GCPS Board Meeting Summary for June 22, 2000

          The following are highlights of the June 22, 2000, Gwinnett County Board of Education Meeting:

          Board Recognition
          • The Board recognized the accomplishments of Brookwood High School's tennis program, which took top honors this spring as the Region 8AAAA State Girls and Boys Tennis Champions. Coach Debbie Dees and several team members were on hand for the recognition. The state championship was the first ever for the girls' team and the fifth for the boys. Brookwood is the only Gwinnett school ever to win both girls' and boys' championships in the same year.
          • Parkview High student Andrea Marchese was honored by the Board as the 2000 recipient of the Alton C. Crews Scholarship. The scholarship is awarded to a Gwinnett graduate who plans to pursue a career in education. Ms. Marchese was chosen from a field of 19 applicants. She plans to pursue a degree in foreign language education.

            Citizens Addressing the Board
            Tim McIntosh of the Georgia Family Council addressed the Board regarding the provision in Governor Roy Barnes' "A-Plus Education Reform Act of 2000" that provides for a school nurse program in each school. His organization is urging school boards across the state to implement a "parent consent form" by which a student's parent or guardian must give specific permission in writing for specified services to be administered by the school nurse.

            Board Sets Millage Rate to Support FY2001 Budget Adopted in May
            To provide the necessary funding to support the school system's $961.4 million budget adopted in May, the Board set its total millage rate for FY2001 at 19.17 mills. The property tax rate consists of 17.12 mills for maintenance and operations, plus 2.05 mills for bond debt service. The new millage rate reflects a .58 mill rollback from the millage rate for FY2000 due to growth in the tax digest as a result of the current countywide property value update. The new rate represents a reduction in property taxes and means the GCPS is "revenue neutral" in the wake of the property value update (reassessments).

            On-line Pilot Course in Algebra II Reviewed for Board
            Students at Phoenix High, South Gwinnett High, and the GIVE Center participated in a pilot course for Algebra II offered on-line during 1999-2000. Projects Facilitator Tricia Howell and South Gwinnett High teacher Lisa Stueve briefed the Board on the results of the pilot course. Data gathered on the pilot shows that student performance in the on-line course was comparable to their performance in traditional classroom-based courses. Completion rates for Gwinnett's students in the first two semesters surpassed the national average. As a result of the successful pilot, additional courses will be developed and offered as soon as this summer, beginning with Algebra I, first and second semester, and Algebra II, second semester. Additional courses will be developed during the 2000-01 school year.

