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Tag Archive: board meetings

  1. Agenda Review 12/12/12

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    A. Preliminary Information

    • Agenda Review Materials
    • Board Members Present: Brentley, Fink, Hazuda, Isler, McCrea, Shealey, and Sumpter (Colaizzi was present on speaker phone)
    • Board Members Absent: Holley
    • Meeting Time: 6:30pm-8pm
    • 5 Volunteer Contributors

    B.  Summary of Meeting

    During the Agenda Review, the following agenda items and/or topics raised the most discussion during the meeting:

     Committee on Education

    • Items #8 and #9 which were placeholders
      • Questions were raised (mainly by Sumpter and Colaizzi) as to what these agenda items would consist of and their purpose on the agenda
    • Item #10 (Education Development Center) and #15 (Prescreening Contractors for Teacher Applications)
      • Colaizzi requested more information on both items. i.e. why do we need them? (Response: the EDC builds capacity and supports K-12 implementation of the Common Core State Standards, specifically in mathematics. As for the prescreening process, it is required for all new teachers)
    • Items #11 (Peterson Event Center) and #12 (Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum), which addressed the venues for graduation ceremonies.
      • Brentley expressed concern for standardized graduation practices (response: schools had a template to follow last year, this will be enforced this year and the ceremonies will be taped)

     Committee on Business and Committee on Finance

    • Item #44 (B & S Communications) which will do the concealed wiring and mounting of wireless equipment to ceilings and walls in the schools.
      • Brentley and Colaizzi both raised questions about this item (i.e. the necessity for a control room, exterior cameras)
    • General questions on the consultants/contracted services (items #1-44)
      • Colaizzi raised general questions: this is a lot of money, are we using it appropriately? Do we need all these services? What are our people doing? Requested a report on all the money spent on consultants and contracted services in past years to take a closer look at how we are using the money. (Response: attempted to explain as many items as possible, will try to get her a report of the expenditures)

     Agenda Items Board Members Identified to be further Discussed at Legislative Meeting:

    • Brentley: any and all items, if necessary
    • Colaizzi: Consultants and Contracted Services (items #1-44 on the Business/Finance Agenda)
    • Sumpter: Items #8 and #9 (the current placeholders) on the Committee of Education Agenda

    C. Reflecting on Meeting

    Good Governance Practices:

    Focus on Mission- Brentley concerned with security and safety measures in schools, specifically with exterior cameras

    Transparency- Sumpter read aloud agenda item #9 (the placeholder), so the “audience” or community watching and listening would better understand why he was concerned with it and the money that would be allocated towards it.

    Conduct- Shealey was respectful of everyone’s comments and concerns as the prompter of the meeting.


    Role Clarity-

    Board’s actions supporting equity and great teaching:

    A large portion of this agenda meeting was spent discussing money and whether it is being allocated appropriately. The board members concerned with this want to ensure the money is being distributed equally and to the right contractors, programs, etc. so that the students, teachers, and schools are benefitting as much as possible.

    **** A regular public hearing for citizens’ comments on agenda items and other school matters is held each month in Conference Room A of the Administration Building, 341 S. Bellefield Avenue (Oakland).  The public hearing is normally held on the third Monday of each month at 6:00 p.m.

    Testify at the next public hearing on Monday, December 17! Call 412-622-3868 by noon on the day of the hearing to request to testify.  Testimonies must be no longer than 3 minutes.  Bring 15 copies of your written statement to the meeting.

    (All speakers must be city of Pittsburgh or Mt. Oliver residents, those representing a group in the community or District, firms eligible to bid on materials or services, or PPS students and employees) For more details click here.

  2. Education Committee 11/7/12

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     A. Preliminary Information:

    B. Summary of Meeting:

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

    1. Common Core State Standards and PPS Curriculum
    2. Keystone Exams

    Both items were presented by Dr. Jerri Lippert, Deb Friss, and Allison McCarthy.

    (1) Common Core State Standards and PPS Curriculum

    Pennsylvania is among 48 other states to adopt the Common Core State Standards, this will result in a major shift in how and what students learn in Pittsburgh Public Schools.

    The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) prepare students through fewer, clearer, and higher standards; therefore, its not about having students do MORE, but ensuring students have a mastery understanding of the knowledge and skills needed to be successful. The CCSS were developed in collaboration with teachers, schools admins, and content experts in English/Language Arts and Mathematics to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare our students for the rigors of college and the work force.

    The CCSS shifts the focus from what teachers are doing to assessing what our students are doing.

