Saturday, June 24, 2017

School board agenda for June 27

Some of the items on the board’s agenda this week:

We’ll discuss issues raised by the petition to put the demolition of Hoover Elementary onto the school board election ballot. (See this post.)

We’ll hear a report about the district’s community education program.

We’ll hear recommendations from the task force to develop a plan to support families affected by immigration enforcement.

We’ll hear on update on voluntary transfers. (Previous posts on voluntary transfers are here.)

We’ll hear an update on the district’s Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Plan. (Info here.)

We’ll hear an update on the renovation of the Shimek playground. (Info here.) Our work session on this topic last month was inconclusive, but there was majority support for looking for ways to make the new playground as accessible and inclusive as possible. (See minutes here.)

All that and more! The full agenda is here. Please chime in with a comment about anything that catches your attention.


Mary M said...

With regard to the consent agenda item on Northwest Evaluation Association Pilot, I do not support MAP testing even with a "free" pilot from the NWEA. Offering something for "free" is a good sales technique. Once NWEA has a foot in the door, it will be hard to get rid of. This item should not go through on a consent agenda, and if not completely voted down, board members should seek a lot more information about what exactly the district will or could end up with, its potential costs, how much time would be spent on testing and its opportunity costs, how results will be used, and what will be done to fully protect student data and audit privacy protections.

More assessments will take away from teaching time. Eventually the district may purchase products and/or services from this company. If it does so out of the general fund, this purchase would take away money that could otherwise be used for teachers or to purchase actual books. And there could be behind the scenes costs we don't know about.

Further, the board of directors of NWEA includes Joseph Wise, the founder of Atlantic Research Partners and its National Superintendents Academy who Superintendent Murley has done work for. See https://www.nwea.org/board-of-directors/.

If the district does go forward with this testing, parents should be able to opt out and all deserve information about the exact purpose(s) for which the results of this testing will be used. If the purposes change, parents should be notified.

While there is a lot of stuff put out by the NWEA about what it offers, there are also a number of interesting references to MAP testing on the web, which are not put out by the NWEA including: http://www.testprepchicago.com/about-7th-grade-testing/ and http://www.seattlemag.com/article/how-garfield-high-defeated-map-test and https://truthinamericaneducation.com/common-core-assessments/elementary-students-chicago-get-double-assessments/

Finally, ICCSD continues to need a comprehensive privacy policy to protect student data and audit procedures in place to ensure student data is actually protected.

Thank you.

Karen W said...

Great point about a need for a policy to protect student data, Mary M. See also the Canvas Learning Management System Agreement (item 7 of the consent agenda). How exactly do ICCSD students benefit from the district paying to have student data collected by Canvas? ["Canvas Data parses and aggregates more than 280 million rows of Canvas usage data generated daily."]

Most of the other features aren't anything more than can be accomplished in class (discussion, chatting, sharing, collaborating) or using Google Classrooms, Google Drive, and PowerSchool--which we seem to already have access to without additional cost.

Of course, there is this selling point:

"You don’t just need an LMS for this term or this school year. You need a learning platform that can easily work with tools and teaching methods you haven’t even heard of yet. So you can feel like you’re teaching from the future today, and just keep on teaching when it gets here."

In the meantime, we have a massive and persistent achievement gap that today's students urgently need us to address with effective teaching methods (and curriculum!) that we've heard of now. But I guess that achievement gap doesn't embarrass us nearly as much as not having a 1:1 device program does.

Anonymous said...

Karen W - What teachers put in the learner management system is more important than what learner management system is used.

Could each course just have a published syllabus of what the course assignments are and what topics are covered so parents know what is going on and can help their kids? They could be on the district's existing website in a central location. It might help kids too. Mine sometimes forgot to look on the board or to write down what the teacher said.

Anonymous said...

I think it is awful that they would force a mid-school year move on a student due to less than 10 tardies or even "excessive" excused absences. That does not do any child any good and will likely make things worse for a child to leave friends and adjust to a new building with a new schedule.

Want to bet tardy/absence letters and forced returns to assigned schools will be more likely to hit the kids living in poverty than wealthy kids?

What if a kid has a series of illnesses? Was hospitalized? Still going to kick them out of their transfer school choice?

Mary M said...

Good question Karen W and thank you. Since Canvas (I'm assuming its the same vendor) is listed as a client of Educational Research & Development Institute, the business Superintendent Murley has done work for in the past and may still be doing work for, this proposed purchase should come off the consent calendar and be closely examined. http://www.erdius.com/clients.html

In addition to a policy protecting student data, ICCSD still needs a conflict of interest policy for high level administrators such as the superintendent and physical plant director.

Anonymous said...

I believe the policy needs to change regarding the Sup's approval process for external employment. The board should have the opportunity to review and approve or deny. And his pay should be docked if he is not fully employed here. Trust and transparency. If he won't agree to this, then I'll be pushing no votes for the bond.

arial said...

It would be nice if the voluntary transfer data included all the elementary areas, especially, Van Allen, Garner, Penn and Wickham would be interesting. I am concerned about the policy to revoke transfers for attendance issues and how that will be enforced fairly. Does that apply to capstone students? If an 8th grader hits the limit in April or May, will they be forced to change schools?

Anonymous said...

What is a capstone student?

arial said...

Capstone year is what they call it when even though a 6th, 8th or 12fth(and also 11th) grader is assigned to move to a different school, they can stay and do their last year at the school they attended the previous year. I am just not sure if exercising the "capstone" option fall under the same rules as transferring.

Frank said...

The affirmative action plan information is very confusing to me. What exactly does "underrepresented groups" mean? I see there are two asterisks next to the phrase in the document but I can't find the reference on it. Is it anyone that is not white? Looking at this document it looks like it only is referring to people "of color" - whatever that means. Where would an person from India be categorized - are they "white" or maybe asian - I don't know where they would fit in. According to census data Iowa is about 91% white, 3% black and 2% asian, but if you drill into Johnson county is about 85% white, 4% black and 5% asian, drill further into Iowa City and about 82% white 5% black and 6% asian. Considering our state demographics, it is going to be very difficult to balance employment numbers like they would like to do without incurring substantial costs to look outside of Iowa. Where do Asians fit in - are they not a "underrepresented group"? There are no Asians in the iccsd administration according to their information and very underrepresented in the other categories - is this an issue? According to census data asians slightly outnumber blacks in our community. I realize this may be a sensitive subject, but if they are going to have these policies in place then the terminology and goals need to be clearly defined and consistent. Why do females grossly outnumber males in the teacher and support staff categories? Is there a push to balance these as well?

Anonymous said...

Is there any information on how much additional money is spent by the district to support nationwide searches for underrepresented staff? Since we can't seem to find enough in our own state do we pay a premium to hire from others states or internationally?

amy said...

Frank - about a third of the students in the district are minority, largely black and Latinx. Dozens of languages are spoken in students' homes. If we're at all serious about closing achievement gaps and dealing with the documented discriminatory culture in ICCSD schools, then yes, we will have to look outside Iowa for teachers and administrators. As we already do. Do the minority hires from outside Iowa make a difference for these kids? Yes, they do.

I'm also not sure what you mean by "substantial costs". Sioux City is just as far away as Chicago and St. Louis are, and nearly as far as Mpls, and bringing people for site visits and interviews doesn't involve paying less mileage. We don't pay special tariffs to advertise jobs beyond state borders.