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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Standards-Based Elementary Report Card Proposed

The Board heard a proposal to implement a standards-based report card in elementary schools to provide parents with more precise information on student achievement. The proposal rose from more than two years of study by a committee of teachers from every school, special education experts and education technology specialists. It was brought to the Board in a Study Session by Evidence-Based Learning Elementary Director Amber Roderick-Landward and about a dozen teachers who are piloting the report card at six Canyons schools.

Several principals and teachers since 2009 have asked that the report card be revised so it can serve as a precise, stand-alone communication about student performance and the areas in which students need assistance. The standards-based report card committee convened in fall 2010 and, following more than two years of study, created the proposed I-CANyons report card. The report card is intended to align with the state core curriculum, communicate to parents specific learning goals and student progress toward those goals, help teachers guide instruction and target student interventions, and help parents better understand in what areas their children need help. The report card is being piloted in 92 classrooms at Bella Vista, Bell View, Crescent, East Midvale, Sprucewood, and Willow Springs elementaries. Several teachers from those classrooms testified to the Board that it has helped them to master the core curriculum, reflect on instruction and student achievement data, target interventions and inspired more productive conferences and partnerships with parents.

Board Member Tracy Cowdell favored the report card and rolling it out districtwide next fall. Board Member Chad Iverson expressed dismay that parents were not involved in the committee to create the report card. Board Vice President Steve Wrigley said he likes the concept but wants input from parents. Board Member Kim Horiuchi said report cards are teacher tools to communicate with parents, and thus should to be created by teachers. Region 17 PTA President Betty Shaw said she is impressed with the proposal, and said it will help parents help their children at home. She advised against involving parents in the report card’s creation because parents are not professional educators. But she favored holding a forum to inform parents about the report card and answer their questions. Board President Sherril Taylor said the Board will discuss the proposal again in a Study Session.

To listen to the presentation, or to view supporting documents, please visit BoardDocs and click Agenda Item 2A.

Patron Comments

Patron comments focused on the proposed standards-based report card for elementary schools.

Twelve speakers, including several educators from Crescent View Middle School, where standards-based report cards have been in place for several years, said they have seen positive results with the report card. They said it gives parents a better understanding of student achievement, and do not want to go back to the former report card. Some said standards-based report card preparation was more efficient and meaningful to parents, helps teachers target student interventions, and increases school accountability and transparency. They said students should not have to wait any longer for the more accurate performance diagnosis.

Three speakers favored holding off another year on the proposal, or letting school communities decide whether to implement it in the fall or wait a year. They said teachers have been implementing several changes in the past few years, including a new core curriculum and grade reconfiguration. Some said teachers need more than four hours of professional development, and more paid time off to complete report cards. Canyons Education Association President Ross Rogers said he supports the report card but must represent all Canyons teachers, who he said have come down on both sides of the issue.

To listen to the comments, please visit BoardDocs and click Agenda Item 5.

School Calendar Process Discussed

The Board expressed a desire to ensure the academic calendar and calendaring process are more efficient and consistent. Planning and Enrollment Director Ben Lems said calendar options are created based on letting out of school no later than two weeks after Memorial Day and the Board’s direction regarding professional development and end-of-term grading days. The Board will further discuss the matter.

Board Action

The Board approved the Consent Agenda, which includes the March 5 Minutes; student overnight travel for Alta Debate, Brighton Shakespeare Team, CTE FBLA, and Jordan Football and Wrestling; Purchasing Bids; February Financial Reports; Home School Affidavit; February Hires and Terminations; Butler Middle School Cell Antenna Site Lease; and the sale of the CTEC student-built house.

The Board approved the Alta Marching Band stipend.

The Board directed the Administration to begin work on an Audit Committee to ensure compliance with new State Board of Education fundraising rules.

The Board tabled Item 7A, the Fund-Raising and Athletic Compliance, for future discussion.

Legislative Update

Chief of Staff Charles Evans said Canyons and public education fared relatively well at the 2013 Legislative Session, but wished a little more than 2 percent increase could have been given to the WPU (the state’s basic per-student funding formula) and retirement could have been funded. He was pleased that the equalization bill did not pass, and thanked Dr. Brian Bentley of Hillcrest High School for communicating to legislators the benefits of the International Baccalaureate Program. He said the House Speaker and Senate President will chair a task force this summer to pinpoint ways to improve education. Cowdell and Horiuchi said they were pleased with Evans and his staff’s ability to form and maintain good relationships with legislators.

