Cleveland Heights - University Heights Board of Education meeting highlights 1-17-12

JANUARY 17, 2012

  • State report card
  • Efforts to improve learning
  • Race to the Top
  • Cultural Competence Training

All board members were present.

State report card

The district is currently ranked in the Continuous Improvement category. Three steps needed to attain an Effective ranking include:

  • Ensuring that all students take the test because an untaken test scores as a zero. Last year 49 students did not take the test;
  • Offer enrichment opportunities to students who were close to proficient;
  • Encourage students to take the test seriously.

Efforts to improve learning

Jeffrey Johnston, student services director, and staff members Kelly Stukus, Kevin Jarrell, Jane Simeri, and Allison Byrd, coordinators of educational services, were present to report details on efforts to improve student learning.


Since the implementation of Tiger Proud and Bully Free, bullying incidents have decreased by 40 percent. Jackie Vance of Student Services is working to bring the message to elementary and middle school staff and families.

Two challenges have emerged from teacher surveys: insufficient staff meeting time in the middle schools and high school, and coordination and full utilization of district resources.

The implementation of progressive discipline, which involves consistent application of discipline policies, has resulted, so far, in six percent suspension and less than one percent expulsion. Expelled students may be assigned to the Alternatives to Expulsion program for all or part of their expulsion period. There is also an effort to reduce the number of students with disabilities who are involved in the disciplinary process. Students in the Options Program have been involved in fewer disciplinary incidents.

Attendance has met state requirements for the past four years and has improved at the high school. The district is looking into the relationship between attendance problems and involvement with juvenile court.

Language arts instruction:

The district’s goal is for all students to read at or above grade level by the end of third grade. Currently, reading assessments indicate that about 60 percent of entering kindergartners are unprepared to learn, a number that could drop now that the district has doubled its pre-K capacity by expanding to Noble School. Third and fourth grade reading scores have improved, and second grade scores have remained consistent.

The district’s new performance grouping model for English and Language Arts is being evaluated. An obstacle to its effective implementation is the classroom spatial configuration in the buildings, which is not conducive to large or small group work.

Since many teachers were new to their grade level, professional development has been focused on getting to know students, especially as learners, and targeting their instruction. Teacher sharing sessions have been welcomed, as have special programs to support students as readers and writers. These include author visits and field trips that relate reading to social studies.

Math and science instruction:

Three different math instruction programs are currently being piloted in three elementary buildings, and one will be recommended for adoption in the 2012–13 school year. Science staff will review instructional materials and professional development in common core standards.

Education for gifted students

The district is in compliance with assessing students for giftedness and for early entrance into kindergarten and first grade. Sixty fourth and fifth graders are in the new self-contained gifted classes at Roxboro and Boulevard, and 28 of 47 eligible fourth and fifth graders are participating in a pull-out gifted program. One in five middle school students is participating in the Middle School Scholars Program (MSSP), which includes Science Olympiad and Model U.N. Testing for inclusion in the new performance grouping model for grades three through five will be conducted in May of second grade. Parents may request that their child be tested.

Principals selected parents to form an elementary parent group; each elementary school is represented. Board member Eric Coble commented that parents are concerned about what will be offered to gifted students after fifth grade.

The physical structure of the buildings was reported as a detriment to the programs.

Challenges to improvement efforts:

A new Unified Arts class for struggling middle school students, the AVID program for middle-performing students, and the summer transition program serving 70 students entering sixth grade have been implemented.

A parent feedback program revealed some dissatisfaction with the pull-out aspect of MSSP, a desire for teachers to get to know students better, and a question as to whether there are too many electives. Only about 20 parents attended the forum, while there are almost 1,300 middle school students in the district. Another forum will be held in February.

Technical challenges included student laptops needing repair, some students not accepting laptops, and some not using their laptops wisely.

Once again, space configuration was reported as a limitation in terms of collaboration and alternatives to suspension and expulsion.

Educational Opportunities for Success (EOS) at the high school provides students with a daily 50-minute period to meet with teachers for academic help. Despite this, the failure rate in core courses has increased from 215 two years ago to 255 this year. Approximately 100 ninth graders did not have enough credits to become tenth graders this year, which means each of those students failed at least two core courses. Jeffery Talbert, assistant superintendent, stated that EOS was not ideally implemented, resulting in some teachers being unavailable during EOS periods. EOS also uses time during the school day that teachers might have had for collaboration or professional development. Administrators are evaluating it and will make adjustments.

Freshman Experience is an effort to help freshmen succeed academically using a team focus and flexible scheduling. However, there has been no improvement in freshman achievement, with attendance and behavior cited as problems. Scheduling all core courses during the allotted time has been harder than expected, but corrections have been made, giving 90 percent of the students appropriate schedules.

Both EOS and Freshman Experience will be adjusted as 2012–13 scheduling takes place. There is also an effort to provide students with more guidance in selecting their small schools. A grant has been obtained to remodel Legacy School to make its space more conducive to its program. A discussion is underway about whether it is necessary to continue to balance the enrollment of all four small schools.

Race to the Top

Superintendent Heuer stated that four areas are supported by Race to the Top funds: teacher training in the use of the common core curriculum; teacher training in the use of student test data to inform instruction; training of teacher leaders; and development of a principal and teacher evaluation system tied to student growth, which was delayed by the state’s failure to define student growth. The program must be in place by 2014.

Cultural Competence Training

All 52 new certified staff members have had six hours of Cultural Competence Training. The goal is to expand such training to all staff.

LWV observer: Nancy Dietrich.

These meeting summaries are abstracted from LWV observers’ written reports. The summaries have been edited and prepared by Anne McFarland, Charlene Morse, and Maryann Barnes. To receive e-mail postings of full reports, send an e-mail to or join through Google groups using “lwv-chuh observer reports” as a search phrase.

These reports contain member observation and selected highlights of public meetings and are not official statements of the Heights Chapter of the League of Women Voters Cuyahoga Area. This disclaimer must accompany any redistribution of these reports.

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Volume 5, Issue 3, Posted 5:48 PM, 02.29.2012