Instruction and Curriculum Advisory Committee
Nov. 9, 2017, Meeting Minutes
Members Present: Rebecca Guest, Donna Norquay, Cindy Fagerlie, Bill Tomhave, Pam Gibb, Karen Jacowitz, Chizuko Shastri, Cassidy Bjorklund, Josh Haag, Ellie Viou, Leigh Dornfeld, John Wirries, Missy Eidsness and Michelle Dorsey.
Guests: Kari Yates, literacy and English learners program manager, Josh St. Louis, S.G. Reinertsen Elementary principal, Tony Huseby, assessment and federal programs coordinator, Jessica Rieniets, Spanish Immersion instructional coach, and Jeremy Larson, Horizon Middle School East Campus principal.
1. Approval of Oct. 12, 2017, Minutes
It was announced that this is Cindy Fagelie’s last committee meeting after 14 years on the School Board. Clarification was made to change “class” to say “class period” related to the co-teaching at Horizon East. Fagelie moved, Bill Tomhave seconded, to approve the minutes as corrected. Motion carried.
2. Spanish Immersion Program Update
Jessica Rieniets, Spanish Immersion instructional coach, provided an update to the committee. This is the first year with this new instructional coach position (.5 FTE SI coach/.5 FTE data coach). The Spanish Immersion Program expanded to grades K-6 this year. Classes are multi-age for grades 5-6 students with one class in English (social studies this year). In grade 7 Spanish Immersion students take Advanced Spanish (1 quarter), and in grade 8 they can take Spanish 8 in place of Chinese (1 quarter). Spanish Club is offered to Horizon students through Community Education. Students take traditional Spanish classes in grades 9-12. Last year grades 4-5 students were surveyed to see if they were planning to continue for grades 5-6. The number of immersion students decreased with the move to Horizon West.
The immersion curriculum follows state standards and mirrors the curriculum used in English classrooms. The classes also follow the district assessment plan, but use English and Spanish assessments. In grades K-2 instruction is in Spanish. English is introduced in grades 3-4 with word study and some writing projects. The addition of grade 6 programming led to the multi-age classes with grade 5 to maintain consistent programming. Curriculum operates on a rotating cycle so this year the grades 5-6 classes are using sixth-grade science and social studies curriculum. On Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments, the reading scores for grades 3 and 4 tend be about 20 percent higher than district average.
The addition of the SI academic coach means Rieniets is able to provide instructional coaching for immersion teachers and research best practice for immersion classrooms. She is also helping plan literacy professional development for the district.
There are 357 students enrolled in Spanish Immersion. The percentage of white students is higher than districtwide, but the program is more diverse than when it first began.
Goals include continuing to grow the program, including match the district demographics, continue the trend of three sections per grade level, and recruit highly qualified teachers. The goal is to have a K-12 plan to strengthen Spanish in grades 7-12. Rieniets said another goal is to provide intervention in Spanish. They are trying a pullout Spanish intervention for one kindergarten group and trying some EXCEL curriculum in Spanish. This way the intervention (reading small group and vocabulary) is in the language used in the classroom. Other goals are to educate district staff about the program, study research and apply best practices in classroom instruction, and plan for struggling students.
There was discussion about the need to strengthen the Chinese program. The struggle has been finding a middle school licensed teacher who can stay longer. They are looking at the possibility of a sister school in China. It was asked if Spanish 5 and 6 will be added at Moorhead High; that is dependent on number of students. It was discussed that with the higher levels, students stop taking language as a language, but focus on the subject, which requires teachers to have a dual license. Only a couple of teachers applied for the Spanish opening this year. Also immersion students want to be in electives. There was discussion about friction between English teachers and Spanish teachers. The program is more respected than when it first began. About half the teachers are native speakers and half are near-native speakers. Kindergarten continues to have a waiting list.
3. Title Update
Tony Huseby, assessment and federal programs coordinator, provided an update on Title I, II and III. Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), reauthorized as NCLB and now as Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), provides federal funds for schools with high percentages of children from low-income families. Title I and II are for working with students from low-income backgrounds based on free and reduced lunch counts. The district receives $1.2 million (similar to last year) to support Title I Part A (low income); $68,000 (up from last year) for Title I Part D (neglected and delinquent); $242,000 (down from last year and likely going away) to support Title II to train and retain teachers and principals; and $85,000 (up from last year) to support Title III (EL students). This changes each year depending on student populations and changes to the funding formula. The district employs approximately 14 FTEs with federal program dollars.
