BERKSHIRE HILLS REGIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICT
Great Barrington Stockbridge West Stockbridge
SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEETING
Meet & Confer
District Offices, Stockbridge
November 29, 2018 – 7:00 p.m.
School Committee: S. Bannon, A. Hutchinson, J. St. Peter, B. Fields, M. Thomas, R. Dohoney, A. Potter, D. Weston
Administration: P. Dillon, S. Harrison
Staff/Public: B. Doren, T. Lee, K. Farina, K. Burdsall, D. Wine
Absent: D. Singer, S. Stephen
List of Documents Distributed:
RECORDER NOTE: Meeting attended by recorder and minutes transcribed during the meeting and after the fact from live recording provided by CTSB. Length of meeting: 1 hour 18 minutes.
CALL TO ORDER
Chairman Steve Bannon called the meeting to order immediately at 7pm.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
The listing of agenda items are those reasonably anticipated by the chair, which may be discussed at the meeting. Not all items listed may in fact be discussed, and other items not listed may be brought up for discussion to the extent permitted by law. This meeting is being recorded by CTSB, Committee Recorder, members of the public with prior Chair permission and will be broadcast at a later date. Minutes will be transcribed and made public, as well as added to our website, www.bhrsd.org once approved.
October 25, 2018 November 8, 2018
MOTION TO APPROVE MINUTES OF MEETINGS FOR OCTOBER 25, 2018 AND NOVEMBER 8, 2018 – RICHARD DOHONEY; SECONDED: B. FIELDS ACCEPTED: UNANIMOUS
- Dillon – in your packet are the committee lists. Doreen did those and Steve and I checked them over. If there are any changes, just let me know. There is also an updated contact sheet.
- Additional Assistant Coach – Girls Basketball – MMRHS (Booster Club Funded)
- Additional Assistant Coach – Boys Basketball – MMRHS (Booster Club Funded)
MOTION TO APPROVE BOTH ADDITIONAL ASSISTANT COACH REQUESTS – D. WESTON SECONDED: A. POTTER ACCEPTED: UNANIMOUS
- Extra-Curricular Appointment(s)
|Wirmusky, Anthony||Directed Study Supervisor – MV||Effective 11/21/18|
(all 2018-2019 unless otherwise noted)
|Huertas, Andre||Boys J.V. Soccer Coach-MMRHS||Stipend: $2,643|
|Allen, Marnell||Girls J.V. Soccer Coach-MMRHS||Stipend: $2,643|
|Platt, Jessica||CVTE Web Design||Stipend: $3,000|
Meet & Confer Topics:
- School Improvement Plan(s)
- Tim Lee, Principal, Muddy Brook Regional Elementary School: We made an effort this year to structure the three school improvement plans along similar lines. We started with our mission and talked a little bit about some context and background over the past few years of our schools and important developments that have taken place. We all tried to share some data that went into the shaping of school improvement plans. Basically, for the elementary school, in 2018-2019 school year, there are basically three areas that we identified as principal areas for improvement. I highlighted these a little bit when I presented previously. They are based on my assessment as a new principal and where we are at in terms of needs in the school. I think it should all be thought of as a continuation of past efforts and a continuation of past goals and also as multi-mirror efforts that require quite a bit of time to arrive at a place that we hope to be. There is going to be significant effort afterward to try to sustain growth in these areas. First one that I talked about was social/emotional learning and safe schools. This was a multi-year goal. The rationale behind this as you know is a district goal under the area of safe and supportive schools; it is something that we are talking about on a pretty regular basis. The outcomes that we hope to see by engaging the work and focus on social/emotional learning is to somehow identify a sequence of instruction, routines and traditions that we all participate in as a faculty and staff that supports social/emotional learning in the school. We want to improve a system that we have at the school that is going to track into the area of social/emotional learning, not just a negative thing, the discipline issues that we might be dealing, although we do track that but also events that we will be tracking into student service both in and outside the school. We also hope to narrow down one or perhaps two programs that are curricula that are widely used in a number of schools focused on social/emotional learning. You heard me perhaps talk about the program called Responsive Classroom which might be one of them; Social Learning is another. We are hoping through our work across the school year to identify one or two of those so that we can have a consistent sequence of instruction across the entire school year. Another outcome that we hope to have is a reduction in the number of behavioral referrals that deal with problems between students and social issues and their ability to interact socially with another. In this particular goal is that we hope to involve a family outreach component with a parent/family night that we would host at the school on a topic of social/emotional learning that could help to engage parents in the work that we are doing but also provide some resources and tools for parents to help their kids grow in places outside the school as well. The next goal I identified was conclusive practices in co-teaching. This is something that is happening across the district. I know that the leadership in several of our schools have been participating in training in inclusive practices. This is an initiative by the state and has been around for two or three years. It is all about ways to bring all students regardless of their abilities or disabilities into a community of learning where they can learn together. Research shows that when we are providing for students’ needs in a way that are as inclusive as possible, not just for students with disabilities but challenged students learn more and therefore all students learn more. One of the practices I identified in the inclusive practices work is that of co-teaching. Co-teaching is a little bit different then team teaching and there is a number of different ways co-teaching can play out in classrooms. The type that I am talking about at Muddy Brook is primarily about regular education and special education teachers working together in the same classroom with a mixed group of students who are both non-disabled and disabled but providing instruction simultaneously, sharing responsibilities to bring the whole class along. Currently our practice is that quite a few students with disabilities may be taught in separate settings or might be taught in a resource room or might be supported by a paraprofessional. This model assumes that both the regular education teacher and the special education teacher would be equally