Dec. 3, 2014 Teaching/Learning Sub Meeting


Teaching and Learning Subcommittee
Wednesday, December 3, 2014, 5:00 pm
Coddington Building
Ms. Barbara Isola, Chair 

  1. Welcome

  2. New Elementary Report Card Overview - Ms. Madeline Roy, Ms. Erin Perkins

  3. Adjournment/Thank You!


Quincy School Committee
Teaching & Learning Subcommittee Meeting
Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A meeting of the Teaching & Learning Subcommittee was held on Wednesday, December 3, 2014 at 5:00 pm at the Coddington Building. Present were Mr. Paul Bregoli, Mr. Noel DiBona, Mrs. Kathryn Hubley, Mrs. Anne Mahoney, and Ms. Barbara Isola, Chair. Also attending were Superintendent DeCristofaro, Deputy Superintendent Kevin Mulvey, Mrs. Mary Fredrickson, Ms. Beth Hallett, Mr. James Hennessy, Mrs. Maura Papile, Mrs. Erin Perkins, Ms. Madeline Roy, Mr. Keith Segalla, Ms. Judy Todd, Mrs. Ruth Witmer; and Ms. Laura Owens, Clerk.

Ms. Isola called the Teaching & Learning Subcommittee to order at 5:00 pm and Senior Curriculum Coordinator Madeline Roy introduced the Elementary Report Card initiative, a collaboration of teachers, principals, and the Superintendent’s Leadership Team. As elementary teachers have transitioned to the Common Core Standards, development of a new report card is a natural progression following the curriculum alignment and pacing work already underway. The focus for this year is developing a new standards-based report card for Grades 1-5; at this time Pre-K and Kindergarten are working on the MKEA initiative and their report card development will follow. The new report card will be electronic and feature a revised grading rubric. A preliminary decision has been made to retain the current system of numeric grading from 1 to 4.

Mrs. Perkins shared the timeline for the development of the new report card and some highlights of the steps already completed. The schedule for development is mapped out through the remainder of this year and into the implementation phase next school year. Much of the work done to date has been to develop common language for standards that is clear to parents. Checkpoints with School Committee and parents are planned, including a Parent Academy event.

The Curriculum Management Team and IT met with principals to develop this preliminary plan and timeline. Around 60 Academic Classroom teachers, plus ELL and Special Education teachers and Academic Program teachers are involved. As we move closer to implementation, Guidance staff will also become involved. Vertical team meetings are scheduled throughout the fall and spring to work on the language of the standards. The final template is due to Aspen on January 1 for them to incorporate in the 2015-2016 school year build. Aspen training will begin in the spring and continue through the summer, a testing phase will be completed in October, and the new report card will be used in November 2015. Communication with parents will be done through the QPS website and social media posts, Parent Academies, School Committee, and Subcommittee presentations.

For teachers, the members of the grade-level report card teams will be the conduit for information back and forth between the individual school staffs and the teams. Time will be built into Principal Professional Development days to review the draft language.

Mrs. Perkins shared the draft report card, an example from Grade 1 that is representative of the team’s work to date. Social Studies standards are based on the most recent available from 2001. Science standards are based on the draft Next Generation Science Standards. Grading criteria is clearly defined, and discussions are ongoing as to how Special Education students and general education students on IEPs will be assessed.

Mr. Bregoli asked whether a student could receive a 4 in the first marking period and a lower grade in a later marking period. Mrs. Perkins said because there is detail for standards and areas of instruction, a student could theoretically do well on Geometry and have a lower grade on Numbers and Operations. Ms. Isola asked how standards not covered in a term would be indicated. Mrs. Perkins said they are looking at developing a system for indicating that

Mrs. Mahoney asked how would we indicate students who are above and below the standard expectations. Mrs. Perkins said that the standards are the expectations for the entire school year, so the teacher comments and conferences would assist in parents understanding of their student achievement. Mrs. Perkins said that a detailed grading rubric is planned that will illustrate the level of work that would equal a given grade. Mrs. Mahoney said this might assist with the Grade 5 ELC placements, parents question whether grading is equivalent across all schools.

