Review of September 2013 School Quality Working Group Meeting
September's School Quality Working Group meeting was mostly focused on the structure of the group and our process going forward. The Quality Assurance subcommittee had asked for a discussion of their role and of whether they could proceed with their work before the Measuring Quality subcommittee determines what metrics should be used to measure school quality.
There was quite a bit of back and forth on this. In the end it was decided that the committee could start its work by laying some groundwork and making decisions on how any system would be implemented, reviewed, etc. I suggested that we might need to rename the subcommittees. Having the word "quality" in the name of the main group and two of the subcommittees was causing confusion, especially when people were shortening the names of all three to "quality committee." The group agreed and the subcommittees were renamed. The Measuring Quality committee is now called Metrics while the Quality Assurance committee is now Policy and Implementation.
I also raised the idea the the Policy and Implementation could be working on other EAC recommendations like determining how the new assignment plan should be monitored and what kind of data BPS should be making available.
The Community Engagement subcommittee reported that they had surveyed principals
In other SQWG news, Carolyn Kain, chair of SpedPac was overcommitted and decided to leave the group. She has been replaced by SpedPac vice-chair John St. Amand who will also take Carolyn's place on the Metrics subcommittee.
During public comment, three Teach Plus policy fellows, all teachers at the Roger Clap Innovation School, presented recommendations on measuring quality. They stressed professional culture, academic achievement, positive school culture, and curriculum and instruction as areas to measure. They also stressed retention of high performing teachers and school leaders, and handed out copies of a report on the issue.
The assignment plan
Thanks for the update.
It's a little off topic but since you mentioned the new assignment plan -
As far as what happens next on the assignment plan, last week BPS said that the new plan and information will be live on http://www.discoverbps.org on November 1.
There are also a series of informational meetings around the city in November and December:
On a related matter, they're doing a new Showcase format for prospective parents at all elementary / middle / K-8 schools on November 16th from 9 am to 1 pm:
Schools will also each be having a series of open house times for prospective new parents to visit, as in past years.
I know BPS has been busy and has been getting many other things done, and the environment is a little odd given the mayoral race - but I have to say I'm disappointed at the lack of updates on implementation of the new plan, especially as there were a number of issues to be finalized. It's a missed opportunity to continue to show the transparency and engagement that was a key to the EAC process.
There's been some comment on what the mayoral candidates will do with the new plan. But as a practical matter, I hope they both come to appreciate how this is the best possible plan right now, as Bill Walczak said during his campaign. (And to credit the EAC - I'd emphasize the "best" in that sentence - the fact that the EAC and Boston got to the best possible plan is worth recognizing, and was never a foregone conclusion.)
As many agreed during the EAC process, the real focus needs to be on improving school quality across the city, not tinkering with the plan. Improve the schools, and this flexible plan will adapt as schools change.
And that's where the SQWG will play an essential role.
More info coming
I do have some more information on the implementation of the new plan. I'll try to get a blog post up as soon as I can. There are definitely a lot of moving parts and BPS has been working pretty frantically to get everything ready. I agree that it would be unfortunate to go through the whole process again. We should give this plan a chance and focus on quality.