Mountain View Whisman School District Meetings April 2018

MVWSD Board Meetings, April 5th and 19th, 2018

In April the Mountain View Whisman School District Trustees reviewed the first and second trimester benchmark assessment results and took an in depth look at the 2017-2018 English Learner Board Goal.

Benchmark Assessment Report

The Benchmark Assessments are created by the district’s Assessment Task Force, a group of over twenty elementary and middle school teachers.  In kindergarten through second grade, math and English Language Arts (ELA) benchmarks are given each trimester and assess the standards covered during the trimester only. In third through eighth grade, the math and ELA benchmarks are given in the second and third trimesters and include content from the entire school year.  There is also a writing benchmark and an additional literacy benchmark called Literably.  The benchmarks help teachers track student learning during the school year in a less formal setting than the annual state testing.

The benchmark assessments were revised for this year, therefore it is not possible to compare this year’s data to last year’s results.  For kindergarten through second grade, the first trimester and second trimester results are not comparable because they test different content.  For the third through fifth grade benchmarks, the first and second trimester tests cover the same content and track growth over the course of the year.  The benchmark data can be found here.

2017-2018 English Learner Board Goal Update

In January 2017, the board created a goal to address the achievement gap between English Learners (ELs) and their peers.  The 2015 District Quality Review found that “The provision for English Language Learners across the District is ineffective, inconsistent, and, in many cases, counterproductive.”  The District Quality Review and Schools Reviews laid the groundwork for the Strategic Plan 2021 and the board’s EL goal for the 2017-2018 school year.

Research on English language acquisition, “indicates academic English language proficiency at 6-8 years,” according to the presentation. The board’s goal is to “Revise the English Learner program to ensure a minimum of 80% of students who are enrolled in the program will reach competency in the English language on par with their peers within a six year period.” This goal focuses on English Learner students who are  Long Term English Learners (LTELs) or at risk of becoming LTELs.  LTELs are middle school students classified as ELs for more than six years.  Students at risk of becoming LTELs are fifth grade students classified as ELs for six years (discussed in more depth in the November-December observer report).  Across the district, Long Term English Learners and students at risk of being LTELs total 177 students or 15% of the English Learner population.

In October, the board discussed how to achieve their goal by adopting English language development programs for students in upper and lower grades (included in the October observer report). For the current school year, the district chose separate approaches for the upper and lower grades. For the upper grades, the district adopted the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP), an instructional model to support ELs.  For the lower grades, the district originally planned to implement an evidence-based early learning language acquisition program for kindergarten through third grade. Heidi Smith, the district’s Director of Federal, State, and Strategic Programs, recommended the district create its own program drawing from different models reviewed, and the board agreed.

In April, the in-house K-3 Early Language Learning Safety Net for English Learners was unveiled. Rather than implementing a program across the elementary schools, the district will have a nineteen-day summer school for K-6, with a total of eleven classes.  Using curriculum developed by the district, the summer school will foster language development through science content.

For the 2017-2018 school year, the district also changed the English Learner goal for individual schools’ Single Plan for Student Achievement (SPSA).  The SPSA are plans developed by principals and staff at each school using goals driven by the board and student achievement data from the previous year.  This year, schools were directed to focus on LTELs and students at risk of becoming LTELs.  The previous year, schools had focused on increasing the performance of all ELs in English Language Arts and mathematics.

The April 5th board discussion focused on how to track English Learner student progress in light of the board goal.  Dr. Rudolph asked trustees what data they want the district to gather to measure the board’s success.  Each of the data tracking options focused on students who enrolled in the district for six years, meaning that if an EL student arrived after second grade they would not be included in the data used to measure the board’s success.  There are challenges with the quality of data management software used to monitor student progress.

Trustees decided the district should track students by cohort, separating students new to the district each year into subgroups.  Each year, the district loses and gains students at different grade levels. Only students enrolled in the district for at least six years will be used to measure the board goal.

— Devon Conley, Observer