- Review of the Staffing Model: The staff survey has not been circulated yet because Sabrina wants to review questions with LSAT and Mr. C before finalizing. The committee agreed to ask her to post the questions to Basecamp so members can review and provide feedback. During meeting discussion, the following additional topics were suggested for possible inclusion in the survey:
- What curriculum areas are underdeveloped or absent? One example might be readers/writers workshop which has received less support in recent years. Another possible topic is grammar.
- By grade level, how does the writing development of your students compare?
Mr. C noted that he would like to have teachers at the end of the year write down a list of competencies they believe students should have before leaving their current grade level.
- Review of school data: Mr. C provided to the group several points of data. Overall review of the CAS schools shows that the school is moving in the right direction, in particular within the black subgroup. However, for the most part the school's scores are staying within a very small band-‐ they are "static with slight growth." The group noted that overall scores of "advanced proficient" went down last year with the "proficient" group increasing. School's focus in past few years has been on those students who are in the below basic and basic groups.
This year the school takes the PARCC and Mr. C reported that it likely will be at least 2 years until we will be able to make any real analysis of those scores. The committee also noticed that the composition score from the last year's CAS test went down. It was noted that this year the CAS changed its grading system to consider grammar. Grammar has generally been deemphasized in primary education over the past decade. We discussed the possibility that in light of this change in scoring criteria, the school should have a renewed emphasis on teaching grammar and writing skills. Because the expectations haveshifted, the school many need to incorporate an integrated approach to teaching writing and grammar school-‐wide.
- Wilson/Deal -‐ Mr. C reported having an informal conversation with Principal Albright during which he commented that the majority of Murch students are at least as well prepared for Deal as students from other feeder schools. Beth Colleye has opened a conversation with a member of the Deal LSAT about how best to exchange information. Murch teachers commented that in past years they have unsuccessfully reached out to their Deal colleagues about sharing information and would be happy if the LSATs are able to facilitate such exchange. Mr. C. commented that one of his goals would be for advanced Murch 5th graders to be able to take math at Deal. Mr. C. noted that the Wilson feeder-‐pattern principals informal group has disbanded.
- Enrollment projections. Current enrollment is 627. District projection for next year was 644 and Mr. C did not contest it
- Renovation-‐ Murch is the first elementary school to be relocated during renovation.
- DCPS Budget Engagement Meeting: The Chancellor is again holding budget engagement meetings. This is a working session where the schools and the Chancellor exchange information and share their priorities. Murch's meeting is Jan. 20 at Coolidge High school, from 7:00-‐9:00. LSAT member attendance is not mandatory but has been helpful in prior years.
- February meeting topics for discussion:
- Results of Jan. budget engagement meeting.
- Planning for 2015-‐16 budget
- Results of teacher survey
- Enrollment Projections: Mr. C and Ms. Fuller were not able to attend tonight so the committee was not able to discuss this topic. Beth and Sabrina will follow‐up with the administration to determining the timing of establishing projections for 2015‐16 school year.
- Behavioral Support: Last year discussed having a behavioral specialist but was too late in the budget cycle. Staff reported that there has been some progress this year on behavioral challenges even without a programmatic change. Having a dedicated Special Ed Coordinator and full time social worker is helpful. It was noted that it seems as though the school does not have as many kids with severe behavioral challenges this year as previous years, but there do remain some challenges. The Responsive Classroom (RC) program is very helpful for classroom management.
Several staff members attended the Responsive Classroom leadership conference in Chicago the previous weekend during which they attended a very helpful session addressing behavior. Tomorrow, the RC committee is presenting four different sessions to the staff during the professional development day. Is it possible to get an RC consultant or an instructional coach for RC on staff part time? Currently, it is believed that RC is not fully implemented at the school. As a rough estimate, approximately 75% of classrooms are doing morning meeting well. Only a handful of teachers are capable of adhering to RC's guidelines on teacher language/responses. The RC committee has discussed with Mr. C doing a parent information night dedicated to RC, tentatively in Spring 2015.
The committee discussed possible options for investing further in RC. Due to turnover there is a continual need for additional RC training. We discussed the possibility of focusing on RC as part of the Paddles Up portion of the live auction. Lisa and Lauren agreed to work together to identify the specific training needs of the school and the cost. How does Fairfax County support its extensive investment in RC? How do Janney, Mann, Maurey, and Key keep their teachers trained?