    How the CCSS will impact the current PPS Curriculum: we currently have a strong foundation, however there are gaps that need to be filled; this is more of a resource/content gap than theory or how content/theory should be delivered.

    Things our curriculum currently lacks: focus on informational texts, strategies to deepen reading comprehension and text independence in core classes, writing across all content areas (science, math, social studies, etc), and argumentative writing.

    Pittsburgh Public Schools plans to have K-12 literacy and math curriculums fully aligned to CCSS BY 2014, with many grades fully aligned before then (certain grade level curriculums need more revision than others to align to the new standards).

    The approach for implementation has been a deliberate focus on building capacity (i.e. engaging teachers in the process of writing curriculum and assessments, teacher professional learning, principal leadership, etc).

    Questions from the Board:

    1. There are children struggling in school now. How will they do when they make classes/content more rigorous (K-5 graders)?

    • US education performance is decreasing and it is not us getting worse, but other countries getting better, faster. These countries pick important topics and teach in depth rather than trying to cover too much material. As such, we hope to teach material rather than cover material.

    2.Can we incorporate a separate writing class that teaches the fundamentals of writing. Other school districts do this, why can’t we? Why will our writing courses be imbedded?

    • Students will learn different types of writing embedded in their different classes (i.e. scientific writing in science class, historian writing in social studies, on top of the writing in their English literature classes).

    3. What grade is mulitplication learned? Imperative children have a fundamental understanding or they will struggle through math the rest of the way through school.

    • Grade 2 or 3. The CCSS increasing complexity in the classroom means ensuring mastery of topic than moving on, rather than spending additional class time going back through lessons the students previously learned.

    (2) Keystone Exams

    Starting this year, the state will begin to transition from PSSA exams to Keystone Exams, impacting grades 8-12. Keystones are similar to the PSSA; however, the Keystone exams are based on the Common Core Curriculum State Standards, while the PSSAs are based on the Pennsylvania Academic Content Standards.

    Keystone Exams are end-of-course exams designed to assess how much students know in specific content areas.

    • They are standardized tests that all students will take
    • Mostly multiple choice
    • Students can take them more than once
    • Like the PSSA, they are scored on an Advanced (4), Proficient (3), Basic (2), and Below Basic (1) scale

    **Current 12th graders’ Graduation Requirements do not include the Keystone exams-they will still take the PSSA exam. However, current 8th-11th graders’ Graduation requirements will include Algebra and Literature Keystone exams. (Although the Biology keystone is not a requirement to graduate for 9-11th graders, students will take it at least once).

    Students have multiple opportunities to take and pass the Keystones. Once they pass, they do not need to take it again. If students do not demonstrate proficiency on a Keystone, they will have an opportunity to meet this requirement through a course or project.

    Questions from the Board

     **will need to fill this in from other assessments, had to leave early

     C. Reflecting on the Meeting:

    Examples of Good Governance Practices:

    1. (Focus and Mission): Hazuda and Holley concerned with children already behind or struggling in classes and how they will manage when courses become more rigorous. Also concerned with what happens to children who fail.
    2. (Focus and Mission): Holley, Sumpter, and Shealey reiterating the necessity of all students knowing how to write well. Similarly, Fink concerned with all students knowing the fundamentals of math before moving on to more complex lessons.

    Implications of Agenda Items for Educational Equity:

    The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the Keystone exams based of the CCSS prepare all Pittsburgh Public school students through fewer, clearer, and higher standards; therefore, reducing the amount of information students learn and really focusing and teaching in-depth in those areas that contain the information and skills needed to be successful both in college and the workforce.

    That being said, more rigorous classes may necessitate more individual support for students in order to succeed.

  3. Education Committee 10/2/2012

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    Sam Franklin, the Executive Director for the Office of Teacher Effectiveness at Pittsburgh Public Schools, presented an update on the Empowering Effective Teachers Initiative to the Board of Directors.  The update started off by reiterating things that are already known: to accelerate student learning we have to improve teaching, and to improve teaching we have to be able to understand it.  These two points are things that the Empowering Effective Teachers Initiative is working to address.  The update focused on three main takeaways and in doing so highlighted some of the progress that has been made through this initiative:

    1. We now have ways to understand and respond to differences in teacher effectiveness: RISE (Research-based Inclusive System of Evaluation), VAM (Value-added measures), Tripod Student Survey

    2. Teachers are using new information and feedback to improve results for students.

    3.  The hardest work is still in front of us in making sure that teachers receive the support that they need to ensure that every student has an effective teacher

    Questions from Board Members

    • What kinds of support are teachers going to be receiving in this work, and what is central office specifically going to be doing with respect to supporting teachers?