Nov. 6, 2018 Teaching/Learning Sub Meeting


Quincy School Committee
Teaching & Learning Subcommittee

Mrs. Emily Lebo, Chair
Mr. Doug Gutro & Mrs. Kathryn Hubley, Subcommittee Members

Tuesday, November 6, 2018 at 6:05 pm
Coddington Building

  • High School Improvement Plan Presentations:

    • Principal Larry Taglieri/Quincy High School

    • Principal Rob Shaw/North Quincy High School

  • LOOK Act Overview - Dr. Hallett
    An overview of the new state law supporting English Learners


Quincy School Committee
Teaching & Learning Subcommittee Meeting - November 6, 2018

A meeting of the Teaching & Learning Subcommittee was held on Tuesday, November 6, 2018 at 6:05 pm in the Coddington Building. Present were Mr. Paul Bregoli, Mr. James DeAmicis, Mr. Doug Gutro, Mrs. Kathryn Hubley, and Mrs. Emily Lebo, Chair. Also attending were Superintendent DeCristofaro, Deputy Superintendent Kevin Mulvey, Ms. Sarah Anderson, Mr. Michael Draicchio, Dr. Elizabeth Hallett, Ms. Maura Papile, Ms. Erin Perkins, Ms. Madeline Roy, Mr. Robert Shaw, Mr. Edward Smith, Mr. Lawrence Taglieri, and Ms. Laura Owens, Clerk.

Principal Lawrence Taglieri presented the Quincy High School Improvement Plan, this year’s goals are organized by curriculum team in grade level groupings. In reflecting on last year’s MCAS, the cohort of high needs students will continue to receive targeted assistance. New indicators include chronic absenteeism and advanced coursework. Academic and administrative team will work at the school and contribute on the district level. Looking ahead to this year, Quincy High School will be focused on the transition to computer-based testing for Grade 10 MCAS administration. Dual enrollment is continuing to flourish, giving students the opportunity to earn college credit at high school. Strong enrollment in advanced coursework will continue to grow as students who were in the advanced classes in middle schools will move up to high school.

Quincy High School’s graduation rate exceeded the state level and the dropout rate is below the state level. Quincy High Evening School and Acellus will provide opportunities to re-engage students who did not graduate in four years. Parent engagement is strong, instructional-related opportunities to connect with families include the Science Fair and Parent-Teacher conferences.

Mrs. Hubley made a motion to refer all School Improvement Plan Facilities Areas of Need to the Facilities & Security Subcommittee. The motion was seconded by Mr. Gutro and on a voice vote, the ayes have it.

Mr Gutro asked about absenteeism; Mr. Taglieri said this is a new indicator and tracks students who are absent more than 10% of the school year. Mr. Taglieri said school attendance is a challenge for some students and families, but the deans will be working on this at the school level and contributing to district level initiative.

Mrs. Lebo complimented the inclusion of goals for Grades 11 & 12 focusing on AP coursework, Accuplacer, and SATs. Mrs. Lebo complimented the continuing small percentage of dropouts and the cultural goals for the Foreign Language department and increased opportunities for financial literacy.

Mrs. Hubley made a motion to approve the Quincy High School Improvement Plan. Mr. Gutro seconded the motion and on a voice vote, the ayes have it.

Mr. Shaw presented the North Quincy High School Improvement Plan, reviewing MCAS data which is higher than the state levels for ELA, Mathematics, and Science. English Language Learners continue to outpace the state levels by large margins. Students with Disabilities are showing growth, especially in the area of Mathematics. For the newer indicators, the North Quincy High School graduation rate is above the state level and the dropout rate is below the state level. Chronic absenteeism will be an area of focus, with a school-based team supporting the district efforts.

North Quincy High School’s goals for 2018-2019 are defined for curriculum teams and grade-level groupings. Assessment days allow for re-assessment of action steps and progress towards goals during the school year. Professional development time is allotted for cross-curricular teams and family engagement opportunities were shared as part of the plan. Mr. Shaw is pleased that the School Improvement Plan really captures the collaboration of the school’s staff.

Mr. Bregoli asked about the factors that contribute to chronic absenteeism. Mr. Shaw said that there is a range of reasons, teachers, deans, and guidance staff will be working on looking for common factors. The North Quincy High School deans are focused on this as a goal.

Mrs. Lebo asked if there are reports that are generated that flag student attendance. Mr. Shaw said the Student Support Team meets weekly and reviews attendance as a standing agenda item.

Mrs. Lebo noted that DESE doesn’t have a category for Declined but Still Above Target.

Mr. Gutro noted the culture of Community Service, most visible through the ROTC program, is impressive. The transition to high school is done very well at North Quincy High School. Mr. Gutro asked about the reports the Deans generate in Aspen. Mr. Shaw said attendance and conduct, which is information collected by teachers, guidance, and deans.