divided and equally reliant and responsible for the content to all the students in the class. We already have a head start on it this year in two of our grade levels, the fourth grade and the first grade, and I am excited about its potential. If done properly, co-teaching can reduce the need for paraprofessional support in some classrooms. I am not going to guarantee that yet but that is something we are going to be watching closely. We are hoping to provide settings where both non-disabled and disabled students can be learning together effectively. The third area is computational fluency. There has been some study on this for a number of years and some opinions forming amongst our faculty at the data supports this, our investigations math program does an adequate job at mathematical thinking and the growing opinion is that it does not do a very good job at building computational fluency in our students. What I mean by computational fluency is the efficiency that students need to perform math functions, math fact fluency and a long time ago we talked about it as arithmetic. There is a lot of math thinking that our program does well but when it comes to actually stepping up to higher math, writing equations, using math to solve problems, our students are struggling somewhat to put into action basic number facts and operation. We have a number of teaching looking at this to make it their goal to study the issue, see what programs and supports are out there that we can supplement to our current program. We are hoping that the measurable outcomes might be after a year or two of our focus certainly higher benchmark outcomes on our internal testing (COMP and CAP) at year’s end. We would like of course to see improved outcomes in grades three and four for MCAS mathematics. We would like to hear teachers being able to report that students are attacking that with more confidence and actually able to execute observations with more proficiency. That is a number of activities that we are focusing on. We have a team of four teachers right now that form a study cohort around this issue and we also have another team of four grade teachers that are working on somewhat more involved in the computational fluency and across the year study group that is looking at the work at the middle and high school in mathematical thinking. Finally, writing instruction. This comes out of my assessment and feedback and observations of our teacher, reflection on some of our data again that we have some good things happening in the way of literature instruction, teaching in English Language Arts but some of the areas that our students still continue to fall below the expectations, my expectations, the state’s expectations, is in their ability to write good sentences, good paragraphs, good language syntax, use of language methods. I am hoping that the measurable outcomes of this focus and this activity will be the creation of basically a guide, a sequence of instruction that we create that runs from PK to where we look at grade 4 and the outcomes that we see in grade 4 and it might be a creation of a understandable and mechanically sound three paragraph essay and we work backwards to see what sort of skills students need to have across our spectrum of ages to be able to arrive at that place consistently. We have a number of models that we are looking at right now and we also have a number of teachers that have identified an area of professional focus this year. The activity is basically a survey of all practices that we have in writing instruction. We just completed that portion of it and it was just a quick questionnaire that I asked all grade level teams to submit to me so I know how much time they spend on writing and what they focus on in writing and what specific program or curriculum they use for writing instruction. Then we want to identify areas where there is an inconsistency or a lack of continuity so I am reaching out to our faculty members to help me identify that as well and put all the information together. Then identify areas of focus, examine a sequence of high performing schools; there are schools that do writing instruction really well and basically what I am suggesting is we look at what they do to see if we can’t copy, borrow, whatever you want to say, to bring some of those practices into our school. Then participate in district efforts around writing. We are looking at just the beginning of this writing focus even though it has been in discussion in past years. Self-regulation strategy development is an initiative that is being focused on right now at the middle and high school level. We have a number of people that are participating in ongoing professional development. We are not quite ready to join that initiative yet but I anticipate by January we will have a team of teachers joining that focus with the entire district. We just want to see students at the end of grade four more competent, capable and much more effective in the communication skills when they sit down to write. Those four areas are really what we identified to look at this year in terms of our school improvement plan. It is basic academics but I feel pretty strong about the social/emotional learning component as well; that being an ongoing necessity of our school and also being an underlying premises that if students are not dealing with that they belong, they are a member of the community, they are safe, etc., their ability to learn is going to be effected. That is basically the underlying rationale behind that. Questions? Hutchinson: Can I ask what some of these letters mean. There is an SWD… T. Lee: Those are my abbreviations. That is student with disabilities. A. Hutchinson: What is co-teaching PLC? T. Lee: Professional Learning Community and it is basically a group of educators that have the same professional focus who get together and meet and share what is working and not working. They grow together. A. Hutchinson: What is the universal design for learning? T. Lee: That is an idea that refers to designing instruction in such a way that it is accessible to all students; not just the content of the instruction, the way that is is presented and also if you have students who have language processing issues in a class, they have difficulty with auditory processing, you make sure that as an instructional model example you are presenting the content in more than one way, in spoken form, in written form, perhaps reinforcing with some tactile and performanced based learning. This is one of the inclusive practices in co-teaching and it actually has come out of ideas from architecture in the same way that architects try to make buildings accessible to all users, this idea has universal design in learning and making instruction accessible to all learners.