            Assessment Review Committee Recommendations Adopted by Board
            Of the 16,369 Gwinnett students in grades 4 and 7 who took the Gateway test in April, the vast majority earned passing scores on the first try and were promoted to the next grade level. Forty-four students, however, did not do as well on the Gateway as would be expected based on their classroom grades. For them, the school system’s Assessment Review Procedure was immediately initiated and acted upon by the Gwinnett County Board of Education during its afternoon executive session.
            The end result is that 28 of the 44 students in the Assessment Review must retake and pass one or more portions of the test in order to be promoted to the next grade. So ruled the Gwinnett County School Board in accepting Superintendent Alvin Wilbanks’ recommendation to approve the actions proposed for the 44 students who qualified for the Gateway review based on their scores on the multiple choice portion of the test.
            According to the Assessment Review Procedure, any student whose report card in 1999-2000 included no grade below a "C" in language arts, mathematics, science and social studies qualified for an automatic review if he or she failed any part of the Gateway test. Each assessment review was conducted by a nine-member, impartial committee of teachers, principals and central office administrators. Two such committees operated simultaneously in order to complete the reviews before the June School Board meeting.
            In addition to reviewing the student’s Gateway scores, the committee examined the student’s classroom performance as documented by the child’s teacher(s). Members also studied the student’s standardized test data, other assessment information, and evidence provided by the parents of extenuating circumstances (illness, death in the family, etc.) that could have caused the student to perform poorly on the test. The committee then recommended one of the following four actions for each student:
            • waive passage of this year’s Gateway and promote to the next grade;
            • waive passage of this year’s Gateway, promote to the next grade, but recommend summer school;
            • do not waive passage of this year’s Gateway, recommend summer school, and require Gateway retake and passage for promotion; or
            • delay action until the complete Gateway results are received on June 30; reschedule the review by no later than July 6.
              “The Gateway Assessment Program and the Assessment Review Procedure worked precisely as intended,” Mr. Wilbanks told the School Board. “We have identified students who do not have the necessary knowledge and skills to be successful at a higher grade level, and we’ve done so in time to provide them with specialized, targeted help in summer school.
              “At the same time, we’ve encouraged better alignment between the grades a student is given in the classroom and his actual mastery of the curriculum. Evidence of that is found in the low number of students referred for the Review Procedure. As a result,” said Mr. Wilbanks, “the Gateway program is better enabling us to catch the students who need help while allowing for a review of individual cases where the Gateway results are different from what we would expect.”
              Details by Grade Level
              At grade 4, out of 8,366 students tested, 25 qualified for the review procedure, or 0.30 percent. Eleven students who were reviewed were waived from passing the Gateway, although summer school was recommended for nine of them. The remaining 14 fourth graders in the Assessment Review will be required to retake the Gateway and have been recommended for summer school.
              Of the 14 students, 11 previously had been identified as needing help with the Academic Knowledge and Skills curriculum. Nine of these 11 were on an “academic contract” because of poor classroom performance. (Parents of these students were notified by their teachers during the school year that the students were having difficulty learning the curriculum.) One student had been tested but did not qualify for special education services, and another was taught a “modified curriculum” last year due to individual needs.
              At grade 7, the Assessment Review was conducted for 19 students, or 0.24 percent of the 8,003 students tested. Passage of the Gateway was waived for five students, with three of them recommended for summer school.
              Fourteen seventh graders will be required to retake the Gateway and were recommended for summer school. Of the 14 students, 11 were receiving extra instructional help during the year through AKS-based “intervention classes;” one was screened but did not qualify for the English to Speakers of Other Languages program, and one was screened but did not qualify for special education services.
              The Assessment Review Committee did not recommend for any student delaying a decision until results from the open-ended response portions of the test are received on June 30.
              Additional Information About the Gateway Assessment Review
              The 28 students who are required to retake the Gateway are entitled to instructional help, free of charge, in summer school classes that focus on their areas of academic weakness. Summer school classes for grades K-8 begin July 10 and end July 28. Gateway retests are scheduled as follows:
              Language Arts - July 25; Social Studies - July 26; Science - July 27; Mathematics - July 28
              Students who do not pass the grade 4 and 7 Gateway retests will be retained in their current grade and will be served in the transition program, where they will receive targeted instruction to help them learn the AKS they have missed while also learning the AKS for the next grade level.

              Grade 5 and 8 Writing Test Retake Results Shared With Board
              The Board also heard a report on results of the writing retest administered in May to students in grades 5 and 8 who did not pass the test when it was given in January. The Georgia Writing Assessment, a state-required test, is used as the Gateway for grades 5 and 8. Students must score above a certain level on the writing test and pass all their academic classes in order to be promoted to grade 6 or 9.
              Results for grade 5 show that 67 percent of the students who took the retest passed on the second try. Of the 180 tested, 60 did not make the minimal score. They will be encouraged to attend summer school before taking the test again on July 27 and 28.
              At grade 8, results show that 61 percent of the 167 students tested were successful on the second attempt. Sixty-five students scored below the minimal level and will be urged to attend summer school to prepare for the July 28 retest.
              According to Associate Superintendent for Organizational Advancement Dr. Cindy Loe, “This high success rate on the retest speaks to how well our teachers and parents worked to improve these students’ writing skills. It is further evidence that when given timely and appropriate interventions, most students will be successful when they retake a test they previously failed.”

