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WELCOME TO PGES! HOME OF THE EAGLES
Welcome to the 2017/2018 school year. I am Adam Dasinger, principal here since the summer of 1998. PGES is a wonderful school that has an inviting "family culture". We aim to educate our students in a positive environment. Our faculty is dedicated to the students in all aspects of their education. I invite you to read about their biographies and professional qualifications at our website. Our students are the reason why we are here and you will find that our teachers treat them "like their own".


Coming from a proud, hardworking tradition, PGES started in the 1920s when one room school house consolidation began. By the late 1920s, Pleasant Grove Junior High School was established and remained that way until the building burned in the early 1970s. After the fire, Pleasant Grove Elementary School has been established on the same campus and now incorporates grades pre-kindergarten through sixth grade. We are proud of our past and excited about what the future holds for us here at PGES as well as Cleburne County.


Welcome again to the start of a new year. If I can be of assistance, please call me at 256-253-2146
Go Hollis !!!
Adam Dasinger, Principal
Heflin, Alabama

Kindergarten Assessments Begin to Shape Instruction

about 1 month ago

October 10, 2017

In the not-too-distant past, the kindergarten classrooms at Pleasant Grove Elementary in Heflin, Ala., looked much the same as classrooms for older children.

Desks were arranged in rows. Children worked on worksheets. "There wasn't a lot of differentiation in your instruction," said Kristi Moore, a kindergarten teacher at the school, located halfway between Birmingham, Ala., and Atlanta. "Most of all your children were taught the same way."

But in recent years, the school has tried to shift instruction in a way that they say works better for young children. And they credit the use of a comprehensive method of evaluating kindergarten students, called kindergarten entry assessment, as one of the tools that allowed them to do that.

Kindergarten entry assessments, which some states call "kindergarten readiness assessments" or "kindergarten entry inventories," are intended to guide a teacher's instructional practice. They may include direct assessment of children's skills, teacher observations, or both. They're intended to give teachers a well-rounded picture of the whole child, including his or her academic, social, and physical development.

While these assessments are becoming more widespread—boosted by federal support during the Obama administration—they're offering mixed results for teachers and for school districts.

Supporters say they're useful in supporting all elements of a child's development during their important early school days.

Others have criticized the assessments as an additional burden that doesn't let teachers know what they should do with all the data they're expected to collect. And the assessments also raise concerns for some that they'll be used for high-stakes purposes, like evaluating teachers or sorting children into educational tracks.

One School's Experience

Even as that debate continues the assessments are a reality in most states.

Schools such as Pleasant Grove Elementary offer an example of how these assessments can be used well, teachers there say. Moore and other educators said the assessment prompted them to put aside pacing guides and highly structured instruction that didn't allow time for other parts of child development, which the kindergarten entry assessment outlined as important.

The state department of education and its department of early-childhood education have given grants to seven Alabama schools, including Pleasant Grove, to continue this work.

Twyla Plata, 5, talks with student teacher Emily Robertson while playing in her kindergarten classroom at Pleasant Grove Elementary School in Heflin, Ala.
Twyla Plata, 5, talks with student teacher Emily Robertson while playing in her kindergarten classroom at Pleasant Grove Elementary School in Heflin, Ala.
—Tamika Moore for Education Week

And the teachers say they appreciate being able to adjust their methods as well. "Now you're free to differentiate your instruction all during the day," Moore said, incorporating reading, math, and other academics into more active, developmentally appropriate learning.

As Pleasant Grove demonstrates, "We clearly have found pockets of teachers and of schools where they really understand how to use these resources," said Richard Lambert, a professor in the department of educational leadership at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.

Lambert, who also serves as the director of the university's Center for Educational Measurement and Evaluation, has studied the use of kindergarten entry assessments in North Carolina and other states. He is also a consultant to the company Teaching Strategies, which created one of the most widely used assessment of this type, Teaching Strategies Gold. Nine states use this measure to evaluate kindergarten students, or as part of their state measure.

Lambert has conducted surveys of teachers in North Carolina and in other states. Getting teachers to use the information the tests yield and then to modify their teaching based on it is no small task, he said. Teachers are sometimes seeing these tests the way they see end-of-the-year tests, rather than as measures that are supposed to be capturing a child's growth over time.

There's also more variability among teacher evaluations of child skills than could be explained by just differences among children, Lambert said. That suggests that while some teachers understand how the measurement tool is supposed to work, others need more assistance in knowing just how to evaluate children.

Kindergarten entry assessments or inventories are not new, but they received a big push through the federal Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grants, which required applicants to outline a plan of how they were going to use these assessments to promote school readiness. The assessments were required to measure "language and literacy, cognition and general knowledge, approaches to learning, physical well-being and motor development, and social-emotional development," the grant said.

The U.S. Department of Education also had a different grant program just to support state creation of kindergarten-entry assessments.

Researchers have raised questions about whether the assessments meet one goal of providing an academic boost for students. In 2016, the Regional Educational Laboratory Northeast & Islands wrote a report saying that using kindergarten entry assessments did not produce statistically significant improvements on students' early reading or math skills.

But the students in that study would have started school well before the Education Department started giving money to states to create or improve their entry assessments.

