ASC Summary

Academic Success Committee Meeting Summary
September 7, 2017 • 9:00am

Committee Members

  • Chair, Leslie Gray - Board of Education Vice-President
  • Meeta Jain Patel, M.D. - Board of Education Member
  • Dr. Don White - Superintendent
  • Joan Woolwine - Interim Assistant Superintendent of Learning (C&I)
  • Dr. Cynthia Heidorn - Interim Assistant Superintendent of Learning (Project Lead)
  • Dr. Christina Sepiol - Assistant Superintendent of Learning (Pupil Services)

Other members of the community were in attendance, including building administrators, teachers, PTO members, and parents.

Special Education Extended School Year Update

Assistant Superintendent of Learning (Pupil Services) Dr. Christina Sepiol provided information on Extended School Year (ESY) service provided in 2017. ESY services are designed to support a student with a disability as documented under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to maintain the academic, social/behavioral, communication, or other skills that they have learned as part of their IEP. ESY services are provided to a child with a disability beyond the normal school year in accordance with the child’s IEP, and at no cost to the parents of the child.

Dr. Sepiol shared that a total of 52 students received reading and/or math support from 7 special education teachers and 25 instructional assistants, 12 of whom were assigned to individual students.

ASC Chair and Board Member Leslie Gray and ASC Committee Member and Board Member Meeta Patel expressed concern that there was an approximately 50% decline in the number of students who received ESY services in the summer of 2017 as compared to the prior several years. Dr. Sepiol noted that during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years, the IEP teams did not make formal recommendations for services, but rather made all special education students eligible for ESY services. For the 2017 ESY determinations, the IEP teams considered the following factors in making recommendations: regression of skills taught, recoupment of skills after the summer break, minimal progress toward goals, use of a communication device, presence of a Functional Behavioral Analysis and Behavior Intervention Plan for aggression, reading levels at least 2 years below grade level using two measures of assessment, rate of improvement below average or requires consistent/necessary repetition to maintain a goal area, and use of supplanted curriculum. Dr. Sepiol shared that these factors, as well as student availability during the summer months, may have contributed to the changes in enrollment.

Several Pupil Services Administrators in attendance remarked that there was no directive or encouragement to cut the number of students who received ESY services. ESY eligibility decisions were team decisions driven by regression/recoupment data. The Pupil Services Administrators in attendance also commented

on the number of measures used to make the decision (i.e. MAP, progress monitoring, anecdotal measures, classroom teacher feedback).

Board Members Gray and Patel reiterated their concern over the reduction in the number of students receiving ESY services, and requested that the eligibility requirements for ESY, as well as the historical enrollment numbers, be discussed at the Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment Advisory Council (CIAAC), and then brought back to the Academic Success Committee for further discussion.

Walker School and Hinsdale Middle School Supported Classroom Update

Dr. Sepiol provided an update on the status of the new supported classrooms at Walker School and Hinsdale Middle School, which were created to meet needs identified during the 2016-17 school year. At the elementary level, an area of growth was an intensive instructional approach targeting the communication needs of students. At the middle school level, an instructional model to assist in emotional regulation and coping strategies was an area of growth. The IDEA Needs Assessment survey supported these conclusions. Accordingly, plans were developed to open classrooms for the 2017-18 school year that addressed the unique needs of these learners.

Dr. Sepiol noted that the Walker classroom currently has four students. The classroom has a speech pathologist, social worker, a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, and instructional assistants in the classroom to support the teacher. Students receive a portion of their instruction and related services in this classroom, and then join their peers in the general education environment for the remainder of their day. Dr. Sepiol commented that in the past, some students were receiving 1:1 instruction, were in isolated situations, and were not with any other peers. It was noted that this was one of the main reasons they contemplated looking at this type of classroom model.

Dr. Sepiol shared that the HMS classroom has an enrollment of nine students. The majority of the students access this classroom one period per day to address strategies for emotional regulation and coping. The students can also access this classroom on an “as needed” basis when they are experiencing dysregulation that prevents them from accessing the general education environment. She shared that specific strategies to allow students to regulate and reenter the general education environment are the main purposes of this instructional model. She noted that this classroom was modeled after the “Program Success” classroom at District 86.

Several staff members in attendance commented on the success of the new classroom at HMS. It was also noted that the classroom serves students who might be extremely bright but might need some self-regulation help.

Board members Gray and Patel noted the importance of continuing to gather student performance data and requested that the Board receive regular updates on the new supported classrooms.

Special Education Procedural Manual

Dr. Sepiol shared that as a condition of withdrawing from the LADSE Cooperative, the District was required to have its own special education procedural manual. The District’s procedural manual has not been updated since the District withdrew from LADSE in 2011. Dr. Sepiol presented the draft manual for review. She noted that it contains language that is specific to District 181, and it outlines the various processes involved in special education. Dr. Sepiol highlighted that she added language to the manual regarding the ability for IEP and 504 meetings to be audiotaped, and also clarified that families can receive documents prior to the meetings.

