The team arrived on Kosrae on Wednesday afternoon 13 April 2005. Dana Lee Ling met with Director Kephas and Student Services Specialist Willer Benjamin to go over the itinerary for the visit. Dana also made contact with math instructor Rhoda Velasquez. Rhoda was updated on impending new editions of textbooks in mathematics.
In the evening I ran a thirty-one minute round trip to the Malem ball field and was chased by four dogs.
At an impromptu morning meeting Ketiner Kenneth, Dana Lee Ling, and Willer Benjamin went over the plan for the day. Just before ten o'clock the three member team moved out to meet with the governor.
At the meeting with the Governor the team briefed the governor on the results of the examination. The governor listened intently, and studied the data and charts provided to him. He asked that any diagnostic information that might be useful to improving their programs be provided to his education personnel. He wanted to be able to take specific actions to improve secondary education in Kosrae. He expressed a desire to see continuing improvement, and asked that any specifics we might have to help them improve be shared.
Dana was aware that one particular unit had held a community meeting and had de facto claimed that their efforts were the cause of the generally positive results for the high school. Keenly aware of this background information, Dana stressed to the governor, and in all later meetings, that the success seen is like winning a canoe race. The senior class at Kosrae High School has performed on par or better than the other public high schools in the FSM.
When a canoe wins a race, however, no one single paddler jumps up and shouts, "I won, I did it!" The win is the result of a team effort, of long hours of practice and working together. In the canoe are paddlers called Gear Up, Upward Bound, the teachers, the parents, the department of education, the state leadership. All have been paddling hard towards the finish line. If this canoe has won, then the win is the result of everyone working together. No one should think that there will ever be a way to say who was the most important paddler, because a canoe wins when everyone works together in synchronization.
After meeting with the governor we learned that the director of education was off-island. The team met with the acting director, Wilson Kephas. Wilson was briefed on the results. He asked that in the future the test report materials should have the date the test was given and the date of the next high school testing. He noted that he was responsible for setting up calendars and ensuring students were well prepared for the examination.
The team then broke for lunch prior to meeting with the high school students.
The high school graciously released the seniors from periods six and seven to allow us to speak to them. We should never take for granted the opportunity we are given to recruit by our high schools. No state side high school is likely to dismiss any classes for a specific college's recruiting efforts, we are fortunate that the high schools support us in the way that they do. We depend on their students for our livelihood, they would appreciate us returning the favors they grant us by sharing as openly as we can with them that data which can help them improve our future students' capacities. SSS Willer Benjamin opened the session.
The videotape was shown, then Dana covered academic programs. Following this, Ketiner covered tuition, fees, financial aid, and other areas. The images from Founding day fascinated the seniors. While many rushed up to the list after the session to see whether they gained admission, an equal number rushed over to the notebook with the pictures instead. Throughout the visit the notebook was a source of interest and excitement.
After the meeting, Willer and Eileen Sabino distributed the packets.
During the later part of the afternoon Dana met at length with high school principal Paul Hadik in the Kosrae campus office. Director Kephas graciously offered the use of his office for our discussions. Discussion centered on sharing of data and finding ways for the college to assist the high school and for the high school to assist the college without violating policies or protocols on either side. This discussion is ongoing and while we cannot release all that the principal wants to see released, I think we can find ways to assist the high school.
Some of the discussion centered on the arguably embattled Advanced students section. Questions swirl as to whether this group has performed differentially from other sections. There are other issues apparently that deal with selection, issues of fairness, opportunity, and many other factors.
A look at the math results for the Advanced students found that they were statistically significantly separated from the KHS mean (above) and ranked them number one in the nation on the math entrance test in rank order. The performance, however, was not statistically significantly separated from Xavier. Thus one might more appropriately deem this a tie for first rank. This result, however, did lend credence to an assertion either made or implied that Kosrae high school could produce math capacities that were on the order of those of the Xavier students for a roughly equivalent number of students. Xavier had brought 24 students to this level of performance, Kosrae High School had lifted 30 students to this level. It may be that the A1 section at PICS would also be competitive at this level.
Obviously there are many fundamental questions and issues that surround tracking students by capacities and forming select academic groups. Some high schools already do this, others are studying this option.
