McClure Middle School

McClure
Middle School

Family Newsletter 1/5/24

Hello Maverick Nation and Happy New Year!

Hope your Winter Break brought you warmth and connection. 

Preceding break, we had a fantastic spirit assembly to end our year. There were staff-student competitions, karaoke, a slide show starring student and staff activities so far this year and a slam dunk contest – I got second!  That’s right, with the help of student minions and a ladder, student judges gave me high marks. My nemesis, Mr. Hall, outscored me by doing an actual slam dunk (very showy – over a student…who was unscathed!), and Mr. Brickett also scored well with a slam dunk…on a toddler basketball hoop. 

Overall, a very fun, community building event, thanks to our fabulous ASB. 😊

We are now back at it and working our way toward the end of the semester on January 31.  (First day of second semester is February 1!)

News items:

Please help your kids focus at school:

Attached you will find yet another article (Atlantic) that supports the claim that cell phones and social media continue to have an incredibly negative impact on kids. A recent Gallup Poll (June-July, 2023) shows that over half 51% of U.S. teens (13-19) spend a minimum of four hours daily on social media, at an average of 4.8 hours every day on social media. Just 25% of parents “strongly agree” that they limit kids’ screen time. (Note: kids only spend 6.5 hours at school).

It goes without saying, we have a profound addiction problem here.  It is having a terrible effect on student mental health, self-esteem, focus and ability to achieve academically. We see it each and every day. You can find article after article to support this claim, as well.

This is the “why” behind our “away for the day” cell phone policy. 

You send us your kids each and every day with an expectation that we educate, support and push them as far as they can go…and we LOVE doing this!  Wrestling with students’ addictions to cell phones, gaming and social media has become a major obstacle for teachers in the US and, in the end, kids are falling behind.  Add the effects of the pandemic – our teachers have a very heavy lift, indeed.

All of this is to say – we need your help.  Here’s what you can do:

  1. PLEASE support the “away for the day” policy. Do not text them during the day.
    1. We often here some parents say that they want to have access to their child at all times during the day in case of emergencies.  You do have this through our attendance office.
    1. Articles about school shootings and student cell phones point to the fact that students’ calling out from the school during an intruder event have actually resulted in impeding the swift and effective response from law officers and puts students in more danger.
    1. Please put restrictions on students’ cell phones and Smart watches. Here are some guides.
      1. Parents – Screen Time Daily Time Limits for kids how to

We are a village with a united purpose: educating our kids supporting them emotionally, and setting up conditions and limits that amplify their success.  Please partner with us on this!!

Open House for incoming 6th grade families– 1/25, 6:00-7:10

I have sent flyers and news items to our feeder schools to get the word out to our incoming 2024-25 6th graders, but please feel free to spread the word!  Also, if you have an incoming 6th grader, we would love to have you; it’s as much for parents as it is for the kids. We’ll have an information sesh with a student panel and me, self-guided tour, opportunities to talk to staff and student leaders, etc. PLUS we will provide child care.  Always a fun and exciting evening.

Bingo Night 1/31

Some of you may remember Turkey Bingo – our annual pre-Thanksgiving event featuring yes, Bingo, but also pizza, fun emcees and prizes, prizes, prizes! 

We are gradually bringing back pre-pandemic community-building events and I cannot wait for Bingo Night this month. It’s really a fun and easy family event. Please come! (Time tbd).

This is a PTSA-sponsored event meant for families.  There will not be staff supervision provided. Please do not send your McClure student solo or with a group of friends. We have noticed that students who are not :attached” to an adult at evening events often tend to find their way into non-preferred behaviors that can ruin the experience for others.  PLUS, this is meant to be a community building activity – we want our families/parents/McClure students to come…come one come all!!  

End of first semester 1/31

Now would be an excellent time to check out your child’s grades and assignment completion in The Source. After the semester, students will not have opportunities to make up assignments/summative assessments, etc. Here is a link to the District’s Source information page.

Remember to click on the grades and a page will open up to show you what assignments have been completed and graded, what is missing, etc.

McClure Middle School Student Athlete Policies and Expectations

McClure Middle School aims to create a healthy, positive environment by promoting and developing good sportsmanship and encouraging our team members to be hardworking, kind, academically and athletically successful, disciplined, and well-respected McClure scholars.

All McClure student athletes are expected to represent themselves, their families, their team, and McClure Middle school with honesty, integrity and character, whether it be academically, athletically, or socially.

Failure to meet the following expectations could result in removal from practice, loss of game time, or removal from the team.

Expectations:

  • Maintain 90% or above attendance.
  • Maximum of one or fewer tardies in any given week.
  • Completion of grade checks every week – including citizenship.
    • Maintain Cs or above; only allowing for one C in any core class
    • If any weekly grades are below a D or are “incomplete”, the athlete will not participate in sports practices for the following week.
  • One or fewer Office Referrals during any given week.
  • A conduct violation will result in removal from game and possibly from practice.
  • Show good sportsmanship at all practices and games.
  • Stay on campus between end of school day and beginning of practice.

Join the PTSA! (You’ll be so glad you did!!

