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Meghan Mangrum @memangrum
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I'm here for the @hamcoschools School Board's policy committee meeting this afternoon. Follow along with me.
Note: I am also digesting @TNedu's data dump of the 2017 and 2018 TNReady scores, so I'll do my best to live tweet at my normal standard.
During today's policy meeting, the board is discussing a partnership with the TSBA, Superintendent Bryan Johnson's evaluation, the draft of Johnson's proposed strategic plan and equity data.
Board member Tiffanie Robinson is asking the board policy committee to establish policies on corporal punishment, in accordance with new state law.
Johnson: "I talked to Scott about this when I first got here just for clarity around it."
Johnson: "We have addressed it with schools in regards to our views on corporal punishment."
It's also something addressed in the student code of conduct, according to Johnson.
Wingate: "There is no experience on Earth like teaching and and working with someone whose paddled you."
Sorry I haven't followed this corporal punishment conversation, folks. It was a doozy.
Next up, Johnson is providing an update on the Future Ready Institutes.
JK, I meant the Future Ready 2023! strategic plan.
Some changes since last month's draft (other than grammatical corrections)...include adding of an action step focus on evidence-based decision making, an action step to expand work-based learning programs, a strategy to measure kindergarten readiness...
Y'all are getting it first...we are moving on to the state data released today.
Jill Levine: Just a reminder, our goal is to become the fastest improvement district in Tennessee and I think we are on our way.
Levine: Statewide in middle school, all subjects saw a decline.
Statewide all grades all saw a decline in science, which saw new standards this year.
This was also the last year for the current science standards.
Only 20 percent of districts statewide improved in a variety of subjects and grades.
Wingate: How closely can we take the results that we valid is the data compared to some of the testing misshaps that we have had? How do we know what's valid?
Levine: We didn't include all their bullet points, but I think when you read the Commissioner's release, the general consensus was that there was a minimal impact on test results.
Johnson: "I think everyone in the state had the same issues. The data is useful in terms of planning and preparing and knowing where we are and how we compare to other districts."
Highlander: "I think Dr. Johnson ht the nail on the head in terms of they're helpful."
Smith: "If this is the last year for those standards [science]..."
Justin Robertson is now comparing Hamilton County's data to the state's.
Hamilton County’s 2018 TNReady scores compared to the state’s results. @hamcoschools @TimesFreePress
Robertson: There are a couple areas of concern. He highlights high school ELA and history, wondering if writing is an emphasis.
Robertson: "We aren't where we want to be, but we are narrowing the gap between us in the state in 6 of 10 areas."
Wingate asks about Robertson's note of the history gap, acknowledging the connection to writing and English.
Robertson: "Really, we have a 10,000 foot overview of district data, we don't have anything on kids yet."
Thurman: "I'm blown away...This is what I'm talking about, and you blame it on the reading...this is where we need a task force, to figure out how in the world we got to this point. Look at how much better the state did than we did."
Thurman: "They didn't just get this way in high school."
Thurman: "I don't need to see your data. I think one of the worst things we do is we're letting kids out of the third grade and they can't even read on grade level....That's one of the worst things we do."
Thurman: "If this don't look bad to the state, then I don't know what does."
Thurman: "I am just astounded."
Robertson: "I don't think anyone is more upset with this than we are."
Thurman: "We are doing a dismal job."
Johnson: "School planning for academics begins in January, you start your plans for curriculum mapping in January."
Johnson: "When you look at performance this year, you see gaps closing...This isn't where we want to be, or where the state wants us to be, but we see gaps closing."
Johnson: "We want to outpace the state in every area...this is a good starting point, the gap is moving."
Johnson: "You're right, it has been this way for a long time...I'm not used to it."
Johnson: "The district has been behind the state for years, for several years...and that's not okay with the team."
Levine adds that the district has focused on literacy, outpacing the state on spending and focusing on literacy, which data reflects.
Levine: "There is encouraging date within this data."
Johnson: "It was a challenging year across the state with declines."
Note: Check out my very very very rough, initial digestion of today's release via the @TimesFreePress.…
Thurman: "If anyone wants to know why people go to private school...Exhibit A."
So my entire thread of tweets did not send and then deleted themselves because Twitter and the internet hates me.
We are in recess, y'all.
The Hamilton County Board of Education's July meeting is underway. I am ready to give it my full attention now that I'm done with the @TimesFreePress TNReady story.
Board member Rhonda Thurman begins the meeting upset with a large amount of amendments and additions being added to today's agenda.
Board member Tiffanie Robinson also agrees with Thurman.
Robinson mentions the three-year plan for special education, noting she would have liked to read over it ahead of time.
(For the record, well maybe not for the official record...I read it ahead of it is possible, board members).
Remember, agendas are sent out the Friday before the meeting, but this board does often make additions on the day off.
Smith: "I agree. I've said that before where we get handed a lot of stuff."
Side note: Check out the graphic in my TNReady scores story...@Allison_Shirk basically did better work than me in like 20 minutes than I did all day.….
Lennon also agrees with Smith...seems like the board is in consensus.
