MEETING NOTES - DECEMBER 8, 2016
Mr. Cox started the meeting using an example about the concept of taking information from a classroom when learning. “For example, we often use formative assessments or other information to inform the next lesson.” He continued to state that the techniques that are utilized in this process, one could use it in the classroom as well as the feedback gained to inform decisions. He reminded us that the group’s decision will impact students. He referred to a student from the committee who stated, “Going forward, we need to seek to understand others. We’re holding onto our beliefs and not really shifting.”
Mr. Cox proceeded to go thru a summary of all the previous meetings. The first two meetings were about setting up our values as a team, philosophies, passions, and constructive debate. “But tonight, we’ve reached a point to make a decision and arrive at a point of compromise.” He stated that if the committee could not make a recommendation tonight, that he would weigh all the feedback and make an informed decision.
The meeting agenda reviewed 3 forms of data: internal, external, pie chart and anecdotal notes. He said the agenda tonight was:
- Where are we now?
- Data Review and Discussion
- Identify yourself for a Regents percentage
- What is the middle ground you can live with?
He reiterated Covey’s quote to first seek to understand before being understood as a guiding principle moving forward. He reviewed the data and the first set of information showed that the GPA committee members wrote their suggestions for the weighting percentage:
- 20% - 7
- 16% - 1
- 12% -2
- 10% - 3
- 0% -3
Mr. Cox proceeded to show that he analyzed all the comments submitted using a highlighter to demonstrate the frequency of certain comments. He used a blue marker for 20% way high. Took a pink highlighter if it stayed the same. In between, he marked it as pink and blue. Mr. Cox spent 15 minutes reviewing and having members respond to the data. The following comments were made:
- 378 people say they do not know how a GPA is calculated but then proceeded to make an opinion in the next question.
- Responding the comment above, one member stated that you canvas public opinion but it should not drive the decision. You should trust the experts and it should come down from the people in the field. You trust a doctor and their course of treatment.
- Exams given by teachers and exams created by the State should be viewed differently with different weights. Final exams are important. However, RCT’s were taken away and this does not take into account the students who are failing because of the Regents while passing the class all year. The comments being made are in absence of the SWD and ENL population.
- I kept seeing that midterms should be reintroduced.
- Midterms were no longer used at the high schools because students were losing 1 week of instruction because the schools were testing.
- The exams are like a fifth quarter and it’s a lot to memorize at the end.
- The schools have in place quarterly exams to review what is learned. Students have opportunities to demonstrate what they know each quarter.
- There are also different ways to assess.
- What may be a challenge for one student may be an opportunity for another student.
- There has to be a middle ground.
- Tests cannot be seen as measures to reward or punish students. This language is obscuring what a test is. Tests measure skills and knowledge gained.
- Our system is not broken. The four quarters still represent 80% of an entire grade.
- There was an earlier comment made at another meeting about what is the purpose of an assessment? It’s measuring content and skills. And how much accountability should be there for students?
- Tests are a form of assessment. However, the State tests are not a measure of what our district teaches and not a reflection of our curriculum.
After the comments, Mr. Cox transitioned to the next activity which occurred twice. He stated that the group was going to write down what they hoped would be the weighting. And the goal was for individuals to find someone as far away from the weighting preference. Then with this person, there was a switch of cards and the other person had to find a way to articulate the other person’s point of view. After the discussion, Mr. Cox asked for feedback on what was learned from the think-pair-share and what were the words/phrases that made it successful. These were some of the comments during the reflection:
- We do have common ground by talking 1:1 there was an ability to compromise so all students can succeed.
- We asked each other - can you live with it? But it was more about - can our kids live with it?
- Where can we go? What could we possibly accept in this process?
- It was difficult to see if from someone else’s eyes.
- There is no statistical value from 0-12% for that weighting which made me change my mind.
Mr. Cox stated that he saw an exercise of vulnerable trust. And there was an honoring of one another’s strengths and perspectives.
Mr. Cox proceeded to use the example of Goldilocks to illustrate the next activity. “It’s too hot, too cold, just right.” The committee was given a range of percentages that they would be able to assert as their preference: 0-8%, 8-16%, 12-20%
The committee wrote their preference on an index card. Then members placed their index card with their range on a table. After it was sorted, the counts were: 0-8% - 2 people, 8-16% - people, 12-20% - 11 people. Members commented the final recommendations reflected the original memberships preferences. One member stated that since the most votes were in the 8-16 or 12-20% range, that the final weight should be from 12-16%. There were additional comments that more examination needed to be made on SWD and ENL students who were able to pass the Regents with a 55 for a local diploma as well as the weighting of points for AP classes vs. non-AP classes.
In summary, the majority of the cards were in the 12-20% range. Mr. Cox stated he would make a presentation to the Board on Monday. As a final exercise, members wrote their final reflections.
Here were some reflections:
- There was a practice of vulnerable trust.
- The team did a good job being respectful to understand all viewpoints.
- Compromise was an interesting exercise. I’m unsure how I feel.
- The 1:1 exercise was good. I’m disappointed by the outcome and I am disappointed that it’s not an option to break up the different populations. There are populations that were never represented in the vote.
- I think the process worked successfully to negotiate. Other opinions were equally valuable. The majority is still 12-20 and there was a compromise reached.
- This was an organized process. I thought it was great and it sets us up for a great future for other processes.
- I was proud of how we behaved.
- I think our team performed well.
- I was glad to see we all could compromise.
- I have worked on a lot of committees and this was a good process. I’m looking forward to a resolution. But on a numerical stance of data if it’s not 20%, it’s not going to make that much of a difference for a student for a final grade. It’s interesting where education exists now. We are considering a left brain approach. At what point will education be more right brain in its approach?
- I feel not everyone is happy. 8-16% could be more of the compromise than 12-20.
- I felt like the sum of the parts was greater than the whole. The team respected one another and honored one another’s viewpoints.
- I like trying to understand another person’s perspective.
- Good conversation and not my way or highway as it may have been in meetings last year.
- Very good communication.
- We excelled to move out of our comfort zone.
- Process was conducted very well. Interesting and I’d accept some compromise. There has to be a further review of graduation options for SWD and there is a mismatch for SWD and ENL students above 0%. There is a serious problem with the State and it baffled me that there is a total mismatch.