MVWSD Board Meetings, November and December, 2017
The Mountain View Whisman Board of Trustees met on November 2nd and 16th and on December 7th. The meetings included a review of the Single Plan for Student Achievement (SPSA) for each school, updates from task forces and PTA’s, a review of the interim budget and oversight committee updates. The November/December observer’s report focuses on the Board’s election of officers, presentations by Listos Mountain View and Landed, an update on a new middle school schedule, and the SPSA’s presented by each principal.
Election of Officers
The Board of Trustees elected Laura Blakely as President of the board, Jose Gutiérrez Jr. as Vice President, and Tamara Wilson as Clerk.
Listos Mountain View
The Board heard from Listos Mountain View, a group formed by parents and grandparents from Castro and Mistral elementary schools to assist undocumented immigrant families in MVWSD. The Mountain View Voice wrote an article featuring the nonprofit in October. Listos helps immigrant families choose who will care for their children if caretakers are deported and creates the necessary legal documents. They also help families explore citizenship options with an immigration lawyer and assist them in getting passports for children in both the United States and the caretakers’ country of origin.
Landed Program to Assist Staff in Buying a Home
Trustees discussed the possibility of working with Landed to provide housing assistance for teachers. Landed is an organization that provides half of an employee’s down payment up to $120,000. Landed’s portion is seen as an investment in the property itself that the homeowner can buy out directly or by refinancing within ten years. The homebuyer must in turn share in the gain or loss of their home when they sell or refinance. Educators who participate can purchase a residence in nearby counties and must continue to work in the MVWSD for the next two years.
Middle School Schedule Task Force Update
The Middle School Schedule Task Force (MSST) is working with input from parents, students, staff, and administrators to develop a new class schedule that will allow all students to take at least one elective in middle school. Currently, students who receive English Language Development and Special Education services may not be able to take an elective. The MSST developed three different proposals: a seven period schedule, an eight period schedule, and an eight period cascading schedule. A recommendation regarding which schedule to approve will be presented by the MSST in January.
Single Plan for Student Achievement (SPSA)
Every year the principals and teachers at each school are asked to analyze student test results from the year before, set goals for the upcoming year, and make a plan for achieving those goals. The resulting Single Plan for Student Achievement (SPSA) is then presented to the Trustees for approval. The SPSA goals are guided by MVWSD’s strategic plan, and this year’s SPSA’s included a change in the goals for English Language Learners’ academic performance.
Overall CAASPP Scores
The SPSA academic goals are based on student scores on the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) system tests. The California Department of Education makes education data available online at Ed Data. The District’s test scores for all students in English Language Arts (ELA) remained at 66% of students meeting or exceeding standards in both the 2015-2016 school year and the 2016-2017 school year. While the district wide results were flat, individual school results varied (see Graph 1). In mathematics, district-wide students meeting or exceeding standards grew by 2%, moving from 60% meeting or exceeding standards in the 2015-2016 school year to 62% in the 2016-2017 school year. Again, results across schools varied (see Graph 2).
Overall CAASPP English Learner (ELs) Scores
English Language Learners (ELs) in the district saw a dip in scores between the 2016 and 2017 tests. In the 2015-2016 school year, 17% of ELs met or exceeded standards in ELA, and in the 2016-2017 school year only 13.7% met or exceeded standards. All but two schools district wide saw a decrease in ELs performance in ELA (see Graph 3). In mathematics, 18% of ELs met or exceeded standards in 2015-2016, and 17.2% met or exceeded standards in 2016-2017. Half of the schools in the district had a drop in ELs’ math performance, half of the schools had a gain (see Graph 4).
The rise and fall of EL scores across school sites between the 2015-2016 school year and the 2016-2017 school year is affected by a range of factors. The EL population within the district is constantly changing as new students enter and leave, and as students’ EL status changes. When an EL student reaches English proficiency, they are labeled the subsequent year as Redesignated English Language Proficient (RFEP). While the percentage of students in MVWSD who were ELs decreased from 28.8% in 2015-2016, to 25.6% in 2016-2017, the percentage of students who were RFEPs increased from 19.7% in 2015-2016, to 21.9% in 2016-2017.
At the individual school level, some schools in the district have a low percentage of students who are classified as ELs – small changes in a small group are magnified in an across schools comparison, and large changes in large groups are minimized. Comparing middle schools and elementary schools suffers from differences in scale, as well, because the middle schools are much larger than the elementary schools. At Huff, which saw the sharpest decline in ELA scores for ELs, ELs made up 16.3% of the student population in 2016-2017. At Castro, ELs made up 69.7% of the student population in 2016-2017. That being said, trends across schools still provide important information for developing district policy..
District/School Review Fall 2015 and MVWSD Strategic Plan 2021
After Superintendent Dr. Rudolph joined the district in July 2015, a comprehensive District/School Quality Review was completed in the Fall of 2015. The review found several “factors limiting the effectiveness of the district,” including that: “The provision for English Language Learners across the District is ineffective, inconsistent, and, in many cases, counterproductive.” The District/School Quality Review findings became the basis for the MVWSD Strategic Plan 2021, a five year plan which was developed in the spring of 2016. The second goal of the strategic plan is to eliminate the achievement gap “for all student groups in all areas,” including English Learners (ELs).
SPSA Goals for ELs
For the last few years, schools have included a goal aimed ELs in the SPSA. For the 2016-2017 school year, principals and teachers at every school set a goal to close the achievement gap for ELs by increasing the number of ELs who met or exceeded standards on the CAASPP system assessments in both ELA and mathematics. The outcomes of these plans are the 2016-2017 CAASPP results seen in graphs 3 and 4.
For this year (the 2017-2018 school year), schools developed a different type of goal in the SPSA for ELs – a goal centered on Long Term English Learner’s (LTELs) or students at risk of becoming LTEL’s. LTELs are students in grades 6-12 who have been classified as an English learner for six years or more and failed to make progress on the English language development test for two or more years. Only middle schools in the district have LTELs. “EL students at risk of being classified as LTELs” are in grades 5-11, score at intermediate or below on the English language development test used by the district, and for a fourth year do not meet or exceed ELA standards on the CAASPP. At the elementary school level, only fifth grade EL students meeting these criteria are identified as at risk of becoming LTELs. Because ELs at risk of becoming LTELs are in grade 5-11, these students are a small subset of the students at elementary schools.
MVWSD elementary schools set SPSA goals for the 2017-2018 school year to decrease the number of ELs at risk of becoming LTELs by 10%, and the district’s two middle schools set a goal to decrease both ELs at risk of becoming LTELs and LTELs by 10%. At Bubb this means the EL goal for the school is to reclassify 1 student in fifth grade, and at most elementary schools in the district it means reclassifying between 2-4 students. This focus on a handful of students is different from prior years when schools developed goals for all ELs in ELA and mathematics.
—Devon Conley, Observer