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District Advisory Board Minutes

Monday, October 12, 2009

Meeting called to order at 7:00pm. The minutes from the August meeting were approved
as written.

District Ends Policy 1.0/1.1 and Learning Goals


When the DAB Best Grad Committee met in September, they found they
had questions which needed to be addressed before they could start working on
their charge. For more information on the charges of the various subcommittees
from the Board of Education and the Superintendent and the work of these
committees, please check out the subcommittee Blogs:
DAB: www.dab.posterous.com
Academic: www.dabAcademic.posterous.com
Best Grad: www.dabBestGrad.posterous.com
Legislative: www.dabLegislative.com

(All DAB members are encouraged to participate in the work of one of these
committees.)
Do we understand what the Board of Education (BOE) Ends policy is?
For example, if we look at the term “thinking skills” in End 1.0, it seems that this
is not clearly defined and is too broad.
Tom Balchak, a BOE director, discussed the development of the Ends
policy since the implementation of Policy Governance. The Ends define the
educational outcomes the district needs to achieve.
Who are the Ends for? Are the Ends written for the Superintendent who
needs to achieve the Ends, or the community who needs to understand them. And
at what cost do we achieve these Ends? The current version of Ends is very short
and intentionally broad. It replaces a lengthy BOE list of policies. While some in
the DAB have requested a greater level of specificity in the Ends, do we really
want to get into lengthy detailed ends? For example, there were similar questions
asked for Ends 1.1.1 through 1.1.6, so it made sense to ask some of those
questions under a common heading so items were listed only once instead of
multiple times.
What opportunities are there for students to learn? There are 11 areas of
Colorado standards currently under review. The Ends were created to try to take
into account 21st century skills, best practices, what’s best for students and at what
cost, cost being time and resources.
Dr. Wilson went on to discuss how it is his job to interpret the Ends. He
suggested everyone have a look at the monitoring report where some of these
items are defined. The link to this report is at:
http://www.psdschools.org/documentlibrary/downloads/Board_of_Educati
on/Policy_Governance/Monitoring_Reports/District_Ends/DE_1.0_Gener
al_ENDS_Policy_September_2009.pdf
It is the job of the BOE to give feedback to the superintendent and
evaluate how well he does his job. For instance, the district has developed
and is working on the following learning goals. These goals are:
• Students achieve 3rd grade reading proficiency.
• Students achieve annual academic growth. Assessments are given at
grades 4, 7, and 9.
• Students become post-secondary ready. Post-secondary readiness goals
include more students enrolled in Advanced Placement (AP), International
Baccalaureate (IB), and concurrent enrollment classes as well as scores on
common assessments.
• Students have successful transitions between grades and levels.

Superintendent Wilson and his staff are still working to finish interpreting the
document and provide better definitions. He is also working on reducing dropout
rates, increasing graduation rates, and increase post-secondary attendance and
completion rates.
What are the definitions for the areas under 1.1? A committee under
Chuck DeWayne and the curriculum department is charged with coming up with
some of these definitions. They can look at existing curriculum which meets
these criteria. There are questions of how we design a performance rubric for
something like creativity. We can get measurements at grades 4, 7, 9 to begin
evaluating these.
Rob Petterson commented that it seems odd that BOE is developing ends
and the superintendent is interpreting the ends. The response was: What do Ends
do under policy governance? Part of the measurement is dependent on the
interpretation of the administration. Then the BOE can define the Ends further if
needed.
Tom Balchak said the BOE tried to simplify from a 35 page policy
document to two page ends document and that the Ends are intentionally broad.
Nancy Tellez, another member of the BOE, pointed out that the Ends are
the BOE’s attempt to interpret what community members told them about what
kids should know and be able to do when they leave PSD. It is the administrators
and professional educators job to figure out what teach (means) in order to get
kids to this place.
Ends 1.0 were developed based on input from community.
Ends 1.1.x were developed based on input from expert groups. These
groups had expertise in different areas, however some of the attributes suggested
by these five categories of groups had considerable overlap – for instance,
thinking skills. The Ends were written to try and just have each of these skills
repeated only once instead of repeated in each area.
Debbie Bostak said the goals seemed to her more of a statement of values
rather than goals since there were no deadlines.
Dr. Wilson responded that we have to put in definitions and measures
before we add in the goals and deadlines.
Will Walker commented that we don’t necessarily need a bigger document
since PSD is going to come up with measurement criteria. However, many of the
statements right now seem wide open.
Nancy Tellez agreed that the Ends are broad, but that’s who BOE is. The
BOE has high standards of achievement, but the professional educators know
more about how the achieve the desired goals and we need to let them do their
jobs. State of Colorado educational standards also provide high expectations and
standards.
Dr. Wilson stated he is able to show the BOE what high achieving goals
are by comparison with others.
Tom Balchak reminded everyone that the Ends will continually be refined
in order to meet the expectations and the feedback of the community
Dr. Wilson said he hopes the work on Ends 1.1 can be highly motivating
to the teachers. There are already many testing measures, but things like
creativity and critical thinking are not really measured at this point and it is
exciting that we are working on this.

