School board to discuss high school reform tonight |

School board to discuss high school reform tonight

The Summit School District Board of Education has a meeting in three parts today: a work session on closing the achievement gap, a regular business meeting in which they’ll discuss options for the high school schedule, and a panel discussion on state and national high school reform and how Summit High School fits into the grand scheme.

From 3-4 p.m. in the district’s central office, board members meeting with the district’s administrative team and a McREL representative to discuss progress in “closing the achievement gap,” which is meant to lessen the gap between higher achieving students and lower achieving students in reading, writing and math. In Summit County, English Language Learners, or minority students, and low socio-economic students are the targeted students in this effort.

“When we look at closing the achievement gap, it’s usually between our minority students and our white students. It’s between our English Language Learners and our native English speakers. It’s our free and reduced lunch students,” district climate and communications coordinator Julie McCluskie said.

The district is in its third year of receiving grant money to pour into professional development and other resources that assist lower-achieving students in bringing up their performance level.

Starting at about 4 p.m. at the same location, the meeting turns to business as usual, as board members address bi-monthly tasks, such as accepting a $3,500 individual donation to Summit High School and discussing the quarterly financial report.

Also at the meeting, they plan to discuss how two proposed high school schedule changes meet criteria established by the board last spring. High school officials have been working to narrow the options to best achieve the board’s charges, and Tuesday will be a chance for board members to evaluate progress toward the goals and identify which schedule best meets the charges, McCluskie said.

She added that, for now, they’ll hold on looking at changing graduation requirements – a possible requirement for adopting an eight-period modified block schedule. The other option is a seven-period modified block schedule.

The meeting then moves to Summit Middle School, where a panel of experts is to present ideas and practices behind high school reform from 6-8 p.m.

Former Summit Schools superintendent and House District 56 Rep. Millie Hamner is serving as moderator for a panel comprised of Christine Scanlan with the Governor’s Office; David Greenberg, founder of the Denver School of Science and Technology; Candy Hyatt of McREL; Lou Marchesano of the International Baccalaureate program; and Tim Westerberg, a former Colorado high school principal and current author and consultant.

The goal is to shed light on viewpoints regarding efforts to improve public education and provide students the skills to compete in the 21st century.

“We’re hoping it brings a greater perspective that all these changes are not unique to Summit County,” Summit High School assistant principal Gretchen Nies said.

McCluskie added, “I think there will be a lot of discussion about what kind of legislation is going on, some talk about Senate Bill 191 (the merit-pay bill) and how it’s impacting what’s happening at the high school level. I think there will be some really rich discussion.”

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