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Lifelong Learning

ISD#152 Instruction & Curriculum Advisory Committee

April 13 ICAC Meeting

When: April 13, 2017

Where: Probstfield Center for Education Board Room


  1. Introductions
  2. Minutes from March 16, 2017
  3. Ellen Hopkins Update
  4. Robert Asp Update
  5. Moorhead High School Update
  6. Other 


Instruction and Curriculum Advisory Committee
April 13, 2017, Meeting Minutes
Members Present: Leigh Dornfeld, Mary Flesberg, Julie Wellnitz, Josh Haag, Cassidy Bjorklund, Chizuko Shastri, Pam Gibb, Bill Tomhave, Carol Ladwig, Teresa Shume, Karen Jacowitz, Missy Eidsness and John Wirries.
Guests: Ryan LaDage, Ellen Hopkins Elementary principal, Chris Triggs, Robert Asp Elementary principal, and Dave Lawrence, Moorhead High School principal.
1. Approval of March 16, 2017, Minutes
It was clarified that Naiku is an assessment piece different from Haiku. Mary Flesberg moved, Julie Wellnitz seconded, to approve the minutes. Motion carried. Missy pointed out the Imagination Playground sets in the board room, which were described in the March minutes.
2. Ellen Hopkins Elementary School Update
Ryan LaDage, Hopkins Elementary principal, provided committee members with an update on the 2016-17 improvement plan for Hopkins. This year they framed their goals around the state average. They are:
  • Math: Grades 3-5 Hopkins students will increase their overall math achievement from 49 percent to 60 percent on the MCA test, with a proficiency of 40 percent for free and reduced student group.
  • Reading: Grades 3-5 Hopkins students will increase their overall reading achievement from 52 percent to 60 percent on the MCA test, with a proficiency of 41 percent for free and reduced student group
  • Culture and climate: All students at Hopkins will feel that their principals and teachers help them prepare for the next grade. (Uses a school survey to assess.)
LaDage identified wins and successes in several areas. In academics, a significant change was the adoption of Bridges and Number Corner, which have been embraced by teachers. It is more work for teachers with the prep and planning, but worth it, he said. It also brought grade-level professional learning communities (PLC) together because each grade level had a Bridges pioneer for other teachers in the grade level to go to as a resident expert. Teachers already are noticing a difference in student performance, he said. PLCs have been another focus with connecting the PLCs to professional development, student assessment analysis and instructional coaching. For English learners, the EL teachers are working with the mathematics coach on vocabulary, using data proficiently, and thinking about their groups more flexibly. Literacy learning walks continued this year with a focus on differentiated instruction. There was Leveled Literacy Intervention training for Title, special education and EL teachers. Families attended the math night and Fathers Reading Every Day event, including some families who haven’t attended previously.
Hopkins completed its second year of state Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) training. The counselor continues to lead initial Second Step character education lessons with teachers doing follow-up lessons. The principals, teachers and support team meet about students who are struggling and identify supports. They bring data to discuss how interventions are going. In academics if an intervention isn’t working then it’s changed. This year they are trying to do that with the behavior interventions also. Student and staff recognition continues with Spud PRIDE (prepared, respectful, integrity, determination, excellence) tickets and school-wide expectations and incentives. Spud-Tacular student awards and staff 1 Degree of Difference Awards are presented. School culture includes the cultural week / We Are Hopkins Night with speakers and activities that shine a spotlight on the various cultures that make up the Hopkins community. Two English learner parent liaisons were added this year.
An area for growth for academics is professional development focused on small group, differentiated instruction for both reading and math, and areas of growth for PBIS are common classroom expectations and additional student recognition.
There was discussion that with 150-160 fewer students next year there will be more space in the school and smaller specials classes. Spanish immersion enrollment is following the same trend with the current grade 3 low, and grades K-2 still high. For grades 5-6, only five or six families out of 70 students are not planning to continue immersion at Horizon.
4. Robert Asp Elementary School Update
Chris Triggs, Robert Asp Elementary principal, provided an update to the committee. He also said things will look different at Robert Asp next year with fewer students. The Robert Asp school improvement plan is organized around their data review/needs assessment. The first need was to provide all staff with training to recognize and address trauma. Heather Simonich, licensed trauma trainer, provided on-site training for teachers and paraprofessionals with an emphasis on identification and best practice strategies to work with students identified as children impacted by significant trauma. Teachers learned how to set up trauma-based classrooms with a “break” spot in their classroom for helping students de-escalate and regulate and teaching this practice to students during social skills time.
The next need was to train new staff throughout year with PBIS and classroom management plans. Each classroom has a classroom management plans visible and accessible on their teacher desk. All plans need to have a positive reinforcement system identified as well as expectations and procedures. Another need was for their morning newscast to have videos that teach school-wide procedures and expectations and to continue social skills curriculum during scheduled morning meetings. The newscast is connected to the social skills curriculum and monthly SPUD meetings recognize individual students for exemplifying the monthly theme.