Dana provided the principal with the data published online about COMET, the 95% confidence interval for the mean by high school for subsection three, a set of the essay questions, and the COMET booklet. The principal noted that some of the type in the COMET booklet was too small for students with vision difficulties. Dana confessed that his aging eyes need bifocals for anything around eight point type or less. Type size sufficiency is in the eye of the beholder, but we should always bear in mind the number of students in this nation who probably need but do not have eyeglasses. Our test materials should test grammar and reading, not vision.
In the evening Dana ran a thirty-four minute round trip run to the Malem dump. On the way back he was chased by a pack of six dogs. He beaned one with a rock while shouting an apology to his uncle-in-law for beaning his dog. Word on the street was that the same pack had recently bitten a passing ahset (foreigner).
Later in the evening Dana briefed a parent in Utwe on the Founding day events.
In the morning Ketiner and Dana met first with the Gear Up personnel. Dana requested and was provided with a list of Gear Up seniors. The team learned that all but about five re-entrant students in the senior class were in the Gear Up program. Dana noted that as a result the KHS average will be the Gear Up average in any testing for differences of means.
Following this the team met with Upward Bound director and staffers. Again Dana requested a list of participants and was provided with one.
The meeting with Upward Bound was followed by an impromptu meeting with Aloka J. Sigrah of the Kosrae Scholarship board. In this meeting Ketiner discussed the various matters concerning the Kosrae students state scholarship. Email addresses were exchanged in the hope that communication between Kosrae Scholarship and our FAO can be facilitated.
After lunch, Dana sat in on a presentation by Father Fran Hezel on government and corruption in government. I gather that many of the students present were Advanced class students.
In the afternoon Dana met briefly with academic coordinator Rosa Bueno-De Mesa and later with Rhoda Velasquez. Rosa is carrying a regular full load plus the academic coordinator load, this keeps her very busy. Rosa noted that she needs to be certified to teach SS 130 Sociology so she can get paid her overload for teaching the course. Dana also discussed the new book order form provided by Martin for ordering fall texts. Rosa explained that she thought that creating the class schedule then automatically a book order based on the section count. Dana explained that this was not so and that a separate book order based on projected demand should be submitted.
Rhoda expressed her concern over the Houghton Mifflin book glitch this term. Dana conveyed the bookstore manager's recommendation to look at Pearson and Addision Wesley. The MS 095 text is an Addision Wesley text. Rhoda thought the MS 095 text was superior in presentation for our students to the MS 098 text. She was more than open to changing the MS 098 text to an appropriate Addision Wesley product.
Rhoda noted that she need the new Math 8/7 text to prepare for fall term. This afforded Dana an opportunity to determine how quickly a book could be gotten to a state campus instructor if someone knew exactly how all the systems worked and if "bottom-feeders" worked to get the job done directly instead of through complex chains of command and control.
Dana contacted the national campus division of natural science and mathematics administrative assistant at 4:00 P.M. on a Friday evening. Working with the bookstore manager, they determined that the flat-out fastest way to get a book on Dana's desk in Pohnpei by 5:00 in the evening was to not use a traditional P.O. but to use a petty cash request. With the probable help of the acting chair Dr. Don Buden, the business office, and the bookstore, the book was on Dana's desk by 5:00.
Getting the book onto Dana's desk in Pohnpei might not seem useful, but Dana is aware of a Kosraen coming in early Monday morning on the night flight who will leave on the Monday midday flight. By having the book on his desk over the weekend, he can pass the book off early on Monday morning prior to coming in to work. If all goes well, Rhoda should have the book in hand by afternoon's end - roughly 24 business hours after the need was mentioned.
A goal of meeting inter-island demands within 24 to 48 hours might seem unrealistic, but the founders of DHL had just such a vision. Our systems should be looked at and designed to meet rapid turn-arounds. Many thanks to Mary Allen, Martin, Don, Jon, Jean, and others who helped "grease the skids" on this one.
In the evening Dana ran laps up and down a beach deserted except for a couple fellows enjoying a Friday evening brewski. The fellows did not bite nor chase, so the twenty-four minute sand slog was quite relaxing.
Aloa Sigrah met Ketiner and Dana at the airport and passed to Ketiner the Kosrae Scholarship check. By working swifty and walking paperwork through the finishing stages of the process, the check had been released Friday afternoon.