- Ben Doren, Principal, Monument Valley Regional Middle School: We really shifted the school improvement plan format this year. We used to have a narrative one that was written more for parents and community but we really try to align our format so we have moved back to the goal objective timeline format. Our first goals come right out of a grant that Kristi got last year called Safe and Supportive Schools. We worked with a bunch of teachers and other faculty, paras, on creating some objectives. We got two of them after the process and the grant supported a lot of the work with this group of faculty. The first one is forster safe and supportive schools by improving collaboration and support of families. One of the things we recognized was there are in many ways a mismatch in the belief system of the school and with families and there was a lot of missed opportunities to collaborate because of misunderstandings or trying to figure it out. One of the things was really trying to start thinking about that. The other one was doing a much better job on communicating to families through our student and families handbook which is a big objective for all three schools. Another thing we have been working on district wide that I am eager to do that the teachers came up with was doing a survey. We did a bunch of surveys back when we had a PTA around 2012 and 2015 but we haven’t surveyed families since then. I am really interested in getting some direct feedback from families. The second goal is the student support system that is effective. They are doing a great job with teaching teams and finding out the needs in supporting students and also really bridging what we do to support teachers and their teachings and families in support of their kids. We are trying to bring that together. One of the things that is missing is a really strong data practice. We need to truly start to analyze data and see if we are effective. We are looking to build a better database practice into our discipline program. A screening for behavioral health is pretty exciting so we are not just discussing and thinking about kids. We are discussing kids based on certain factors that we understand are research based so we can start making some comparisons. Also, refining our academic screening program. We do a really good job talking about kids and how they do in classes and we do some really good work around some of the younger students around screening for reading and math but as we get to older kids headed for high school, that doesn’t happen as part of american education and we wanted to continue getting better about understanding if what we are doing is effective. We are hoping that it develops into an early warning system that we a can notice kids. One that I have been using that works really well is our fifth graders get As, Bs and Cs. We don’t give number grades. It is kind of like 1, 2, 3, 4 on the elementary report cards. If we have a student who gets a C in 5th grade, that is a problem. There is no reason a student should be performing at that level. If students get multiple Cs that is a serious warning. It helps us with looking down the road. We can say those kids in 7th or 8th grade or high school who are at risk and figure out a way to get a more comprehensive data portrait and it is much more than just grades, attendance and the like. The third goal is kind of similar to what Tim was talking about in terms of our approaches to curriculum instruction in the different disciplines. You can see there the self-regulated strategy development, the SRSD, as a literacy tool for teaching writing but also reading for writing. We have been implementing it slowly over the past three years but with Kristi’s support the entire english department is using it, and we have rolled it out to the social studies department so all those teachers are directly involved and trained in it. Kristi also brought a great group called the teacher development group to work K-12 in math and has had a significant impact on our math teachers and how they think about teaching and learning and math. Science groups were in here to from Flying Cloud in supportive program which really gets kids to stop, think using processing time to really come up with some critical thinking habits. We have explatoratory teams using studio habits of the mind and to see what are the common goals in the exploratory program. Do kids reflect on their work in art class or PE. Do they build their craft. We are trying to have a common language across all the different exploratory arts to support students in their development and also get students to reflect. Along with the high school, the American Council for Teaching Foreign Languages rubrics is really important for efficiency and building up of our proficiency in storytelling and the model. This is way that can take a rigorous approach to literature as well as assessing the listening, speaking, reading and writing that target language. Lastly, we are continuing to be all in for restorative practices and building a restorative community. We really have implemented the advisory program. They sit in circle every week and talk about important things or fun things. We do a lot of community building activities. We do a lot of academic advisory which helps kids track and understand how they are performing in all their classes. The next step is to deepen it which I think is important but also to start getting some student leadership in anti-defamation league and training 7th and 8th graders to start looking at the things that are relevant in our community to try to get ahead of these things as opposed to waiting for bad things to happen. Questions? Fields: What are the co-teaching classes at the middle school? B. Doren: In 5th grade, we co-teach english, social studies, math; in 6th grade, we have a really interesting parallel co-teaching model, same curriculum, two parallel teachers, they work very closely, so that is in english and we also have co-teachers in math. In 7th and 8th grade, we have english, math as well as social studies. We also co-teach maker’s space and guidance intervention program, PE. K. Burdsall: Let me just clarify. Those classes are team taught which is different. Co-teaching is a special education teacher and a regular teacher. When you have two regular teachers together….B. Doren: Scratch the maker’s space and PE. Those are team taught. A. Potter: What kind of data and how are you collecting it and is there a plan for