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

Our meetings are generally held on the 4th Tuesday of the month.  Please see the  notes below for our previous meetings. We will meet once during the summer.  Date and location to be announced. 

S.H.A.P.P.E.  Meeting of May 22, 2018

Coolidge High School

Attending: Woodson, Ward 4 Ed Alliance, Cardozo, Wilson, 21st Century School Fund

Safety:  SHAPPE started in response the shootings, stabbings of our students often by our students. At that time, we were requesting better exit doors and school resource officers.  We have modernized buildings where entrance and exits are somewhat more controlled. We have MPD actually in the buildings, which we were concerned about. 

There are several issues that came up in our discussion:

·         There are more challenges to having stable and supportive relationships between school personnel and students.  The staff turnover at the 9 neighborhood high schools is much higher than noted in a recent study by Bellwether where they referred to averages across the system.  For example, one year at Dunbar 70% of the staff chose not to return. This is true at both the principal and teacher level and to some extent at the student level also.  It is our understanding that Anacostia, Ballou and Woodson are all interviewing for new principals. This coupled with a more oppositional relationship between teachers and the leadership at a number of schools has made relationship building more challenging. 

·         The current accountability framework is focused on areas that can be measured easily like test scores, attendance, AP participation, graduation rates. There are high stakes attached and the focus at the high school level has shifted away from valuing the relationships that are crucial. The message is that you are replaceable. This is made clear through the way curriculum is rolled out and evaluations conducted.   While this may not be the case at every high school and does not seem as prevalent at the elementary schools, it is definitely an issue.

·         The students seem to be under more stress even then when SHAPPE was founded 20 years ago.  This is difficult to measure but it was the experience of those present that things had gotten more difficult. 

We would like to see more of a priority in planning that would facilitate the building and maintaining of stable relationships and a sense of community within our schools.  The potential is there.  It will require some adjustments. 

Discipline Policy recently passed by the Council:

Folks are very much in agreement with the spirit and intent of the policy.  Additional thoughts:

·         Changing the name and concept of in school suspension, which can be classified as a suspension to something else. Ron Brown has a mindfulness room where students can work with an adult to figure out what the issues are and what strategies might work so that they can return to class.

·         Woodson, even with low enrollment described challenges with space.  They still have floating teachers and do not have a space that could be used as this “middle ground.” Collaborative spaces in the new high schools have had very limited use and have actually been problematic.  There are also other challenges in the new buildings with the alignment of space and program.  This would be a great area for us to look further into. Hopefully Coolidge will benefit by learning from all the schools that have preceded them. Are there ways we might use the additional adults and our space in the building differently?

·         A private area is needed for reflection and support to make this policy work and it has to be staffed.

·         There is a very wide spectrum of need in a high school building. How can we use the space efficiently and effectively – would like help with this. 

Principal Selections:

There are at least 3 vacancies coming up in the high schools.  Dr. Darrin Slade has taken a position out of state. The Anacostia and Ballou principal jobs are also open for next year.   The process has started and schools have convened committees. They will get resumes in advance.  There is some concern that all three schools will be interviewing the same candidates.  What happens if they all choose the same person?  They will post these questions. It is good news that panels are being convened and the process honored.

5 Year plan Going Forward for Secondary Schools

How can we invest and grow DCPS?  We want a capacity building approach- this is a laundry list of what was discussed. We can organize this into issues that should be addressed in a plan. Many of these are not new ideas. 

-          May be helpful to have an exit interview with outgoing principals from this perspective

-          Look at the paperwork required of all staff and design it so it is meaningful and efficient

-          Social Emotional learning and restorative justice are promising approaches

o   Empathy

o   Listening skills

o   Mirroring

-          It has been heartening to have higher expectations for student attendance

-          Class size and a strong inclusion model really matter

-          Support self-motivated learning, empower students to own their education

-          Realistic goals for teachers and students, folks evaluated on what they have control over

-          Restorative justice when there is the personnel and the space to do it correctly is promising

-          We want policy and practice that encourages students to get to self-motivated learning.  By high school it is hard to do it for someone else or for a reward. They have to believe it is in their best interest and when it is hard it will be worth it.  Failure does exist and it takes effort not to fail.

-          A number of students really benefit from being able to take 5 years to graduate.  That is no longer really possible without schools being marked down.

-          Questions on dual diplomas, tension between wanting students with special needs to get the highest diploma they can. The choices are really limited with just the full diploma and the certificate of attendance.  DCPS does have control over the content of the classes.  Is this something that should be looked into further.

-          We should have part of the budget stable – multi-year to allow for planning

-          Move away from scripted lessons and the sense that high school teachers are replaceable- concentrate on building relationships and a stable environment.

 

Proposal to Move to a different test (alternative to PARCC)  as all but 5 states have done.   The Science tests were cancelled this year. An adaptive test would allow for diagnosis as well as measuring performance.

 

High schools need an adaptive approach on many fronts.  The Eureka Math that was adopted assumes students have mastered all the previous material. It may be very effective in elementary school. For Math teachers working with students who have not mastered all the previous content it has been very challenging. They have had to supplement it even though they are being asked to teach the grade level material regardless of previous mastery. 

 

There were many questions on who was eligible for summer school and how it would be run.  Folks present were particularly concerned with ELL and Special Education Students. 

 

WE will meet at least once over the summer working with folk’s schedules. 

 

Thank you to Coolidge for hosting us. 

 

 

 

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