Directors Chow, Martin-Morris and Carr were there, with Harium chairing the meeting. There were at least 8 staff there. The agenda included
- grading policy for giving credit to middle school students for high school courses
- curriculum alignment - delivery of a white paper
- textbook adoption and materials
- anaphylaxis policy (which I previously reported on so will skip here)
- math intervention; what was done over summer and plan for this year (I left so I missed this part
Dr. Enfield (our new CAO) started by saying that it had been a good day for principals with training on the integrated service delivery model for Special Ed and bilingual students. There was no fleshing out of this issue so I don't know what was done.
Then Harium talked about fewer minutes with more Action items. Less of what he termed "he said, she said". This troubles me because I find that in reading minutes it's a lot of "this subject got brought up, there was discussion and we voted to keep (not keep) it." Minutes are there to actually tell you how you did get from point A to point B. (As a PTSA co-president, I'm writing my own narrative to pass on so people do know more than what is in the minutes albeit from my POV.)
Also, there was some discussion of their last meeting and how they (1) didn't have a scribe and (2) it might have been audio recorded. I think this issue needs to be pressed to the Directors on behalf of the public. If they have a public committee meeting, someone has to be taking official notes and/or it is recorded (either audio or video). Otherwise, it goes on record as "on this date there was this committee meeting". The end. That is totally useless to the public unless Charlie or I (or Dorothy) happen to show up and take notes and then report it here. Frankly, I'm not sure we should be the "official" record but if that's the best there is out there, okay.
They talked about the high school credit for middle school students. There were numerous handouts including a School Board Action report (dated August 17, 2009), revised draft of the SB policy (now numbered at C15.00), Grading recommendation table, and results of meetings to discuss details of the proposed grading policy changes. Frankly, it was a flurry of paper that even got the Directors confused. Charlie/Dorothy, help me out here. I have it as (1) implementing this new policy is a technology challenge and (2) it will be ready for Fall 2010.
The Executive Committee will sign off on it Sept. 10, it will be introduced at the Board meeting Sept. 16th and action on it taken at the Board meeting on Oct. 7th.
There was a bit of discussion about how this might fit in with the Core 24 idea from the state.
High School Curriculum Alignment
Kathleen Vasquez and Cathy (?) Thompson delivered this to the Committee. First statement:
"Curriculum alignment is not standardization or curriculum or daily lesson plans."
Pause here - great, I just discovered that I lost 2 pages of notes right here. Okay, so looking at this "white paper" I see that there are several key sentences to let you know about. (Charlie/Dorothy could you please fill in any discussion you remember here? I'm sorry about the gap in my notes.)
- Under Why is this Necessary? "One could argue that students currently are subjected to a lottery of sorts, in which the quality of their academic experience is, in part, attributed to the accident of scheduling. As a result, some students have the regrettable experience of learning the same content in courses that are designed to participate in a sequence."
- Core high school courses in Math, LA, Science, Social Studies and World Languages will align to: (1) common state or national content standards that prepare student for college level work (2) essential content knowledge and skills necessary to being successful in the next course in the sequence and/or college and work (3) textual materials and supporting instructional documents selected and/or designed by SPS.
- It states that there will be alignment across the middle school curriculum to high school
- Developing Common Course Assessments
- Providing Professional Development - from this section - "Teachers will receive training in the new standards and adopted materials so that they can effectively teach to the aligned curriculum, measure student progress and performance, and differentiate instruction to adjust teaching to meet the needs of all students including Special Ed, Bilingual and Advanced Learning." And then, I guess, they'll walk on water.
Cheryl disagreed and said input is good but the adoption of textbooks is a very specific topic and that the Board should listen to the adoption committee. She said everyone has had an education so they feel they should be able to give input but is it input that they can use?
Harium said the key word is "influence". Sherry said she felt it could help shape the design but not choose the design. Cheryl said what would input mean to a committee and at what level could it be used. Dr. Enfield said her last district said, "Having a say doesn't always mean getting your way." Harium, "Well, but people want to know how you got there (to the decision)." One staffer I did not recognize said something to the effect that the Board didn't just need to know what you want but why you care about this position. Is it based on your educational experience? Research?
Sherry said they want to "inform, consult and involve" the public in these decisions.
I would just say that it was interesting hearing the different Directors trying to suss out how to use public input. It is clear that this needs to be a discussion for the entire Board (and they are going on their retreat soon so maybe that's a good time). I also felt that the discussion around the curriculum alignment had a bit of posturing that felt like a smackdown to those high schools opposing the LA alignment.
Also I caught up with these consultants (yes, more consultants - our district loves 'em) who are going to work with rolling out this alignment. They are from a group called Education First Consulting. The one person whose name I got is Susan Pimentel. They were hired in June and started work in July.