For reading, there were needs to increase parent engagement in reading at home with students who have a reading intervention, to increase student motivation for struggling readers, and to develop a consistent school-wide reading log. Each grade level has a consistent reading log and expectations for reading time at home was established through the literacy committee (20 minutes a night for primary and 30 minutes a night for intermediate students). It is a school-wide expectation to have the reading logs and planners signed by parents, and two monthly SPUD meetings are used to recognize students who regularly complete their reading logs.
A large goal was to have classroom teachers utilizing small groups and conferring with all students (Title, special education, high achievers, etc.). Ginger Hill, a retired Reading Recovery trainer, worked with specialists on being good reading teachers. Teachers have worked hard to establish small group reading instruction and be able to assess student reading needs to establish the focus for the lesson. Additionally a Summer Reading Institute and a monthly book study were provided. The final need was to implement the new Bridges mathematics curriculum, to provide teachers professional development to implement the curriculum, and to follow Number Corner with fidelity with pacing guides used by all team members. They are seeing good things in the first year of implementation. There was discussion of challenges with mobility of students and whether new math curriculum will affect MCA scores.
3. Moorhead High School Update
Dave Lawrence, Moorhead High principal, highlighted several areas from the school improvement plan for the committee. They have continued with math support classes. Lawrence explained that if students are not at Intermediate Algebra II in grade 9, they likely won’t gain the required skills they need before taking the MCA math test as juniors. The intermediate algebra support class has 22 student enrolled, and through semester 1, 15 of 22 students had received passing grades. Geometry support has 14 students enrolled; 10 of 14 students are receiving passing grades. Advanced algebra support has 15 students enrolled, and 14 students are receiving passing grades. Students need to pass advanced algebra to graduate. Thirty-five students are enrolled in reading enhancement classes (Reading Plus), and 27 students (77 percent) enrolled did not fail a first semester class compared to 70 percent in 2015-16. In Reading 180, 19 of 23 students enrolled did not fail a first semester class.
Lawrence said attendance has been a priority for the last four years as they have worked to reduce instructional time missed because of in-school and out-of-school suspension. In 2016-17 111 students missed 1,087 class periods over three quarters. This is up from last year when 73 students missed 791 class periods, but improved from 297 students missing 3,194 class periods over the first three quarters in 2012-13. A number of the students this year are on IEPs so they need to work with learner support services to see what needs to be done for these students.
AVID or Advancement Via Individual Determination has three classes this year and will expand to all four grades next year. AVID I has 22 ninth-grade students with 19 of 22 students (86 percent) enrolled in an honors, AP, world language or music class for the 2016-17 school year. The AVID II class has 23 tenth-grade students with 18 of 23 students (78 percent) enrolled in an honors, AP, world language or music class for the current school year. In AVID III 14 of the 18 eleventh-grade students are enrolled in an honors, AP, world language or music class for the current school year. Without the AVID guidance students wouldn’t have registered for some of these courses.
This year four Sheltered Instruction courses were offered to English Learners: English, intermediate algebra, physical science and world history. For English, 16 of 17 students enrolled were passing at the end of first semester. In intermediate algebra, 16 of 16 students enrolled were passing at the end of first semester. For physical science, 19 of 21 students enrolled were passing at the end of first semester. In world history, 12 of 16 students enrolled were passing at the end of first semester. The courses were developed to help English learners meet graduation requirements. Programming has had to change to support EL students who are older when they enter the high school.
4. Other
Missy Eidsness shared that a kindergarten information night is planned for April 20 at Probstfield. About 395 students are registered, but the projection is for about 500-550 students. The night gives families another chance to ask questions.
Eidsness said many staff will be moving next year. Packing/moving directions will be shared with staff hopefully today, but they understand there is no way to relieve anxiety completely. There was a gathering for all teachers who will be at Horizon West to meet each other. Eidsness acknowledged that parents are feeling nervous too. The furniture orders are being finalized to make sure furniture arrives in time. Schedules are tight for completing everything by fall.
The new elementary attendance areas were set in October, and parents saw those at conferences. Parents will be receiving information about the teachers assigned to the schools and the attendance areas. Everything is still based on the best projections the district has at this time. Eidsness said moving kindergarten back to the schools will allow for a professional development room at Probstfield and for Community Education and Early Childhood Family Education to return. If funding changes, additional preschool sections may be added. Preschool will have gym time next year, which wasn’t always available with the space limitations.
Moorhead will host a Level IV special education program for Lakes Country Service Cooperative at Probstfield. This will serve elementary special education students who require more specialized and intensive services. It provides better funding for LCSC to have the program than the district.
There was discussion of teacher shortages. Eidsness said it has been severe the last three years with five candidates for positions compared to 50 candidates previously. Smaller districts are using variances for science teachers. Moorhead is competing with Fargo and West Fargo for teachers. Positions such as the industrial technology one at Moorhead High will be difficult to fill. Eidsness would like to hire someone with an ag education degree because of the flexibility that allows.