Student Achievement Committee Meeting: December 6, 2018

by Lynda Rubin

Attending: Co-chairs Dr. Chris McGinley and Dr. Angela McIver, Committee members Julia Danzy, Mallory Fix Lopez, Maria McColgan, Student Representatives Alfredo Practico and Julia…

McGinley opened the meeting. The November 8, 2018 Minutes were approved.

Every Student Succeeds Act Changes Assessment

Chief of Schools Dr. Shawn Bird gave his presentation on the first item on the agenda—modifications made to the federal ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) which has replaced No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Pennsylvania’s plan, entitled “Future Ready PA Index” (www.FutureReadyPA.org), stipulates that schools will be judged on two years of data instead of one and will cover more than just academic proficiencies and less emphasis on just standardized tests. The new plan will track academic proficiency, on-track progress and college and career readiness indicators. Within those categories new items will include annual growth, English language proficiencies, chronic absenteeism, 3rd grade Reading and 7th grade Math proficiencies, 4- and 5-year graduation rates, and career standards benchmarks. The status of all schools in the state can be accessed on this Index.

There will no longer be the NCLB designations for progress and support needs according to Priority and Focus schools. The current categories into which schools will be placed for support are CSI– Comprehensive Support Improvement,  ATSI– Additional Targeted Supports and Improvements, and TSI– Targeted Support and Improvements. Schools in CSI and A-TSI designations will be tracked for three years. Charter Schools Office Director Christina Grant reported that this year 60 of Philadelphia District schools, including 10-12 charter and cyber schools, are in CSI and A-TSI categories. As of this meeting, the names had not been given to the district, but had been shared with the actual schools. Those schools assigned to CSI will be the bottom 5% Title I schools and high schools with graduation rates of 67% and below.A-TSI schools will track any school with a student group that meets CSI parameters in one or more subgroups. TSI will comprise, for one year, any school with a student group that meets CSI parameters for one or more subgroups and is designed as an early warning system. However, the progress of one or more subgroups (e.g. English learners, chronic absenteeism, etc.) will have more weight in determining the status of each school.

Click here to read the rest of the report

 

Ears on the Board of Education: December 13, 2018

by Diane Payne

All members of the Board were present with the exception of Leticia Egea-Hinton. Seven APPs members were present; five testified on behalf of public education.  Edison High students gave a beautiful performance of Christmas music. In a very touching ceremony, honorary diplomas were awarded to two World War II who enlisted before they graduated. The student violinist played Pomp and Circumstance as they walked down the aisle. (All Board meetings can be viewed on the District website at https://www.philasd.org/schoolboard/ scrolling down and clicking on Watch Previous Board Meetings )

Superintendent’s Remarks

Nurses

Dr. Hite acknowledged the dedication and work of school nurses, particularly Ben Franklin High Nurse Santos. She had attended to a student in cardiac arrest until the ambulance arrived; she undoubtedly saved his life.  The student is recovering. This incident illustrates the crucial role of school nurses and shows that the District should never let budget cuts, or any circumstance, undermine the safety and well-being of our students. Many remembered the termination of 50 school nurses in December 2012.  In June 2011, nurses positions were decreased due to attrition leaving District children’s health and safety in a precarious position.

Computer Science

Hite reported that the district is increasing its computer science offerings including expanded digital learning experiences for both elementary and high school students.  Without further information, it is hard to decipher whether this is increasing computer literacy using technology as a tool or there is an increase in “personalized learning”, a misnomer if ever there was one. This model places children in front of screens for algorithm-driven programs in lieu of classroom teachers.  Technology, as a tool, is useful; algorithm-driven programs need close inspection. Our students are not guinea pigs to be used for the benefit of edu-vendors.

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Facilities and Finance Committee: December 6, 2018

by Diane Payne

Present were Co-chairs Leticia Egea-Hinton and Lee Huang and Committee member Joyce Wilkerson; Committee member Wayne Walker attended via phone.  Also in attendance were Board members Chris McGinley, Angela McIver, Julia Dancy, and Mallory Fix Lopez. Minutes of the November 1, 2018 meeting were approved.  The agenda included four staff presentations, two in response to requests from community members at previous Committee meetings.

Public Speakers

Special education advocate Cecelia Thompson and APPS co-founder Lisa Haver were the only public speakers at this meeting.

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SGS Findings and Feedback Meetings: November 2018

 

By Lisa Haver

Public meetings for the three SGS schools have concluded. Six meetings were held at each of the three schools—Harrington, Lamberton and Locke.  Four of those meetings—the parent/community focus groups—were not informational meetings. They were facilitated by Temple University professors and graduate students for the purpose of finding out what members of each school community felt were the schools’ strengths and weaknesses and what additional resources the schools needed in order to improve student performance. An initial informational meeting was held where District staff narrated a power-point presentation and answered audience questions.

The sixth and final public meeting was held in order to present “Findings and Feedback”.  Although the report refers to its findings as “data”, the report includes mostly anecdotal information gathered from 15-minute classroom visits and answers to questions posed to students during those visits.

For the first time in the process, meeting participants heard about a “planning committee” which would review the reports and make recommendations about which option should be imposed upon the school. Conflicting information was given about who would serve on the committee and whether it would be only District administrators or would also include any community members or teachers.

Chief of Schools Shawn Bird presented the SGS Findings and Feedback report to the  Board’s Student Achievement and Support Committee at its December 7 meeting. Committee members Angela McIver and Julia Danzy both asked Bird to clarify this statement from the report:

“Not all instruction was aligned to grade level expectations.”

McIver said that because these schools are struggling, we would not assume that all children are learning on grade level. (Of course, it is a fact that not all children are learning in the same way at the same time at any school.)  Committee member Julia Danzy also asked what “grade level” applied to–the student or the instructor?  Bird replied that the statement about grade level was based on “what the student is doing”, even though the report says “instruction”, not “understanding”.

Mallory Fix Lopez told Bird that she attended the Harrington meeting and that it was not clear to her that the community knew what the potential recommendations were.  It was good to hear a Board member come to the same conclusion we have: that the District did not provide the parents and community members at any of the three schools with sufficient information about the possible options, how they would be decided on and by whom, or whether teachers and staff would have to reapply for their positions.

The final decision for all three schools will be made by Dr. Hite and announced in late January or early February.  We will then see whether the concerns and wishes of the school communities align with the options chosen.

Click on the links below to read the Feedback and Findings report for each school:

Harrington Elementary School

Lamberton Elementary School

Locke Elementary School