The C & I meeting on Monday began with a change to the agenda. An update on Advanced Learning was added as an eighth discussion item.
Yearbook Contract. I learned a lot. The staff brought forward the news that they will recommend a one-year extension of the contract with the yearbook publisher at about $400,000 from the ASB budget. This will be the third year of a one-year contract with options for up to four one-year extensions. One company publishes all of the yearbooks for all of the middle and high schools. This recommendation came from the "Yearbook Advisory Committee" - I didn't even know that such a committee exists. I wonder who is on it. This committee apparently sees some virtue in uniformity of yearbooks from school to school. Kathleen Vasquez has recently been assigned central oversight of yearbooks. I didn't realize that yearbooks required any central oversight at the district level. One question was raised and the answer should be available when the motion to extend the contract is introduced: what is the response to the concern expressed by the Rainier Beach High School community about the cost of their yearbooks. Because RBHS has a smaller enrollment and shorter print run, their yearbooks cost more than the yearbooks at larger high schools.
3130 Student Assignment Policy. This discussion was about creating formalized student intake procedures for middle and high schools and standardized process for math placement. In the future, math placement in 6th grade will be guided by student scores on two assessments: their 4th grade MSP and the higher of their fall or winter 5th grade MAP. District policy requires two assessments be used and these are the scores they have. 5th grade MSP and the spring MAP scores aren't available in time for middle schools to write their master schedules. Students and their families always have the option of "opting up" to the next higher math class. That's supposedly available on demand, but many families were not advised of this option. I also heard - though I'm not sure I heard right - that all of the comprehensive middle schools will offer the same suite of math classes.
There was some discussion about whether the 4th grade MSP score actually indicates anything about Algebra readiness. The answer was that the District is thinking of replacing that assessment with the Orleans-Hanna, which is an assessment to determine algebra readiness. Of course all of this is just for one year. In the following year the assessments will be replaced by the new assessments that are aligned with the Common Core.
All 9th graders are assigned to a 9th grade LA class and there is no high school math class lower than Algebra, but assessments will be reviewed at intake to determine if students need a support class.
Aside from all of this, the policy has to be amended to reflect a legal requirement that isn't in the current policy.
Policy 2415 High School Graduation Requirements. This was the return of a discussion to remove the GPA requirement from the high school graduation requirements. Of the 295 school districts in Washington State only two - Seattle and Bellevue - have GPA requirements. Bellevue's is much simpler than ours. The powerful and secretive High School Steering Committee will discuss it and will have a recommendation for the Board in February. With the HSSC running this you can be sure that there won't be any community engagement.
CTE Report. It was a good year for CTE. Yay! Policy calls for an annual report. It will be presented soon.
RTTT 4 grant approval. As part of the Race to the Top grant package there is one for tech that will provide about $1 million worth of hardware, software, support, and professional development to introduce blended learning at 13 elementary schools and one middle school. If the district accepts this contract our obligation will be to pay for the annual software costs. This expense will be paid out of the schools' budgets and the costs are actually less than many of the schools are now paying for the same or similar software. This computer-based math instruction is used as an intervention for students who are struggling with grade level material and would be the Tier II intervention within MTSS.
Program Placement Annual Report. A draft version of the report was available. The final report will be in the Friday memo on 1/31 and presented at the Board meeting on 2/5.
Math Adoption. The task force working to select the finalists for the elementary math materials will put forward their three or four choices on Wednesday the 15th instead of Friday the 10th as originally anticipated. They will meet on Wednesday to determine if they will advance three or four finalists as the fourth place choice finished very close behind the third place choice. The Board members strongly encouraged them to deliver only three per the procedure as this is a very sensitive topic and any change in the procedure invites suspicion.
Program Evaluation and Assessment. The Board wanted to ask the staff why the annual program evaluation report didn't include any program evaluations. The staff claimed that there were all kinds of program evaluation reports offered all year long including school scorecards, annual reports to OSPI, and such. They did acknowledge that a number of programs are not assessed, Spectrum most notably, and they agreed to include references to these reports in future versions of the annual report.
Advanced learning. There is a task force now discussing student identification for APP. They will soon put forward a tentative recommendation. They will be followed by another task force that will discuss and put forward recommendations for service delivery models for APP. Then the two sets of recommendations will be aligned to deliver a coordinated set of recommendations for APP. Recommendations for Spectrum and ALO will somehow tickle down from these, but without any task force or community engagement. The new qualifications will be used in the winter of 2014/2015 and the new service delivery models will be implemented in the fall of 2015.