- Topics for Future meetings: Due to time limitations, our discussion of topics for future meetings was limited. We agreed to have a Basecamp discussion about what is needed for the January meeting. Some high priority topics include:
- School data -‐Consistent with Mr. C's previous suggestion, we will look at school data in January after next set of unit testing. Committee would like to review last year's CAS scores, including subgroups, as compared to prior years. [Beth/Sabrina to ask Mr. C to provide at January meeting.] iReady data also would be helpful to review. Sabrina will request Fountas and Pinnell data.
- Assessments -‐ Are we doing too many assessments? Which ones are the most helpful for educators? There was some discussion of whether teacher created assessments produce more reliable data, but they are more difficult to gather and compare. There is a parent information night on Assessments scheduled for Dec. 9, and there will be a separate night on the Parc later in the year.
- Feedback on Current staffing Model/Enrichment -‐There were alot of staffing changes this year and it will be helpful to gather feedback on how it is going. With the large number of support positions, students are being pulled out of class alot. Staff committee members agreed to poll the staff before the January meeting to ask what positions are they finding the most valuable this year. At that point we will discuss how/whether to poll parents. One option is to modify the school satisfaction survey from last year.
- Aides -‐ There were discussions last year of deploying aides in a more instructional capacity this year. There has been no top-‐down direction this year on implementing this change. Some aides are doing enrichment as part of their own initiative, but not as part of Ms. Presnik's program. Each grade level decides how to use its aides.
- Community Representative – Beth Colleye updated the group on the three candidates she is pursuing for the community rep (one declined).
- Basecamp – Everyone new to be invited so that it can be used for discussions.
- Parent Info Night on PARCC – The group discussed what would be most useful for parents as well as the best timing. Given the HSA presentation to parents on assessments generally (not just the PARCC) which is scheduled for December 9, it was agreed to look for a date closer to the PARCC testing but still sufficiently in advance to help families prepare and support faculty. It was agreed to look for a January date which would also benefit from work that the faculty will be doing in advance of the test administration. In advance of the PARCC meeting, it was agreed to focus a large part of the January LSAT meeting on reviewing school level data. Mr. C commented that the data shows in many cases that the Murch learner community does not evince typical patterns of struggle and failure.
Terri Fuller shared with the group the most current information she had from DCPS regarding testing windows: PARCC, 12 March to 10 April and 31 April to 29 May and NAEP for the 4th graders, January to March. This was followed by a broader conversation about the volume of testing at Murch and whether students were being over-‐assessed. Many expressed the desire to identify which assessments were essential from an instructional standpoint. There was general support for the idea of developing priorities and a calendar that maximizes instructional time – and to develop strategies to advocate for just the most effective assessments. Others raised questions about how best to balance the need to help students be familiar with the technology used for tests without taking away from instructional time. The faculty noted that some aspects of the interim assessments were still being worked out and emphasized that it was summative in approach and not formative.
- Community Engagement Program -‐-‐ Sabrina Finburg updated the group on further ideas for a program designed to engage students in social and learning activities outside of school with other Murch community members, the idea being to create out of school enrichment experiences and social opportunities for students who don’t regularly benefit. It would depend on adult volunteers and there is the opportunity to partner with other schools. Further planning will be rolled into a building diversity group that both Sabina Finburg and Terri Fuller participate in. There is the possibility of using some of the OSSE student satisfaction grant funding for transportation.
- Enrollment – The enrollment audit was taking place that day at school and inspectors (and Mr. C) remained at the school working well past the LSAT meeting. Preliminary results may be ready by the December meeting.
- Building Renovation Update and LSAT input– Mr. C reported that there was no additional update regarding the renovation and that DGS has put out the RFP for the building architect to be selected.
- Printers and Copiers – Bethany Little asked about the burden on faculty and administrators resulting from a lack of working copiers and whether parents could help relieve the problem. Mr. C reported that three new (not refurbished but new) copiers were ordered and expected during the school year. Vicki Otten described the small stand‐alone printer/copier machines used in the 5th grade and the group discussed whether more might be helpful at other grade levels while the large copiers were on order. Parents also asked whether there were any other supplies or tools needed.
- Planning Time – Bethany Little inquired of the faculty and administrators about the effectiveness of the pooled planning time now built into the calendar. She asked about the possibility of having a half day once a month for faculty to plan when an outside group such as an arts organization could be working with the students on special programming.
- Topics for Future Meetings -‐The committee plans to use a survey tool to gather a complete list of topics and Bethany Little has agreed to design a survey to facilitate prioritization. The results will be discussed at the next meeting.