Standards Based Grading Sandy Bickel, Webber Principal


David Linehan, Blevins Principal
Scott Nielsen, Preston Principal
Alicia Durand, Wellington Principal

These four middle school principals are paving the way for the middle schools in
PSD to embark upon Standards Based Grading. This began with the questions posed
by Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). They asked four important
questions:
• What do students need to know and be able to do?
• How will we know when they have learned it?
• What will we do when they haven’t learned it?
• What will we do when they already know it?

These questions naturally lead to the topic of Response to Intervention (RTI), or


what do in when students haven’t learned the material or when they already know it.
So they asked the question: How can you do RTI without Standards Based Grading?
Standards Based Grading helps us determine: What does each student know and
what evidence do we have that they know it? How do we know that one 80% grade is
equal to another teacher’s 80%?
Standards Based Grading provides direction for interventions which are
underway. We need to ask how we can teach something differently if the way we are
teaching isn’t working?
In traditional grading, a couple of missed assignments can really impact a kid’s
grade. Standards Based Grading separates the evidence learning has occurred from
the work habits and reports to parents how their students are doing at both.
Separating grading from work habits aligns with 21st century standards and rubrics.
This gives us a way to determine exactly where a child needs help.
Not all schools are participating right now. The schools represented here tonight
(Webber, Blevins, Preston, and Wellington Middle Schools) are early adopters of
Standards Based Grading. Kinard has partially adopted it. All of the other middle
schools are attending the meetings to stay in the loop. Principals and teachers are
both very interested in pursuing this course. This group of principals has visited
schools using Standards Based Grading throughout Colorado and beyond. Now that
we have middle schools (after grade reconfiguration), they also attended a middle
school conference where they received a lot of useful information from schools
excited to welcome more schools as middle schools. Standards Based Grading really
has all of the PSD middle schools working together now.
Recommended reading on this topic is the book Failure is Not an Option by Alan
M. Blanstein.
Under Standards Based Grading, literacy trained volunteers help kids to learn
instead of “chasing points”. Chasing points is the process of trying to get kids to
complete uncompleted work instead of addressing the root of the learning problem.
We are trying to communicate with parents. The whole process of moving to
Standards Based Grading will be a multi-year process.

Questions
• What types of assessments are given under Standards Based Grading?
Assessments can be anything (homework, paper, lab, project, etc).

• In separating the work habits from grade, how can kids go on to be successful
when high schools and colleges have not separated these out? In places where
SBG is being used, kids who go on to non-SBG schools are being very
successful. We have talked to Douglas County who has this issue, and they
have had no problems. Some high schools and colleges are looking at
adopting some of these grading practices.

• Things like punctuality are life skills. Does separating these out devalue these
skills?
• Yes, these skills are very important. We may have students who are
academically doing well, but have terrible skills. We need to know where the
problem lies so we can fix it. We emphasize work habits under SBG and
celebrate them.

• How will this system contribute to post-secondary success? Kids who are
missing part of the equation – either academic or work habits can have issues
with post-secondary readiness. SBG helps them to get the whole package.

• Will high schools move to SBG? Not now, but there is some interest from
high schools.

• How are kids adapting? Kids are going back to teachers to ask how they can
succeed better. Kids are adapting well. Discussing this with kids in week 2, 3
or 4 of school is a good point to be having this conversation. The work and
study habits of some kids are really being recognized at this point.

• What is the grading going to look like? How many different points are there?
The kids can always improve by retaking the assessment. At Wellington,
there is an enrichment remediation day every two weeks so kids who already
get it are also progressing and being challenged.

• With individual assessments, how do you make a decision about promotion?


(Did the kid pass the class or not?) They have a meeting with student,
parents, and staff if retention is being considered. Retention has to be
considered on a case-by-case basis and only done it if is right for a particular
student. Retention can have a negative impact and in many cases can almost
guarantee a kid will drop out of school.

