Friday, September 19, 2014

2014 MCAS results for Worcester : WPS press release

You can find the press release, with the school and district scores and Levels, online here.

And regarding Level 4's: here's a post from me from earlier this year on what that does and doesn't mean. 

UPDATE: I was going to do a separate post on how the bouncing among Level 1,2, and 3 doesn't mean much, either, but it's perfectly captured in this from the T&G article:
Lake View School in Worcester, for example, dropped from Level 1 to Level 2 this year. Ms. Boone explained that as a small school, shifts in scores of one or two students will have a larger impact than at a larger school. Gates Lane, which also went from Level 1 to Level 2, has a large special education population. Last year the school was able to meet targets for that subgroup; this year, they fell slightly below. 
Again, Level 1 just means you met your targets and 95% of the kids took the tests. Level 2 means you didn't hit all your targets, as above. And if a few more schools did better on their targets, it's not hard to fall into the bottom 20%, making you Level 3.
It's a chart, and people like charts. There isn't a whole lot behind the chart, though.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

School calendars

On a motion from Foley, 2015-16 is approved
2016-17 and 2017-18 are sent to Finance and Operations for further discussion
Note that the change proposed starting that year (2016) is that we start with a full five day week of school the last week of August (as opposed to starting on the Wednesday before Labor Day, as we did this year, and will next year). Please let us know what you think!

UPDATE: I was asked why this has been proposed. (Please realize here that I am paraphrasing what was said to me.) There is concern from some in school in what is a gradual start, as Worcester has had these past few years. We start on Wednesday, attend three days, and have a three day weekend. Then we attend four days, and have a two day weekend. Only then (the second week of September, generally) do we have a full five days. It makes for--this is my word, though I am not expressing my opinion--a choppy start.
This is not about what day we get out at the end of the year; it would only move that back by two days, and we generally don't cut it too close on the end of the year.
Vacation weeks of February and April we can talk about, but there the issue generally is other districts: we have children whose parents teach elsewhere, and teachers whose children attend school elsewhere, and most districts do a February/April break pattern (in Massachusetts).
The Finance and Operations subcommittee is myself, Jack Foley, and Hilda Ramirez. Contact information is here. 

International Walk to School day is Wednesday, October 8!

Plan to celebrate with us on Wednesday, October 8! 

Comments on report

Monfredo: hope everyone sees that our school system continues to move forward
most impressed by positive test scores
schools look fantastic: many others in

and then I asked a whole lot of questions,which I will write up later. The mayor mimed wiping his brow when I finished.
asking that the report be shared more broadly; thank admin for prompt responses to queries as school opened
Could we have the ad that ran on college enrollment? Could it be shared with Council?
Do we have an MOU on One City, One Library yet? No, but making progress (largely due to turnover in WPL leadership)
Do we have a data wall policy? Not yet, but coming soon.
Any policy or guidance on teacher use of websites and such with sharing information about students? Also will be included in that same policy
math curriculum is citywide? Rolling out now, so not all schools as aware as others
science and social studies "half the year for a full year of curriculum"
scope and sequence being worked through; communicating with principals

Biancheria: "acting assistant principals" and non-acting? what's the difference?
Luster: means that they haven't been hired through the process; will be posted in January and then hired
enrollment: WEMS? They increased by sixth grade last year
Biancheria: innovation labs...woven into sixth, seventh, eighth
ELL program: does that advance them further? or is that stand alone?
increasing number of students who are taking AP courses
enrollment of college courses: yes, get them twice a year
at 75% on free and reduced lunch; do we see it increasing? Always fluid
Asks for MCAS information to be sent by paper

O'Connell: 85 teachers to Eagle Hill
secondary class size? Yes, coming
MCAS information coming broken down by school and demographic?
trends, by year, by grade level and by content, and Levels of schools
Is this the first time that we've done an online requisition? Paper until now?
Had been moving there, now there

Opening of school report

Can be found here
My notes here are going to be light, as much of the info can be found in the report itself: posting as we go

As of right now, WPS enrollment is 25,397, which is 483 students up from last year
(That isn't our official enrollment, as we won't do that until October)

High school enrollment increase of 3.6% (overall)
Middle school enrollment increase of 0.7% (overall)
elementary is going in both directions: largest increases at Burncoat Prep, Vernon Hill, Chandler El, Rice Square, Chandler Magnet (and all are double digit percentages)
Largest percentage drop in elementary at Goddard, Clark St, Tatnuck Magnet, Wawecus, Columbus Park (none of which are a trend)

