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Highlights from the February 19th Board of Education Meeting

Below are highlights of the February 19th Board of Education meeting.
Please remember, these are just highlights and should not be considered the official minutes.

Representatives from Excelsior and Oak Ridge Middle Schools shared updates on a wide variety of topics including standards based grading, Professional Learning Communities (PLC) and Project Lead The Way during the February 19th board meeting held in the media center at Excelsior Middle School.

Erica Rausch, Director of Middle School Teaching & Learning, started the work session by discussing the comparisons between traditional grading at the middle school level and the improvements that continue to be made with the standards based grading system.

Rausch explained that PLC groups, each made up of the same content teachers, set up a common scale to align to assessed standards. The PLC groups then aligned what’s assessed in each learning unit to the standards identified in the Iowa Core. A score was then determined by the collection of evidence that demonstrates proficiency of the assessed standard through the use of the common scale. Content teams also designed common summative assessments which are used at both middle schools to ensure consistency. Assessments are reviewed by content leaders, instructional coaches and administrators using a common scoring guide to analyze data, provide additional support (if needed) and guide instructional decisions.

Middle School Principals Travis Axeen and John Christian shared the categories that make up a course template with the school board (Unit of Study, Priority Standards, Essential Learning Outcomes, “I Can Statements,” Common Assessments Board Members simulate a PLC meeting[Formative and Summative] and examples of Rigor). An example proficiency scale and standards based report card were also shared and discussed. This is the first school year for standards based grading report cards. Prior to this school year, the middle schools prepared for standards based grading by prioritizing standards, putting together the scales and coming up with the common assessments.

The school board also engaged in a simulated PLC meeting to discuss student data. The board found the exercise to be very helpful in understanding the collaboration that takes place during PLC meetings. A takeaway from the exercise was the focus on ensuring consistency among content teams and among schools.

Board Meeting at ExcelsiorThe amazing efforts being made with Project Lead the Way were also discussed during the meeting. PLTW classes that have been introduced at the middle school level include: 6th grade App Creators, 7th grade Design and Modeling and App Creators, and 8th grade Robotics. An additional unit will be offered during the 2018-19 school year. A video of an 8th grade robotics class highlighting the work students are doing in Tim Stamp’s Industrial Technology class was also shared with the board.

During the regular meeting, the board discussed their visit to Oak Ridge Middle School and the IASB Day on the Hill event. While at the Capitol, board members met with Iowa legislators to discuss the extension of SAVE (penny sales tax), Education Savings Accounts, and Supplemental State Aid.

The Facilities Advisory Committee meeting held February 6th was also discussed by the Board of Education. During the Facilities Advisory meeting, the committee discussed the intention to continue to take steps forward with the goal of a September 11th vote seeking approval for the construction of two, new 5th-6th grade intermediate buildings. The Facilities Advisory Committee continues to meet and will provide a status update during the work session on March 5th.

The next meeting of the Board of Education will be March 5th at the Learning Resource Center.

To view the full agenda and exhibits please visit the Board/Policy website.