Huseby said the trend is for amounts to decrease. The free and reduced student numbers are going up in Minnesota, but not at the same rate as other states so federal funds to Minnesota are decreasing in general.
Title I is broken into nine categories this year (up from seven last year): continuous improvement, homeless, neglected and delinquent (support for tutoring, support at Red River ALC, support for equitable access to technology), foster care, parent and family engagement (Math Nights), non-public, general (Hopkins, Robert Asp, St. Joseph), LEA activities (Read 180, preschool and summer school), and administrative (indirect costs).
Robert Asp and Hopkins have schoolwide programs, which require a school to be at least 40 percent free and reduced lunch in the 2016-17 school year to apply for the 2017-18 school year. Last year Robert Asp was at 42.3 percent while Hopkins was at 52.9 percent. This year Asp is at 43.6 percent, and Hopkins is at 51.1 percent. Estimated free and reduced percentages for 2018-19 are: Ellen Hopkins, 47 percent; Robert Asp, 48 percent; S.G. Reinertsen, 32 percent; and Dorothy Dodds, 38 percent. Park Christian doesn’t participate. St. Joseph’s participates with a targeted services approach; non-public schools cannot be under a schoolwide program. The district has a teacher at St. Joe’s and can only serve students who would have been going to Asp or Hopkins.
Title II is broken into professional development, class-size reduction, which helps fund two positions for class-size reduction for primary grades, and general, which is a small amount for administrative costs. Title III is support for English Learners, but no teachers are funded from this. Kari Yates, literacy and English learners program manager, said with 520 EL students the federal funding is just a small part. The funds provide program support, including a part-time parent liaison, supplemental curriculum materials, and technology/software; professional development, including ongoing Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) training and an EL conference. The parent liaison position was moved to fulltime through a grant and some Title II funds, which is allowing for additional professional development and assistance for families. The top languages are Somali, Kurdish and Arabic. Spanish, which used to be the top language, is fourth.
Changes under ESSA required Minnesota Department of Education to provide a plan to the Department of Education. This was submitted in September. The state has not had a response yet. In 2018-19 new accountability requirements come into effect. Those include academic achievement on state tests, academic growth, graduation rates, progress toward English language proficiency, and at least one indicator of school quality or student success (ex. attendance/truancy). The greatest weight will be on the first four indicators. A funnel process will identify schools to receive support from Centers of Excellence.
There was discussion of the district’s Title I parent involvement plan and ideas that would provide meaningful opportunities for schools to collaborate with parents. Robert Asp and Hopkins each have about $4,000-$5,000 to use for family involvement with parents. Math Nights, We Are Hopkins Night and Dr. Seuss events have been used. Media center nights were used previously. There was discussion of busy schedules making it harder for families to attend and whether there are any opportunities to collaborate with the public library on events to connect schools, parents and the library together.
4. Review Horizon East and Moorhead High School Registration and Planning Guides
Jeremy Larson, Horizon Middle School East Campus principal, and Josh Haag, Moorhead High School assistant principal, reviewed the registration and planning guides with the committee. For Horizon East, the guide was updated to remove grade 6 information. Right now the guide is mainly used with new families, Larson said.
Missy Eidsness, assistant superintendent of learning and accountability, said the piece that needs to be strengthened grades 5-12 is how students are prepared to be life, career and college ready. She is formalizing the process of having the committee review the documents and the board approve them before students register.
There was discussion that the student activities information is outlined more in the student handbook and that there is some duplication of information between the planning guide and handbook. There was a question about letting students know early enough the requirements to meet in advance of applying for military or colleges.
Haag explained that most students are using the registration cards and word of mouth from their friends so families aren’t spending the time reading the course information in the guide. Counselors spend a lot of time working on scheduling in the spring, parents have to sign the registration cards, and students enter their courses online.
Eisdness said there has been discussion about whether to begin charging for transcripts and having the School Board set a fee. More research is being done on what other schools are doing. There was discussion about using an advisor system to have students work with teachers on planning in smaller groups. Haag said the freshmen ILT groups on Wednesday mornings are providing that for those students. The math department gives placements for students. It was mentioned that maybe some courses be offered every other year because they need 20 students to run. Revisions to the guidebook will be brought to the School Board in January for approval prior to registration.
Eidsness noted that Kara Gloe was elected to a one-year seat on the School Board based on unofficial results of the Nov. 7 special election. The law does not allow the board to appoint for the remainder of the open term. Results will be official after the canvass Nov. 13. Gloe will take her seat at the second board meeting in November.