Lots to discuss, including student performance and behavior

Lots to discuss, including student performance and behavior
Posted on 03/14/2022

Good evening!  Wanted to share a few of the items discussed Thursday evening at the School Board and Education Committee meetings, along with concerns expressed by Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub at the monthly Bucks County Superintendents meeting in Doylestown. 


At the Education Committee, members received a preview of Atlas - QCSD’s Curriculum Management platform, an update on Universal Full-Day Kindergarten (FDK), and a preview of QCSD’s 2020-21 Pennsylvania Future Ready Index scores.  Atlas is a digital tool for organizing and aligning curricula across all course offerings in the district.  The digital tool now allows parents and students access to the platform to review how each course will unfold during the academic year and how the students will learn national and state standards. It is our way of providing transparency to our expectations of students and giving you access to the resources and textbooks used throughout the year.


Next year, QCSD will be offering FDK to all kindergarten students.  QCSD launched its first developmental FDK program in two classrooms in two schools during Academic Year 2014-15.  At the time, most school districts in the region only offered half-day kindergarten.  The purpose of the developmental FDK program was to support students who were assessed as “not ready to learn” at the kindergarten level, for a myriad of reasons.  The program was expanded out to every elementary school the following year with one developmental FDK class per building. With many of our parents needing FDK to support their personal family situations, up to 100 families sought private school options.  Last year, the Board decided to move to offer FDK for all students over a two-year period, as the cost to the district for creating new teacher positions in one year would have exceeded $1 million.  So next year will be the first year in QCSD where every kindergartener attends school for the full day.  Registration is well underway!  To enroll your child please email [email protected] or call 215-529-2023.


The third discussion topic in the Education Committee was about how students in QCSD performed - third grade through high school - on assessments that are captured in the new PA Future Ready Index.  Assistant Superintendent Dr. Lisa Hoffman shared with the Committee that because of the nuances in families, schools and districts across the state participation rates were unusually low in most other districts, where ours remained relatively high.  Statewide and our own local student performance also indicated the impact of COVID on learning loss.  At the previous Board meeting on February 24th, Dr, Hoffman presented this year’s Mid-Year Performance on LinkIt Benchmark Assessments, which was significantly more respectable.  We learned that the use of LinkIt Benchmark assessments are predictively within 1% of our students’ performance on state assessments.


At the regular March 10th School Board meeting, the Board heard two presentations.  The first presentation was by Mark Walz, who is legal counsel for QCSD for issues relating to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (special education), and the second was by representatives from BusPatrol Inc.  The Board asked for legal counsel to provide a brief overview of the legal requirements outlined in the federal IDEA and Section 504 laws and regulations, and to provide some insight into the day to day supports and challenges in our schools. The second presentation by BusPatrol described their cost free offerings for communication services and cameras that video capture cars breaking the law by passing school buses that are unboarding or discharging students. Their systems are free as BusPatrol state or local law enforcement, and the school district split the revenue generated by the moving vehicle safety violations. The Board will decide at its next meeting whether to enter into an agreement with BusPatrol for their services.  


On Friday, two county officials joined the monthly Bucks County Superintendents Meeting.  They were the District Attorney, Matt Weintraub and the Health Director, Dr. David Damsker.  There were five points that DA Weintraub wanted us to share with parents about what he is seeing - most is what we are seeing, too, in Quakertown. Juvenile behavior that is on the rise and of great concern: vaping with THC, making false reports using the Safe2Say Something anonymous reporting system, simple assaults, sexting by children as young as 10 years old, and a fear of a perceived increase in crime which is causing students to carry knives.  Dr. Damsker shared what he is seeing in Bucks County in regards to COVID.  Thursday night, the Board reviewed and approved a revised QCSD Health & Safety Plan and a brief one-page Summary of the Health & Safety Plan. 


Thank you for reading!  Please share your thoughts and feedback with me.


Bill Harner

Superintendent 


[email protected]

@BillHarner


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