Area C Meeting info-Big Changes Being Developed
Monday, March 26, 2012 6:50 AM

mps_logo_2011_5.gif

Synopsis of the DPAC Area C Meeting on 03.22.2012 at Jefferson School.
by Julie MacLeod

Emily Puetz and Mike Lynch from the MPS Department of Teaching & Learning
(http://tl.mpls.k12.mn.us/) presented an overview of their work to update
the curriculum standards for all students and all schools across the
District. It is a huge task and they are taking a very in-depth approach
to this. this discussion focused on the broader, District-wide changes
they are in the process of implementing. It was suggested that there
should be a separate presentation of more specific topics.

The goal of MPS is to challenge all students, but schools are still
structured as they were100 years ago. Historically MPS each "did their own
thing" to meet the District and State Standards. MPS Superintendent
Johnson has set a directive that the standards and procedures will be
consistent at all schools across the entire District. They are now in the
process of creating Focused Instruction to improve Teaching and Learning
to maximize learning for all students.

There are 3 main points to this effort: Course Pathways, Common Course
Catalogue and Learning Goals for Each Student.

Course Pathways. They have begun with Math and Science coursework and are
developing for each grade level. This document will clearly articulate
what is required for each course at each grade level so that the student
and their families will clearly understand what is required.

Common Course Catalogue. Consistent naming for the same coursework. One of
the major confusions at this point is that a single subject, such as
Algebra I, goes by many different names, many of which do not clearly
describe the focus of the course. As a part of this effort they are
creating Year at a Glance (YAAG or YAG - not sure which) Maps. The YAG map
will be a single page document which clearly and concisely describes the
topics covered, expectations and goals for each course - based on the
State Standards.

Learning Goals for Each Student. As part of the YAG maps there will be
individual goals for each student.

The YAG maps will also provide supports for teachers for each course and
for each goal/task within each. These supports are intended to be
additional resources and strategies and not a proscriptive set of rules
the teacher has to follow in how they teach the subject. The supports are
gathered from across the resources from the District; including
information from the Gifted and Talented Programs, English Language
Learners, Special Education, etc. to insure rigor for all learners. They
will include: Targets, Alignment, Benchmarks, Agendas of Lessons,
Cross-Content Integrations, among others.

The District is developing these maps in stages and will be implementing
for grades K, 3, 6 and 9 this fall. They indicated that they selected
these grades because these are key transition grades. The maps will be
available late summer, early fall. It sounded as though notices/e-mails
will go out to families to announce this and providing examples. They will
be used in the Professional Development programs that the teachers will be
attending in June this year.

These maps and the goals for each student are intended to provide
resources for all student/learning levels. They are intended to provide
additional resources for students with assistance needs or in need of
additional learning opportunities. They indicated that previously each
school chose the range of courses offered, and schools will continue to
follow different paths - such as IB, AP, etc. which does have an impact on
some of the course offerings. The Associate Superintendent for each Area
(Superintendent Theresa Battle in Area C) will review for each area to
ensure common core and advanced courses for all schools within each area.
They indicated that all schools will have (they also said currently do
have - although there was some disagreement on this) some higher level
offerings (math was one of the key courses mentioned). Although, depending
on the number of students requiring these course offering, they may look
at alternative ways of offering some subjects.

They recognize that across the District a big hole in their services is
addressing the needs of accelerated learners. For struggling learners all
schools have resources to bring help into the classrooms to help these
students, but very few have resources coming into the classroom to provide
extra opportunities for the advanced learners - and when they do it is
usually a volunteer. They are currently studying how to address this
missing element; working with teachers and principals across the district.