Oct 12 2016

Report: Improvements to School Learning Center Instruction Suggested

School Board Meeting of September 14, 2016

By Charlotte Puscasiu, Piedmont High School Senior

    On September 14th,  I attended the School Board meeting in City Hall. The School Board meeting typically meets twice a month for approximately 2 hours where they discuss current school (Kindergarten through High School) events and updates, finances and other relevant announcements. The purpose of the meeting is to inform parents, students and members of the community about plans to improve the school system.

   Discussion ranged from test scores to campus construction. Max Miller, a junior at millennium, began the meeting by introducing himself as ASB vice president and talked about current events taking place at PHS/MHS (Legally blonde musical, club day, September ACT).

    The major topic addressed were CAASPP testing which is an electronic standardized test on english and math which replaced STAR testing. Piedmont High School was ranked one of the highest school as 87% of PHS students met or exceeded standards.

    Although there was a 3% growth improvement from last year, the presenters emphasized supporting the 13% of students who were falling behind or scored lower in the test. This is where I jumped in to give my insight, I addressed the School Board telling them; as a dyslexic student who had an IEP I didn’t feel properly supported while I was in LC [Learning Center] because all students with learning difficulties were treated the same, our individual needs weren’t met. I suggested working with the Learning Center or talking to learning specialists to help kids individually with areas that they struggled with instead of all putting us “in the same basket.” This seemed to resonate well with most of the board members who took notes and showed further interest in supporting students whose strong suits don’t lie within test taking.  Other students expressed their concerns or suggestions about summer work, stress in school and gates being locked at Wildwood.

    In addition, Board Members reviewed LCAP goals; ensuring teachers qualifications, common core learning, supporting ELA students and ensure college readiness  (EAP).

    Finally, the discussion turned to general funds representing day to day operations of the District including income from state and federal government as well as local revenue. State revenue was reported to increase by $136k and total local revenue increased by $185k. The budget revisions revenues and expenditures will be presented to the Board in October as the “Preview of the 2016-17 First Interim.”

    Someone who stood out to me was Andrea Swenson, Board of Education President; when standardized testing was brought up and all the adults in the room were being critical of the 13% of students who were not superb test takers, she went out of her way to remind everyone that tests aren’t everyone’s strong suits and it doesn’t define someone’s aptitude.

   This really resonated with me because, often times I have felt discouraged when receiving low test scores and have had to remind myself that a number doesn’t always represent my intelligence and effort in class. Hearing her acknowledge that not everyone’s aptitude is reflected in standardized test drew me to interview her.

   Mrs. Swenson said she joined the Board because she thinks the Piedmont system is absolutely fabulous and she admires how everyone in the District wants all students to succeed. Both her sons went through all of Piedmont school system (starting at Beach) and she wanted to do her part in helping improve schools. She highlighted how she sympathizes with students who are stressed because Piedmont is such a high ranking and over achieving place, but she values holistic learning for all students. She concluded by saying that she hopes her work and input on the School Board will help remind the community to support all students and to be proud of all their accomplishments.

Editors Note:  Opinions expressed are those of the author.

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