privacy and eventual disposition or retainment? B. Doren: In terms of privacy, the student record we don’t have many student that is is part of their office record. We don’t do internal suspension and external suspensions are rare and only if they are very serious. We have moved away from detention. We don’t do internal suspension. When we talk about gathering data on discipline, we are just talking about interactions with kids. If kids have a scuffle on the playground or we had to talk with this kid, we are trying to figure out patterns. Has it happened before or after lunch; is it happening on Monday’s or Friday’s. It is happening more in this class or another. Does it pertain to this group of kids or that group of kids? We are not looking to gather discipline date for punitive measures. This is more social/emotional intervention data. A. Potter: Do you have names associated with it? B. Doren: There are names associated with it, the same way we have reading data, attendance data…everything we do is FEPA compliant; that is the Federal privacy laws. We only share it is relevant staff. The 5th grade team only talks about 5th graders, etc. We don’t post it online, we don’t share it with parents. We are very tight around our privacy stuff. B. Fields: Is that then shared when the kids go to the high school? B. Doren: I wish a lot of data was shared but we don’t really share much data. B. Fields: So the high school basically let’s say you have a cohort of kids that you spotted in 5th grade and you followed them and you do the best practices that you can with them; it doesn’t continue up into the high school? B. Doren: It should but we don’t have a kind of data practice that does that yet so that is why I wanted it as part of the goals. We have a really strong practice from the elementary to the middle school so that helps us. We sit with the 4th grade team and they help us build cohorting students. We bring that information to the 5th grade team and do a data review. If that isn’t enough, we go back to the 4th grade team in September and October and ask them questions about particular kids. The clinical teams meet all the time so we would like to continue that practice from the middle school to the high school. B. Fields: I ask that because I know the difference between the middle school and the high school in terms in both emotional and social learning is immense. The same kids that comes in as a freshman and graduates as a senior can be 380 degrees different. B. Doren: It is that way with a 5th grader and an 8th grader or from a KDG student to a 4th grader. Four years in a kids life is significant. A. Hutchinson: What do these tiers mean? Tier 2 behavior, Tier 2 academic…B. Doren: The idea behind it is in a tiered program you have about 80% around Tier 1, being in a classroom, on the playground, doing all of those things. Tier 2 are the 15% of your kids that need the kind of day to day support that teachers give them above and beyond what is regular. They may need some time with the school adjustment counsellor, spending time with a peer social group, etc. Tier 3 are the 5% of the kids that really need significant intervention and we usually have them with special education supports and specially designed instruction to help them be successful with special modification of either their academic or behavior.
- Doug Wine, Principal, Monument Mountain Regional High School: For the previous 20-30 years in education, people used to consider what happened in Tim’s and in half of Ben’s school, students would learn to read and do math but when they got to the upper middle school and high school, they were then read to learn. For the past 10-15 years, people have realized that is not correct. It is actually academically incorrect. When we talk about some of the things we want to change to some of the programs Kristi talks about, ultimately they stem from that mindset that once you get to high school your teaching subject matter You are not teaching skills. It is just simply wrong. You have to teach people skills. You have to teach them how to learn. You have to apply learning and give them opportunities to apply learning. That is probably the biggest shift ultimately that has to happen and that basically informs all of it. If we are going to start with equity, this is historical before I even get to the school. Historically, certain ethnicities, students with defined learning differences, students with disabilities, students on 504s, often will underperform. When you look at their curriculum, they have a much less rigorous curriculum, often chosen for them at some point in their career and it just follows through. Years ago that used to be called opportunity to learn. If I don’t teach you to do X, then you can’t do X. A lot of people have looked at how do we make sure we get people the opportunities to learn. We spent a lot of time looking at how we can make sure at the high school that our subgroups are achieving at the same level or as close to other subgroups that are doing well. That is equity. Steve, you are my math teacher and I figured out how to take your class. I may not actually be learning math, but I know how to do well in your class. I know that you are going to ask me a question in this way; I know that you are going to ask me these types of questions and there is just as much data that suggests that student sometimes get in more advanced classes and actually don’t know how to do the work. Part of what we are talking about is opportunities and outcomes and also making sure what we do is based on running a completion or not using such a limited band of strategies that a student can fake it. That might be a little more harsh then I wanted to say it…we started to study equity data to determine whether we were giving students the opportunities they want. We looked at some things like who were in our CVTE classes, who were in our AP classes and we found that the percentages of students in the schools were not matching those percentages. This is a national trend that students on IEPs are disproportionately living in poverty in our district. Many of them have been coming to the schools and the high schools and have been identified elsewhere. This is not just a Berkshire Hills issue but once they come to the high school, it is our issue. How do we then help those students. The reality is, many of those students have already decided that they are not going to do well in high school. They might not even graduate