October Board Briefing: Dallas ISD's Legislative Agenda, Teacher Curriculum, and More!

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WHAT IS A BOARD BRIEFING?

At a board briefing, our Dallas ISD School Board discusses items they will need to vote on in upcoming meetings. They also hear reports from the Superintendent & the Dallas ISD Administration on ways in which the district is meeting student needs. Below is a summary of the three-hour long briefing on October 4th, 2018.

WHAT DID THE BOARD DISCUSS AT THE OCTOBER BRIEFING?

#1 STUDENT OUTCOME GOAL 2

Third grade reading is incredibly important for the future of a student’s life, therefore, the district has a goal which states: “Student achievement on the 3rd grade state assessment in Reading at “Approaches” or above will increase from 63% to 75% by 2022.”  The administration presented progress for last year’s 3rd grade cohort with the following:

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The data highlighted a difference of 43% of students who attended Dallas ISD PreK at ‘meeting’ standard compared to 35% of students ‘meeting’ state standard who did not attend Dallas ISD PreK. The data also shows that the district is performing higher than the state’s overall average. The district team will continue to build in benefits for students in the early grades to support them leading up to 3rd grade. 

Dallas ISD not only is leading in year-over-year growth in 3rd grade reading, it is one of two districts that experienced growth. This trend is similar when looking specifically at African-American students and Hispanic students. Right now, the board has a goal of 40% of all students to be at Meets level – 46% of Hispanic students are at ‘Meets’ level. This population of students is exceeding this goal. We should see this continue to improve.

The trustees shared their pride in the growth and progress for students served in the district under the administration’s leadership. Trustee Solis wondered about a comparison to other districts who have invested in early childhood both within the state and beyond.

#2 LEGISLATIVE AGENDA

Dallas ISD is finalizing a legislative program to advocate at the state level in support of local district goals and needs. During the meeting, the board and district leadership team narrowed down their focus to a clear top three priorities. Because the midterm elections may bring about some changes, a meeting to finalize the legislative priorities will occur after November 6th where the district will meet with the Dallas delegation of legislators.

The top three priorities include: 1) Recapture funds to be spent on education. 2) Increase the basic allotment per student. 3) Full funding for universal PreK.

Discussion from the board included comments from Trustees Foreman and Flores asking for Universal Pre-K to be inclusive of all four year olds.

#3 SUPPORTING TEACHERS THROUGH CURRICULUM

Two district leadership teams worked alongside 84 teachers to write curriculum for Reading, Language Arts, and Social Studies. Over 600 teachers applied to participate in this effort and 84 ultimately contributed energy and resources towards finalizing unit plans for teachers. In terms of Math and Science. the district is still in the process of onboarding curriculum writers and will launch the curriculum next year.

The curriculum includes 3 broad pillars:

  • Outline of TEKS to be taught in each six weeks with focus on weaknesses to address student needs.

  • Professional Learning Community package to be used during common planning: unpacked TEKS, exemplar lessons, etc. 

  • Preview of the six weeks at a glance to train teachers prior to implementing six weeks unit plans.

The curriculum includes differentiated instructional ideas for various groups of students - special education, talented and gifted, English language learners, and others. In addition, the leadership team is collecting video to demonstrate the curriculum in action as an example and will continue to visit classrooms to collect feedback on implementation of the curriculum. Currently, there is an effort to raise awareness that the curriculum exists at all for teachers around the district.

Board discussion included questions from Trustee Foreman on the selection of the teachers, to which the district shared there was an extensive vetting process that narrowed the field of 600+ teachers to 84 final curriculum writers. Trustee Foreman also raised concerns around flexibility for teachers who are using this curriculum - the administration shared that the curriculum should function more as a guide and resource than as a lesson script.

Trustee Resendez wanted to ensure social-emotional learning was embedded in the curriculum and the presenters shared that it was built in. Trustee Pinkerton asked about how far in advance the teachers would have the curriculum available and the answer was at least six weeks. Overall, the board was grateful for this resource.

#4 BOARD SELF-CONSTRAINT

The board took a moment from the briefing to sign off that they “shall not assume a supervisory role with staff or students.” Each month the board signs off on a different statement for self-evaluation, prompting Trustee Foreman to request an overview of the time required to spend on these periodic self-evaluations through the Lone Star Governance integrity instrument from Texas Education Agency.

#5 STATE-LED ONLINE COURSES FOR STUDENTS

The final item on the agenda relating to student outcomes was about the Texas Education Agency Virtual Schools Network and their offering of 90+ high school, AP, and dual credit online courses. Texas code says these courses must be offered and students must be informed of their availability. One comment from Trustee Foreman was about getting clarification on how attendance is configured for online participation and what the role of the school staff is when managing these courses.

For full video clips of board discussion or for a closer review of each agenda item. please visit the Board Docs site with all public materials. Questions about this summary? Email info@dallaskidsfirst.org.