Classroom teacher to student ratio is 1: 22.2
adult to student ratio is 1: 20.9
(in both cases in elementary, and there is variation across classrooms)
302 of elementary classes have fewer than 23 students
208 of 23-26 students
59 classes of 27-30 students
2 classes of 30 or more and both are due to space
(and those numbers don't balance yet, as shifts are happening)
October 1 report will be sent to school committee

while there are positions eliminated, there were also new hires (due to retirements and resignations) 203 new hires
there also were 2641 payroll changes
WPS has 3840 employees, making us the city's third largest employer (after UMass Memorial and UMass Med) (and that doesn't include coaches or after school programs)

piloting the electronic report card in 8 schools
last year, evaluated the K-12 arts magnet program
rolling out literacy plan
Family and Community Academy happening
5 new courses happening this year
Diesel Automotive added at South High
PSAT test now available to all 10th and 11th grade
expansion of ABA service delivery to children with autism
district-wide mathmatics pilot is underway
professional development institute for grades 4,5,6 and 10 teachers this year
more work with K-3 and grade 9 (they had the institute last year)
Universal Design for Learning for all coaches and liaisons ('how do we think about instruction in a meaningful way')

Now serving 12,000 breakfasts served daily and 15,900 lunches
22 elementary breakfasts in the classroom (over 400 classrooms)
75% free and reduced lunch eligible students
14 schools added for the state fruit and vegetable grant
Over the summer, over 13,000 students were served over the summer; 50,000 meals over July & August. Another truck coming, so that will be even bigger next summer.

96 large school buses; 135 smaller buses
12,320 students transported each day
10,000 miles a day; 1,800,000 miles a year

last year we were awarded $38,6 million grants (70 grants of which 24 were competitive)
online requisitioning over vendor portals for school and office supplies

Several MSBA projects either completed or ongoing
boiler WILL BE IN for October 1 (hooray!)
window projects ongoing at Columbus Park, Worcester Arts Magnet, and Tatnuck Magnet; completed at Chandler Magnet
and go check out those nice new windows and doors at Chandler Mag!
and all the good stuff on this list here

7500 new computers and monitors out there (and we recycled over 70 tons of electronics as a result)
district internet speed has doubled (hooray!)
completed the transition to the web-based student information managment system


Athletic academic requirements (supplemental agenda)

Boone: conversations and debates about the calculation of the 2.0 GPA for the district
not a movement away from what has been a standard
had to align calculation with the grading structure
last year there was a one year waiver for a transition to occur
entering this year "faced with a few--very few--students have met all the requirements of participation" of 70 in at least one class
proposal to it allow a one time waiver during their high schools years if they do not meet the C average on all year long courses in the previous academic year. They must have a final course grade between a 65-69
does not apply to students with a 65 cutoff
"will allow students to play this year, and allow them to recover if they have a difficult course"
"students first, then athletes"
be sure that no student misses out on their eligibility
not asking to step away from the 2.0 adopted last year
"once you use it, you have used it"
"only for grades 10, 11, and 12" not 9

O'Connell: appreciate rationale
does it apply for an entire year, if someone wants to play three seasons of sports
Rodrigues: if I'm a tenth grader, and I'm not eligible due to grades, if I use it in fall, then I can't use it again"
Does it apply for the full year?
for winter and spring you have to pass a 65 or better for four year long courses
so this only applies for fall semester; winter and spring are based on the current year courses

Novick: did fall sports athletes know of the GPA calculation? We're not sure that all did
If admin wanted to recommend a full year on last year's waiver, assuming that not all fall athletes did know, I'd vote for that
Not comfortable with the floating "get out of jail free" care to be applied anytime

Biancheria: have heard from parents, how are we getting this across?
Boone: directly communicated to all current athletes, know all coaches were aware, know all principals were aware
should school committee approve, will send to all high school students
will meet with athlete director, principals, coaches: "a strong coach doesn't just maintain" contact during the season
students have to be both students and athletes

Monfredo: motion to review policy in May for recommendation from administration

O'Connell: report from principals

Policy passes and is reconsidered
(6-1, Novick opposed)

Supplemental agenda

coming in this afternoon (and "unable to be foreseen by the chair") a supplemental agenda on athletics