high school. We have to change those minds and we have to change those attitudes. For example, we all talked about restorative practices and Peter Falkowski has sat down with students and said we are going to do this restorative circle and talk about consequences and you are going to understand how people will view what you have done so you don’t do it again. We have had many students say, just give me a detention. That is student choice so you are not going to learn anything. We are an educational institution. We also talk about equity. We are trying to help students to learn things that keep getting them into situations they shouldn’t be in Jumping to policy and things like that, previously we had if you are going to get help for drug or alcohol abuse, we would work with you but not for nicotine. Of course, jeweling is this big deal so it is one of the policies that we worked on and fixed and we actually have a nicotine cessation program that is helping some of our students and if they choose not to of course and they do it on school grounds and it is illegal, that is easy. We are constantly giving people an option to choose something better because being addicted to nicotine doesn’t get better when you get out of high school. We are trying to help them have their lives. I got off track. We are identifying identity markers and looking at access to college ready classes for all students, increase college and career expectations because this would have different classes and similar expectations might not be where they are. Many if not all of our 9th grade classes will be college ready classes right from the get go so a decision hasn’t been made by the student that getting into college will be a lot more difficult based on the class you take. We are going to teach up. The high school has a program where a member of each department works with academic affairs to improve curriculum so it isn’t at the whim of the principal. It is a really well thought out school-wide process. We are moving much more toward proficiency based curriculum so students know what they are learning and to make sure they are learning. Then we are making sure we are planning with the core and special ed teachers together so that one of our groups that we know struggles is getting and understanding how to plan that curriculum and teaching with teachers that have the expertise in that area. We have also piloted co-teaching and in our case we have done two english classes. We are hoping by January to offer a third which would be a model math class so that teachers would be able to come in and watch it and talk to the teachers about how they plan because we know that is so important to doing this. We fully expect to get from 10 to 15 next year of co-taught classes. Our model is having students with identified needs and getting them help which is most cases is with homework but with their IEPs they should have a teacher in the classroom helping them study up with their class. It creates this expectation. We are looking to more the resources from going into a separate lab here to being in the classroom where students are getting support which we believe will actually increase the support they have. We will grid that out and schedule students accordingly. Goal 2 is to improve attendance. We are trying to fix that statistic. We actually already have addressed it with our safety and substance problem. We are in the process of making sure it all goes together. We updated in the fall of this year, we revised discipline attendance, substance and safety procedures so that we created more clarity and explained all of that to parents. Again, I have worked on student attendance and student behavior in the restorative model and in the high school you often have circles and have different people trained as leaders. We are intentionally targeting all students to do this; have them change their own minds about who they are. They are not going into the assistant principal’s office because they are in trouble; they are going in because they are helping another student how their behaviors affect other people, even if you yourself was once on the other side of that table. We are creating safety plan and we are updating our manual. Both the elementary and middle schools are ahead of us on that so we plan to have that finished by the end of the year. We have done a series of fire drills. We did our first unannounced fire drill in years and upset the apple cart by doing that but we wanted to see where the problems were in our fire procedures. We plan by the spring to make sure that is a little more clear because if there were a fire in that box, the way we currently do it, I am not sure if all our people would be safe. We are identifying data points to create benchmarks to determine the impacts of the change we are about to make. We don’t have a sense of what a student is. We have MCAS scores, we have 30% of our students take the SAT, 15% take ACT, 55% take the PSAT. We are going to have every student, sophomore and junior, take the PSAT next year. All of our students take the MCAS so we have some expectation of which student will take which classes. When you take the PSAT it gives you the expected ability to take certain AP classes and we don’t use that data either. If you choose to not take the class, I don’t look at it and say well this says you could. I can coach you up and give you that opportunity and we constantly will do that with students but identifying people who might do better would be a good thing. I have done this in other schools and it is really successful. Just showing that confidence in a student is what it takes to get there. Then we start looking at college and career life readiness. We are in the process of beginning of looking at a schedule. Part of that schedule is looking at an advisory program so when we start looking at college career life readiness and a little bit of social/emotional learning programs, putting in a curriculum for the kinds of things you do to get ready for college in 9th grade; the kinds of things you do to get ready for career preparation. We have this huge internship program and access to Berkshire Employment. We might be partnering with someone to actually create an employment dashboard for our own students to aspire to as early as 9th grade. So if I knew I wanted a certain internship come 11th grade, here are the steps I would have to do. We are training them for college and career. We are hoping by June to