Please join the PTSA!  It’s a fun and easy way to connect with your McClure community and contribute to the school. Please click on the link and join as an individual or family.   Join McClure PTSA

That’s it for now!

Go Mavs!

Principal Shannon Conner

McClure Middle School

It sure looks like phones are making students dumber

Test scores have been falling for years—even before the pandemic.

By Derek ThompsonThe Atlantic article – ell phones student test scores dropping

December 19, 2023

This is Work in Progress, a newsletter about work, technology, and how to solve some of America’s biggest problems.

For the past few years, parents, researchers, and the news media have paid closer attention to the relationship between teenagers’ phone use and their mental health. Researchers such as Jonathan Haidt and Jean Twenge have shown that various measures of student well-being began a sharp decline around 2012 throughout the West, just as smartphones and social media emerged as the attentional centerpiece of teenage life. Some have even suggested that smartphone use is so corrosive, it’s systematically reducing student achievement. I hadn’t quite believed that last argument—until now.

The Program for International Student Assessment, conducted by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development in almost 80 countries every three years, tests 15-year-olds in math, reading, and science. It is the world’s most famous measure of student ability. Most years, when the test makes contact with American news media, it provides instant ammunition for critics of America’s school system, who point to PISA scores and ask something like “Why are we getting crushed by Finland in reading?” or “Why are we getting smoked by Korea in math?”

The latest PISA report has a different message. Yes, Americans scored lower in math than in any other year in the history of the test, which began in 2003. (Once again, the test recorded America’s persistent inequalities; Black and Hispanic students, on average, scored below Asian and white students, who typically do about as well as their peers around the world.) But COVID learning loss was even worse elsewhere, creating what the authors of the PISA report called “an unprecedented drop in performance” globally that was “nearly three-times as large as any prior change.”

The deeper, most interesting story is that test scores have been falling for years—even before the pandemic. Across the OECD, science scores peaked in 2009, and reading scores peaked in 2012. Since then, developed countries have as a whole performed “increasingly poorly” on average. “No single country showed an increasingly positive trend in any subject,” PISA reported, and “many countries showed increasingly poor performance in at least one subject.” Even in famously high-performing countries, such as Finland, Sweden, and South Korea, PISA grades in one or several subjects have been declining for a while.

So what’s driving down student scores around the world? The PISA report offers three reasons to suspect that phones are a major culprit.

First, PISA finds that students who spend less than one hour of “leisure” time on digital devices a day at school scored about 50 points higher in math than students whose eyes are glued to their screens more than five hours a day. This gap held even after adjusting for socioeconomic factors. For comparison, a 50-point decline in math scores is about four times larger than America’s pandemic-era learning loss in that subject.

Second, screens seem to create a general distraction throughout school, even for students who aren’t always looking at them. Andreas Schleicher, the director of the PISA survey, wrote that students who reported feeling distracted by their classmates’ digital habits scored lower in math.

Finally, nearly half of students across the OECD said that they felt “nervous” or “anxious” when they didn’t have their digital devices near them. (On average, these students also said they were less satisfied with life.) This phone anxiety was negatively correlated with math scores.

In sum, students who spend more time staring at their phone do worse in school, distract other students around them, and feel worse about their life.

Hanging a big thesis like “phones are making kids dumber” on any particular survey is generally inadvisable. In fact, this would be a fair time to point out that PISA scores do not enjoy universal praise among education experts. As the saying goes, “Intelligence is whatever a test measures,” and a global standardized test of student competence across countries, cultures, learning styles, and languages will inevitably include questions that overrate some abilities and underrate others.

But the latest PISA survey isn’t the only evidence that phones in schools are weapons of mass distraction. Studies have shown that students on their phone take fewer notes and retain less information from class, that “task-switching” between social media and homework is correlated with lower GPAs, that students who text a lot in class do worse on tests, and that students whose cellphones are taken away in experimental settings do better on tests. As Haidt, a psychologist, has written in The Atlantic, the mere presence of a smartphone in our field of vision is a drain on our focus. Even a locked phone in our pocket or on the table in front of us screams silently for the shattered fragments of our divided attention.

Haidt and Twenge have suggested banning phones in school entirely. The PISA analysis seems to offer a strong argument for this policy. However, in his PISA analysis, Schleicher offers one possible downside: In some countries, students in schools with phone bans were less likely to turn off their notifications when going to sleep. Maybe they were making up for lost time. Or maybe they just had less practice avoiding the siren call of a lock-screen notification. Or maybe it’s just a minor contrary signal, and phone bans are good for kids overall.

The way I see it, for the past decade, the internet-connected world has been running a global experiment on our minds—and, in particular, on the minds of young people. Teens are easily distracted and exquisitely sensitive to peer judgment. Results from a decade of observational research have now repeatedly shown a negative relationship between device use and life satisfaction, happiness, school attention, information retention, in-class note-taking, task-switching, and student achievement. These cognitive and emotional costs are highest for those with the most “device dependence.”

Banning phones in school would be a bold and novel experiment. It might not work. But the fallacy is believing that doing nothing is the harmless status quo. Time for a new intervention.

Derek Thompson is a staff writer at The Atlantic and the author of the Work in Progress newsletter.