Madison Metropolitan School District
Madison, Wisconsin

Art Rainwater, Superintendent
BOARD OF EDUCATION
Minutes for Performance and Achievement
December 11, 2006
Doyle Administration Building
545 West Dayton Street, Auditorium
Madison, Wisconsin

Performance and Achievement Committee meeting was called to order by Chair Shwaw Vang at 6:07 p.m.

MEMBERS PRESENT: Carol Carstensen, Ruth Robarts, Shwaw Vang

MEMBERS ABSENT: None

OTHER BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT: Lawrie Kobza, Lucy Mathiak, Johnny Winston, Jr.

STUDENT REPRESENTATIVE PRESENT: Joe Carlsmith

STAFF PRESENT: Mary Gulbrandsen, Steve Hartley, Jack Jorgensen, Pam Nash, Clarence Sherrod, Welda Simousek, Lisa Wachtel, Barbara Lehman - Recording Secretary

1. Approval of Minutes

It was moved by Carol Carstensen and seconded by Ruth Robarts to approve the minutes of the Performance and Achievement Committee dated November 13, 2006 as distributed. Motion unanimously carried.

2. Public Appearances

Jeff Henriques supported credit for courses taken outside the MMSD. He thought asking children to go to another school across the district may be an imposition. He stated that there are many students like his son who want academic challenge and, if they cannot find it at their own school in some form, should get credit.

Lawrence Winkler wanted to the Board to consider modifying the entire credit process. Advocated for those students who are not quite prepared academically who need other alternatives and credit so they can catch up.

Janet Mertz distributed a cover memorandum and attached the following documents: "Guidelines for Coursework Outside MMSD" (included in the Board's packet as Exhibit 10); an e-mail regarding the Youth Options (included in the Board packet as Exhibit 2); MMSD "Youth Options (Y.O.) Guidelines for UW-Madison" dated July 2005 (included in the Board packet as Exhibit 3); MMSD "Youth Options (Y.O.) Guidelines for UW-Madison" dated July 2006 (included in the Board packet as Exhibit 4); the West High School Request Form to Receive Credit for Courses/Educational experiences taken Outside MMSD (Non-Youth Options Only)(Exhibit 5); the West High School Request Form to Receive Elective Credit for Courses/Educational Experiences taken Outside MMSD (Non-Youth Options; Not Offered Anywhere in MMSD, Non-Comparable, Non-Identical Courses) (Exhibit 6); an excerpt fro the West High Student/Parent Handbook highlighting Section 5 relative to eligibility for Honors or High Honors (Exhibit 7); and a Draft Proposal for a new MMSD BOE Policy regarding Coursework Taken Outside of the MMSD (Exhibit 8) (copies are attached to the original of these minutes).

Spoke to the district's many efforts to meet the needs of every individual student in all subject areas. She indicated that, unfortunately, there are about 100 high school students per year who fall through the cracks, and the reasons are as varied as the individual students. She suggested that everyone was in agreement that an additional, catch-all Board policy is very much needed for these numerous different scenarios in which students desire to take non-MMSD courses for reasons not already covered by existing laws and Board policies. It was her understanding that Exhibit 10 represented a new policy. She reviewed each of the exhibits. She urged the Board to approve her draft policy or a similar policy in place of the one Ms. Nash wrote. Alternatively, she asked that the Superintendent be charged to form a committee to study the problem and write a draft policy for the Performance and Achievement Committee to consider at a future meeting. In the interim, she wanted Ms. Nash's new "Guidelines" to be withdrawn and for the District to return to the policies that were in place last year until the Board officially approves a new policy.

Written registrations included four in support of credit for non-MMSD coursework.

3. Announcements

There were no announcements.

4. Disproportionate Number of Minority Students in Special Education

(Packets included a PowerPoint presentation on Disproportionality; flowcharts entitled, "Roles and Responsibilities of School-Based Staff and Teams; and a checklist to address exclusionary factors when considering special education eligibility determination. Copies are attached to the original of these minutes.)

Jack Jorgensen, Executive Director of Educational Services, gave the presentation entitled, "Addressing the Overrepresentation of African American and Native American Students in Special Education."

DISCUSSION:

Concern that district is over-identifying children, particularly in the ESL population. Confident that assessments are teasing out cultural, socioeconomic status, and racial factors.

Advantage to having a bilingual school psychologist conduct record reviews and serving on Individual Educational Progress (IEP) Teams.

Labeling only those who truly have a disability and those whose behavior interferes with learning; not the results of other things in their life.

Putting resources toward making the process of identifying and assessment more accurate and applying interventions to eliminate the behavior. Both are important; early intervention is critical.

Race and equity work needs to be tied to these efforts.

Within the state there are ten other larger urban school districts having significant disproportionality issues. Most of them are African American in terms of identification and least restrictive environment students excluded for greater periods of time. It is a national trend.

MMSD has much work to do but on the right track of how to respond to this at early stages then making sure the evaluation procedures are rigorous, non-biased, and culturally sensitive.

If students are labeled, their civil rights status changes because they are afforded certain entitlements.

