Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education meeting highlights 1-17-2017

JANUARY 17, 2017

  • Career and technical education
  • Gifted education

All board members were present: Ron Register (president), Kal Zucker (vice president), Jim Posch, Eric Silverman and Beverly Wright. Also present were Talisa Dixon, superintendent, and Scott Gainer, treasurer.

The meeting began at 7:17 p.m. and adjourned at 10:19 p.m.

Career and technical education

Brad Callender, director of career and technical education (CTE), presented an update on the CTE program and its alignment with the district’s strategic plan goals. As part of the Tri-Heights consortium with Shaker Heights and Warrensville Heights districts, Heights High students can choose from among 14 career or technical programs. Maple Heights and Bedford Heights districts are pending consortium members and will bring more offerings, all of which are pathways to careers. Of Heights students, 21 percent are involved in CTE, and 73 percent have taken at least one course as an elective. Like all Ohio students, CTE students must earn 18 credits to graduate, and 98.1 percent of Heights High’s current CTE students graduate in four years. Within the program, Project Search can bring developmentally disabled students to career readiness.

Jeff Porter, CTE automotive instructor, explained that, in addition to preparation for immediate employment, the automotive program also provides incentive to attend college to students who did not originally plan on it. Post-secondary connections are made through partnerships with local industries, seminars and competitions. He stated that local auto dealers are very willing to hire Heights graduates.

Currently only 11th- and 12-graders can take CTE classes. Callender is working with a parent task force to expand access to middle-schoolers and ninth- and 10th-graders. Because scheduling can be an obstacle, they hope to offer options outside of school hours. There are also plans for family-centered career planning involving parents.

Callender thanked the board for making CTE an integral part of the curriculum and providing funding for the equipment necessary for successful programs that lead students to a career or post-secondary education.

Gifted education

Toia Robinson, coordinator of gifted and fine arts education, made a presentation on the gifted program. It's mission addresses the whole child—the social and emotional aspects as well as academic and intellectual—and focuses on what each child does well. Students are identified as gifted through assessments designed to show superior cognitive ability, academic ability, creative thinking, or ability in visual or performing arts. Every student has an equal opportunity to be assessed. All students are assessed academically and cognitively in second and sixth grades, and in math and reading ability in third through 12th grades. Parents may request non-verbal testing. Currently, 16 percent of the district’s students are identified as gifted; 37 percent of those are students of color. Some students are difficult to identify because of conditions like ADHD or dyslexia. In some instances, disability can mask giftedness and profound giftedness can mask disability. Such students may be labeled twice exceptional.

Of those identified, only 43 percent receive gifted services, largely because not all grade levels offer gifted services. Currently the district offers gifted programs in third through seventh grades. Fourth- and fifth-graders are served in self-contained classrooms, each limited to 20 students. Sixth- and seventh-graders are served via a pullout program. Heights High students receive no gifted services because advanced placement classes are not categorized as a gifted service. Gifted programs must adhere to state guidelines and, in grades where service is provided, must offer a certain number of hours in each area in which a student is identified.

Districts are evaluated based on the percentage of students identified as gifted, percentage served, and percentage identified and served as creative thinkers, disabled students, and minority students. CH-UH had earned an A on the state report card for the previous four years, but earned an F this year when report card methods changed. The district needs to improve in gifted student growth year to year.

A diverse group of parents have formed a task force that meets monthly and makes recommendations to the board. The task force seeks to partner with other districts, strengthen professional development for classroom teachers, and take better advantage of the CTE program. Almost all students in the gifted program reported satisfaction.

Board members discussed the benefits and drawbacks of identifying some students as gifted and offering enhanced services to them as directed by state guidelines. The board plans to address this issue as well as the fact that only certain grade levels are served, and that the program changes from year to year.

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 email postings of full reports, send an email to mbarnes9515@gmail.com 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 of Greater Cleveland. This disclaimer must accompany any redistribution of these reports.

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Volume 10, Issue 3, Posted 11:23 AM, 03.01.2017