10/5 Highlights: Summer School, Special Education

Welcome to Board Watch for WCCUSD’s October 5th Meeting!

At the October 5th Board of Education meeting, our school board members heard a presentation on the programs, offerings and data from WCCUSD’s recent 2016 summer school session, and a presentation on the programs and services provided by WCCUSD’s Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA).  The Board also held a public hearing regarding WCCUSD’s textbook and instructional material compliance for the current 2016-2017 school year.

To explore the full meeting agenda, click here.

WCCUSD’s 2016 Summer School Report

Nia Rashidchi, Assistant Superintendent of Pre-K to Adult Operations, presented on the different programs, results and data from WCCUSD’s 2016 summer school session.  Many board members felt similarly to Superintendent Matt Duffy, as he exclaimed that they all “wanted to take the time to go over what happened this summer.”  Summer school staff presented and answered the majority of information/questions.

At the beginning of the presentation, summer school staff highlighted several data points on student results from this past summer. Below are some of the points of discussion, among others:

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Staff also presented on their increased focus and promotion of blended learning (or web-based online learning) among teaching staff.  With blended learning, students learn in part through delivery of content and instruction via digital and online media.  Staff noted that although teachers were adapting to the focus on blended learning at different speeds, it has overall “helped build the teachers’ capacity to engage.”

The numerous Summer Enrichment Programs offered last summer were also discussed.  These programs exposed students to college-level coursework while promoting college as a viable option.  Acceptance to UC Berkeley programs listed below was determined based on family income and first-generation college eligibility.

  1. Academy of Art University
  2. UC Berkeley Pre-College Academy
  3. UC Berkeley Pre-College Trio Program

Staff also held an extensive conversation on WCCUSD’s summer camp program offerings, highlighting the immense need for summer programing district-wide, with a primary focus on Richmond.  A staff member assessed that “low income students’ summer learning loss adds to two-thirds of the achievement gap.” Summer learning loss refers to the loss of academic skills and knowledge over the course of summer vacation. The loss in learning varies across grade level, subject matter, and socioeconomic background.  The current summer school program lasted for 10 weeks at four pilot schools and received very high praise.  Both student and parents’ approval rates were well above 80% or higher, as many parents felt the program helped their children learn new skills to help in school.

Laura Rodriguez, who facilitated English Language Development (ELD) summer programming at Helms & Richmond High School, highlighted the strengths of the program and invited former WCCUSD graduate tutors to share their positive experiences and reflections on the program.  A former Richmond High senior shared that the “after school programs and teachers that care about their students made the difference” for him.

Board member Madeline Kronenberg was pleased, stating that “we have made immense progress in our summer offerings.”  Board member Todd Groves later encouraged people to “look at the things we can do.  The flexibility.  The freedom.  How can we get the most use of the people that we have with knowledge in the system?”

Review the full 2016 Summer School Presentation here.

Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) Overview

Special Education Director Steve Collins presented on the programs and services provided by WCCUSD’s Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA).

His presentation began with data confirming a decrease in the number of students served by disability.  He attributed this decrease to improved practices within the district.

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After discussing programming details, Mr. Collins shared some interesting graduation data points from the SELPA programming. The slide below presented the graduation rates of students in WCCUSD’s special education programs, indicating that the district has not yet met the target of encouraging more SPED graduates while reducing the drop-out rate.

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Mr. Collins also went into detail on his team’s focus on decreasing disproportionality within the Special Education student ratio.  Disproportionality refers to the over- or under- representation of a given population group defined by racial and ethnic backgrounds.  Historically, young African American males have been over-identified in Special Education.  The district met its goals in regards to ensuring no single ethnic group was disproportionately identified or represented in Special Education.

Mr. Collins closed out the presentation by outlining his team’s next steps, which include assigning a task force to visit neighboring districts to observe strategies for increasing graduation rates and decreasing dropout rates.

Review the full SELPA Presentation here.

Public Hearing: Grades K-12 Textbook and Instructional Materials Compliance for 2015-2016

In accordance with California Education Code guidelines, the Board held a public hearing after which it determined, through a resolution, that every student in each WCCUSD school has the sufficient textbooks and instructional materials aligned to academic standards and consistent with state guidelines.  Ms. Rashidchi was pleased to report 100% textbook sufficiency and that the required documentation was signed off by each teacher and principal in the district.  She also noted that the process was very diligent and thorough, as her team physically visited a majority of classrooms to ensure students had the required materials on hand.

Although the Board was satisfied with the 100% sufficiency mark, many wondered if the books were up to current educational standards.  Upon further questioning, it was named that the high school math textbooks are not currently aligned with the Common Core State Standards.  Board member Valerie Cuevas noted the Board was “just making sure that we’re meeting the definition of the resolution that we’re being asked to pass.  Just making sure that we’re clear that there is a gap in [Common] Core alignment.”  Rashidchi assured the Board that although WCCUSD’s high school math textbooks aren’t currently aligned, there is much work being done in the Math department to support teachers with curriculum guides and supplemental materials.  Rashidchi informed the Board about the process and timeline for receiving Common Core-aligned math textbooks and curriculum.  She explained that “the state really wants to look at the framework.  Then there’s another year where the publishers have to look at the requirements.  The same goes for ELA requirements.”

Board member Kronenberg shared that she had “received feedback from students that the books at one school are very different from school to school. Does that fit into this? Specifically with social studies.”  New Student Board Member Dominic Ojeda then added, “Our school’s textbooks went to another school’s classroom.”  Rashidchi offered up the possibility that older textbooks of the same edition are being circulated across different schools.  She did, however, name that “we would have people here coming in if there was a problem.  We need very specific scenarios so we can do some deeper investigations.”

After further discussion, Board member Valerie Cuevas closed discussion by stating, “If there is an issue, we need to bring it up.  This is a high standard, and we have to work to reach it.  If anybody wants to raise those concerns, then we should do it now.”

The Board ultimately approved the resolution.

Review the Grades K-12 Textbook and Instructional Materials Resolution here.

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