS and hope you will enjoy the convenience of it. Now you can stay connected while you’re on the go with this FREE mobile app! Our new mobile app will keep you better informed about the news and events in our district and schools and will help streamline communication with our stakeholders. The app will deliver real time school news to your smartphone for fast, up-to-date access, with convenient links to other school information.

With the app you can:
 • Have school information accessible in one location on your smartphone
• Select the schools you want to follow
• Get push notifications about news, closures, weather, events, and more
• Quickly access the school calendar, lunch menus, school supply lists, etc.
• Tap to see administrator and staff contact information

 Download the new app in 3 easy steps:
1. On your smartphone, go to the iTunes App Store® or Google Play®
2. Search Rugby Public Schools. Look for our panther logo.  
3. Then select our Rugby Public Schools app.  Please click to "allow push notifications."

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Individualized and meaningful professional learning

Our professional learning committee continues to revamp our professional learning in our school district. We believe in providing individualized and meaningful professional learning opportunities to our teachers. We think we have found the right combination to provide our teachers with the autonomy and accountability they need to learn and improve their practices. You can click on the images below to enlarge them. Here is a link to the full word document

Monday, May 15, 2017

Counting down or running out of time?

I think about this often as we near the end of another school year. As we get closer to the final day the excitement seems to boil over for both students and teachers. I don't know if the excitement is good or bad.  I do realize that the break is nice for families to reconnect and teachers to get rejuvenated after a year full of learning. I would like us all to think about how we communicate this excitement. Are we counting down the days? Are students aware that we cannot wait to start summer break through our words and body language? Or are we communicating that every day counts?

I like to think of it as we are running out of time and how do we make every day count? Summer break will be here before we know it and our students will be on break for three months. Some students will lose their only safe place, some may lose their access to a trusted adult, and others may lose the only nutritious meal that they receive in a day. I challenge all of us to think about about how we communicate the end of the year to each other, and to our students. Are you counting down the days or are you running out of time?

What message are you sending as we near the end of another school year?

Grading Reform: Part 3

I have written previously on our work to develop common beliefs about grading and reporting in our school district. I believe we are making some nice progress in designing a more consistent grading process. Our latest meeting focused on developing beliefs about creating second chances for learning and grade reduction/enhancement practices. As mentioned in previous blogs, we've read several journal articles about best practices in grading and reporting. You can find the articles here and here. We used these research articles to help inform our decision making.

Here is what we came up with:

Second Chance for Learning
  • Re-dos and re-takes are available to students
  • Students are responsible for asking for a second chance
  • Corrective instruction, additional practice, etc. must occur prior to the re-assessment
  • Full credit should be given for any re-assessment
  • The most recent/accurate score will be used for grading purposes
Grade Reduction and Enhancement
  • Zeroes should not be permanent (students should be given the opportunity to turn in missing work for full credit)
  • Deadlines prior to the end of each grading term are at the discretion of the teacher
  • Teachers may make use of incompletes at the end of grading terms under special circumstances (i.e. student illness or hardship)
  • Teachers are strongly encouraged to enter zeroes in a timely manner
  • Late work should be accepted in most circumstances and penalties shouldn’t significantly decrease the grade
  • Students who demonstrate habitual behavior in work habits may be given a “U” by the teacher
  • Grades will not be based on a curve
  • Bonus points or extra credit falsely inflate the grade and should not be used

The full document can be found here: RPSD Standards-based Learning Practices

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Rugby North Dakota Downtown Project

Mr. Leier organized a community forum tonight and showcased a student created documentary. The community forum also included a visit from Lieutenant Governor Brent Sanford. This culminating event is Project Based Learning at its finest. Mr. Leier's class researched our downtown business area and Governor Burgum's Main Street Initiative. 

Rugby North Dakota Downtown Project