Mrs. Mahoney asked if other cities and towns use a similar grading system or do they use letter grades. She said this is a parent comment she hears consistently. Mrs. Perkins said the local towns using the Aspen system use this 4 to 1 system.

Ms. Isola said the report card needs to be explicit that these are full-year expectations. Mrs. Perkins said that samples from other districts stressed the importance of the grading rubric (by term) publicly posted so that parents will understand the expectations. Ms. Isola said we need a “belt and suspenders” approach to sharing information with parents.

Mrs. Mahoney asked if parents will have access to their student’s grades on Aspen. Mrs. Perkins said that for at least the first year, parents will have electronic access and printed report.

Mr. DiBona asked how long it has been since the report cards have been revised. The previous standards were adopted in 2001, so it was 10 or more years. Mr. DiBona agrees that parents ask about a letter grade system.

Mr. Bregoli asked if there could be pacing issues in different classes at the same grade level, where the same material was not covered. Mrs. Witmer said that grade level teams meet on a weekly basis to ensure that pacing is as consistent as possible across all classes.

Mrs. Mahoney asked whether the Grade 5 students at Point Webster and Sterling will use the new elementary report card and Dr. DeCristofaro confirmed that they will.

Ms. Roy said that since the Common Core standards are so explicit, the individual child’s achievement level will be evident and prompt differentiation where necessary. The end of the year grades will assist with planning for supports and differentiation of instruction into the next school year. For ELA, the skills are often continuation, so the complexity of the materials will factor into a student’s grade.

Mr. Bregoli asked about summer regression and whether review is planned for the beginning of the year. Ms. Roy said formative assessments at the beginning of the school year assist teachers in integrating review into instruction as needed.

Ms. Roy said that the report card work group consists of teacher representatives and principals working in grade level and curriculum teams. Template prototype is due January 1, so the teams are identifying crucial skills and standards to include in the design. In next week’s meeting, teachers are going to meet vertically in curriculum areas to make sure that the skills are scaffolded appropriately across the grade levels. Communication is key with the teachers and principals who are not directly participating in the development of the new report card, parents, Citywide Parent Council, and Quincy Parent Advisory Council to Special Education. Principals will communicate to parents through local PTO/PTC meetings and monthly and curriculum newsletters.

Training for teachers will begin in April, both on understanding the rubric for consistent implementation and the mechanics of using Aspen as a tool for grading and communicating. Parents will have access to report cards prior to conferences and this will allow them to prepare questions or concerns.

For next steps, Principal Meetings will be held at each elementary school on December 9. Principals and the building representatives from each grade will update on the process and project status. In turn, teachers will have the opportunity to share their concerns to be brought back to the project team. Communication with Aspen is ongoing through collaboration with Ellen Garofalo and Keith Segalla. A Parent Academy is preliminarily scheduled for May 2015. Ongoing communication through the QPS website and social media will assist.

Mr. Bregoli said that the team has done an impressive amount of work in two and a half months. There are still questions to be answered, but the draft really looks great. Mr. Bregoli asked and received confirmation that the report card and supporting materials be translated.

Mr. DiBona asked if the report cards are electronic, would it be possible to assess the data across schools and the city. Mr. Segalla said it should be possible through working with Aspen. Mr. DiBona said it might be helpful to have benchmarks of average student achievements for parents to see.

Ms. Isola echoed Mr. Bregoli’s comments about the impressive progress made by the team in developing a plan and prototype. Ms. Isola suggested that the elementary school Open Houses events in September would be a good place to educate parents about the new report card.

Mrs. Hubley made a motion to adjourn the Teaching & Learning Subcommittee meeting at 5:45 pm. Mrs. Mahoney seconded the motion and on a voice vote, the ayes have it.