Jan. 28, 2019 Teaching/Learning Sub Meeting


Quincy School Committee
Teaching & Learning Subcommittee

Mrs. Emily Lebo, Chair
Mr. Doug Gutro & Mrs. Kathryn Hubley, Subcommittee Members

Monday, January 28, 2019 at 6:15 pm
Coddington Building

  • Next Generation MCAS Update - Dr. Hallett

    • Preparing High School Teachers and Students

  • Common Writing Assessments - Ms. Vaughan, Ms. Forrester

  • Keyboarding Pilot in Grades 2-3 - Ms. Perkins

  • School Improvement Process Review - Dr. DeCristofaro


Quincy School Committee
Teaching & Learning Subcommittee Meeting -January 28, 2019

A meeting of the Teaching & Learning Subcommittee was held on Monday, January 28, 2019 at 6:25 pm in the Coddington Building. Present were Mr. Anthony Andronico, Mr. Paul Bregoli, Mr. Doug Gutro, Mrs. Kathryn Hubley, and Mrs. Emily Lebo, Chair. Also attending were Superintendent DeCristofaro, Deputy Superintendent Kevin Mulvey, Ms. Sarah Anderson, Ms. Marisa Forrester, Dr. Elizabeth Hallett, Ms. Maura Papile, Ms. Madeline Roy, Mr. Edward Smith, and Ms. Bridget Vaughan.

Mrs. Lebo called the Teaching & Learning Subcommittee Meeting to order at 6:25 pm.

Director of High School Curriculum Beth Hallett presented an overview of the Next Generation MCAS transition at the high school level. High school staff have integrated preparation for the online administration of MCAS into their School Improvement Goals. Both content and question type familiarity will be developed through reinforcing academic vocabulary, writing rubrics, and comparing paired selections. For Mathematics, reference tools are being integrated into instruction. Both Grade 9 and 10 students have opportunities to familiarize themselves with the technology tools and to utilize MCAS practice assessments. Dr. Hallett noted that the high school Biology MCAS is still paper-based administration, so preparation is focused on strengthening mastery of tested curriculum strands. Grade 9 Biology students will be participating in the DESE-mandated MCAS Biology field test in June. The high school Principals and department chairs are collaborating on shared resources for assisting teachers into administering computer-based testing.

Mrs. Lebo asked for links to the Prezi and the TestNav sites.

Mr. Bregoli asked whether the preparation is the same for North Quincy and Quincy High School. Dr. DeCristofaro said that both high schools have access to the same resources, but are tailoring the preparation to the individual needs of their student populations.

Mrs. Lebo said that the high school goals and action steps are based on data from last year’s MCAS administration. Dr. Hallett agreed and noted that there is also new content for Mathematics that both schools will be integrating into Geometry and Algebra 2 instruction.

English Language Arts Coordinator Bridget Vaughan and Digital Literacy Teacher Marisa Forrester presented on the development of common Writing Assessments for Grades 3 through 8 students. These Assessments are aligned to the updated Massachusetts ELA Frameworks and mirror MCAS item-types. At the elementary grades, these include text-based essays, literary analysis, expository writing, and constructive responses. Professional Development is supporting the administration of these common assessments.

At the middle school level, teachers collaborated on developing the common assessment through analysis of the MAP data and tailoring the assessment to the needs of the students. Norming of student work samples was completed by groups of teachers as part of rubric development. Teachers will be collecting digital data through winter MAP administration and analyzing the performance prediction in preparation for the Assessment Day scheduled for February 12, 2019.

Mr. Andronico asked about the norming meetings, Ms. Vaughan said the transition was smooth, many of the teachers had been working together in this way informally over the years.

Mrs. Lebo asked if there has been any change in the MCAS essay text box size. Ms. Vaughan said that the MCAS practice test doesn’t show any change to this.

Science Curriculum Team Administrator Ed Smith presented the Keyboarding Pilot for Grades 2-3. This past fall, the Digital Literacy Teachers researched options for web-based programs with a coding component and selected Typing Agent, which QPS has contracted with through July 2020. Every student in the two grades has an individual login and password. The next phase will be to roll up to Grades 4 and 5. Accuracy, speed, and time on the program are measured. Digital citizenship concepts are supported, along with drag and drop and other computer skills. The elementary Library Support teachers will be working with students, classroom teachers may use it as well. The program is also available at home.

