April 28, 2021 Joint Special Ed/Teaching Meeting


Quincy School Committee

Joint Special Education and Teaching & Learning Subcommittee

**This meeting is a Committee of the Whole**

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

Mrs. Emily Lebo, Teaching & Learning Chair
Mr. Paul Bregoli & Mr. Frank Santoro, Subcommittee Members

Wednesday, April 28, 2021, 5:45 pm via Zoom

Per Governor Baker’s order suspending certain provisions of the Open Meeting Law, G.L. c. 30A sec. 20, the public will not be allowed to physically access this School Committee meeting. Members of the Public can access the meeting live on QATV Channel 22 or at www.qatv.org. The meeting will also be recorded for rebroadcast and posted on the QPS website on Friday, April 30, 2021.

  1. Spring 2021 MCAS Administration - Ms. Perkins, Ms. Roy

  2. Advanced Program Update - Ms. Perkins, Ms. Roy, Ms. Vaughan

  3. New Curriculum Materials for 2021 - Ms. Perkins, Ms. Roy

  4. DESE’s Dyslexia Guidance - Ms. Perkins, Ms. Graham

  5. QPAC Update - Ms. Beck


Quincy School Committee

Teaching & Learning Subcommittee Meeting ~ April 28, 2021

A joint meeting of the Teaching & Learning and Special Educations Subcommittee was held on Wednesday, February 24, 2021 at 6:30 pm via Zoom. Present were Mr. Paul Bregoli, Mr. Doug Gutro, Mrs. Kathryn Hubley (Special Education Chair), Mrs. Emily Lebo (Teaching & Learning Chair), Mrs. Courtney Perdios, , and Mr. Frank Santoro. Also attending were Superintendent Kevin Mulvey, Assistant Superintendent Erin Perkins, Ms. Sarah Anderson, Ms. Catherine Carey, Ms. Donna Cunningham, Ms. Julie Graham, Ms. Jennifer Leary, Ms. Maura Papile, Ms. Kimberly Quinn, Ms. Madeline Roy, Mr. Keith Segalla, Mr. Edward Smith, Ms. Bridget Vaughan; Quincy Parent Advisory to Special Education President Cassandra Beck; and Ms. Laura Owens, Clerk.

Senior Director of Curriculum Madeline Roy reviewed the latest guidance from the Department of Elementary & Secondary Education for the Spring 2021 MCAS administration. Remote MCAS administration will be allowed for students in Grades 3-8. On April 29, the protocols for Remote MCAS administration will be shared in a DESE webinar.

Students in the class of 2021 who did not previous pass MCAS have had the requirement waived and the class of 2022 (current Grade 11) will not take the MCAS at all. (These students did not take MCAS in Grade 10 in Spring 2020 as schools were closed due to COVID-19.) Current Grades 11 and 12 students may take MCAS this spring to qualify for the John & Abigail Adams Scholarship or the Koplik Certificate of Mastery. Grade 10 students are scheduled for online MCAS administration for ELA and Mathematics between May 3 and June 11. Students currently enrolled in Biology (Grades 9 or 10) will take the paper-based MCAS between June 1 and 11. Remote MCAS is not available for high school students.

At the elementary and middle school levels, students in Grades 3-8 will take one of two computer-based MCAS sections for both ELA and Mathematics between May 10 and June 11. Principals will be meeting on Friday to plan and coordinate with the IT department. MCAS Alternate Assessment portfolios are due to be submitted to DESE on May 20.

Mrs. Perdios asked if the elementary and middle schools have enough Chromebooks to accommodate test administration. Ms. Perkins said that the Chromebook carts have been restocked.

Mrs. Perdios asked about remote high school students missing class time to come to school for testing. Ms. Roy said school day schedules will be adjusted to accommodate the MCAS assessment.

Mrs. Perdios asked if there was any possibility that MCAS would be cancelled altogether. Ms. Perkins said this seems unlikely.

Mr. Bregoli asked about expectations for MCAS results, based on the disrupted learning time over the last two school years. Ms. Perkins said that DESE has said the MCAS scores will not be used for accountability, the data will be used for diagnostic purposes. Ms. Roy said that this will be another piece of data, along with the MAP scores. Mr. Bregoli is concerned about the cumulative effect on more loss of time on learning.

Mrs. Lebo asked for clarification, Massachusetts chose not to request an exemption for the federal testing requirement. Mrs. Lebo asked about the Fall 2021 testing window, Ms. Roy said it was previously in November.

Mr. Gutro asked for clarification about the value of Grade 11 students taking MCAS. Ms. Roy said Grade 11 students who are interested in qualifying for the Adams Scholarship for a tuition waiver for the Massachusetts colleges and universities are encouraged to take MCAS. Mr. Gutro complimented the administration of the in-school SATs yesterday.

Mrs. Hubley asked about families opting-out from MCAS administration. Ms. Perkins said there is no formal process to do this with DESE.

The next item on the agenda was an Advanced Program Update, Ms. Perkins reviewed the work of the planning team, including a suggested new program name: Reach. Ms. Perkins reviewed the current model for a regular school year where the top 20% of Grade 4 students district-wide based on combined Grade 3 MCAS scores for ELA and Mathematics are then administered a Reasoning screening. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, current Grade 5 students were not screened in Spring 2020, so the whole pool of 140 qualified students are participating in this year’s virtual APP program. The process of screening these students is underway and the highest performing students will be invited to attend the Advanced Placement Center at Central Middle School for Grades 6-8.

