I only got the tail end of the public comment period. But there were two interesting comments. One was by Jane Fellner who is a long-time parent advocate in this district. She was telling the Board that Garfield is going to be overloaded next fall. She had looked at the enrollment data and they are getting 200 more students than the functional capacity. She said that Garfield would love to share its program with as many students as possible but that truly, the building does have a capacity. (This got commented on later. See Board member updates below.)
Another was the ever-smart Meg Diaz who, once again, made an impact. (And Meg, help me out here to flesh out what you said.) What really stuck with me is her determination to make the Board understand that Central Administration has not cut back all that much and the data proves her. Her great statement was that that Central Administration has grown even as the district's student population has shrunk AND that John Stanford had more students and fewer Central Administration positions. It was a great line.
So then there was the Superintendent's updates and that's all I'm reported on here. (The rest of the meeting seemed pro forma to me as I skipped through the video but if I missed something, please let us know.)
The first update was from Brian Bernatek, the head of Research, Evaluation and Assessment. Brian is a data wonk and honestly, I say that with respect. Sometimes I see people glazed over when I talk and for people who dive deep, we just sometimes forget not everyone knows the lingo and/or is really that interested. His report was about MAP. From his presentation:
- this is the first full year of implementation. There are only 10-12 schools not using MAP left.
- He said that we would be able to compare our scores to other districts as 3-4 million MAP tests are taken each year.
- Funniest moment - he was talking about RIT scores and one of the Directors asked him what that was. So he goes into this explanation and frankly, he lost me after sentence 3. (I'll post the explanation from the MAP website at the bottom).
- He said that scores rose in fall, winter and spring but that growth drops off as you get into higher grades. He explained this by saying it takes work to keep the older students engaged and understanding why they are taking this test.
- He said the achievement gap between whites/Asians and Hispanic/black/Native American is still there.
- Interestingly, he said we are doing better in math than reading.
- Steve S. was disappointed to hear that we still have a big challenge in reading as well as math.
- Brian mentioned that "typical growth may be a low bar to achieve" and that even with a 50% growth, we might not be meeting standards. (Which kind of begs the question of whether MAP is truly telling us what we need to know vis a vis our standards.)
- Harium asked about the differences between racial groups. Brian said that, to be clear, it is not that they are not all making progress but that whites/Asians continue to make growth faster than other groups.
- Sherry noted a drop-off in reading scores between 1st and 2nd grade and asked about that. Brian said he would have to look at that.
- Betty asked about the difference of scores from 1st to 9th grades and Brian said some of that might be explained by the groups themselves changing from 1st to 9th
- Kay said that she had received some questions from Janet Woodward at Garfield (I assume this is teacher) about MAP results. She asked if Brian would be addressing these issues. Brian said that teachers can get results right away at the MAP website but that the district report, which has more info, is available at the end of the test cycle ( a couple of weeks later). He said this was a stop-gap year with the "academic warehouse" coming online and then they can generate reports on a daily basis. (Again, I'm assuming this academic warehouse is part of the Superintendent's website/technology update.)
- Kay said that middle and high school teachers feel they are not getting results soon enough to help their students. She said we need to get that piece right for MAP to work.
- Brian stated that schools have been doing a good job with MAP. He said the first time use has a large learning curve but it has gotten easier.
The levy lid is going from 32.07% to 36.97%. If the levy passed, they could get $48.2M out of it for 2010-2011 to 2013-2014. The district says it would fund (but keep in mind, once they have the money, they can spend it on anything in operations):
- 9th,11th,12th, science books
- 9-12 social studies books
- enhance programs such as K-12 music
- preserve programs that would be cut due to reduced state and federal funding (no specifics)
- the ever popular "professional development"
This item was not being introduced at this meeting. It will be introduced at the Board meeting on June 16th and acted on at the Board meeting on July 7th. It has to be to the County by August 10th for the November 2010 general election. (Note: some districts are doing this in August but not SPS.) They said the first proceeds would be available by Jan. 2011.
There will be a public hearing on the supplemental levy on June 23 from 6-7 p.m.
Board Members Updates
Sherry: She says she acknowledges the recent State Auditor's report on the district and takes it very seriously. She said the Audit and Finance Committee would be addressing this. She stated that the work from the internal audit on the Native American program was progressing. She noted that June 23rd would also be the date for another public hearing from 4-6 on the district's budget. She said that she and Peter M. had attended the State Board Directors meeting and that they are suggesting an urban district committee and that was agreed to there. She said that at the fall conference they would be presenting a talk about performance management and MAP since about 100 districts in our state use it.
Steve said that he wanted clarification about the Native American program money as during the Public Comment period it sounded like there would be a funding gap. He thought it was being filled by the district. Dr. Goodloe-Johnson said she wasn't sure what the speaker had meant but if it was about the number of students that completed the Title 7 paperwork that yes, that gap was being closed. (Yes, but because the district counted wrong, they have to pay back about $153K for two years to the feds.)
Betty asked about the testimony about 200 extra kids at Garfield in the fall. She said it seems to be an issue at Ballard as well. There was dead silence at this. Dr. Goodloe-Johnson said something about checking numbers. Luckily, Tracy Libros was in the room. She came forward and said that there are a couple of reasons that a school might be overenrolled. She said that they are working towards a 2015 goal and that there might be more sibs early on. (This totally confused me because any sibs of students in the boundaries would be accounted for and the 10% Open Choice seats would account for that many extra kids.) She also said something that I don't think many teachers would appreciate. She said they could handle extra kids by moving teachers out of their rooms during their planning periods so another teacher could teach a class in that room. Musical rooms anyone? She said functional capacity was not the same as what the building could hold. Okay, but at what point do you say too many kids to serve well and/or hold safely? Also she said that "a lot of kids were assigned to Garfield" but that many end up being no-shows. I would buy that for a regular school but when you talk about one of the most popular, I'll bet it's lower.
Betty expressed thanks to Dr. G-J and Tracy for the movement of the waitlist at Kimball. Kay and Harium also expressed thanks to Tracy and her staff for their work.
Michael mentioned working on energy conservation in our district. He also noted the effects of capacity management on schools (i.e. Thurgood Marshall and the movement of APP to that school and the effects on their Title One funding). He said they need to closely track these effects and make sure needs are being met and that we acknowledge unintended consequences.
(As promised, RIT scores explained.
RIT stands for Rasch Unit, which is a unit of measure that uses individual item difficulty values to estimate student achievement. RIT scores create an equal interval scale. Equal interval means that the difference between scores is the same regardless of whether a student is at the top, bottom or middle of the RUT scale, and it has the same meaning regardless of grade level.
Each student's achievement is unique and no single test can yield a complete profile of a students overall achievement. RIT scores are very accurate estimates of where in the Learning Continuum they are at the time of testing. Students can correctly answer about 50% of the question in their RIT range. One RIT range lower, students can correctly answer about 80% of the questions. One RIT range higher they can answer about 20% of the questions correctly.)
Characteristics of the RIT Scale include:
- It is an achievement scale.
- It is an accurate scale.
- It is an equal interval scale.
- It helps to measure growth over time.
- It has the same meaning regardless of grade or age of the student.