Literacy Instruction for Elementary School – Curriculum Adoption

1. Forming adoption team


2. Needs and philosophy
3. Evaluating materials
4. Determining options
5. Selecting and implementing

We need applicants for two or three parents/community members to serve


on this team. Applications are intended to allow us to get community
representatives from various backgrounds and perspectives so we have a broad
based team. There is a blind selection process (no names). There is a large
commitment of time 9-10 meetings.
Please fax or e-mail your application to vcollet@psdschools.org. Vicky
will stick around in the lobby after the meeting and talk to anyone interested
afterwards.

School Improvement/Accreditation Process


We changed the way this process works two years ago. It was formerly a
process with a committee made up of several groups. Each group would review
several schools. Now the process has changed. We still want and need parent
and community feedback, but we have moved to a science fair approach.
Everyone can come and talk to these schools and give feedback. This year the
event will be held Wednesday, November 11. We will send a separate e-mail
with the times and location.
Each school is on a one, two, or three year evaluation cycle depending on
their status. This year 17 schools will be looked at on the one year cycle.

Mill Levy/Bond Issue Listening Session


– Barb Wallner, Co-Chair Bond/Mill Committee
Mill Levy/Bond Issue information and listening sessions have been held in
almost all schools (there are only two schools left to hold listening sessions at).
These sessions have been scripted so everyone gets the same opportunity for
input. A list of priorities comes out of each of these sessions. Recommendations
about the Mill Levy/Bond Issue will be made to the BOE in April/May. If there is
such an election on November 2, 2010, the money wouldn’t be available until
2011.
A Mill Levy provides funds for ongoing operating funds. A Bond Issue
provides money for building. A Bond Issue passing without a Mill Levy might
mean a school building being built but left empty until funds can be found to staff
it.
The committee feels the money from previous Mills and Bonds has been
spent effectively and prudently allowing a maximum utilization of dollars. For
instance, Fossil Ridge High School being built as a green building allowed the
district to save $110,000 in operating expenses the first year the school was open.
This money was then available for use elsewhere. A teacher mentoring program
was able to be funded which was a low cost, high value use for some of the
money. The Poudre Foundation was started with some of this money. The
Poudre Foundation is now independent and that money has already gone back into
the schools.

Brainstorming session tonight


What does PSD need to assure all students are proficient in reading?
• Curriculum options
• Leveled reading texts
• Smaller classrooms
• Additional instructional time for at risk students summer/preschool
• Money for after school programs
• Transportation for these programs
• Longer school days/years

What does PSD need for all students to achieve annual academic growth each
school year?
• More funding for gifted/talented kids
• Accurate measurement of annual academic growth – and/or more frequent
measurements
• Professional development for teachers to make it more meaningful
• More music/instruments
• Ability for differentiation support within classrooms
• Sociology/life kills
• Passion based curriculum – interest of kids
• Improve parent communication of what is being taught in classrooms
• Develop or buy tools to measure academic growth such as music, art, etc
• Money to assess bi-lingual growth
• Technology has been shown to improve academic achievement
• World Language instruction in elementary grades

What does PSD need so every student can be post-secondary ready?


• Improvement in technology
• Extended school year/day
• Accelerated reader programs for middle school
• Reinvigoration of vocational/technical opportunities
• More opportunities for experiential/project based learning
• More partnerships with post-secondary institutions
• Partnerships with local businesses
• Increased opportunities for career counseling

What does PSD need to have students successfully transition between education
levels?
• Funding for collaboration days at grade level and between grade levels
• Potential for an expanded school year
• Sumer camps/summer school opportunities to keep kids excited
• Transition programs to help make transitions easier
• Work habits taught starting in elementary school
• Funding for beginning of year processes – logistics (eg. lunch lines
logistics)
• Visits to middle schools in previous year – funding for days and
transportation
• Beginning of the year assessments – pay for teachers to do these before
school starts
• Proactive parent communication
• Year round school
• Cultivation of learning communities in student peer groups
• More opportunity for feeder system collaboration

What else?
• Healthier lunches
• Equity among schools like air conditioning, instruments, facilities
• Physical activity on a regular basis
• Smaller class size & school size
• Growing safety concerns – facilities is looking at
• Increasing local funding in the face of decreased state funding
• Additional teacher support in schools
• Funding to address nature deficit disorder
• Keep arts in the schools
• More crossing guards & safety so more kids can get themselves to school
safely
Please talk to people and share that the need is great. Colorado is one of
the lowest funded states in education. Poudre School District is one of the lowest
funded school districts in the state.

• 10% of PSD students are special ed kids


• 27% free and reduced population and growing

November Meeting
Jim Sarchet will give an update on the school closure process.