Piloting Programs

In Virginia, about half of the state's school divisions are piloting a program called the Virginia Kindergarten Readiness Program. The state already requires incoming kindergartners to be measured on preliteracy skills. The kindergarten-readiness program adds evaluations of children's math, social, and self-regulation skills.

Kindergarten students Eric Lopez and Brayden Contreras, both 5, play on an iPad during their free choice time at Pleasant Grove.
Kindergarten students Eric Lopez and Brayden Contreras, both 5, play on an iPad during their free choice time at Pleasant Grove.
—Tamika Moore for Education Week

It also provides tools for teachers if children show that they are lagging in those areas, said Amanda Williford, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, who developed the measure and is working with districts in implementing it.

"Self-regulation and social skills are just as important, and it's the same kind of skill as reading and math," Williford said. "It's learned in school, just like reading and math are. If a kid was struggling to read, we would never say they don't belong in our classroom."

Melita Ring, a kindergarten teacher at Amelon Elementary in Madison Heights, Va., said she likes having the one-on-one time with her students, and having resources to help students right at her fingertips.

"They're giving you that opportunity to not only teach the children who are struggling, but to learn other ways of doing so," Ring said.

Karma Hugo, the director of early learning for Washington state, said this fall marks the first statewide use of a kindergarten entry assessment, called Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills, or WaKIDS. The rollout has been rocky, she acknowledged, as teachers learned how to make meaningful use of the information.

But it has already borne useful results, Hugo said. For example, the findings helped some teachers realize they were asking more in terms of social-emotional growth of their young students than is appropriate for kindergarten-age students. Other findings have helped schools realize that their incoming students needed more math support.

"Many of the bumps that we've encountered have ultimately shined lights on opportunities for improvement," Hugo said.

Vol. 37, Issue 08, Pages 1, 8

Published in Print: October 11, 2017, as Kindergarten Assessments Start to Bear Fruit

Breakfast In The Classroom for 2017/18 School Year

4 months ago

The Alabama Appleseed Foundation in Montgomery has awarded Pleasant Grove Elementary School grant funding in the amount of $2000 to serve as a local pilot school for "Breakfast in the Classroom" for Pre-K, K, 1st, and 2nd grades during the 2017-18 school year. We are the only school in the Clay, Cleburne, Randolph and Calhoun County School Systems to be awarded this funding from the Alabama Appleseed Foundation. 

Students in these grades will receive breakfast in their classrooms during breakfast time at the school. There are several advantages to Breakfast in the Classroom, with the biggest advantage being to increase participation in the breakfast program by our youngest students, so that all of them will be ready to learn at their maximum potential each morning with a nutritional breakfast. 

Please see the links below for additional information and as always, contact Mr. D at the school for additional information as well.




AMSTI Science at PGES for 2017/2018

4 months ago

Exciting news about science instruction at PGES. In partnership with the Cleburne County High School Science Department  (thanks Mrs. Bain), PGES will now have science lab materials (and a dedicated lab) to borrow from to support the Alabama Math and Science Initiative (AMSTI) training that all science teachers at PGES completed in June 2017. 

Mrs. Moore, Mrs. Holmes, Ms.Hubbard, Mrs. Farr, Mrs. Turner, Mrs. Taylor, Mr. Bedford , Mrs. Williamson, Mrs. Winter, Mrs. Goggans and even Mr. D attended multiple days of training.

A science lab this year has been developed (next to the computer lab) and will be used to set up the science "kits"  we will receive (from AMSTI)  this school year as well as supportive lab materials that CCHS has graciously allowed us access to use. 

Mrs.Brittany Williamson ( who will teach science to grades 4,5, and 6 this year) will be our liaison with CCHS and will support PGES teachers with lab set up and materials. 

Please contact Mr. Dasinger if you have any questions and thanks CCHS.  


Alabama PreK-through-Third-Grade Integrated Approach to Early Learning 2017/2018 School Year

4 months ago

Pleasant Grove Elementary School was selected from a pool of applicants participating in the Alabama PreK- 3 Leadership Academy (one of eight schools in the state) for the 2017/18 school year. Go Hollis!!!

Each participating school  received a $15,000 grant for each classroom to purchase age-appropriate classroom materials and improve early learning experiences. PGES was awarded over $70,000. 

PGES PreK, K and 1st grade will be a part of the program with planned expansion to 2nd and 3rd grade within the next two years.

As told by Governor Ivey, “A strong start in the early years of a child’s education ensures a strong finish in their later educational endeavors. Whether a student will find success in school and the workforce is traditionally evidenced in their performance by third grade,” 

The Alabama PreK-through-Third-Grade Integrated Approach to Early Learning program is a joint partnership between the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education and the Alabama State Department of Education. 


Governors State of the State Address in February


Governor Ivey Announces PreK Through Third Grade Pilot Schools


Governor Ivey's Press Release


PGES Teacher Interviewed About Being Awarded the Grant by the Anniston Star/Cleburne News 

PGES is excited about the changes this year to our early childhood program and way to go Mrs. Blackwell, Mrs. Johnson, Mrs. Holmes, Mrs. Moore, Mrs. Hubbard and Mrs. Farr.

Please see Mr. D for more information including additional research and information on the PreK through Third Grade Integrated Approach.



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