02/10/2000









GCPS Board Meeting Summary for February 10, 2000

          School Board Recognizes Outstanding Accomplishments
          - Two Gwinnett County educators-- Sallie Barrett of Pinckneyville Middle and Peggy Coffey of Kanoheda Elementary-- were among the 2,965 U.S. teachers who earned prestigious national certification for work completed in the 1998-99 school year. Certification by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) is a two-part assessment to determine whether a teacher possesses the attributes of accomplished teaching. More than 4,800 teachers have earned national certification since the NBPTS was created in 1987.
          - The Board recognized Rebecca Minor Elementary on being named a 2000 Georgia School of Excellence. Principal Freddie Williams credited the outstanding dedicated teachers and their great teamwork with the school's success.
          - Board members honored the Lilburn Police Department for its help in keeping our schools safe. The Board specifically honored the Lilburn Police Department for its response to a bank robbery call that resulted in the apprehension of four members of the Morning Glory Gang. In his remarks about the work of the Lilburn Police and their cooperation with schools in the Berkmar Cluster, Berkmar High School Principal Jim Markham likened the "men in blue" to school teachers in that they often don't receive recognition. He commended and praised the officers for their work and contributions to the school and the community.

          Citizens Address the Board
          Two citizens and one student expressed concerns regarding the Gateway Assessment Program. Their comments focused on possible litigation, the design of the test, and situations where a student's Gateway scores may be inconsistent with his/her scores on other standardized tests.

          Board Approves Leadership Appointment
          • Berry Simmons, currently an assistant principal at Brookwood High, will be the principal of Lilburn Middle next school year. He will fill the position vacated by Dr. Lynda Royal, who is retiring as principal at the end of this school year. Mr. Simmons joined Gwinnett County Public Schools in 1990 as an assistant principal at Summerour Middle. He also has worked as an assistant principal at Creekland Middle and in his current position at Brookwood High. Prior to joining GCPS, Mr. Simmons worked for Dublin City Schools (1987-90) as an administrator, and for Chatham County Schools (1984-87) as a science teacher and coach.

            Board Renews Annual Contract with MRESA
            The Board of Education renewed its annual contract with the Metropolitan Regional Educational Service Agency (MRESA). Membership in MRESA is consistent with the state plan for school systems to work through a regional network on educational issues. MRESA serves as a regional advocate and coordinator for state educational programs, funds salaries for Gwinnett's two North Metro Centers that provide service to severely emotionally disturbed students, and offers a number of staff development courses that are not always offered locally. The cost of the membership in the coming year will be $19,136.

            Appalachee Baptist Church Shares Academic Partnership Plan
            Appalachee Baptist Church is sponsoring AKS intervention classes which support student learning of the AKS and preparation for AKS-based assessments, including the Gateway tests. Currently, more than 130 students have enrolled at the Appalachee Baptist Church AKS Support Center. In his remarks to the School Board, Dr. Ron Sailor, church pastor, said "We must work together to make sure every student receives the education they deserve. That's why we've hired certified teachers who have a passion for children and a passion for learning. We believe in the long haul this is going to make a difference." Students from any Gwinnett County school may attend the sessions which are held Saturday mornings at Dacula Elementary from 9 a.m. to noon, through the end of the school year. Appalachee also will sponsor an AKS support summer school program. The church will share information on summer school dates and times in May.

            Board Proclaims February 17 as PTA Day in Gwinnett County Schools
            The Board adopted a proclamation declaring February 17, 2000, as PTA Day in Gwinnett County Public Schools. Board members thanked PTA Council Co-Presidents Karen Throckmorton and Joanie Arcement for the work the PTA does in encouraging parents, educators, and learners to be mutually accountable for student success in school and for the organization's work to ensure a quality education for all children. Gwinnett's PTA Council and the local school PTA units, which comprise one of the largest PTA memberships in the nation, have distinguished themselves as respected advocates for children, families, and public education in Gwinnett County.

            Teachers Review Gateway Sample Tests With School Board Members
            Superintendent Alvin Wilbanks introduced a brief overview of the AKS and Gateway Assessment Program. In his remarks, he said, "The foundation of our AKS and Gateway Assessment Program is this: what we feel students should know and be able to do is reflected in the curriculum we teach and in the assessments we use to test the learning." Executive Director of the Center for Educational Programs Connie Hoyle introduced several of the school system's curriculum experts-- classroom teachers-- who shared information on two components of the Gateway Assessment Program: the item banks database and the Gateway tests themselves.
            • Diane Zieg of Norcross Elementary demonstrated how teachers can use the item banks to build tests to assess how well students have learned the AKS. The banks of questions are available to all Gwinnett teachers via the school system's Lotus Notes system. There are item banks for all content areas K-8 and all high school subject areas. This tool allows teachers to pull questions on specific AKS to build tests that help assess how well students have learned the curriculum. In showing the Board the database, Ms. Zieg explained how the item banks are works in progress as teachers continue to submit new test questions.
            • Debbie King of Simonton Elementary shared sample fourth-grade Gateway questions with the Board. She explained that earlier this school year, sample Gateway questions were shared with teachers, parents, and community members. She walked Board members through several questions explaining how the questions were developed, pointing out ITBS and Quality Core Curriculum correlations, and what the questions are assessing. In reviewing the answers to the questions, Ms. King also reviewed scoring procedures. She expressed her support for the Board's vision for the education of students.
            • Nancy Caudell of Lanier Middle reviewed how the seventh-grade test asks students to answer questions based on what they learned in seventh grade as well as concepts learned in previous grade levels. In looking at sample questions, she pointed out many of the higher-level thinking skills that students learn every day in class that help them to answer questions. In her comments, Ms. Caudell stressed that all of the sample questions assess the knowledge and skills that are taught and what students are expected to learn before they move on.
            • Christine Pulliam of Collins Hill High provided Board members and citizens in attendance with a description of the high school Gateway. In reviewing a sample social studies test, she demonstrated how students are expected to use documents that are provided with the questions, as well as their prior knowledge, in writing their essay responses. The social studies question she reviewed addressed 19 specific AKS. According to Ms. Pulliam, the essay format shows that the student not only knows the subject-area content, but also that he can analyze data, draw inferences, make connections between information in the packet and what was learned in class, and can formulate an argument relative to the topic. In closing, she showed the Board sample essays written by students to illustrate the kind of writing that meets the minimal, effective, and excellent standards set by the school system.

              Policy IKB, Controversial Issues Tabled for 30 Days
              The Board tabled proposed changes to Policy IKB, Controversial Issues for 30 days to allow for public input.

              * Due to recent upgrades in the school system's web site, we were delayed in posting several items, including the February Board Summary. Please excuse the inconvenience. We should be back on schedule with the Board Summary posting in March.