have some of those benchmarks worked out so we can start figuring out what our trends are. In general, the high school has not wanted to see their data. We want to see it and start putting it in and benchmarking to figure out how we are doing. Expanding community outreach and connections – you were kind enough to create that position that Sean is now doing and it has been tremendous in getting us out into the school and the community. As a result our CVTE programs, every single program or pathway is intimately connected with people in the community and programs in the community and not surprisingly, a number of alumni of this school which all of those things are equally important and they are all on the same page which is great. We are beginning to identify some of the strengths and best practices of other schools with similar demographics. We are identifying where our community assets are and planning some activities with them. We are also identifying that there are very few schools that look at someone and who would go on a career or internship job as anything more than a dead end. Most of those schools see it as one path. You go to a career. We wanted it to be, there is an opportunity, here is how you can get a certificate for a local program if you wish to go there, here is how you would continue on to college. It is our job to provide a choice and it is there job to make the choice and we are not to decide for them what the choice is. In all of the places that Sean has been in, we are probably the only one that chooses to do it that way. I think in some ways if we continue to commit to that position, we have an opportunity to blaze a trail that no one else is going to blaze. I firmly believe that. It is just really exciting how much people in the area want to be a part of it. They are just ecstatic about that possibility. One of the reasons that we are changing up our curriculum creating more equity is that every student should have every opportunity to do that. We can’t give a student a class that doesn’t prepare them to be successful to work at an auto shop. That requires them to use computers; it isn’t about getting your hands dirty. There is a whole lot more to that. We have prepare them to do all of those things. Sean and I met with the Chapter 74 coordinator for the state and we looked at what we can do and need to do. It may give us an opportunity to do co-ops which would be our students would get paid while going on Chapter 74 program opportunities, which again as our poverty rate continues to increase to be able to give students an opportunity that has a lot of really good requirements for education and give them money, I think that would be incredible. We are looking to improve our current program and then we are hoping by the end of the year, we will have a five year plan for implementing the CVTE programs. Questions? Weston: I want to commend you on the philosophy of giving students choices when they graduate from high school. Even when I was teaching first grade, I viewed it at when they graduated they had choices. I think that is absolutely the right way to go. I wish for you to expand your thinking on equity to make sure that we are including things like jazz band, chorus, band, and some of the extracurriculars, in terms of having opportunity for everyone to participate and some of these things might involve transportation or the ability to get an instrument to and from school but I am just seeing that being in the community for a quarter of a century, I am noticing that the students of need are not having the same opportunities in that aspect of school. As my kids have been going through the high school, I notice that when I go to performances or events, I am just not seeing that group of students adequately represented. I think we need to try to reach out to them too. D. Wine: That is something that we are looking at. I do know that the students that are going to the band trip that you approved last week, I think we identified four students who were in the group of financial need and we are finding a way to raise money so they can go. What you are talking about is the next step that we have not gotten to is actively recruiting students who you know would do it but are unwilling or too ashamed to advocate for themselves. D. Weston: This is just a little thing but I am pretty sure that down at Mt. Everett, they don’t have to pay for their instrument but at Berkshire Hills, you do. That is the type of thing that $300 or whatever for the trumpet or instrument, that is enough to stop some families. A. Potter: I thought we had this discussion a few years ago and there were some steps that were put in place at the elementary school and middle school to specifically address that. Presumably that is going to feed up to the high school. D. Wine: It is accessibility to instructments thought. It is a huge cost. Even just renting them is very expensive. P. Dillon: I think we made some progress particularly in the decision to have everybody in elementary school do strings, band or chorus and there has been some unintended consequences with that too and how it affects the schedule. Doug, how many people are in the high school chorus now? D. Wine: I think 50. P. Dillon: Not so long ago, that group had like 15. That is tremendous growth but there is still more opportunity. A. Hutchinson: It is different to be doing music during school at the elementary and middle school not before school and everyone at the middle school is doing it in 5th and 6th grade. That is going to come up. The money is coming from somewhere for kids from families that can’t afford it. It is expensive. D. Wine: We have to make sure the schedule works. B. Fields: What is an inequitable class? D. Wine: Standard biology. A student who takes that class is not taking a lab science and therefore could not go into a four-year public university. B. Fields: What if the kid doesn’t want to go on? He wants to take the standard class because that allows him to do something like in CVTE where he doesn’t need all this advanced stuff but he needs just to get through the biology and the requirements of math in order to do what he wants to do. D. Wine: He’s not getting enough education. I will particularly make the math argument. If you are going to be working with a car that is basically a computer now, you have to have more math than taking a standard math class. I also think that while you say that, at 14 you made a decision that you may