May 4, 2015 Teaching/Learning Sub Meeting


Quincy School Committee
Teaching and Learning Subcommittee
Monday, May 4, 2015 at 5:00 pm
Coddington Building
Ms. Barbara Isola, Chair

  1. Technology Plan Update/Planning for FY2016 Budget - Keith Segalla

  2. Advance Course Opportunities - Mary Fredrickson, Madeline Roy

  3. Spring/Summer Professional Development Opportunities - Erin Perkins, Madeline Roy

  4. Curriculum Pacing K-8 - Erin Perkins, Madeline Roy

  5. Adjournment/Thank you!


Quincy School Committee
Teaching & Learning Subcommittee Meeting
Monday, May 4, 2015

A meeting of the Teaching & Learning Subcommittee was held on Monday, May 4, 2015 at 5:00 pm at the Coddington Building. Present were Mr. Paul Bregoli, Mrs. Kathryn Hubley, Mrs. Anne Mahoney, and Ms. Barbara Isola, Chair. Also attending were Superintendent DeCristofaro, Deputy Superintendent Kevin Mulvey, Mr. Robert Cavallo, Mrs. Mary Fredrickson, Ms. Beth Hallett, Mrs. Ellen Hunter, Ms. Maureen MacNeil, Mrs. Maura Papile, Mrs. Erin Perkins, Ms. Madeline Roy, Mr. Keith Segalla, Ms. Judy Todd; Ms. Allison Cox, President of the Quincy Education Association; Mr. Scott Alessandro, Co-President of the Citywide Parent Council and Ms. Laura Owens, Clerk.

Ms. Isola called the Teaching & Learning Subcommittee to order at 5:00 pm.

Mr. Keith Segalla introduced the Technology Plan update. Quincy Public Schools is in the second year of the 3-year technology plan. Technology lab updates at Beechwood Knoll and Wollaston were completed last summer and QPS invested in a technology inventory system for all classrooms, offices, etc. 3,900 computers are currently in service in QPS and computers were evaluated for replacement needs, both in the classroom and in administrative areas. The oldest computers are at Bernazzani, GOALS, and the Atlantic, Broad Meadows, Sterling, and Point Webster computer labs. For the FY2016 budget, the focus is on replacing 125 teacher computers, plus new labs at North Quincy High School, Atherton Hough, Montclair, Snug Harbor, and Squantum.

Mr. Bregoli asked if the PARCC test becomes a reality next school year, will we have enough technology to allow for students to take the test. Mr. Segalla said at this time, we meet minimum requirements, but not the recommended requirements, particularly at the elementary and middle school level.

Mrs. Mahoney asked for the information to be broken down so that each school’s information is detailed of what we have and what is necessary to meet the minimum requirements for PARCC. Mrs. Mahoney asked about using iPads for the testing; these were not utilized for the PARCC field test since Central’s do not have keyboards. Mrs. Mahoney asked about the iPads at Central and what the outcome has been of using them, whether there would be future investment for other schools.

Mr. Bregoli asked about bandwidth for online testing. Mr. Segalla said that in collaboration with City IT, there are fiber optic lines at both high schools, all of the middle schools, and Lincoln Hancock and Parker. The other nine elementary schools should be addressed in the next year or so.

Mrs. Hubley asked if the computers at Wollaston and Beechwood that were replaced were redeployed in classrooms and they were distributed to classrooms for small group work.

Mrs. Fredrickson and Ms. Roy reviewed the Advanced program expansion. Mrs. Fredrickson said that annually, 180 to 190 high school students are receiving the Adams Scholarship for MCAS Achievement (top 25% of the district). Central’s APC program regularly averages 80-85 students, so 80-90 students are from the other four middle schools. Ms. Roy said that Mrs. Fredrickson’s analysis quantified the discussions in the Curriculum & Assessment Team, Principal Team, Superintendent’s Leadership Team. QPS wants to provide all students with the best opportunities to succeed. In the middle school level, the schools are anxious to provide advanced courses at all middle schools. The AP Pathways team has staff from the elementary, middle and high school levels working together to achieve this goal.

For 2015-2016, APC-identified students will be housed at Central; Central and all middle schools will continue to offer Honors level work in subjects as students are identified. Advanced curriculum in ELA and Mathematics will be offered at Atlantic, Broad Meadows, Point Webster, and Sterling. Pacing and the depth of content will be adjusted to serve the needs of these identified students. Performance-based assessments will be in place and daily instruction will be modified to meet the needs of independent, self-regulated learners. Perseverance in problem-solving will be an important learning characteristic and peer collaboration emphasized.