              Personnel Appointments Include Two Principals Assuming Central Office Leadership Positions
              In adopting the Personnel Report submitted by Mr. Wilbanks, the Board approved a long list of new hires and leadership appointments, including numerous teachers and support personnel for the 2000-01 school year. Leadership appointments included the following:
              • Diana Baird, principal of Pinckneyville Middle, was named Director of Middle and High School Staffing in the Human Resources Division. She fills the vacancy left by Wanda Yeargin's appointment as Executive Director for School Improvement last month.
              • Dr. Gale Hey, principal of Summerour Middle, will succeed Jane Dolinger as Director of Teacher Staff Development in the Professional Development Department when Ms. Dolinger leaves the system at the end of June.
              • Anna Elliott, a Taylor Elementary teacher, was named assistant principal at Annistown Elementary.
              • Jacquelyn Campbell, an assistant principal in Barrow County, will become assistant principal at Knight Elementary.
              • Judith Ford, currently a half-time administrative assistant at Dacula Elementary, will become a half-time assistant principal at the school.
              • Chris Brown will move from his teaching position at Suwanee Elementary to an assistant principalship at Lawrenceville Elementary.
              • Catherine Stephenson, a Mason Elementary teacher, was named assistant principal at the school.
              • Clifford Joe Ahrens moves from teacher to assistant principal at McKendree Elementary.
              • Angelique Brown, a teacher at Meadowcreek Elementary, was appointed assistant principal at Rockbridge Elementary.
              • Gina Burns, a teacher at Suwanee Elementary, will assume half-time responsibilities as an administrative assistant at the school in addition to teaching half-time.
              • Edward Spurka, an administrative assistant at Milton High School in Fulton County, was named assistant principal at Brookwood High.
              • Todd Sims was appointed administrative assistant/assistant principal at Collins Hill High, where he now works as an administrative assistant.
              • Jonathan Patterson, assistant principal at Buford Middle School, was named assistant principal at Dacula High.
              • Gary Morris, administrative assistant at Duluth High, becomes assistant principal at the school next year.
              • Paul Brooksher moves from administrative assistant to assistant principal at Duluth Middle.
              • James Roach, a self-contained EBD teacher at Lanier Middle, was appointed administrative assistant at the school.
              • LeShawn McMillan, currently project coordinator for Even Start at the Buice Center, was named assistant principal at Norcross High.
              • Donald Mason moves from administrative assistant at Lilburn Middle to assistant principal at Norcross High.
              • Ann Tinkler, intervention/SST coordinator at Richards Middle, was named administrative assistant at the school.
              • Inga McCoy, a teacher at Shiloh High, was appointed administrative assistant at the school.
              • Tina Parker moves from a special education teaching position to half-time administrative assistant at Shiloh High.
              • James Kevin Jenkins moves from administrative assistant to assistant principal at Sweetwater Middle.
              • Angie Myers will transfer from assistant principal at Annistown Elementary to that position at Magill Elementary.
              • Arthur Knight, assistant principal at Berkmar High, assumes the same position at Parkview High next year.
              • Guylyn DeMeyere will transfer from assistant principal at Norcross High to assistant principal at Meadowcreek High.
              • Patricia Lowrie, assistant principal at Sweetwater Middle, becomes assistant principal at Berkmar High.
              • Linda Williams, assistant principal at Meadowcreek High, was named community school director for the new Grayson High School.

                Name Change Approved for Gwinnett Technical Institute
                Gwinnett Technical Institute will have a new name soon-- Gwinnett Technical College. The Board approved Gwinnett Tech's request to change its name in accordance with recommendations made by Governor Barnes in HB 1187. All technical institutes accredited by the Commission on Colleges are undergoing the same change.

                Current Student Conduct Behavior Code Revised to Comply With New State Law
                The school system's Student Conduct Behavior Code was revised and approved by the Board to bring it into compliance with the mandates of HB 1187.

                Mrs. Radloff Represents Board at GC&B Conference
                Board members approved the appointment of Vice Chairman Louise Radloff as the Board's representative at Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful's upcoming conference at Amicolola Falls State Park.