Superintendent Procedure 2163SP, Supports and Interventions. This procedure will be new. It will describe how the superintendent will implement Board Policy 2163, Supports and Interventions. I cannot stress enough the critical role that supports and interventions plays in closing the academic achievement gap. They are also critically important to curricular alignment, providing equitable opportunities to students across the district, and the quality assurance function of the central administration.
Appropriately, the policy only makes general statements about how and when schools and teachers will apply supports and interventions. From the Policy:
The district utilizes the core principles of the Multi-tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) process which combines systematic assessment, decision-making and a multi-tiered services delivery model to improve educational and social and emotional behavioral outcomes for all students. Under this model, students receive support through differentiation in core classroom instruction and small group instruction in class or during additional intervention time.MTSS is the new acronym for what used to be called RTI, Response to Intervention. They are the same thing. I don't know why, but the education business is constantly changing their nomenclature. I keep telling myself that it isn't done specifically to confuse and mystify outsiders, but I don't see what other effect it has.
The policy authorizes the superintendent to develop procedures to implement student interventions. If we are going to see the early and effective interventions needed to help students - all students - work at grade level, and if we are going to see those interventions applied with uniform reliability across the district, we will need a strong procedure from the superintendent.
There is one interesting bit in the Board's policy about involving student families in the intervention:
The district shall inform parents/guardians regarding the use of scientific, research-based interventions, including: a) the state’s policies regarding the amount and nature of student’s performance data collected and the general education services provided; b) strategies used to increase the student’s rate of learning; c) and the parents/guardians’ right to request a special education evaluation.One of the intriguing questions about MTSS is whether or not every student isn't regarded as working somewhere along that spectrum. It is supposed to be used for students who are working at and beyond grade level as well as for students who are working below grade level. This looks like it could be a ton of work for teachers. While it is work that we would all be delighted to see them do, and work that I'm sure they would be delighted to do, I'm not sure that the teachers will actually be afforded the time and resources needed to do this work or to make the best use of the work product.
Superintendent Procedure 4110SP, Family and Community Advisory and Oversight Committees. This is a wonderful procedure, as written. Unfortunately it has never really been followed. The procedure, for example, requires the superintendent to either implement the recommendations of advisory committees within three months of their delivery or provide a written explanation of why the recommendations have not, cannot, or will not be implemented. This would be amazing and wonderful accountability, but it has never happened. I don't know if the District will continue to make this promise that they cannot (or will not) keep, if they will delete it, or if they will replace it with a promise that they can manage.
Policy 2200, Equitable Access to Services and Programs. This policy is the revised version of Policy C56.00, Program Development and Placement. Yes. That's right. At long last the Board will actually turn their attention to the program placement policy. I'm pretty excited about this, but I'm going to try not to have any expectations for this discussion. We'll just see how it goes.
NWEA Contract. This is the MAP assessment. When the District first bought this test it was done within the context of the Strategic Plan, "Excellence for All", to provide a formative assessment that would be used district-wide. The test was purchased to provide teachers with data about individual student areas of strength and weakness to inform instruction. We got this as a tool for differentiating instruction. Unfortunately it is proving a poor tool for that task. It is administered too infrequently to perform that duty well and the results are proving too difficult for teachers to readily understand and apply. Also, from the day it was purchased, the District has not really talked about that application for it. Instead, the primary application for MAP is now as a Value-Added measure for teachers. I can only hope that the committee's discussion of this contract will include some talk about why we have this thing and how we are using it.
Cost increase for Social Studies adoption. This is an embarrassing little SNAFU. Apparently the district staff miscalculated the number of textbooks they would have to buy for the recent high school social studies instructional materials adoption. My understanding of the story is imperfect; please correct me if I have it wrong. The way I understand it, the folks at the district level saw that the 10th grade class, World History III, is a one-semester classes instead of a year-long class. They reckoned that half of the students would take the class in the first semester and half would take the class in the second semester, so they would only need half as many copies of the textbooks. Unfortunately, they didn't realize that all of the students take the class in first semester. Now they have to buy a lot more copies of the book than they originally included in the Board action and it will cost another $400,000, which requires them to go back to the Board for approval.
Don't look for any current information on this issue on the District's web pages dedicated to it; they are horribly out of date. Instead, look at the Board Action Report from the Board meeting of May 2, 2012 when the adoption was approved.
Policy 2420 (Running Start and Homeschool discussion). This is part of the High School Grade and Credit Marking Policy. This policy needs a lot of serious revision. It includes a lot of out-of-date stuff, such as a 150-hours of planned instruction requirement which is no longer required by state law. This work will be done by the High School Steering Committee, a group which has not earned our trust - or sought it. The committee will not be discussing the whole policy, just parts of it. Look for the staff to ask them to hold off on any action until a comprehensive revision comes out of the High School Steering Committee at some future date. Then look for the steering committee to miss that deadline.