Thank you to Sherry Whitmarsh for providing the following recap of the meeting last night:
Here are my notes. Please feel free to ask my about any questions. I've also attached the handout that was given about school closure data. There is one mistake. Criteria #4 - substitute facility for family . Here is link to file.
The Curriculum Associates assessment is being used at all of the elementary schools and four middle schools with another middle school expressing interest. The assessment is a tool for teachers to gauge how the students are progressing toward mastering the state standards in English Language Arts (ELA) and Math. The assessment is giving three times a year with an option to do a fourth assessment at the end of the year. The end of the year assessment is more like the test because it shows which how the students have done for all of the standards. It is more like the STAR but gives immediate feedback to the teacher instead of waiting all summer for the results. By using a standard assessment between all schools, feeder pattern schools as well as the district can look at the trends that are developing and set specific goals to help students master the standards.
For each assessment cycle, the teachers take thirty minutes each day for three – four days for ELA and then another thirty minutes each day for three or four days for Math. For the first and second grade many schools have resources that are bubbling in the scantron. In first grade the teacher reads the entire assessment to the students.
The district is having data sessions with teachers to assist them in understanding how the data can be used to help them modify their lesson plan. For those students who have mastered certain standards the teachers will look at how to enrich their learning. For those who have not mastered a standard that has been taught, the teachers look at what needs to be reviewed and strategies for teaching it.
Different schools are using different strategies. One school has created academies that will work with the students at the different learning levels, other schools develop small groups and divide the groups between the teachers, and others are working within their own classroom.
In schools were the assessment has been given in previous years, teachers discussed how they meet to share the results of the assessment. Teachers who students have mastered areas of the assessment can do professional training with the other teachers to demonstrate how the standard was taught.
Examples of the results of the assessments were shown. Sample letters that could be sent home to parents about the assessment were also shared. The letters allow parents to see how the student is progressing towards the end of year grade level standard.
For students who have accommodations, the schools are meeting those. Examples were presented where resource teachers were bubbling the scantron for students, students were using a typing device to record their answer, and students were verbally saying their answer.
Parents were concerned with the assessment creating a heavy focus on ELA and math and not enough time being spent and science and social studies. The teachers stated that the assessments allowed them to have focus, targeted instruction in ELA and math and actually allowed them to spend more time in science and social studies. Last year both teachers stated that they were able to get further in science and social studies than in past years. Curriculum Associates does have assessments for science and social studies but the district is not using those at this point.
Does the assessment mean teachers are instructing to the test? The assessment allows the teachers to focus their assessment on what standards the students have not mastered for the grade level. It allows them to individualize their teaching based upon where the students are.
There were comments about how the assessment make the students feel inadequate, especially the early assessments. The teachers and principals present stated that it is their responsibility to ensure that students understand that the assessment is a tool to help the teachers know how to target the instruction. It is not a test to grade the students. Students become excited about learning and eagerly wait to see how much they have learned from the previous assessment cycle.
The cost of the material is approximately $60,000.
The demographic study was also discussed. The attached material was reviewed. The school closure committee is meeting every week and is preparing to meet present a recommendation in December to the board of education. The board of education will then have a study session to review the data and ask questions.
The district is looking at saving about $1.5 million from school closures. The savings is a result in centralized staff – principals, office managers, secretaries, custodians, food services – and not teachers. Closing an elementary school saves about $300,000 and a middle school saves about $700,000. Closing a middle school may not save quite as much as thought because a vice principal may be needed at schools that the children are being sent.
The school closure committee has reviewed all of the data and divided into groups based upon the eight criteria. Each group ranked all schools on a scale of 1 – 20 based upon the criteria. The groups have now reconvened into the large group and the discussions have begun. These are not easy discussions.
The committee is also looking at how the closures will affect school boundaries and how those may need to be changed.
Remember, you can find committee information, minutes, meeting schedule etc at http://www.mdusd.org/Community/Pages/scac.aspx