Thurman: "I have a novel idea, why don't people just do their job and what they're supposed to do."
Rhonda Thurman is on fire tonight, y'all.
She also does not approve to the minutes.
First up, the presentation by Justin Robertson, Exception Education Director Garfield Adams and Cale Horne of the three-year plan for special education in @hamcoschools.
Garfield: "We want to present the three-year plan for y'all. We really wan to present this as a collaborative effort."
Horne: 'It's good to be back before you again, a year later, after Dr. Robertson and I were able to present here to the board some challenges of special education.'
Horne: "I don't want to rehearse some of the problems and the history, but I don't want to forget them either."
Horne: "On many measures of data self-reported to the state on inclusion, we have historically been in the bottom 10 percent of the state, and that's simply unacceptable."
The inclusive working group is made up of almost a dozen agencies that provide services to certain populations and ground-up-initatives.
Horne: "Even though there are systemic issues in regards to special education in Hamilton County historically, there are also bright spots."
Some of the bright spots that Horne notes include inclusive education at Soddy Elementary, the inclusive Pre-K model at Westview Elementary and Hixson High School's Ignite Program.
Horne: "Brainerd High is doing amazing things starting this year in pushing students into general education classrooms."
In regards to the research about inclusion, Horne says "not only is it the law, as it has been since at least 1990, it actually works."
Horne: "In the past 40 years, there have been many studies looking at social and academic aspects of inclusion. There have been no studies that have found that it doesn't work. There have been no studies that have found that it has an adverse effect on gen. education students."
Horne: "What we see, is that all boats rise."
Horne: "Inclusion, carefully planned, evidence-based inclusion, is one-stop shopping for addressing these issues."
Thurman asks Horne about what measure the district was in the bottom level.
Indicator 5, one of the self-reported indicators reported to the state, Hamilton County is just "not doing it" in terms of inclusion.
Highlander thanks Horne for his service to the board.
Garfield: Basically I want to touch on the high points. Inclusion is important for three reasons.
According to Garfield, the district wants to look at changing instructional training and services, such as by providing better professional development for teachers.
Garfield: We all know, we all know the benefits...what we want to move toward is a more inclusive environment, bottom line.
Garfield: We want to look at a more inclusive environment.
The 3-year plan is organized around five primary goals: 1. Maximizing evidence-based inclusion, 2. Placing students in their ZONED schools not at cluster sites (Horne notes that full inclusion is illegal, he also notes that transportation issues come to play in this)...
Horne of transportation: "That is a puzzle to be solved."

According to an audit done last year on transportation, Hamilton County Schools spent around $570 on a general education student in regards to transportation and more than $7,000 on a special education student.
Horne: "We are hoping to undue those cluster sites and within the building, push those children in to general education classes...Let's start with them in that general education environment and instead ask when it's appropriate to pull them out."
Primary goal #3: Improve communication and relationships with families and caregivers of students with disabilities
Primary goal #4: Developing services and opportunities for students when they transition out of the school system.

Primary goal #5: Provide all the necessary support to educators.
Horne: "This can be done wrong, and when it's done wrong, students get hurt, families get hurt."
Horne: "The three-year plan is essentially to get the infrastructure in place to do what we want to do."
Horne: "We are going after and hoping to receive external grants for this effort."
Horne: One is a special education training that will begin in August.

"This is empathy-based training, understanding the lives of students with disabilities and their families."
UTC is also a critical partner in aligning it's curriculum for teacher candidates, as well as focusing on co-teaching.
Where is the district now, according to Garfield Adams: Training staff on Hixson High's IGNITE program model for peer mentor support, increase the rate of Pre-K evidence based inclusion, and planning for all students with disabilities to attend their zoned schools
There is also an Exceptional Education Parent Committee with representatives from all 5 learning communities, with plans to meet once or twice a month.
When Adams says, "All students with disabilities attend their zoned school and full evidence based inclusion as appropriate in the 2019-2020 year," he receives applause from the crowd. @TimesFreePress
Other developments include Project Search with BlueCross Blue…
Growing the IGNITE peer-mentor program across the district (there is a similar OWLS program in Ooltewah).
The district is planning for a pilot program, possibly in the Opportunity Zone, where a general education, special ed teacher and a teacher assistant will be addressing challenges in therapeutic settings.
Mosley Jones has a question: Inclusion will start in 2019.
Adams: "The goal is to look at the 2019-2020 school year."
Mosley Jones: "That's great news."
The new HCEA president @jomarkhail is also addressing the board for the first time as HCEA President tonight.
Omarkhail: "As you know, Dan Liner retired at the end of June and I was promoted from Vice President to President of the Hamilton County Education Association."
Omarkhail: "I look forward to the many opportunities we will have to collaborate with the district."
I also feel like I should note when every television outlet is at the school board meeting. There all here tonight, y'all.
Highlander is taking a point of personal privilege...he is recognizing Senator Tod Gardenhire, who is here tonight.
The board votes to approve the consent agenda.
Thurman asks Robertson about AP class fees.
The board is discussing school fees. Robertson said that ultimately, some students have to pay if they sit for an exam.