change your mind about. I think it is our job to give students and education where they choose. You can still choose to do what you want. We met with Steve Boyd and whenever he says he can get kids right out of high school, I say or you can get them during vacations because they are going to college and you won’t keep them, and he said anyone could be a good employee and I will take them. We are consciously trying to change the understanding of people in town as well. We could be an employment factory but we really help that we are giving people who will understand how to be career people for you which may mean they are going to be more ambitious. We want students to walk out into the world but we never want them to think that is the end at 18 years old. It should be the beginning of what is possible regardless of what path they take. You just have to make that available. The software that we are looking at working with and we would be the first pilot in the country to use it, when you click on a career, it then shows you related options. You see the possibilities. When you are doing the competency based testing and it says you need to work on customer service, you actually get to level up on the test and study and learn those skills so you pass the test so everyone of our students could walk in and say I have learned these things. We would be able to offer that through advisory to every one of our students. It’s not like you stopped by the guidance office; every student sees it as a possibility. That is when people talk about equity and that is access. Access is part of our day. Everyone has access to it. B. Fields: This goes to all three principals. In this drive to co-teach and as a teacher I was used to levels and tunneling kids into specific areas, you are putting kids together of all abilities of all learning expectations, of learning IQs, everything. Question. You have a kid who is really bright, maybe two or three in an english class in no matter what grade level. This kid is really bright. This kid is in 5th grade reading at a 12th grade level. You also have in that same class a kids who can barely read due to whatever. How do you keep that 12th grader motivated to continue learning and you have a class of maybe 20 and you have this mixture. My thing is this is all great but then I look at particular students that I have had, that Dan has in first grade and they are ready to go but they can’t go because we have to take time out because Johnny can’t stay up with Mark Twain. Huckleberry Finn is really a step beyond what he can do. You’re ready to read Stephen Hawkings’ History of Time. I want to know how are you going to adjust that and I know a little of the answer but I would like to hear from all and how do you address that becuase that was pointed out to me by a parent. This equity thing is wonderful and we are all for it except their child is really gifted and talented. We used to have a gifted and talented program. Now it seems that we are for lack of a better term, many times we dumb down to hit the median. I guess my question to all three of you, how do you keep the two gifted and talented and the struggling all in the same class learning with motivation and wanting to do better? I know that is a huge question. D. Wine: The second part of the movement and working with grade school partnership is known as competency based learning. There are three basic reading standards for the common core. You can read for information, read to infer knowledge and you read to learn vocabulary. Those are the three standards. What often people do is say I am going to read for you. This is what currently happens right? Now you are denying certain students the opportunities to actually learn those three competencies. In other cases, and I can say this for gifted and talented students. They will write about it because that is what a more advanced student will do and we are still not necessarily certain that they understood and having working in New Mexico where they have gifted and talented separate, most of those students are reading only for information. You actually were in some cases doing wrong to both ends of the stick without intentionally teaching to competency. We have discussion and we talk about the book and stuff like that but I don’t necessarily know that you comprehended it and that you have inferred some of the things that Twain is doing, etc. You are not able to learn that. It is like a double shift. Then when you start getting into research, you then have students research. It doesn’t matter what you research. It matters that understand research. So the student who wants to research Stephen Hawking, is just as free to do that as the student who wants to do Mark Twain. Your goal is to teach to those. About 10 years ago, I worked in a place where we decided to create an honors class for every student and I had to deal with every angry parent in the world. The curriculum is these competencies and so some students choose certain things and some chose others and what was fascinating about it was it wasn’t that the lowest chose the lowest common denominator. When inspired you will be amazed at what students want will do. Sometimes our choosing for them is where the problem is as well. That being said, learning to teach to competency is a very intentional thing and sometimes in education we do too much assumptions. Part of the training we have to do is conscientiously we have to read this way, write this way, and you are constantly teaching that otherwise we just kind of lose it. T. Lee: At the elementary school, all classes are heterogeneously integrated. We do not have tracked classes. We do not have high ability classes or low ability classes. Children of mixed ability are in the same 1st, 2nd, 3rd grade classroom. Students who are really struggling and kids that might have IEPs, might go out for a little while and get specialized instruction and then return to their classroom. Students who have really severe disabilities, they might have a complete supplanted program in a separate setting within the school. A couple of things that I want to clarify is that even in the co-teaching model, those provisions will continue to exist. Students who require a separate setting and a supplanted curriculum as part of their IEP will continue to get that and we will continue to provide that. Students to require specialized instruction within the classroom or perhaps in a separate classroom for not as much