GCPS Board Meeting Summary for June 21, 2007

The following are highlights of the June 21, 2007, meeting of the Gwinnett County Board of Education. The official minutes of the meeting will be approved by the Board at its next monthly meeting.

Board recognizes students and staff members
-- Board members saluted Meadowcreek ES' Kelly Cowart on her recognition as National Elementary School Counselor of the Year by the American School Counselors' Association (ASCA). The path to winning this honor is a long and competitive process. Winners at the local-level competition sponsored by the Georgia School Counselors' Association go on to compete for Region 2 honors. The region-level winners then compete with 11 other Georgia regions for state honors. The state winners submit their applications to the ASCA for national recognition. As a national winner, Kelly will be recognized on June 25, 2007, at the national conference in Denver, Colorado. Gwinnett County Public Schools' counselors continue to be leaders at state and national levels, winning more state and national honors through the years than any other school system.
-- This year, 14 students graduated from Gwinnett County Public Schools having not missed a day of school during their academic careers. All of these students have been invited to attend a School Board meeting to be formally recognized for this outstanding achievement. Honored at tonight's meeting were Breana Vining, a Brookwood HS graduate, and Megan Aunchman, a Mill Creek HS graduate. In honoring these students, the school system also honored the students' families, commending them for their support of their students.
--School Board members honored Lynne Davis, principal of Trickum MS (retiring in June); Michelle Farmer, principal of R.D. Head ES; Jane Stegall, principal of Brookwood HS (retiring in June); Cindy Antrim, principal of McKendree ES; Kathy Jones, principal of Camp Creek ES; Jonathan Patterson, principal of Norcross HS
(recognized for his previous leadership at Alton C. Crews MS); Jean Loethen-Payne, principal of Peachtree ES (recognized for her previous leadership at Gwin Oaks ES); and Dr. LaVern Watkins, principal of Norcross ES (moving to another district for 2007-2008) on their state recognition as High Performance Principals. Governor Sonny Perdue and State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox previously announced the names of individuals who were identified as "High-Performance Principals," as defined by Senate Bill 468, which was passed and funded during the 2006 General Assembly. This grant program is designed to encourage those recognized to become principals in secondary "Needs Improvement" schools, but it also serves as an opportunity to recognize and honor the individual and collective achievements of these high-performing educators.
- Congratulations to Berkmar HS' Literary Team on its second-place finish in state competition.The state competition includes dramatic interpretation, extemporaneous speaking, essay, and solo and group vocal performances. Berkmar's team members include Michael Carter, Tonya Mitchell, James Odom, Joanna Pak, and Jonathan Walker. First-year teacher Ted Huddleston served as the team's sponsor. In representing the team, Jonathan Walker shared his experience with the Board and thanked Board members for their support of students and for allowing schools to participate in these types of competitions.
- Berkmar HS' Academic Decathlon Team recently won its fifth consecutive state championship. The PAGE Georgia Academic Decathlon, which began in 1987, provides incentive for average students, underachieving students, above-average students, as well as academically-talented students, to compete in an academic competition. The competition events include tests of academic strength, demonstrations of communication ability, and the Super Quiz Oral Relay. Comprehensive tests are given in the areas of economics, mathematics, language and literature, science (or social science), music, and art. The communication events include speech (prepared and impromptu), an interview, and a written essay. The competition concludes with the Super Quiz Oral Relay--a team event held before a live audience. Berkmar HS has represented Gwinnett County and has won the state title in each of the last five years. The team placed 20th at the national competition this year. Team members include Andrew Bascas, Agni Chandora, Katie Harazin, Dua Hassan, Mai Himedan, Ian Marra, Liana Nisimova, Christian Parsons, and Jonathan Walker. The team coach is IV Bray. He was assisted by Chris Pae, who was a first-year teacher at Berkmar and who actually was on the Berkmar HS academic team when he was a student. Principal Ken Johnson expressed his pride in this team and their accomplishments and commended Mr. Bray on his leadership.
- In addition to Berkmar HS team recognitions, several individual Berkmar HS students have recently earned state recognition in various athletic competitions.
- Board members recognized Girma Mecheso of Berkmar HS on his second-place state finish in the 3,200-meter run. In last year's competition,
Girma placed in the top three in this event.

- Also recognized from Berkmar HS was Jerry Gross, this year's state champion in boys high jump. Jerry won the state title this
year, his first year competing in this event.
- Berkmar's Juliana Smith was honored for her state championship season in girls discus. Each year, high school athletes from across Georgia are invited to participate
in the state competition. In this, her second visit to state, Juliana bettered her second-place finish last year to win the 2007 state championship.

Gwinnett County Board of Education denies charter application
School Board members denied an application to start the Ivy Preparatory Academy charter school as the application did not meet required criteria established by the state for charter petitions. In recommending this action, staff outlined areas of the application identified as not meeting the state criteria or areas that needed further clarification prior to approval. The petitioners for the Ivy Preparatory Academy have the option to take their application to the state to receive a state charter or may reapply with the Gwinnett County Board of Education. The school system has approved two charter schools to date-- the New Life Charter School and the Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology-- both of which are scheduled to open this fall.

School Board acts on Gateway Review Procedure recommendations
Of the 19,601 Gwinnett 4th and 7th graders required to pass the 2007 Gateway test, the vast majority earned passing scores on the first try and were promoted to the next level. However, 194 students did not do as well on the Gateway as would be expected, based on their classroom grades. For them, the system's Assessment Review Procedure was initiated and acted on by the Board. After a thorough review, Board members determined that 79 of the 194 students qualifying for the review must retake and pass the portion(s) of the test they failed in order to be promoted to the next grade level.

Staff delivers end-of-year assessment update
Gwinnett students continue to perform well on local and state tests measuring student achievement of the curriculum. As part of the end-of-year assessment update, staff members reviewed the system's assessment program, recent test results, and the cycle for measuring student learning. Below are highlights from Gwinnett's AKS/Gateway Assessment Program and the state's CRCT.
- Of the 9,646 students who were required to pass the test in grade 4, the systemwide passing rates were 98.2 percent in Language Arts and 91.8 percent in Mathematics.
- Systemwide passing rates were 86.9 percent in Mathematics and 97.5 percent in Language Arts for the 9,955 7th graders required to meet promotion criteria.
- Currently, there are three grade levels at which the state requires students to meet or exceed state standards in order to earn promotion to the next grade. At all three grades, the vast majority of Gwinnett students-- more than 88 percent-- met the promotion requirements by passing the required subtests of the CRCT.

Board continues work to update policies
-- Staff recommended that Policy BAA- Board's Theory of Action for Student Achievement remain on the table for further input. This proposed new policy articulates its theory of action for improving student achievement and effectuating its core beliefs and commitments about teaching and learning.

Citizens addressing the Board
-- Nina Gilbert
-- Christi Nichols