It was requested that information be added related to criteria for eligibility to receive ESY services. It was also requested that parents be notified of the availability of the procedural manual and be given an FAQ on the IEP process.

Bridge Report and Math Discussion

Interim Assistant Superintendent of Learning (C&I) Joan Woolwine and the District’s Teacher on Special Assignment for Curriculum and Instruction (TOSA C&I) provided an overview of the 2017 summer math bridge program. They noted that based on data and feedback from parents and teachers, there is a need to create a process for those students who may be on the cusp of entering the next level of curriculum in the area of math. They also noted that earlier parent notification about the program is necessary. The TOSA C&I shared the following data with the Committee:

  • 80 students were invited to participate.
  • 35 students enrolled in the program.
  • 25 out of 46 students enrolled at the elementary school level (54%).
  • 10 out of 34 students enrolled at the middle school level (29%).
  • The average class size was six students.
  • All students who attended a Bridge course passed onto the next trajectory.

The TOSA C&I also provided a report (posted on BoardDocs), which outlines the following information for each Bridge level: grade levels served, standards covered, course duration and number of minutes, minimum requirements for attendance, and the summative assessment results.

Board member Gray commented on the math trajectory and the need for it to be a flexible program. She expressed concern that there was confusion amongst parents and staff with respect to the accelerated program at the elementary school because it has the same name as the accelerated program in middle school, but the acceleration model of the elementary course is much faster. It was her understanding that the accelerated program at the elementary school was originally intended for the “outliers,” and that the advanced group should be considered the highest group at the elementary school. She supported a bridge program to bridge from grade level to the advanced level at the elementary level, noting that a child’s MAP test score at the end of second grade should not determine whether they complete Algebra prior to entering high school. However, conceptually, she had trouble with the concept of a child bridging over the summer to become an “outlier,” and that, in her opinion, it resulted in too much skipping of material and raised questions about retention of the content. She also expressed concerns that the placement criteria for the accelerated group at the elementary school were not being implemented with fidelity. She stated that the criteria are extremely stringent and that in her opinion, it is not statistically possible to have the number of children that are currently in that trajectory. Lastly, she requested that the administration look at the data to determine whether 80% versus 70% on the bridge summative assessment was a more appropriate benchmark for successful completion of the bridge program.

A CHMS math teacher and Math Subject Committee member noted that she had the same concerns and would like to re-work the bridge program. She also offered some suggested tweaks with respect to the current math trajectory. Specifically, she raised concerns about the scope and sequence of the fifth grade accelerated trajectory, and she questioned whether the benchmark for successful performance in a class should be changed from 70% to 80%. She further noted that the Math Committee discussed renaming the accelerated trajectory at the elementary school because of the confusion the name presents.

Ms. Woolwine noted that CIAAC members raised similar concerns and suggested that 70% is low to be considered having successfully completed a class. She also noted that the data would need to be studied to determine whether the criteria for placement was being implemented with fidelity.

Board member Patel shared that she agreed with Ms. Gray, noting the importance of giving students the opportunity to move from grade level into the advanced level trajectory. She suggested monitoring the performance of students who did bridge to help determine the success of the program. She also expressed concerns that the large range of learners in the advanced trajectory at the elementary level could potentially slow down the level of math instruction for the high-level learners in that group.

Ms. Woolwine then discussed that there may be a need to review the on-level curriculum to see if it is as rigorous as it needs to be. The Committee also noted the need to discuss on-level students and the supports they need.

Dr. White noted the following next steps:

  • Consider renaming the accelerated trajectory at the elementary school.
  • Review who is in the accelerated trajectory at the elementary school level to determine whether the criteria is being implemented with fidelity.
  • Review the scope and sequence of the 5th grade accelerated course.
  • Consider more realistic expectations on what it means to “master” or “pass.” (70% versus 80%)
  • Reevaluate the Bridge program. Determine whether there should the bridge program for the elementary accelerated trajectory.
  • Review the expectations and communications to parents regarding the Bridge program.


Canvas Update

Interim Assistant Superintendent of Learning (Project Lead) Dr. Cynthia Heidorn introduced the Teachers on Special Assignment for Technology Integration (Tech TOSAs), who explained how they will be working with teachers in providing resources to support curriculum and instruction, building Canvas courses, collaborating to plan lessons using digital tools, sharing ideas for differentiation, and potentially team teaching, among other strategies. Dr. Heidorn then explained that Canvas would be used to provide a library of shared electronic resources for each course and subject area and would be a tool for teacher-student interactions, differentiation, and potentially blended or online summer courses. They also described how technology is most effectively used to support instruction and outlined examples of digital student content, curricular resources for teachers, and curricular communication with families. They went on to explain how Canvas is being rolled out to staff, with a gradual release of responsibility and building of staff capacity over three years. It was noted that parents would have access as an observer of their child’s Canvas classes in year two (2018-19) and that by year three, teachers should have a strong foundation for the system at which time they will utilize the more advanced features of the system and more resources would be rolled out to families. It was also noted that some teachers are moving faster in their use of Canvas, and some parents may, therefore, have earlier exposure to its tools.

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