Feb. 3, 2015 Teaching/Learning Sub Meeting


Quincy School Committee
Teaching and Learning Subcommittee
Rescheduled to Tuesday, February 3 at 5:00 PM
Coddington Building
Ms. Barbara Isola, Chair 

  1. Welcome

  2. Elementary Laboratory Center (ELC) Program Update - Mrs. Mary Fredrickson, Ms. Erin Perkins
    * Research
    * Timeline
    * Screening Process

  3. Topics for Future Teaching & Learning Subcommittee Meetings
    * Discussion & Prioritization

  4. Adjournment/Thank You!


Quincy School Committee
Teaching & Learning Subcommittee Meeting
Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A meeting of the Teaching & Learning Subcommittee was held on Tuesday, February 3, 2015 at 5:00 pm at the Coddington Building. Present were Mayor Thomas Koch, Mr. Paul Bregoli, Mrs. Kathryn Hubley, Mr. David McCarthy, and Ms. Barbara Isola, Chair. Also attending were Superintendent DeCristofaro, Deputy Superintendent Kevin Mulvey, Mrs. Mary Fredrickson, Ms. Beth Hallett, Mrs. Maura Papile, Mrs. Erin Perkins, Ms. Madeline Roy, Mr. Keith Segalla, Ms. Judy Todd; Ms. Allison Cox, President of the Quincy Education Association; and Ms. Laura Owens, Clerk.

Ms. Isola called the Teaching & Learning Subcommittee to order at 5:00 pm and Curriculum Coordinator Erin Perkins presented the upcoming screening process for the Elementary Laboratory Center (ELC). The ELC enrichment program is for students who demonstrate academic talent and high cognitive reasoning and emphasizes independent research skills.

Mrs. Fredrickson said the process of identifying students for gifted and talented programs must be based on defensible measurement practices. The National Association of Gifted Children (NAGC) recommends that assessments must aim to be inclusive of students from different cultures, races, and economic circumstances. Test users have a responsibility to ensure that all testing is conducted in a fair and ethical manner and QPS is committed to administering developmentally-appropriate assessments in a confidential manner, including a periodic review of the identification process.

Mrs. Perkins reviewed the steps that QPS is taking for this year’s identification process. First, the top 20% of Grade 4 students district-wide based upon a combined score on the MCAS ELA and Math Assessments will be identified. MCAS was selected because it has the ability to identify students who perform at the Advanced level. Mrs. Fredrickson shared DESE's definition of Advanced Achievement. Next, the identified students will be screened for high cognitive reasoning ability through the SAGES-2 Reasoning subtest. The Reasoning subtest is a nonverbal assessment, so eliminates language bias. The test will be administered at the student's home school after school on an early release Tuesday. The final step is that admissions decisions will be based upon both documented academic achievement (MCAS) and cognitive reasoning ability (SAGES-2). General information letters will be sent to all Grade 4 families on Wednesday, February 4. Screening dates are February 24 and March 3. Acceptance letters will be sent to families in late April.

Dr. DeCristofaro said that this eliminates excessive testing, and demonstrates that placement decisions are based on data. Dr. DeCristofaro said that sharing the information publicly will hopefully assist families in understanding the program is system-wide, not a site-based decision.

Mrs. Hubley said that sometimes parents feel the MCAS isn't reflective of their child's ability. Mrs. Perkins emphasized that students will continue to be successful no matter what school they attend; high school allows for advanced opportunities for a wide range of students. Mrs. Fredrickson said that MCAS assessments are given over multiple days and the cumulative scaled scores allows for students who are stronger in one curriculum area to fall into the 20%.

Mr. Bregoli asked if there is a cutoff score, but since the top 20% would be considered each year, the score will vary. Mr. Bregoli asked for clarification on the transition away from administering all of the SAGES-2 subtests; Mrs. Perkins said that after analysis, MCAS better reflects the curriculum and standards. Mrs. Perkins said that the Reasoning subtest for SAGES-2 is the best option since it is nonverbal and is secure and cannot be "prepped" or studied for. Mr. Bregoli asked about an IQ test, such as the WISC. Mrs. Perkins said that the WISC is not considered a good indicator of giftedness because of the verbal component. Mrs. Fredrickson said that Assessment tools are in a state of transition and QPS’s transition reflects this.

Mrs. Perkins said for the Grade 5 students entering Grade 6, the current benchmark for is two advanced scores on the Grade 4 MCAS. These students, along with private school students, will be given an additional assessment. For the private school students, we are looking at setting a threshold on the standardized assessments administered at their elementary schools.

Ms. Isola asked if a student who is eligible for the ELC program but chooses not to participate, would they have to be re-evaluated for APC. This is handled on a case-by-case basis and there are currently no students in this category. Ms. Isola would like this clarified for parents. Ms. Isola is appreciative of the research and thought that went into the process. Ms. Isola asked if a parent requests their student be tested during the school day rather than after school, and this will be accommodated.

Mr. Bregoli asked if there is any thought to identifying gifted and talented program for the arts in the future. Dr. DeCristofaro mentioned that at the high school level, we are looking at the Renaissanceprogram that was at North Quincy High School.

The next item on the agenda is meeting topics for upcoming Teaching & Learning meetings. Ms. Roy suggested doing an assessment of school-based arts programs with the goal of re-establishing the program at NQHS. An update on Foreign Language and Technology programs at the middle schools will also be presented.

Mrs. Hubley made a motion to adjourn the Teaching & Learning Subcommittee meeting at 5:45 pm. Ms. Isola seconded the motion and on a voice vote, the ayes have it.