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BOE puts focus on student equity

BOE puts focus on student equity

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At their Oct. 10 meeting, Board of Education members examined equity in North Haven schools, looked closely at the district’s student growth data and talked about a wage increase for teachers in North Haven High School’s Preschool Program. 

In a discussion of unfinished business from the August board meeting, board member Jennifer Cecarelli broached the subject of the student equity information that had been supplied to the board by Superintendent Patrick Stirk. 

Cecarelli had pushed for this information at the August board meeting saying that she wanted to make sure there was “a proportional number of kids in our classes” particularly when it comes to “racial balance.” 

At the Oct. 10 meeting, Cecarelli shared some of the student equity information in regards to English Language Arts classes at NHHS. 

“79 percent of our student body is white yet 85 percent of those students are AP,” she said. “But if we look at African American, there’s 3.84 percent … but only 2.2 percent are AP. So just sort of see if we can figure out what’s preventing equalization of that proportionality would be terrific, especially among Latinx.”

Cecarelli also asked about “what sort of discussions were planned” around this equity information in order to improve racial balance in classrooms. 

“It’s something that we’re just venturing into as well, so meeting with the high school administration and discussing that is really in the infancy stages at this point,” said Superintendent Patrick Stirk. “I think that’s where we’re going to begin and move from there. We were just going to act on the data as a whole.” 

Stirk said that the school also was planning on looking at student equity misalignment in other departments and to see if the school could figure out why there may be a misalignment in various departments and classes. 

Stirk and Assistant Superintendent Melinda McKenna later presented information on the district’s Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium scores that track growth data of third to eighth grade students in regards to English Language Arts and mathematics. 

SBAC scores are set by the state for individual students. These scores act as “growth targets” and students need to either meet or exceed these targets in order to achieve growth on their SBAC scores. 

“The average percentage of target achieved accounts for the amount of growth made towards the target,” said Stirk. “So on average from grades 3 to 8, 64.6 percent of our students met 100 percent of their ELA target and 69.1 percent met it in math.”

Over the last three years, North Haven schools SBAC scores have seen steady improvement. In regards to North Haven schools’ district reference group, which ranks North Haven against surrounding school districts, North Haven public schools ranked fifth for growth rate in ELA and eighth for growth rate in mathematics. 

“We’re pleased with our number of students at goal and above but we’re also pleased to see that we’re achieving more on the growth target,” said McKenna. “Students individually and collectively as a group, if you look over that three-year span, you can see incrementally that we’re getting stronger in terms of children kind of improving against themselves.” 

Just before the meeting adjourned, Director of Finance and Operations Pam Mangini brought forward a motion to increase the wages of the preschool teachers at NHHS. 

“Based on their current enrollment, based on the income that’s projected for this year and offsetting their budget that we put together, they have a projected year end balance of about $1,780 and a 2 percent increase to the three employees would be $1,700,” said Mangini. “They were very grateful for the consideration of a 2 percent increase.”

The board moved to a vote for the proposed increase and the motion passed unanimously.
Twitter: @everett_bishop