The Committee is made up of Chair Martin-Morris, Peter Maier and Betty Patu but in a somewhat unusual action, they were joined by Director DeBell and Director Sundquist for the discussion on MAP and instructional material waivers.
The meeting got off to a not-so-good start with the news that the district missed its deadline for the contract with MAP for this year. It just fell off the radar of Mark Teoh. It was supposed to be done by Sept. 1. Interestingly, this news just sat there and everyone looked at their papers. You might think that one Director might have said, "I wish I was not hearing this news." or even "what kind of problems does this create?" But no, no one said a thing.
Mr. Teoh continued by saying that he wanted an Action report to intro and act on and he had to be corrected that a motion is Introduced and then, at the next Board meeting, Acted on. (The Directors had to mention a few times that from the academic side, the motions are not being written properly.)
After reviewing the contract, I wrote to Mr. Teoh and asked if the district is in arrears or is it within the "net 30 days" in the contract. I also asked if the district might have to pay any late fee or were the fees paid but we don't have a signed contract. I have not heard back from him yet.
This is the kind of thing that gets us in trouble. As I recall, an issue in Pottergate was working starting without a contract in place.
Mr. Teoh explained the following about MAP:
- He said that although many schools are forgoing the optional fall testing, they still have more students being tested because of rising enrollment. He said the contract reflects that and is $20K more than last year.
- They estimate about a 95% completion rate. He said they had negotiated with NWEA to get money back if students are not tested. He said in 2008-2009 that the district got money back. This is at odds with the contract which says they are not obliged to do so. I asked Mr. Teoh to send me any documentation on this change.
- Michael said that he had understood that the district had been seriously considering NOT testing K and 9th grade because of issues around that testing. The issue around not testing in 9th is that they already take the new state end-of-course assessments. He didn't expand on why K wouldn't be tested.
- Mr. Teoh made an interesting reference to NWEA "sponsors." Does anyone know what he might have meant? He said that he was going to give data to Wendy Louden about the 9th graders and those EofC assessments. He said the district was still going to test Kindergarten students and that they had talked to principals about it.
- Director Maier stated that he would have liked to hear the discussion about direction and pace and decision points. He said he understood the need to get the contract done but wanted to have that discussion.
- Kathy Thompson, head of Academics, said they had talked to principals and there was no single thought. She said that some principals were firm on the ability to opt-out in the fall and others thought every school should be doing the same thing and others thought 3 times of year was right.
- Steve Sundquist said he thought they were narrowing the scope of MAP testing. He referenced WaKids which I had never heard of before. Apparently this is a new state kindergarten assessment system where the teacher visits the family (either at home or at school) and does an assessment based on a checklist. It actually sounds like a good idea but I'm not sure why it would talked about in this context. Steve said, "I feel like we are coming to a fork in the road and should we test Ks?"
- Kathy Thompson said WaKids is being piloted throughout the state and in 18 schools in the district. She said teachers need a lot of training in how to do it and will the state continue the funding. She said she likes it but it takes skill and time.
- Michael continued to state that he wanted real evidence and data on the value of assessments. He asked about other districts and what grades they tested. He said he was skeptical about keeping the span of K-10 and would be happier with 1-8. He warned Mr. Teoh to be able to state his case when it comes to the full Board.
- Mr. Teoh said the info from other districts "can be made available." (Internally I thought - why did the Board even have to ask? How can they make decisions if staff only gives data in bits?) He also said that 20-30 schools have opted to do fall MAP testing. I have requested this list as well.
- There was some document listing the costs and yes, I have asked for that as well.
- Martin-Morris also referenced dropping K testing.
- Peter said his memory is that they are doing K testing for advanced learning purposes and to give the kids "practice" for when it is a high stakes test. I had no idea that either of these were reasons to give MAP to kindergarteners.
- Ms. Thompson said it was to cast a wider net around advanced learning students and referenced some "long discussion with constituents." I have no idea who she was referring to.
- Mr. Teoh said that MAP and WaKids were both being given at a few schools (but again, I don't know which ones).
- Harium said there seemed to be a disparity there and what are we really testing Ks for? He said, "What do we get out it? We need to own this."
- Michael said I expected we would see options on MAP but not just 2x a year versus 3x a year.
- Mr. Teoh then said that MAP might not be appropriate for some 9th graders working ahead in math but hey! NWEA has a test for those issues.
- Michael said he wanted to see dropping K and/or 9th grade testing. He said he had asked them to be prepared for that.
- Mr. Teoh, during this entire time, kept talking about gathering more data and I think the directors were frustrated because they expected a different kind of report.
- Steve said the district appeared to be "all over the map on this issue."
- Kathy said they did a survey of families (which I vaguely remember) and that most families wanted it 3x a year. (I asked her for this result because I don't remember it that way at all.)
- Betty, seemingly frustrated, said, "Well, what do we go with?" Michael, also frustrated, said that he had heard from many high schools about the issues around testing both in time and costs and loss of use of the library. He also said he wanted a cost benefit analysis.
Was this a case of the Board not being clear on what they wanted?
Or did staff want one thing and only presented the case they wanted? This becomes more clear with the presentation about instructional materials waivers.
In the end, on the issue of MAP testing we know that more students are being tested than last year because of the higher enrollments. I would have thought that dropping the fall testing at most schools would easily outweigh any new enrollment but staff is saying that's not so. We know that staff seems to want to keep K and 9th grade testing.
I'm sensing some real discomfort on the part of the Board.