Review of June - August 2013 School Quality Working Group Meetings
I am now several months behind in reporting on meetings of the School Quality Working Group. This post represents my attempt to get caught up. I’m sure I’ve forgotten much of what happened over the last few months, but I’ll try to capture all the key points.
Our June meeting was held a few days early on May 29th. Co-chair Harden Coleman started the meeting by talking about the composition of the group. Several people had raised the fact that no current BPS teachers were members. Harden said that we would engage teachers and principals during the community engagement process, but that the chairs didn’t want to make the group any larger than it already is. However, Superintendent Johnson entered later and after the issue was raised during community comment said that BPS was looking into adding a teacher. Since then, Rebeca Garcia-Escobar, a science teacher at Margarita Muñiz Academy was added to the working group.
There was a fair amount of discussion of how we could use the MCAS and other performance measures including the upcoming PARCC assessments which are coming to Massachusetts in 2015. Mostly, issues were raised about how comprehensive these assessments are, how to compare schools with very different populations, how to measure achievement for special needs students who do not take the assessments, etc. All of this will need to be revisited in detail later in the process.
The next topic covered was subcommittees. The group will have three subcommittees:
• Community Engagement – This subcommittee will focus on how to engage a wide range of Boston residents in the school quality conversation.
• Quality Assurance - Recommend policies for an overall accountability system with rewards and consequences to ensure quality for all students, specifically utilizing an agreed-upon public review process and basic standard of performance.
• Measuring Quality – Determine how to weight and quantify measurements for school performance and opportunity.
There was some discussion over the difference between the Quality Assurance and Measuring Quality subcommittees and whether they could work in parallel. I think the best way to think of the quality assurance subcommittee is that it will create a process for monitoring both the assignment system and BPS's progress towards improving quality. This could include specifying what kind of data BPS would release and how often, defining what any outside review would consist of, etc.
The next meeting was held July 10th. This meeting was mostly devoted to subcommittee breakouts. I was assigned to the Measuring Quality subcommittee. Each subcommittee has a BPS staff member assigned to it. Nate Kuder, Director of Performance Management for BPS, is assigned to the Measuing Quality subcommittee. Our discussion was fairly open about what types of factors we might measure and how we would go about deciding what to measure. Nate took notes which can be found here.
The August 7th meeting was also mostly taken up by subcommittee breakouts. The Measuring Quality group discussed creating a framework for measuring and reporting on quality. Nate suggested that each member choose a couple of other districts and review what they’re doing. He will try to find out which districts are doing interesting things as far as measuring school quality so that we can determine which ones we will look at. Rahn Dorsey, one of the subcommittee’s co-chairs, also suggested that we identify people who we would like to talk to in order to learn more about how school quality can be measured.
Minutes of all meetings and other documents are posted on the School Quality Working Group resources page when they are available.
The full group’s next meeting is September 11 at 6pm, location TBA. It is expected that the subcommittees will start meeting independently of the full group soon.
Any questions on the Working Group? Post them in the comments.