time, they will get that but what we aim to do is provide that to a greater degree in the classroom setting and by having two teachers in the classroom available to teach those wide range of abilities, we are actually enhancing our ability to meet the needs of all those learners. The second observation that I would make is that I have seen really skillful teams of teachers and even individual teachers address really wide range of learners in one classroom by teaching numatically. I will use the example of explorers which is a 2nd grade social studies topic where for students who are struggling and have a hard time gaining information, their task within the classroom might be to learn the names of the explorers, where they are from, where they went, what they did, perhaps be able to do a timeline on a map and students on the higher end of the spectrum will be able to do all those things plus to learn a lot more about the places that they went. What was the climate like, what did they grow, what were the people like, what was some of the literature and music that came from these places. With two teachers in the classroom you can really enrich that upper end to make it challenging and engaging for those students that are ready to go there and to the students that are not there yet, you can still be providing the same content and really join the same group of learners around the same theme in the same class. That is a little high in the sky but really good teams of co-teachers can pull that off and address that wide range of students. I think that is what we are aiming for at least at the elementary school. B. Doren: There is a different between 21st Century learning and 20th Century learning. The big shift that we know is to efficiencies and what to know and do and not so much the time and place you sat through like 5th grade english. We used to give diplomas based on seat time. 21st Century learning is also is a way to design learning around access for all and have no barriers to learning. The big difference that it looks like in the classroom is adult centered classroom as opposed to student centered classroom. We used to have an adult centered classroom where students sat and listened to a teacher, had discussions and learned that way but then you have to adjust learning based upon the needs of the students because of the format we used. If you are a 21st Century Classroom you will see a lot of students working together, students working alone, you will see very little of all class activity, that way the thing we call differentiation co-teaching addresses that and lets the student know what is expected of them. There is a big difference between seat time and learning time. That is the big shift. Co-teaching with special educators and with our enrichment teachers and also interdisciplinary learning which is really important because we are actually getting kids to do what the real world expects of them like do math on a job, etc. It is just a really big shift that we are grappling with. P. Dillon: I totally believe this is our moral obligation commitment but on the other side of it, it is complicated. People are used to teaching in a certain way and working with a small subset of kids; parents have been used to that and all over the county there are other schools that are working with kids who are much more complicated and much needier than our kids, and they are pulling this off. We will be able to pull it off, we will just have to invest some time and effort and resources in supporting teachers in making this shift and supporting parents and communities. When I was a principal in East Harlem, almost 99% free and reduced lunch; everybody came to us several years below grade level and all our kids too 9th grade lab science and 9th graders. You can make all sorts of arguments that they weren’t prepared for it so we gave them a little more time and set them up and ultimately the end of my run there we had a very high college acceptance rate. It is about setting expectations and meeting them and providing the tools for people to do it. It is not impossible but it is not easy either. We have our work cut out for us. B. Fields: I disagree with the common core, its premise, its creation, its origin, etc. I didn’t see here the joy of learning. I saw become engaged and curious learners and problem solvers. Problem solve and effect diversity. I said this a couple of years ago when Mary was principal at the elementary school when I looked at the school improvement plans, and I didn’t notice the work play. Then I got kind of told that recess and the importance of play. Just for my concern is I understand what is going on at the high school, I am a real big believer in where you are going with CVTE, you have a #1 supporter here but let’s also remember that there is joy in learning that should be expressed along with reading. I have a granddaughter who loves to read and she is bored as heck in 6th grade because they are doing exactly what you said with the common core. She hates it. She does not do it. She just reads. She loves reading. I have had students and I sure others have, they love to read and I hope we don’t take the joy of learning out. It is important for them to have skills. They still have to have that joy. That idea that I have never read something like this and have the skills to do it and have to be able to think but I don’t want to get into this school district producing kids who are cookie cutter models. Kristi has heard me say this time and again, they write really well but when they get to Mount Holyoke they can’t write anything. They can write a three part essay and can spit out what they need to know but there is not joy in it. Please keep that in mind. D. Weston: It is harder to teach a class to all ability levels but I don’t think that is really what the high school is really proposing. It looks like honors are honors and APs are APs but it is based on the schedule. I think that when you engage students you are finding joy. They go together. S. Bannon: As a disclaimer, your granddaughter doesn’t go to this district…B. Fields: Correct.
- Security & Safety
- Public Comment
- Written Comment
MOTION TO ADJOURN – D. WESTON SECONDED: B. FIELDS ACCEPTED: UNANIMOUS
The next school committee meeting will be held on December 13, 2018 – Regular Meeting, Muddy Brook Elementary, 7pm
Meeting Adjourned at 8:18pm
Submitted by: Christine M. Kelly, Recorder
Christine M. Kelly, Recorder
School Committee Secretary