Education Committee – March 24

This past Monday was the Education Committee Meeting.

First on the agenda was the Learning Focus Schools Update. Elena Wilson informed the Committee the next generation of LFS is being released. The new version adds changes both to adapt to common core, and streamlining modifications to the implementation process. However, nothing changes the current course of implementation of LFS at Octorara.

Scott Rohrer informed the Committee that, with the help of Teacher and Parent Advisories, next year’s goals for the iPad program have been created. Those goals include (1) paper reduction; (2) increased use in the classroom for engagement purposes, and (3) parent involvement with apps such as MyHomework.

The Committee was also informed teachers have been instructed all new text book requests must be for digital texts. However, some publishers are requiring districts buy at least one physical classroom set before allowing digital copies are purchased. Additionally, cost savings for the most part appear to be minimal, but the percentage of saving is also dependent on the publisher.

The Committee then moved on to a Curriculum Update by Elena Wilson. Revisions to Math and ELA, adapting to PA Core, are almost complete. Work has started on English/Language Arts.

Sheri Melton, Region 1 Board Member, asked if the Committee could receive a demonstration of how Math will now be taught. Some have concerns with how “Common Core Math” is taught vs old methods. We were informed that the big change is that concepts are taught first and earlier, and that is what causes confusion. It is not truely a new kind of Math, just a change in how it is taught. The presentation will be at an upcoming meeting.

What happens in 3rd Grade, stays in 3rd Grade

You may remember that I asked Elena Wilson to provide two reports, back in January. The first report was to following Proficiency Scores for the Class of 2014 from 3rd Grade Reading until their Keystone Literature testing. I also wanted to see a comparison of 3rd Grade Reading year-over-year from 2005 until today.

When presented, the latter report showed Reading Proficiency in 2008 and 2009 were out of the ordinary higher, begging the question, “What was different about those 2 years?” Therefore, I have asked Ms. Wilson to provide me a report showing how these students have done with Reading since.

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What we see is that immediately, beginning with 4th, Reading Proficiency Scores begin to mirror each other, and continue that way. I ended the comparison at 7th Grade because that is the last Grade all 3 classes could be compared.

What do we find out from this comparison of data? Not much, and there is nothing glaring to motivate digging deeper. The higher 3rd Grade Reading Scores in 2008 & 2009 could have been higher for any number of reasons, but the higher scores did not continue. Additionally, the fact that the drop in score was immediate, it suggests that the 3rd Grade scores may have just been an anomaly.

One conclusion we can make, at least up until implementation of Learning Focused Schools, is it seems Octorara’s Proficiency Scores follow fairly predictable trends. As we stated before, this is Summative Data, and nothing here is specifically actionable. However, it is “the score at the end of the game.”

With the District now a Learning Focus School, and also adapting to PA Core, if we had found something, we may not have been able to use it. Things have changed too much. As a result, Elena Wilson will developing a benchmark, which we should be able to track year to year progress going forward.

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