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SSD Board Brief - June 4, 2018

At the last board meeting of this academic year, we welcomed the news that the Agency of Education (AOE) in its draft statewide proposal recommended that it is “not practicable to require merger” of Stowe and EMUU. The Board of Education (VSBE) will hold meetings throughout the state from July-September, and final approval will be in November. The board will continue to monitor progress of our alternative governance structure application and other relevant decisions made by the AOE and VSBE as we enter this final stage of consideration.

Other important points of discussion:

Vermont School Board Association (VSBA) Resolution
Stuart Weppler, Chair of the VSBA Resolution Committee and member of the EMUU School Board, spoke about the VSBA resolution process and shared his thoughts on the importance of Jim Brochhausen’s proposed resolution. Jim spoke about VSBA’s role in advocating for legislation that’s needed by school boards.

Jim introduced a resolution requiring any legislative changes to education funding occur prior to the development of school district budgets. The board unanimously approved the resolution.

Proficiency Based Learning (PBL)
Chris Oleks presented how SHS students’ grades through the year are being closely tracked with past SBAC data to make sure our standards are being set accurately. The presentation, as well as all the handouts from the meeting, are available on our website.  As we continue to carefully monitor this first year of proficiency based grading, data has been and will continue to be looked at in a variety of ways.

At the request of those who wanted to understand the benefits of our new grading and its accuracy, Tracy Wrend presented a sampling of the research that was relied on by the administration when developing our current 5 level reporting  mechanism (the Great Schools Partnership’s Research Supporting the Ten Principles: Grading + Reporting and chapter 2, Challenge Plus and Minus and Half-Grade Increments, of Thomas Guskey’s On Your Mark).

Wrend discussed how the administration is working to ensure that next year there is: 1. more dedicated and focused student time with teachers to understand performance and what expectations are, and 2. improvement to our mastery reporting mechanism so that student performance is easy for both students and parents to understand.

Wrend clarified a point in last meeting’s board brief and minutes about the transcript team’s discussion of merit scholarships. There is no universal cut-off of 3.6 for GPAs, but rather there is a range of GPAs for a wide variety of scholarships. The administration and transcript team understand the large role the GPA plays in merit scholarships, and they are working to make sure our new grading mechanism provides accurate GPAs so there is no negative impact to students’ scholarship opportunities.

Students attending the meeting discussed the issue of motivation. When the board asked if addressing issues identified during our last meeting (providing students with more meaningful feedback; providing students with a clear measurement of progress and performance throughout the year; and providing students with an understanding of how projects/standards are weighted so they can prioritize what to focus on) would help provide more accountability so that students are motivated, student response was affirmative.

The board would like to extend a special thanks to the students who came to the meeting to share their perspectives. We are glad you are so invested in your education that you took the time to advocate for ways to improve it. We appreciated hearing directly from you.

Capital Project Committee
Black River Design presented the committee with different design options for SES & SHS, and the committee is currently reviewing those options. The final products will allow us to provide Stowe students with a range of innovative 21st century learning opportunities. The committee is hoping to present its final solution to the board in November for possible consideration by the community on Town Meeting Day 2019, but the committee understands this time frame is contingent on a smooth development process.

Summer Board Retreat
Our annual one-day summer board retreat is scheduled for July 11, beginning at 8:00am, at Stoweflake. The retreat provides the Board with the opportunity to reflect on the past school year, delve into topics at a deeper level than we can at our regular meetings, and set goals for the upcoming school year.