Board approves work with consultants to address achievement gap
Hamilton School Board members were updated on the district’s efforts to close the achievement gap – a persistent, statistically significant disparity between students grouped by low economic status, special education needs, race and ethnicity, and English-language status. They approved a contract for the district to work with educational consultants to address equity issues.
Instructional Services Supervisor Cathy Drago, Special Services Supervisor John Peterson, Curriculum Specialist Whitney Roth and Human Resources Director John Roubik presented a report with data about student subgroups and performance on various assessments. Key findings include:
- All district student groups scored higher than the state average in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics.
- The ELA achievement gap of Hamilton’s socioeconomically disadvantaged, special education and English learner populations are greater than the state average.
- Gaps exist between students of color – namely Black and Hispanic students – and their white peers in both ELA and mathematics.
- Mathematics achievement gaps of Hamilton’s special education students and English learners are greater than the state average.
- These larger discrepancies may be attributed to the high achievement levels of the district’s comparison groups. However, work is being done with individual students to increase the overall achievement for these populations.
- When compared to the state, all but two student groups – special education students and English learners – scored higher on the ACT composite.
- In all instances, achievement discrepancies are seen between the majority and their counterparts.
- All student groups except special education students and English learners had higher ACT composite scores than the state average.
- In all cases, achievement discrepancies are seen between the majority population and its counterparts.
Dropout Early Warning System
The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction created the Dropout Early Warning System (DEWS) to identify students in grades 6-12 in danger of dropping out of school early.
- DEWS data regarding mobility, discipline, attendance and assessment shows 56 active students in the district are at risk for early dropout.
- The percentage of students who are at risk for early dropout is disproportionately higher for Blacks and Hispanics as well as students with disabilities and males. Far fewer white students are at risk for early dropout.
District puts supports in place to address needs
Following actions are designed to support high quality instruction and assessment practices to ensure the success of all students.
- Title I services are allocated for direct instruction at targeted schools.
- A Response to Intervention (RtI) model is in place across the district. Interventions are matched with student needs to ensure greatest academic gains.
- A team of district interventionists meets regularly to discuss the effectiveness of current interventions and to expand the district’s menu of intervention options.
- EduClimber, the district’s data visualization and progress monitoring tool is used extensively across the district.
- Professional development opportunities for teaching staff focus on designing strategies and learning environments to meet the needs of all learners.
- Intervention programming is offered at each school to meet students’ needs including advisement period curriculum, guided academic practice, portable assisted study sequence, strategic reading, focused study, targeted interventions, individual student achievement plans, homework clubs, before- and after-school interventions, and writing support.
Additional support requested for educational equity
To meet the needs of all students and better understand which systems to initiate and change that will provide equitable solutions and services for all students, a partnership with educational consultants was recommended. Administrators aim to ensure that every student has access to resources and educational rigor needed across race, gender, ethnicity, language, ability, sexual orientation, family background or family income.
The district will work with educational consultants Rainey Briggs, Ph.D., of Meraki Consulting and Percy Brown of Critical Consciousness to:
- identify which students are achieving and struggling academically, socially or emotionally;
- determine academic achievement, discipline and participation gaps and how to address them; and
- achieve the district’s mission of treating all students with dignity and value.
Estimated cost for Rainey and Percy’s consultation services during current and 2021-22 school year is $50,000 and includes equity audit data analysis, leader training and support, in-service presentations and professional development sessions.
Contract approved for co-op services through Elmbrook
The district signed a cooperative agreement with Elmbrook Schools which will provide deaf, hard of hearing and vision services for Hamilton students. Since 1983, Hamilton and other area districts have contracted for low-incident population disability services through a 66.03 agreement.
Curriculum process update
One of the four tactics of the district’s Strategic Plan focuses on learning and assessment. To ensure a cohesive system that clearly indicates high-quality learning in each content area, a systemic 5-year curriculum development and review process is designed so that schools have a guaranteed and viable curriculum. It means that all teachers are aware of and teach the content they are responsible to teach and the amount of content is teachable in the time available for instruction
Curriculum review tasks are:
- unpack the standards;
- prioritize the standards;
- create student “I can” statements;
- create rubrics for prioritized standards;
- pilot-test rubrics and collect exemplars;
- focus on strong instructional strategies and unit planning using the Understanding by Design model;
- reflect on and revise rubrics; and
- participate in collaborative teacher team meetings around assessment.
Due to additional responsibilities placed on staff this year as a result of COVID, the curriculum cycle was adjusted. While curriculum cycles have been paused, a focus on curriculum development continues in several ways including:
- Year 4 – Revise, check-ins on fidelity and progress.
- Focus high quality feedback against prioritized standards using rubrics of the curriculum cycle.
- Elementary principals dedicate instructional team meeting time with grade levels to calibrate with science rubrics.
- February 26 in-service will focus on vertical teaming (K-2, 3-6, 5-8).
- Grade level learning conversations on comprehensive use of the science rubrics at department meetings.
- Curation of student work samples continues in grades 9-12.
- Piloting use of one rubric this spring.
- Outside speaker Joseph Crean, Ph.D., will provide additional NGSS professional development for grades 7-12.
- Work continues on rubric development and unit planning this summer.
English – language arts
- Engaged in book studies around balanced literacy and phonics and early literacy instruction.
- Monthly meetings with curriculum leads to continue curriculum process next school year.
- Reading specialists creating rubric drafts for the writing standards.
- Teachers piloting reading rubrics in their classrooms and engaging in team conversations around student work. Time will be dedicated on the Feb. 26 in-service for this work.
Work continues on new curriculum
Curriculum revision or creation is in process for “AP Microeconomics” and “AP Human Geography” with learning objectives and content prescribed by The College Board.
Replacement technology purchases approved
The School Board approved purchase or lease of replacement technology from the 2021-22 budget cycle or proposed leasing contract. The new technology will replace all grades 3 and 4 computer carts and staff Chromebooks and includes:
- 825 Dell 3100 Chromebook devices for the 1-1 program, plus protective sleeves, Google management licensing;
- 1,735 Dell 3100 Chromebook devices replacing obsolete equipment;
- 400 HP Chromebook G6 14 devices for faculty and staff replacing obsolete equipment;
- 2,135 Google Chrome management licenses; and
- 200 HP ProDesk desktops, wireless keyboard and mouse, warranty, regular rotation, replacing obsolete equipment.
New para staff added, other personnel action
Due to an increase in the number of students needing special education services, the School Board approved the addition of three part-time paraprofessionals at Silver Spring Intermediate, Lannon Elementary and Marcy Elementary schools. The full-time equivalency positions for Marcy, Lannon and Silver Spring are 72%, 70% and 38%, respectively.
In other personnel action, the School Board:
- accepted resignations of Woodside special services Paraprofessional Kayla Petrie effective Jan. 21, and Willow Springs Paraprofessional Michele Luebke effective Feb. 15 and Silver Spring Kitchen Employee Amber Atlee effective Feb. 25;
- approved the retirement requests of Lannon Paraprofessional Jean Fero effective Jan. 26 and Hamilton High Social Worker Murrene Payton effective at the end of the 2020-21 school year; and
- appointed Alysa Masek as district technology support specialist effective Feb. 9 and Mikayla Savaglio as Lannon special services paraprofessional effective Feb. 16.