Attendees: Beth Colleye, Lisa Stone, Bethany Little, Mr. Cebrzynski, Terri Fuller, Jacki Hines, Vicki Otten, Lauren Miller, Stephanie Berger, Sabrina Finberg
- Introductions - The attendees introduced themselves.
- Administrative Matters
- Secretary and meeting minutes - Lisa Stone volunteered to be the secretary.
- Meeting Schedule - Generally meetings will be set for the first Thursday of the month, with the exception of the October meeting which is scheduled for October 23. We considered whether to invite Mr. C to attend every meeting or to alternate attendance. Several members expressed a desire for Mr. C to try to attend every meeting (as his schedule allows) because often he has information that is necessary to productive conversation.
- Community Representative - The committee discussed several priorities in a community rep: diversity, proximity to building, experience with Murch. Historically it has been difficult to find someone to fulfill this role. Beth Colleye has individual candidates in mind and will pursue them.
- Basecamp - We will be using this project management tool again this year. Beth Colleye will send an introduction to all members who are not currently in the LSAT project.
- Enrollment - Mr. C reported that Murch currently has 620 enrolled students and expects to enroll one more student to fill an open PreK slot. Any additional enrollment will come from in-boundary students. Mr. C has been told that the school will not lose any positions this year due to under-enrollment but we should expect a reduction in staff next year. Currently the enrolled ELL population is low and Mr. C expects to see approximately another 20 international students enroll during the school. Lower enrollment may also be the result of a number of families move out of the Murch district and into other school boundaries such as Janney, which was recently renovated. Mr. C believes the pending renovation may have driven some families away. Last year we had 86 new families. This year we saw about 30 new families. Mr. C does not expect the new boundary changes to impact total enrollment next year.
- Building Renovation Update and LSAT input - Mr. C reported that the current renovation plan is to build for a size of approximately 700 students. The city has completed a feasibility study, which revealed several site restrictions that limit our ability to build a school larger than that. DGS is putting out a RFP for the building architect next week. The building ultimately will grow from 40,000 sq ft to 90,000 sq ft. In response to a question about specialized classrooms/curriculum Mr. C reported that current plans includes 3 autism classrooms.
- DGS is beginning to explore swing space for Murch during construction. One option is St. Anne's, but this site is not large enough to hold entire school. Portable classroom trailers on the Lafayette fields (following their use by Lafayette during their renovation) present another possibility. When asked to identify the top three challenges in the event of displacement from the building, Mr. C responded that they are communication, consistency of instruction and attendance. The committee discussed the possibility of asking a representative from the SIT to attend an LSAT meeting to discuss instructional challenges resulting from the renovation and how the school can proactively address them. Mr. C asked members of the LSAT to prepare list of questions in advance so the SIT rep can come prepared.
- In response to questions regarding the possible need for LSAT input into the renovation, Mr. C responded that he believes the LSAT's assistance will be needed to consider multiple-year budget plans. Because the Ed Specs are so detailed, there is not a need for LSAT input into building design. Many decisions are outside the Murch community's hands. For example, the gym is considered historic and must be repurposed. Mr. C will reach out to Mike Quadrino and ask what role LSATs play in other renovations and will report back. Beth College offered to reach out to SIT co-chairs and offer assistances as requested.
- Feedback on Diversity Presentation and ongoing related work - Terri Fuller and Mr. C reported on the evening from earlier this month. The focus of the evening was how to build and support our community as a whole. Terri Fuller read from the formal notes from the meeting (which were prepared by the facilitators) and it was requested that she circulate them to the LSAT members. Among the topics that were mentioned were the following: the achievement gap, out of boundary families feeling disconnected, homework help, what does diversity mean for our school? Are all groups represented? Cultural competency. How to support ELL parents. The school plans to schedule another community based meeting. In the interim, Mr. C has gathered a working group that will meet at Tenley Library on Oct. 9 to look at how to build bridges within the greater Murch community. Lisa Stone will attend this meeting and will report back to the LSAT on any items specific to LSAT.
- Topics for Future Meetings - The committee briefly discussed how to prioritize among the many possible topics that have been previously identified for future meetings. In addition to the items identified on the agenda, the following were also identified, including (a) a communication to parents on how to prepare for conferences that will inform parents of changes in assessments; (b) departmentalization of instruction for grades 3-5; and (c) behavior support. The committee plans to use Basecamp to gather a complete list of topics and Bethany Little has agreed to design a survey to facilitate prioritization.