Mrs. Hubley made a motion to approve the North Quincy High School Improvement Plan. Mr. Gutro seconded the motion and on a voice vote, the ayes have it.

Mrs. Lebo made a motion to place the process for developing School Improvement Plans into Teaching & Learning Subcommittee. Mrs. Hubley seconded the motion and on a voice vote, the ayes have it.

Dr. Hallett presented on the Language Opportunities for Our Kids (LOOK) Act, which was signed into law in November 2017 and provides a new vision for English Learner Education in Massachusetts. The six major components are English Learner Education Programs, English Learner Services in Pre-School, English Proficiency Benchmarks, the English Learner Parent Advisory Council (ELPAC), SEI Endorsement for CVTE Teachers, and the Massachusetts Seal of Biliteracy.

Districts will now have flexibility to choose the program that best suits the needs of their students: Sheltered English Immersion (QPS model), Transitional Bilingual Education; and Two-Way Immersion (some students speak English and others speak a different common first language; instruction is in both languages). Parents of 20 or more students may request the implementation of new programs that a school district doesn’t have.

In Pre-Kindergarten, students are now being identified and enrolled in the English Learner program. All Pre-Kindergarten teachers have SEI certification and students are instructed in an inclusive language-rich classroom model.

New English Proficiency Benchmarks were provided by DESE in June 2018, based on January 2018 ACCESS performance. Targets for 2019 have not yet been released and QPS will not be held accountable for them as they will be released within 6 weeks of the January 2019 ACCESS testing. In September 2019, targets will be released for the 2019-2020 school year and districts will be accountable.

Benchmark Guidelines have not yet been officially approved, but the draft provides best practices and models for setting personalized goals, incorporating parent involvement, and the English Learning Success Template. DESE is recommending the ELST as a basis for a district-specific progress monitoring tool, similar to an IEP. There are currently 350 students not meeting targets, each would require the creation of the ELST.

There is a new category being monitored for EL Proficiency, the Difficulty Index, which determines the degree of difficulty a student will have in making the next benchmark. The scale is from 1 to 99, with the higher number being the most difficult. The index is based on three elements: the student’s grade level, the number of years of US schooling, and the student’s fluency level.

Mr. Gutro asked for clarification, this is a brand-new scale, we are just seeing this for the first time. Dr. Hallett said there is a draft of a guidance document, but the explanation is not entirely clear. Mr. Gutro asked if other states have anything similar, Dr. Hallett said not that we know of.

Mrs. Lebo asked what is the purpose, Dr. Hallett said the scale should assist with goal setting for the ELSTs.

Dr. Hallett said that the LOOK Act also requires the formation of an EL Parent Advisory Council, the district will need to support through providing translation. The ELPAC is intended to be self-governing, create by-laws, and meet and advise School Committee and the school district. Dr. Hallett said this will be goal in the English Learner Program Improvement Plan. A guidance document has recently been released by DESE.

Career Vocational & Technical Education teachers and administrators who have had an English Learner student will be required to earn the SEI endorsement by 2020. Quincy will be hosting a no-cost course and other local towns will host them as well.

The Massachusetts State Seal of Biliteracy is the final component of the LOOK Act, an optional endorsement for diplomas open to all students who demonstrate a high level of proficiency on the ELA MCAS and a high level of proficiency on a nationally-recognized foreign language exam. School districts must apply to be eligible to grant this endorsement.

Next steps will focus on creating and implementing progress-monitoring tools during the 2018-2019 school year, considerations for adjusting current English Learner Education programming, professional development opportunities for Family Engagement/ELPAC, and assistance/guidance for monitoring Pre-Kindergarten English Learners.

Mrs. Lebo asked for detail about the languages spoken by families in Quincy Public Schools, 15% of students are English Learners.

Mrs. Hubley asked about the ELPAC, Dr. Hallett said the goal will be to have this in place for the 2019-2020 school year. Dr. Hallett said a family open house is planned, parents of English Learners and Former English Learners are welcome to be involved.

Mr. Gutro suggested this would be a good topic for the MASC resolutions. Mrs. Lebo agreed that this is something we should push back to MASC about.

Dr. DeCristofaro said that as we go forward, we are definitely looking at an increased need for staffing, both academic and administrative. Pre-Kindergarten will definitely be an area of growth, there are 150 students currently enrolled who are English Learners. Dr. Hallett said there are 42 English Learner teachers, two are new this year.

Mr. Bregoli asked if there is funding available to support this. Dr. Hallett said there are competitive grant opportunities but these are short term.

Mr. Gutro suggested that the School Committee create a resolution to submit to MASC on the effects of this legislation.

Mrs. Hubley made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 7:15 pm. Mr. Gutro seconded the motion and on a voice vote, the ayes have it.