This summer, middle school teachers will create an advanced pacing guide and curriculum map in each grade level in both Math and ELA. (Central APC teachers are working on adjusting their pacing guide as a starting point.) There will be a clearly defined process for identifying students (still in discussion): MCAS data, current participation in Honors work, current report card grades, or performance on benchmark assessments). The team is looking at new literacy units, may require some curriculum purchases. Targeted professional development will support these teachers over the next two years on differentiating instruction.

Ms. Isola said this is a fabulous plan that recognizes students who have strength in either or both curriculum areas. Mr. Bregoli asked about the effect on class size. Ms. Roy said there will be a learning year, we don’t know the class sizes yet. Mrs. Hubley requested a breakdown of the data presented organized by middle school. Mrs. Hubley asked for and received clarification that this is a completely separate class.

Mrs. Mahoney asked whether this will require additional staff. Ms. Roy said that current staff would be utilized and the first challenge will be whether there are enough students to meet the criteria in each school. As a next step, Honors work would be clearly defined and also scheduled as a separate class. Mrs. Mahoney said this is an exciting opportunity to equalize offerings across the middle schools. Ms. Roy said we are not replicating the APC program, but this is a separate opportunity to challenge students.

Ms. Isola asked whether curriculum purchases would be done with FY2015 funds or as part of the FY2016 budget. Ms. Roy said this is still to be determined; the APC Grade 8 is looking for new Math textbooks that better aligns with the high school Algebra 1 course. Ms. Roy said that new literacy units would include new novels. Ms. Isola requested specific information for the budget discussions.

Ms. Roy reviewed the Spring & Summer Professional Development Opportunities: the recent Annual Literacy Conference was supported through multiple sources, QPS budget and grant funding (registration and substitutes); Keys to Writing Argument for ELA and Social Studies teacher at the middle school level. Some opportunities are for teachers, others are for administrators; some for both. Selecting a cross-section of representatives from grade levels and schools allows for the message to spread through teacher sharing at their sites.

Priority areas for the next two years: meeting the needs of high achieving students for middle school, implementing the new elementary report card, STEM workshops for Grades 4-8, Keys to Writing/Comprehension for Elementary; Developing Strategies and Models for middle school Mathematics; and preparing for the PARCC implementation at all levels.

Each professional development opportunity has a price associated with it for consultants and substitute coverage. The total estimated cost is $10,000 to $15,000.

Ms. Roy and Mrs. Perkins spoke about how the Curriculum Pacing was affected by the school cancellations, early release days, half days, and state-wide testing and other time crunchers.

Mrs. Perkins reviewed that for ELA at the elementary level, Journeys is a 5-week unit. In our custom pacing guide, we have added a sixth week for review, which can be reduced as needed. All of the ELA Anchor standards are explicitly covered, the work begins right at the beginning of the year. Each unit is spiraling and addressing the core standards; each grade level builds on the previous one and the instruction is more complex as the grade levels progress. Teachers in Grade 4 begin the preparation for the long composition in the fall. In Social Studies and Science, instruction often rotates between subjects. Students are learning new concepts right up to the end of the school year. In Grade 5, where Science is a tested subject, critical standards were identified and are introduced earlier in the year. Science is cumulative, the MCAS test evaluates elementary school coursework as a whole.

For Mathematics, there are explicit standards for every grade and course. There is a pacing guide that aligns the 4-6 critical areas for each grade level. The Math programs have a buffet of instructional strategies and models, teachers select the appropriate exposure for their students and adjust the pace accordingly to cover the key areas prior to MCAS testing. New concepts continue to be introduced through the school year, and sometimes preview instruction for the following year.

In summary, QPS staff are adept at making the adjustments to ensure appropriate pacing. Teachers work in teams at the site level to plan instruction, system-wide days provide opportunities for checkpoints, and the upcoming Assessment Days will give teachers the opportunity to collaborate and make adjustments to pacing and plan for the remainder of the school year.

Mrs. Mahoney asked that this topic be reviewed at a full School Committee meeting, with all the work done to address the needs of differentiated learners and curriculum pacing, this is important information with a direct benefit to students. Mrs. Mahoney said the value of the early release PD days allows for important collaboration and parents need to hear this information. Especially in this year, with parents being sensitive to the amount of days cancelled due to weather.

Ms. Isola asked Mr. Alessandro if he had any questions. He said that direct information to parents would be helpful with specific examples of where shortened. Mr. Alessandro said that online tools such as GoMath or Reading Eggs being accessible in the summer is something parents might want to know about.

Mrs. Hubley made a motion to adjourn the Teaching & Learning Subcommittee Meeting at 6:35 pm, seconded by Mrs. Mahoney. On a voice vote, the ayes have it.