West High School PTSO Meeting of 08-Jan-2007

The West High School PTSO met on January 8, 2007 with featured guest West teacher Heather Lott,
coordinator for the Small Learning Community grant implementation. The video below only includes Heather Lott’s presentation and questions that followed. It does not include other portions of the meeting such as Dr. Holmes report of the West Principal, nor reports from West PTSO officers.
The video QT Video of the meeting is 117MB, and 1 hour and 27 minutes long. Click on the image at left to watch the video. The video contains chapter headings which allow quick navigation to sections of the meeting. The video will play immediately, while the file continues to download.
Lott presented an overview of the three-year Federal SLC grant (Year 1, 2003-2004; Year 2, 2004-2005; Year 3, 2005-2006), what changes were begun in the year prior and the changes and goals for the 2006-2007 school year, post-SLC grant. She emphasized that the SLC plan would take 7 years to “complete” and that the remaining 4 years would need to be funded. The 3 year federal grant paid her salary and for professional development only. Budget cuts for the 2006-2007 year and continuing fiscal problems in the district will hamper making the desired progress.
When asked how much, minimally, West would need make acceptable progress in the implementation of the SLC plan, Dr. Holmes suggested $20,000.
She also presented data showing discipline improvements and academic achievement improvements over the SLC years.
Discussions also included the topics of differentiation and heterogeneity, and general discussions from parents of incoming West students on the social aspects of the small learning communities.
Slides for Heather Lott’s presentation are in PowerPoint and PDF for your convenience.

One thought on “West High School PTSO Meeting of 08-Jan-2007”

    January 12, 2007
    To Isthmus Editor:
    Jason Shepard (Isthmus, January 12, 2007, “Replacing Rainwater”) quotes me as saying that I worry that West High School’s heterogeneously grouped core classes could make attendance at West a “colossal waste of time” for academically advanced students. Because this quote is placed after a sentence which says that some parents “continue to fret about the effect on high achievers, who studies say do better in classes of like-minded peers,” it may appear to readers that I am opposed to West’s efforts to create richer and more equal learning environments for all its students. I am not opposed to such efforts. But, to be successful, they must be well-designed, and teachers must be extensively trained in how to effectively teach in such classrooms. I fear that in today’s budgetary context, the necessary training is unlikely.
    My concern, arising out of my experience as a parent of a student in the Madison public schools, is that academically advanced students in heterogeneously grouped classes may be unchallenged and deeply bored, with the predictable result that they become disaffected from, and cynical about the value of school-based learning.
    Mr. Holmes, West’s principal, sought to assuage some parents’ anxieties by citing the very high standardized test scores that many of West’s students continue to receive. But those assurances do not address my concern. The issue is not protecting high test scores or ensuring admission to Ivy League colleges for already advantaged students. The issue I sought to raise is how to avoid what for some students proves to be a shallow and limited experience in the classroom. That, of course, is an issue applicable to all students.
    Michael Olneck
    Professor of Educational Policy Studies and Sociology

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