(As a student in Florida, I didn't pay for a single IB or AP course or exam).
Thurman: "Things like that...I hate that some of our students have to pay for some of their classes."
Wingate: "Ms. Thurman, you're right and Mr. Robertson, you're's across the district. When we start talking about this workforce development and future ready stuff."
Wingate: "Tennessee Promise only kicks in after graduation."
Wingate: "With all the opportunities that we are providing, come the challenges of providing."
Highlander jokes that we got a guy who sits on the state education committee.

Highlander: "We apologize, we're not putting pressure on you."
Thurman: "This is one of the ways that all these businesses and organizations who want to help kids, can help kids."
Board members have a lot of questions about Robertson's request for to pay for Mastery Connect, a formative assessment tools that teachers can use.
Many administrators and teachers already use the tool, such as Dalewood, Mosley Jones notes, in it's data room.
Mosley Jones: "It's amazing to see how they use it. Teachers are really excited to see where their students can grow."
Wingate noted that he wanted to know if educators actually found it helpful.
Chief of Staff Nakia Towns Edwards is presenting first readings on four policy changes.
Typically draft language is put out for the first read, with the opportunity to revise that language, with a second read the following month, where board members will vote.
The first policy requires background checks on every volunteer, in addition to employees, as well as contractors and that background checks need to relooked at ever 5 years.
Some employees have been grandfathered in, according to Towns Edwards, and have never had a background check.
Towns Edwards: "Mr. Bennett also recommended the board look at where there is current language that requires automatic dismissal. Mr. Bennett though that was something that the board should consider as we move to second read."
Highlander asks if the board should discuss that before the second reading (possibly at another one of Lennon's policy committee meetings next week).
Bennett said they would have something with updated language by the second week of August.
Bennett: "You're current board language said that if its an event that relates to moral turpitude, it's an automatic."
According to Bennett, current policy says any felon within 5 years is an automatic disqualifier, but "not all felonies are equal."
Bennett: "We aren't trying to open up the door to create more problems, we're just trying to open up the door for further discussion."
(Current policy allows the Superintendent's discretion for those with a convicted felony more than 5 years ago).
Robinson, my hero, is pointing out a run-on sentence in the policy.
This is why we have multiple readings, folks!
Second policy for first read updates the sexual harassment and discrimination policy, which is in compliance with state law. The district can not require non-disclosure agreements.
Third policy update: A state law requires progressive truancy prevention. Dr. Marsha Drake, the Chief Equity Officer, updated the language to reflect the multi-tiered system.
Towns Edwards says the district has been aggressively addressing chronic absenteeism.
The third tier of the system acknowledges that continued absences will result in a court referral. Mosley Jones asks if there will be a plan in place to address barriers vocalized by the parents.
Note: It's storming here on Bonny Oaks.
There is also a board policy second read. It was the last policy presented by Lee McDade. It's an update based on ESSA.
Note, that policy was not read out loud.
And most of these were not discussed in the policy committee meeting prior to the board meeting.
Parents will be notified of updated attendance policies once they are passed according to Towns Edwards.
Chief Financial Officer Christie Jordan (who has a sudden title change?) technically retired at the end of last school year, but is staying on for now.
The board also just voted on a $5 million grant in partnership with UTC that i'm not totally sure what its for...
Thurman notes that whenever she sees the NSF's name on anything, "it makes her queasy." She also will not vote on this because she has not seen it before and doesn't know what it is.
Seems to be a trend tonight.
Ironically, it passes.
Next up, public discussion of the Superintendent's evaluation.
Johnson: "That's an area that I have and will continue to take very seriously... One of the things I would love to do with each of you, I will schedule some time at your convenience over the next month or so to sit down and go through each area."
Johnson: "What I want to make sure I do for the 45,000 students and the 6,000 employees, is what I can do to do better."
Johnson: "As a learned leader, I want to understand what it is I can do better...I thank you for the process and it's a great opportunity for em to learn and grow."
Highlander notes that he thinks all board members took it seriously and took it to heart.
He also thanks board members for getting it and all materials in on-time.
Thurman and Smith both bring to Johnson and Robertson's attention that there was a calendar issue.
Also, there are no other comments about Johnson's evaluations...
Update on the Future Ready Institutes from Johnson, more than 1,086 students are signed up for the Future Ready institutes.
The district is also still looking for math and ESOL teachers. Five high schools are still lacking math teachers.
Johnson also acknowledges the issues some parents had with snap codes in terms of online registration.
Highlander: "Let me say real briefly, no matter who you vote for, please vote."
Highlander, who is running for reelection, encourages to "be Americans" when primaries are over.
Johnson also notes that the district is NOT providing transportation to the Future Ready Institutes after Smith's question.
Robinson also asks Johnson about the new leadership program the district just launched - Leadership Hamilton County Schools,….
Board members will be asked to take part in the governance session of the Leadership Hamilton County Schools program.
Wingate, who has been very vocal tonight, is sharing a photo of a group of 45 people church members from out of town (North Carolina) who helped beautify campuses in his district...painting doors, pulling weeds, mulching, etc.
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