Mrs. Hubley asked if a student was advanced, could they move beyond the grade level. Mr. Smith said this is still to be determined as the program parameters are explored.

Dr. Hallett asked if each grade level starts over with a beginner level. Mr. Smith said that the teachers will assess assignment completion and performance level and make adjustments as needed.

Mrs. Lebo asked if other grades can utilize this. Mr. Smith said we purchased 2,000 licenses and the full rollout will be in Fall 2019.

Mr. Bregoli asked whether a class could be offered at the high school level and how would this be scheduled. Mr. Smith said that the Business Computer Application classes at the high school level have a keyboarding component. Mr. Bregoli asked about grading, Ms. Roy said the intent for this is feedback and support and to motivate students to improve. Mrs. Lebo said if this is part of media, that is not a subject that is graded at the elementary school level.

Mr. Gutro is concerned about the older middle school and high school students who have missed the opportunity to learn keyboarding. If the pilot begins with younger students in elementary levels, it will be a number of years before all high school students have this as a universal skill. Mrs. Lebo said that perhaps a solution would be to encourage high school students to take the Computer Apps class.

The last item on the agenda was a review of the School Improvement Plan development process. Dr. DeCristofaro outlined the Improvement Cycle and School Committee connections through the review of the Superintendent’s Annual Plan and the Program and School Improvement Plans. Dr. DeCristofaro reviewed the history of the School Improvement Plans from 2002 to today. The School Improvement Plans began as more assessment focused, but over time have integrated information about school culture, professional development, curriculum, and many of the other concerns for a school site, including traffic and facilities and parent involvement. For the 2018 School Improvement Plans, a focus on Family Engagement and Home-School Connections was highlighted. At the high school level, the paired grade level team goals were introduced this year. Action steps are a blend of site-based and district driven, integrate with education evaluation goals for teachers and administrators. Principals Path, which began as the Rapid Reset initiative in December 2015 and evolved into Collaborative Connections, gave the opportunity for teachers to collaborate on the specific needs of their students and school sites through design, vertical, and grade level teams. Moving forward, there will be a focus on improving outcomes for the lowest performing students and chronic absenteeism. Dr. DeCristofaro asked School Committee for their input on how principals present to them.

Mrs. Lebo would like to have a parent survey of topics such as school culture, class size, facility needs, school populations. With the assessment data, Mrs. Lebo would like the principals to address whether or not they achieved the goal and not focus on the positive aspects of assessment performance. Mrs. Lebo also suggested comparing school performance, which Dr. DeCristofaro does not agree with. Dr. DeCristofaro said that setting clear expectations for principals would be key, perhaps share questions prior to the meeting. Dr. DeCristofaro would also like to ask the principals what they think, this is such a personal presentation for them, the principals want to focus on the positive. Mrs. Lebo said that no one wants to put the principals on the spot.

Mr. Gutro said he does not have the context to understand the School Improvement Plans and the requirement. Would like more information about whether this is a Department of Elementary and Secondary Education requirement or specific to Quincy Public Schools and agreed there was not uniformity in the presentations.

Mrs. Lebo mentioned a DESE document that shows the requirements for Superintendents, Districts, and schools to be shared with School Committee. Dr. DeCristofaro said that DESE has a suggested template but Quincy Public Schools template for School Improvement Plans is more detailed.

Mr. Gutro asked for more information on how Dr. DeCristofaro uses the School Improvement Plans. Dr. DeCristofaro said these are an important part of the principals’ evaluations.

Mrs. Hubley said that the presentations are a helpful snapshot of the school environment. The family engagement may seem the same across school levels, but is executed differently at the site level.

Mr. Bregoli is concerned that it would be unfair to compare the schools, the principals feel very pressured and he doesn’t think they should be judged based on MCAS or other assessments.

Dr. DeCristofaro is looking for insight into how the presentation should be moving forward. He is concerned about presenting the schools’ challenges in a nuanced way.

Mrs. Lebo said it will be interesting to integrate the Lowest Performing Student analysis into the School Improvement Plan, all schools will have this cohort. Mrs. Lebo suggested that School Committee think about this further and that the item appear again on a Teaching & Learning Subcommittee agenda.

Mrs. Hubley made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 8:00 pm. Mr. Gutro seconded the motion and on a voice vote, the ayes have it.