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Education Meeting (2/5/2013)

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A. Preliminary Information:

B. Summary of Meeting:

This month’s education committee meeting consisted of two agenda items:

  1. Equity Plan Updates

Presented by Viola Burgess, Executive Director at the Equity Office

       2.  Recommendations on Three Charter Applications 

Presented by Lisa Augustin, Research Associate at the Office of Research, Assessment, and Accountability

 (1) Equity Plan Updates

Ms. Burgess spoke about the strategies that have been implemented since the Board approved the Equity: Getting to All Plan-which focused not on adding additional strategies, but improving the rigor and accountability of those already in place. The plan includes five key strategies:

  1. Empowering Effective Teachers
  2. Enhancing Curriculum Relevance and Fidelity
  3. Addressing Culture
  4. Improving Support to School
  5. Engaging Families and Communities

Details on the five strategies can be found in the Education Board Materials link at the top of this page.

Ms. Burgess connected the Equity Plan with the We Promise campaign, which focuses on African American males (junior year) who are on the cusp of being “promise ready” (2.5 GPA and 90% attendance).  They hosted a “Promise Summit” for these young men. She showed a short video on the “We Promise” campaign during the meeting.

Dr. Stuart, chairperson of the Equity Advisory Panel (EAP) presented the first report of the developments from the EAP, which works consistently to support the Equity Plan. Updates include getting access to information and details on graduation rates, separated by gender, and suspension rates.

Questions from the Board

1. Holley and Shealey: there are a plethora of students who are not “promise ready” – what we’re doing about them? And, if students aren’t scoring well enough, are we leading them to the appropriate recovery?

  • Dr. Lippert: the credit recovery program, 10th period, increasing interventions, and unique scheduling.

2. Isler: in regards to “engaging families and communities”, how we’re sharing common core and keystone information with families?

  • Dr. Lippert: communication started with presentations for parents whose children were taking the keystone exams this year. There is also information on the website and as we move into next year, when it starts to effect more students, their will be more outreach.

3.Brentley: concerned if the summit (part of the We Promise campaign) is just a one-time shot or if there is follow-up? Also, expressed that if the minimum G.P.A. for the Promise is 2.5 than that should be the minimum for participation in extra-curricular activities.

  • Ms. Burgess: we have developed a medium and long term plan, talking to counselors and mentors, as well as follow-up emails and phone calls. (Dr. Lane noted she could bring up the G.P.A. policy change at the next Policy Meeting).

(2) Charter School Application and Review

Lisa Augustin reported on three charter school applications that have been reviewed. The applicants are:

  1. Computing Workshop Charter School (Squirrel Hill);
  2. Hill House Passport Academy Charter School (The Hill); and
  3. Mount Washington Community Academy Charter School.

The Pittsburgh Public Schools Review Team recommended the board deny all three Charter applications (details of why the review team found the applications deficient can be found in the PowerPoint presentation materials found at the top of this page).

 The Board will vote at the February 27, 2013 Legislative Meeting.

Questions from the Board

 1. Shealey and Brentely: clarification on these applicants’ options or resolutions if denied.

  •  Denied applicants receive a written document explaining the reasons for it denial; the district also provides guidance on how the application can be improved.
  • Once denied, the applicants have 3 options:
    1. leave it alone
    2. revise and resubmit the application
    3. 60 days to gain support (1000 signatures) and appeal

 2. Holley: can PPS reach out and utilize curriculum from these applicants (specifically when it could benefit our children with special needs)? In regards to the Hill House’s recovery program model-how can PPS do more for these children out on the streets?

C. Reflection of Meeting:

Examples of Good Governance Practices:

Focus on Mission- (Equity) Holley asked what we’re doing for the students who are not “promise ready” or even on the fringe

Transparency- Isler stressed the importance of informing parents about the keystone exams and common core curriculum

Conduct- (Respect) Shealey was respectful of everyone’s differing opinions as prompter of this meeting

Competency- When Brentley asked why the board does not have someone note-taking during  the meeting, Shealey had a realistic number for what that would cost the district.

Role Clarity- Brentley asked if the G.P.A. policy for participation in extra-curricular activities could be changed to 2.5 as more of an incentive for students to be “Promise ready”.

Implications of Agenda Items for Educational Equity:

Strategies for the Equity Plan are currently being implemented in schools, addressing issues across the board-from engaging parents and community members to empowering effective teachers. All of these strategies enhance the rigor and accountability of programs, initiatives, and campaigns that support and advance educational equity.