Instruction and Curriculum Advisory Committee
Jan. 19, 2017, Meeting Minutes
Julie Wellnitz, Sadie Anderson, Karen Jacowitz, Chizuko Shastri,
John Wirries, Missy Eidsness,
Carol Ladwig, Bill Tomhave and Pam Gibb.
executive director for learner support services, and
Tony Huseby, assessment and federal programs coordinator.
1. Approval of Dec. 8, 2016, Minutes
Carol Ladwig moved, Bill Tomhave seconded, to approve the minutes. Motion carried.
2. Special Education Update
Duane Borgeson, executive director for learner support services, provided an update to the committee. He explained that about 1,200 students ages 0-21 are being served through special education. Special education is about 12.85 percent of district students. The highest percentage of students (about 22 percent) is being served for developmental delay. The other main areas are speech and language services, specific learning disabilities, other health impairments, and autism spectrum.
Borgeson provided data showing the 2015 special education graduation rate. The four-year graduation rate is just under 60 percent with about 15 percent dropping out or unknown. The six-year graduation rate is more than 70 percent, but the dropout rate remains high.
On both the reading and mathematics Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments and the alternative test the MTAS, students receiving learner support services scored similarly — approximately 20 percent of students met or exceeded the proficiency target while more than half of students did not meet the proficiency target. Borgeson said only one percent of students take the MTAS. The district has had a variance to allow about 2 percent to take the MTAS. Most students receiving learner support services take the regular MCA even though the district has a significant number of students with high needs. There was discussion that special education status is not on the transcript, work is being done for English learners to distinguish between language or special education need, and that low performance of a student on the MCAs could impact scores in several subgroups.
The goal related to instructional setting is to increase the percentage of students who are educated in regular classrooms at least 80 percent of the day from 54 percent to 63 percent. For the 2014-15 school year, 54 percent were served inside the regular class for 80 percent or more of the day. Only .22 percent were served in off-site programs or facilities. Borgeson explained that if high school students are out of the regular setting for one block, then they fall under setting 2, which is being served inside the regular classroom for 40-79 percent of the day. Setting 3 is if more than 60 percent of the time they are served out of the regular classroom. Starting at age 11 more students are served in settings 2 and 3 than in setting 1, which is tied to schedules used at the middle school and high school level.
Areas of emphasis for the district are to focus on students being general education students first so they are exposed to the general education curriculum, which helps for performance on MCAs. There is a co-teaching pilot at the middle school this year with pairs of general education and learner support services teachers working together with flexible groups in the classroom. While there have been some bumps, the feedback has been positive. The new Bridges math curriculum’s design is good for students with disabilities so they are hoping for good results with that being implemented. The district continues to intervene with students early (ages birth to five) to provide services. Other efforts include alternative delivery and early mental health treatment, which includes work with kindergarten students, adding a district-wide PBIS committee (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support) and mental health coaching for staff.
3. Indian Education Act, Concurrence Report for 2016-17
Donna Norquay, American Indian home school liaison, shared the Moorhead Indian Education Resolution with the committee. Every year this needs to be submitted to the state to make sure needs of students are met. Norquay said the report looks similar each year, and she highlighted some of the changes. The Indian Education parent committee still needs to review the concurrence plan before it goes to the School Board.
Under the area of staff development/curriculum integration, progress includes the creation of an American Indian page on Haiku to provide staff with curricular information/resources and the purchase of books on the alphabet and numeral identification with American Indian content for the Probstfield media center and kindergarten classrooms (there are 21 American Indian kindergarten students this year). Minnesota has strong English language arts standards that include the American Indian standards.
The Minnesota Indian Education formula aid grant is no longer competitive, but is instead provided based on student numbers. This is used to fund AVID training, tutors, school supplies and the liaison’s salary. AVID was initially implemented tied to the Indian Education funding to help students gain skills to be successful. Missy Eidsness, assistant superintendent for learning and accountability, said students have to agree to be in AVID, but that all students receive AVID in grade 6. AVID elect is offered in grades 7-11 and will expand to grade 12 next year. Another area of focus for Indian Education is to attend IEP meetings with parents. About 30 percent of students are in special education, and monitoring is done to make sure there isn’t overrepresentation of students being referred for learner support services or alternative programs.
Tutors are hired for American Indian students at Moorhead High School and Horizon Middle School and now adding Probstfield kindergarten. Specialized staff development for tutors is ongoing. It was explained that three different funds support Indian Education: federal Title VII grant, state grant and Johnson O’Malley funds. All have their own requirements. The Title VII grant has paid for the tutor at Red River ALC. JOM funds focus more on cultural programming. Previously Ojibwe language class was offered, but now a Dakota language class has been added. Other classes include the beading class and shawl making, which are offered at Red River Area Learning Center. The Moorhead program collaborates with Fargo and West Fargo Indian Education Programs to offer joint events/trainings such as the 6-8 p.m. Jan. 25 drum and dance night at Horizon with soup served.
It was mentioned that Donna should talk to Julie Wellnitz, program manager for media services, related to purchasing for the new schools’ media centers. Norquay was asked what area would she want to see further support if funding were available. She indicated the greatest need would be transportation funding for summer school, after-school Excel and a late bus route at Horizon.
There was discussion about whether a career fair is being planned again and that committee members were being invited to attend focus groups as part of the High School Task Force process.
Eidsness explained that the calendar committee has drafted two school calendars, and all staff will have the opportunity to comment on the drafts. Feedback is usually split between those who want longer breaks and those who want to end the school year earlier. In recent years the district has moved away from the longer winter break because students on free/reduced-price meals may need the support of school meals. Changes to the agreement with the teachers union will move professional development/professional learning community time to monthly half days instead of the hour after school because of the length of day. Eidsness said the half days will allow time to get some quality work done, but the time still needs to be spread out the over the year. This creates more days off for students in the schedule. Adding a longer spring break extends the school year further into June. There was discussion from committee members about advantages to ending the year earlier vs. having more or longer breaks.