Meeting Minutes, November 16, 2011

Meeting Minutes November 16, 2011
Marshall Orson, ELPC co-president, welcomed the audience to the last meeting of the 2011 calendar year. Dr. Daniel McGuire, principal of Evansdale Elementary school, recognized visitors including DeKalb County School Board members and other elected officials. He thanked the Evansdale PTA and custodial staff for assistance in hosting the ELPC meeting. He also recognized the Evansdale Foundation.
The topic of the meeting was “State Mandates Pave the Road for Classroom Curriculum. What Causes the Potholes on the Path to Local Implementation?” Speakers included: Kathy Howe, DeKalb County Schools Deputy Superintendent for Instruction; Cheryl Nahmias, city of Decatur Schools instructional coach and International Baccalaureate Coordinator,
Cheryl Nahmias describes a relatively “flat” organizational structure at Decatur where, following a mandate from the state, the system forms a team to address implementing the mandate. Using the changes in math curriculum as an example, she said the team considered resources available from the state and textbook publishers. Each level had an instructional coach and teachers were offered training opportunities. The Decatur school system will maintain the integrated math curriculum although the state offers two math pathways: integrated and traditional. Ms. Nahmias questioned whether PARCC will fund two assessments. Thus far evaluation has found little difference in performance by students in traditional versus integrated classes. PARCC is a consortium of states that has developed an assessment system to evaluate students across grades as to progress on common core standards.
Stacy Stepney, from the DeKalb School System, described involving teachers in reviewing new textbooks. The state negotiates contract for books and supplemental material for teachers.
Kathy Howe began her job at the DeKalb County School system November 1, 2011. She said successful completion of algebra is a strong indicator of post-secondary success. She described looking at 8th grade CRCT performance to ensure the school system is creating a pipeline for algebra readiness and success. When looking at the NAEP, performance by Georgia’s students was below proficient. The CRCT does not compare well to the NAEP. This performance indicates necessity to focus on algebra readiness and completion. She noted regardless of whether math is taught via discrete or integrated, the rigor of the curriculum is of concern. Georgia’s performance standards will be re-evaluated beginning in August 2012. Once standards are in place, assessments will be developed. It is assumed assessments will resemble the NAEP more than CRCT.
Questions about textbook adoption called the DeKalb method inefficient and costly. Gwinnett County does not adopt textbooks while the Decatur method was called “in between.” Ms. Stepney said the school system can ask for changes. There is a difference between textbook and resource adoption.
There was a question about families without internet access at home. Opening schools for parents was discussed. A comment noted that due to the widespread use of wireless services, there are many options available.