Concern with teachers making referrals for kindergartners who are not close to the level where they should be. Law does allow a set artificial line that students will not be accepted, but school districts are required under the law to serve children ages 3-21. With very young children, efforts must be made to promote some discussion with the Building Teams and implement early interventions before considering moving to a referral.

Race is not a factor; it is a status that decisions cannot be based on.

Seems difficult to make changes if race cannot be used a factor. Criteria are applied very well.

There is a greater disproportionality of African Americans in special education at the high school level. Combination of reasons - 42 percent came in already with a label and IEP and 55 percent were African American. Ages of transfer students are older. Need to look more carefully at outward mobility.

Lower numbers for pre-schoolers: concern about children being under-identified. If coming through the district's Early Childhood program, might see less over the long term. Many come from birth-to-three program. Representation of students of color is relatively low. Also, many of the parents who refer children at the pre-school level know how to navigate the system. Have to do better reaching out to underrepresented groups making sure they have the same information on how to get their child screened or initiate a referral.

Even when socioeconomic status is taken into account, there is still a greater percentage of African Americans vs. white.

More prevalent for African American students than Latino students.

Issues of poverty - availability to learn.

Race does play a factor and the district has to look at it.

Process for very young students who are struggling and are not disabled: Decision-making process chart was referenced. Framework is where the work is at right now.

Numbers show that the MMSD, in comparison with other school districts, is still placing more children of color in special education, primarily African American. Has to be kept at the forefront of the Board's issues.

Department also gives information to the schools that they can look at directly and make decisions for plans to improve.

Mr. Vang hoped the next committee chair would request another presentation to see if progress is being made.

5. Policy and Procedure relative to Students getting Credit towards Graduation for taking Courses outside the MMSD

(Packets included a memorandum summarizing the ways a student may receive credit for taking courses outside of the MMSD and all supporting exhibits (12/5/06). Copies are attached to the original of these minutes.)

Pamela Nash briefly reviewed the packet materials. Nine of the items were board policies that speak to coursework outside the system. The tenth item was not a policy but a compilation of past practices and procedures. The nine options include University of Wisconsin (UW)-Madison extension courses, UW courses, open enrollment, the Youth Options Program, independent study, foreign exchange students, the Youth Apprenticeship Program, the At-Risk Program, and the Individualized Student Educational Plan (InSTEP) Program. She indicated that the "Guidelines for Taking Coursework Outside the District" attempt to look at past practices and bring closure around confusing issues and inconsistent application of these.

DISCUSSION:

Youth Options Program - confirmed that even if the district offers comparable courses, students can take courses elsewhere, e.g., UW or MATC, etc., as long as they pay for them. Only 11th and 12th grade students are eligible and there are deadlines to meet and procedures to follow.

Key policy decisions are how credit gets recognized, types of credit, and whether or not it is included in Grade Point Average.

Youth Options Program - confirmed that students can receive high school and college level credit.

Numbers for last year: Youth Options - 32, UW or Edgewood or MATC - 5, InSTEP - usually runs more than 3 per year (only 1 now).

Other "umbrella" - any work student have done can be listed on the transcript so that it is recognized; not necessarily for credit or figured into their GPA.

Reasons for taking courses outside of Youth Options, UW, or InSTEP - strong interest and willingness to delve deeper and further their education.

It was moved by Ruth Robarts and seconded by Carol Carstensen that the Board direct the Administration to: 1) freeze new procedures or guidelines for credit towards graduation for courses taken outside the MMSD until the Administration reports to the Board about whether current MMSD policies need to be updated or changed in view of any technological changes in the law and other opportunities; 2) develop a proposal on either the implementation and communication of the policies and procedures to parents and students for consistency across the district at the levels affected; and 3) have the Administration give the Board the pros and cons of adopting a policy like the one proposed by Dr. Mertz as a draft proposal.

DISCUSSION ON THE MOTION:

Full Board should weigh in on this issue. Interested in the "catch-all" concept.

Administration very willing to look at all of them, including Item 10, and see whether policies need revisions, need to be consolidated or a new one needs to be created. Have to consider Collective Bargaining Agreement, the key policy decisions (mentioned earlier), and the fact that coursework can always be illustrated on the transcript.

Ms. Robarts amended her motion, accepted as friendly by seconder, that the Administration review all nine of the policies, including the proposed "Guidelines for Coursework Outside the MMSD" for possible revision, consolidation, or propose a newly created policy.

DISCUSSION ON THE AMENDED MOTION:

Very difficult for students and parents trying to make sense of this. Recommendations should include how this might be made a simpler process to figure out so people can understand the issues of where credit is going to be given and how different things are going to be dealt with before getting to the next issue. That may solve some of the issues.

Interested in #3 under Exhibit 1: "The costs of an extension course(s) shall be less than the cost of employment of a teacher." Limits the number of credits because it seems that for the students who are more advanced this creates a dilemma. Agree, school counselors agree that this clarification would be welcome.

Motion unanimously carried.

6. Other Business

There was no other business.

7. Adjournment

It was moved by Ruth Robarts and seconded by Carol Carstensen to adjourn the meeting at 7:38 p.m. Motion unanimously carried.

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