Moving forward, the focus is on providing equitable access to advanced curriculum across the district for identified Grades 4 and 5 (and possibly Grade 3) students. In addition, there will be collaboration with Kindergarten through Grade 2 teachers for working with advanced students. A new mission statement was developed and the new Reach model has three teachers split across the eleven elementary schools plus Grade 5 students at South~West and Point Webster. The benefits of the proposed model will increase the number of students exposed to advanced curriculum at earlier grade levels and address underrepresented schools. A virtual information session will be shared with families on May 18 at 6:30 pm. Eligible families will also be notified in June and rosters finalized for Fall 2021 implementation.

Mr. Bregoli asked for clarification on the criteria, Ms. Perkins said this will be students demonstrating advanced abilities in several curriculum areas. Ms. Vaughan said the goal is also to better identify students with potential for advanced performance. Ms. Perkins said there are students at the underrepresented schools who are capable but choosing not to attend the pull-out program at Point Webster. Keeping the program at their home schools may encourage a higher level of participation.

Mr. Bregoli asked about teacher recommendations, this was eliminated as a criteria for admission into the Grade 5 program years ago. Ms. Perkins said that the Waltham Public Schools program is being looked at as a possible model, they utilize an attributes checklist that teachers use as a screening tool to identify students.

Mr. Santoro said this is long overdue solution and creates a more equitable opportunity for our students. Mr. Santoro thanked Mrs. Perdios for her leadership in this area.Mrs. Perdios said this is a great first step towards addressing the needs of elementary advanced learners.

Mrs. Lebo is concerned about English Learner students having difficulty demonstrating advanced abilities due to their fluency level. Ms. Perkins said that the Waltham Public Schools coordinator talked about this issue and for students with Special Education issues. Having a school-based program and using the attributes checklist makes it more likely to identify these students.

Mrs. Hubley asked for more information about how this would work, would like to see a sample day’s schedule. Ms. Perkins said that there are mock schedules and these can be shared.

Mrs. Lebo asked about the new positions, Superintendent Mulvey said these would be built into the budget request to be discussed in May.

The Curriculum Team Administrators Kimberly Quinn and Ed Smith and ELA Coordinator Bridget Vaughan reviewed new curriculum initiatives for the 2021-2022 school year for elementary, middle, and high school Reading, English Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies. There are plans to pilot new Mathematics curriculum for Grades K-2, High School Chemistry, ELA/Reading core curriculum for Grades K-5 under the GLEAM grant, and Grade 8 Civics. The costs associated with these will be reflected in the draft budget that will be submitted to School Committee in May.

Mr. Bregoli asked about the GLEAM grant. Ms. Vaughan said this is federal funding administered by DESE, a team of approximately 20 teachers are working under the initial planning grant recently received to apply for the full grant funding. Eight Quincy Public Schools elementary schools are eligible to receive the grant which would fund the purchase of a new core Reading program and a Literacy consultant. Ms. Vaughan said that schools with a certain level of high needs populations qualify: economically disadvantaged, English Learners, and Special Education.

Mrs. Lebo asked about the new curriculum being culturally responsive. Ms. Vaughan said under the GLEAM grant, this is a top priority. The DEI initiative components are being highlighted in the grant application.

Mr. Santoro said that the new curriculum materials will meet the current Frameworks and asked about pacing guides to ensure equitable access to the same materials across the district. Ms. Roy said the high school department chairs and the elementary and middle school curriculum teams collaborate to ensure this.

Mrs. Perdios asked about the process that drives the decision to pursue new curriculum materials. Ms. Quinn said in the case of elementary Mathematics, the method of teaching has evolved to be more manipulatives and center-based than the current core program supports.

Mrs. Perdios said that the elementary Science curriculum provides for differentiated learning, but the core materials have difficult vocabulary. Mr. Smith said that the teachers are collaborating on the use of the program’s resources to support all learners, sharing best practices.

Special Education Director Julie Graham shared the Massachusetts Dyslexia Guidelines, which have been pending with DESE since January 2019 when the new law on identifying students was enacted. The guidelines cover screening, a framework of interventions for students at risk, and provide comprehensive resources for support and intervention. Dyslexia is neurobiological in origin and is characterized by difficulties with word recognition, spelling, and decoding and secondary consequences for reading comprehension and retention. There are three subtypes of dyslexia typically seen in students: phonological processing (phonemic awareness; decoding, sight word, and passage accuracy), naming speed (decoding and sight word efficiency; passage fluency; rapid automatized naming and letter naming), or double deficit (both subtypes). Federal and state guidance now recommend the use of the term dyslexia during evaluation, eligibility determinations, and IEP documents.

Screening for dyslexia should answer three questions: (1) who is at risk; (2) how significant is the risk; and (3) which skill areas need support. Risk factors for dyslexia can be detected prior to formal reading instruction and screening for risk is critical for efficient intervention but is not an eligibility determination. The recommended screening is fall and spring of Kindergarten; fall, winter, and spring for Grades 1-2. This fits into the existing elementary school model of assessments, integrated team meetings, progress monitoring for students in the three-tiered model. There is also specific guidance for assessing English Learner students potentially at risk.

Next steps include creating a literacy leadership team, evaluating existing curricula and interventions, research/select a universal screener, develop a strategic plan for three to five years of improvement work, and develop/provide professional development for all teachers.

Mrs. Lebo said that the Special Education community has been waiting a long time for this guidance, a great presentation. Ms. Beck suggested that there are outside resources at diagnostic centers who can provide support in selecting a screening tool.

Ms. Beck updated that the next QPAC meeting is May 11 at 6:00 and will feature Board elections and the second part of the presentation on understanding IEPs.

Mrs. Hubley made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 8:20 pm. Mrs. Lebo seconded the motion and on a voice vote, the ayes have it.