Superintendent’s Report

Superintendent David Doty thanked the Board for hearing the elementary standards-based report card proposal and the academic staff, teachers and principals for their testimony and service. He said the proposal shows the best ideas come from the people on the ground. He noted the CEA doesn’t represent the majority of Canyons teachers. He said the time is right to implement the report card. He noted the comments of Crescent View Middle Principal Greg Leavitt, who said teachers should be treated like doctors and given the tools to accurately diagnose what students need, and Sprucewood Kindergarten Teacher Cathy Graham, who said that the report card is a tool parents have been seeking. He said he hopes the Board will seriously consider adopting the proposal for next school year.

CFO Report

CFO Keith Bradford said the District should not be afraid to change and do what’s in the best interest of kids.

Board Reports

Robert Green said that he was dismayed at comments expressed at the last meeting that Midvale is a community in decline, and noted that Hillcrest is home to seven National Merit Scholar finalists and two students earning perfect ACT scores. He praised students’ efforts and dedication, and praised the schools, teachers and administrators in Midvale. He said he was unable to visit schools in the past two weeks due to illness. He said Canyons must innovate, much like Toyota did decades ago to improve its products, which now lead the market. He said Canyons must move forward with proposals that can revolutionize education and serve as a model district.

Horiuchi said she appreciated Green’s comments about innovation. She noted voters created Canyons, and the Board hired Dr. Doty, to innovate and forward a new vision for public education. She said she hopes the legislative task force will view Canyons’ accomplishments as a resource. She noted the words of Principal Leavitt, who said teachers need the Board’s support to innovate. She said she wished that the proposed report cards had come to the Board earlier so her children could have experienced it, and that the Board mustn’t delay in helping children. She said she attended the Hillcrest production of Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida, praised its professionalism and said she wished she could experience it again.

Board 2nd Vice President Nancy Tingey last week toured the construction site of the Bengal Building at Brighton High. She said it was exciting to see the building come together after working on the project as a community member. She thanked the District and former Board of Education for making the addition possible.

Wrigley said he appreciates the educators who spoke to the proposed elementary standards-based report card. He attended the open house at the Canyons Technical Education Center and was amazed at the excitement of teachers and students there. He praised Willow Canyon’s upgrades and improved learning environment. He enjoyed observing the teaming process at Albion Middle, where teachers collaborate to address student needs. He attended Sandy’s anti-pornography workshop with Tingey and was impressed with the effort. He saw the CTEC homebuilding project, and attended Alta High’s Advanced Placement History symposium, where about 300 students statewide gathered to hear a Stanford University speaker.

Iverson said he appreciated Rogers’ comments and those of others regarding the proposed elementary report card. He noted the Board had not yet heard President Sherril Taylor’s impressions of the proposal. He said he hopes the Board could agree that a standards-based report card is a good thing, but hopes the Board also will entertain questions and concerns raised, and examine the possibility of a gradient report. He said he wants to get input from his constituents, and said it was a mistake to not include parents in the committee. He said he received interesting feedback about the proposal from his own children.

Taylor thanked everyone for addressing the Board and for the informative Study Session. He said he favors the proposed elementary report card. He noted he is a former educator, and said the work of teachers over two years’ time cannot be disregarded. He said he believes the excitement expressed by teachers who are working with the new report card will transfer to those who begin working with it in the future. He said he wants to talk more about the proposal in the next meeting and is sure the Board will hear from patrons in the meantime. He also thanked Board members for their work to study proposed policy, meet with people and visit schools.

Closed Session

The Board met in Closed Session for the purpose of discussing collective bargaining; the character, professional competence, or physical or mental health of an individual; and the purchase, exchange or lease of real property.

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Lucie Chamberlain

Alta View Elementary

If a movie about super teachers were ever made, Lucie Chamberlain would be a prime candidate for a leading role. Fortunately for her kindergarten students at Alta View Elementary, she already thrives in a supporting role for them. Parents thank her for being a “super teacher.” She is also described as an “amazing colleague.” Whether students need help in the classroom or from home while sick, Lucie goes above and beyond to help them learn, overcome fears, and feel important and cared for. Lucie is the reason a number of kids went from hating school to loving it, according to parents. The way she exudes patience, sweetness, positive energy, and love for her students with special needs melts is appreciated and admired. One parent noted: “Both my kids wish she could be their teacher forever.” Another added:  “She treats every student like their learning and their feelings are her priority.” Super teacher, indeed!

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