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S.H.A.P.P.E. Meetings

Next Meeting is Tuesday February 28th Wilson High School

Draft Notes from SHAPPE – Ward 4 Ed Alliance Meeting of 1-24-2016

Coolidge High School

Meeting was attended by members from McKinley, Woodson, Phelps, Coolidge, Roosevelt, CHEC, Whittier, Eliot Hine, UDC, Cleveland, Takoma, Washington  Lawyers Committee, Powell, Ward 4 residents, Council, State Board of Education,

The OSSE proposal is not the report card it is a metric for evaluation of schools. For schools whose students do not perform well, there have been federal title funds to provide resources and support.  It will be helpful to assess if these resources have been effective in the past in helping educators meet their students’ needs. 

School Board Members from Ward 4 Lannette Woodruff and from Ward 3 Ruth Wattenberg were present as was the Executive Director John Paul Hayworth.  The Board has to vote on the final proposal. If they do not pass it, it will go back to be re-written. There are two deadlines for submission one in April and one in September. OSSE has opted for the April submission to give schools all of next year to prepare should it be accepted.  The Dept of Education has a 120 day turnaround.  

Discussion of OSSE straw man proposal on the Every Student Succeeds Act District submission:  In general those present were opposed to a school’s evaluation being calculated looking at 80% for a test – 40 for growth at elementary and 40 for performance and 20% on other measures as currently proposed.  They would like to see the test assessment dropped to the minimum level and then heavily weighted for growth.  The reason for this is that the testing and its weight have severely narrowed our curriculum and restricted what our students are being exposed to.  It has also meant there is an extreme focus on test prep- how to take a test.  This is not seen as where we want the precious school time spent.   More reasons are listed below.

Those present agree that assessment is an important dimension of education and of evaluation.   However, there were questions on the validity of the assessment for the purposes it is being used for.  This was particularly true for the English Language Learner populations, Special education students and students performing significantly below grade level.   IF a student is not in the top two categories, the information that can inform instruction is irrelevant according to the educators present. 

This is particularly important because we are spending a lot of time on the PARCC assessment and often gaining no new information.  It is not an adaptive test – it primarily tells us whether or not the student is on grade level.  Teachers already know this.

3rd Grade students have never been tested before. The teachers do not know how they will perform and there will be no ability to show growth.  

Dual language students:  We are teaching these students in two languages and often stressing the second language so they can attain fluency.  However we are evaluating them only in one language and not taking into account the academic program they are in and its long term goals.  These schools are essentially being punished for pursuing a dual language program. It will improve their academic achievement in the long run but this may not be apparent in elementary school.  Children learning to read and write in two languages might have errors but this is part of that process.  This makes the data that is being gathered on this test less than accurate, some have even termed it fraudulent.  We should be using a Spanish Language Test to evaluate how well these schools are doing at teaching two languages.  This is particularly true in an immersion school. 

Special Education Students: For the more severely challenged this test is inappropriate and invalid.  It also feels like torture to the child taking it.  There are children that cannot respond to the test being read to them or reading it.  They are making progress from where they are at but this test does not acknowledge that.   There are schools like Whittier who are welcoming, cherishing and teaching these students with a number of programs.  With our current test and with the metrics used, they are basically punished. This does not bode well for our schools doing a good job for these children. We need to have metrics and assessments that are appropriate. 

High School Students: We have students who are 3 to 8 years behind in school by high school.   Our comprehensive high schools can have a percentage as high as 30% for special education students.  We are using a non- adaptive test.  One size, or using this one test, is not appropriate educationally nor is it fair in terms of evaluation for all.  One size does not fit all. 

Further the proposal for high school does not give any credit for growth.  It is 50% for performance. The other measures have created a perverse incentive. This is a blunt instrument with high stakes.  While it is helpful that the 5 year cohort for graduation rates has been added, we are still plagued by pressure to graduate students whether or not they are ready.  With enrollment in IB or AP classes, it could well mean that we are pushing students into classes they are not prepared for, nor motivated to achieve in and at the same time eliminating classes that may have been more appropriate. 

This metric by not recognizing growth and including measures that will reward schools who serve students who enter highly prepared is problematic. It will set up an unattainable goal with little recognition for the schools working with the students who are furthest behind.  With no measure of growth and the other metrics chosen we have no way of really looking at progress and at program strength. 

It is a further problem according to those present that students might not see the results of the test and the test has no weight for them.  While it is not true of all students, for many they make the decision that it is not important.  This compromises the validity of the test. 

 Suggestions:

Climate Surveys – there are some recommended surveys. The response to the caveat that surveys are not ready for evaluation, the response was that neither is PARCC. This was evident from the comments at this meeting.   People would like to see this option explored and would like to see it included. 

Appropriate tests- Consult the office of Bilingual Education on what these might be for dual language schools.  Work with the schools. 

Stability – Extensive teacher turnover, student turnover have de-stabilized our schools.  While this could be a perverse incentive, perhaps it should be explored further.   With the proper weight it could be an appropriate incentive to value some continuity. 

School Specific Goal – this might help with a differentiation of the many types of schools that we have and provide some support and motivation to improve in needed areas. 

Audit – we need a way to look at what the cost and benefits are of what we are doing and then have the ability to adjust. 

Explore whether there are ways to include students in a greater partnership.   

 

Educational Specifications:

The draft educational specifications can now be found on line for review - https://sites.google.com/a/dc.gov/dcps-school-modernizations/educational-specifications

We only have until February 12th to comment, so it is important to look this over. 

The last time the Ed Specs were revised was 10 years ago. Josh Tuch attended from DCPS and Ty Spect from Brailsford DunLavey.  I have attached the power point which will give you the sense of the presentation.  Some of the areas stressed by those present are:

·         the importance of natural light

·         importance of proper acoustical treatment so that people can be heard and understood

·         room for vocational education or career tech spaces

·         Spaces where students can be easily supervised. It was noted that wide halls are very useful in some of the elementary schools but have been problematic in some of the high schools.

·         Attention to class rooms being too small – they are 800 to 900 square feet in this ed spec which is an expansion. 

·         A sustainable design that can be flexible – folks wanted temporary walls considered, this was rejected.

·         Community spaces in schools easily separated so they can be used at night without opening up the whole school – this was included. There are zoned areas to make this possible. 

·         Include the school staff in the planning.  The process at schools like HD Woodson was actually disrespectful.  It has an extensive STEM design without the training or inclusion of the staff in the process so it is not really being used as it was designed.  They are short classrooms. They do not have adequate facilities to work with their students with special needs. This forces the teacher to bring from home what she needs to cook with them.  Floating teachers do not work for students with intellectual disabilities and the need for lots of life training. This is an example of a school where we spent a lot of money but did not do a good job of making it flexible and attentive to the needs of all students. 

·         Grand spaces and collaborative spaces might be overdone regardless of what is seen as “best practice at the national level”

·         Wheel chair accessibility has been an issue that should be addressed. 

·         Furniture should not be all the same size, there is now an incredible range among our students.

·         Use the City – co location of some recreational facilities with the Department of Recreation as is the case with Brookland.   How are they working out?  Pool at Wilson?

·         Review the document looking at passive security and how these issues are addressed while preserving a welcoming environment.

·         WE have a closed campus policy at our high schools, are there ways that this ed spec gives students rich options during their lunch but still provides for adequate supervision? 

The meeting adjourned at 8:30 pm , next meeting is February 28th at Wilson High School.  Thank you to Coolidge for hosting the meeting.  There is a petition to ensure that Coolidge stays on track for its modernization.  Please consider signing it. 

 

 

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