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: