FAQs: SLC movement at Castle High School. General SLC questions submitted by parents:

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1 FAQs: SLC movement at Castle High School General SLC questions submitted by parents: Q: Where can parents obtain information on small learning communities and the model that Castle plans to roll out with the new school year? (There is discussion in the community that some schools implemented SLCs and students could choose to participate while other schools implemented a school wide SLC). A: There are a number of web sites that offer information on SLCs: Career Academies Support Network (casn.berkeley.edu), National Career Academy Coalition (ncacinc.com), NASSP(National Association of Secondary School Principals, mdrc.org/publications/428/print.html. Meeting Five Critical Challenges of High School Reform, ed.gov. Q: Can Castle provide parents data (test scores) on other schools in the State that are utilizing the SLC model? A: At the present time, there are no other schools which have a wall-to-wall SLC structure like Castle is planning. There are several schools on the mainland that do have data. (Garden City High School, Kansas). You may want to reference Campbell, Kalaheo, Kalani, Kaimuki, Maui, Kahuku, Waiakea, Kauai, Roosevelt, Waipahu, Kapaa, Pear City, McKinley, and Castle. These schools were all awarded Federal Grants for SLCs. Q: Is Castle utilizing the experience of other schools in the State who are currently utilizing the SLC model? (Campbell was noted to have success with their implementation). Is Castle meeting with these schools to learn from their experience? A: At the moment, Castle is in a consortium of 5 SLC schools that meet regularly with each other. We also meet with another Hawaii consortium from time to time. We have also attended SLC conferences and collaborated with mainland schools that have experience with SLCs. Q: Ms. Albert suggested parents request Castle incorporate the International Baccalaureate Program into their SLC model, has Castle considered this program and what is being done to inform parents about this program? (Campbell was noted to have implemented this program had Castle discussed with Campbell progress, etc?) A: Castle has looked into IB, had discussions with Kaiser and Campbell. The cost was too great at this point. Cost of program, training for teachers, travel cost. Q: How will SLCs specifically address the issues of not meeting AYP? A: The four goals of the SLC design is to: 1. Provide academic and student support interventions to transition students into high school. 2. Create and expand Smaller Learning Community strategies and structures in order to strengthen effective practices for student engagement.

2 3. Strengthen effective teaching and learning practices to improve student achievement and minimize achievement gaps in literacy, math, science and technology. 4. Prepare all students for college and career options after high school. HSA testing strategies are in place to help improve scores with interventions and workshop classes. Q: Has Castle considered what group of students the SLC model is benefitting? What group of students might be short changed? A: The SLC model is design so that there is equal access for all students based on interest and not only abilities. Q: How does the SLC model differ from a trade school? There is discussion in the community that Castle is becoming a trade school with the implementation of the SLC model. A: In the past, when tracking was the standard practice, students were either placed into a college track or a vocational track. The SLC model is different in which the focus is to combine both and prepare all students for college and career opportunities. Q: When a student selects (or is placed in) a SLC is that meant to be a career or college path? There is discussion that Castle is saying that when students are selecting (or placed in) a SLC it is not meant to be a career or college path. What then would be the point of a SLC? A: SLCs are meant to prepare all students for college and career paths, it does not focus on one over the other. Q: Can students truly change out of a SLC? If students opt to change SLC and request a particular academy which then floods that academy how will Castle accommodate for this change? Will students be forced into an academy not of their choosing? How will this impact the students career and college goals? A: The goal is to give the students their first choice when it comes to SLCs. Students will be allowed to change SLCs once, between 10 th and 11 th grade only. They may be required to meet with their counselor before being able to transfer. Q: What happens if a student registers for a SLC but the classes are full, does the registrar place the student in a different SLC? Or will classes be a larger students to teacher ratio? A: The goal is to give students their first choice when it comes to SLCs. Currently, students who registered on time are scheduled for their 1 st choice. Because of this, the number of teachers were adjusted to meet the classes that were selected.

3 Q: Have all Castle teachers been trained in the SLC model? If no what is the timeline for ALL teachers to be trained? How much training have teachers had with the SLC model (is it a train the trainer model where the core group of teacher who went to mainland are training the other teachers)? A: Professional development has been ongoing with our restructuring initiative through West Ed. In relation to SLCs, training is planned starting in March and continuing through the summer. Topics to include but not limited to: Teaming, Differentiation, PLC process, Counselor training. Q: There is discussion in the community that 50% of the staff had not yet been trained with the new program and will never be is this true? A: Unsure of what program is being referred to. Q: Does Castle have enough teachers to be able to accommodate all the SLC classes (might there be a situation in which a teacher had to teach a class that are not familiar with to meet the SLC need)? A: In most cases, teachers will be teaching in their field of certification. However, some may be teaching in multiple grade levels, or different courses within their subject area. Q: How will Castle support the teachers in being able to teach a different subject if there is more interest in a particular SLC than another? A: Teachers will be teaching in their field of certification/license. Some may be teaching in multiple grade levels (currently happening), or different courses within their subject area. Q: How much training and to what degree are the Castle teachers trained to teach heterogeneous classes? A: Teachers are professionals who are trained to teach students of varying abilities. Heterogeneous classes are not a new concept. All teachers are trained to teach all students. T4S is an ongoing PD. Q: What is the plan for teachers to accommodate the diversity of learners in a class? (Embedding students in one class) A: Teachers have been trained in Teach 4 Success strategies that target differentiation through Tier 1 and Tier 2 instruction. They have also been trained on student engagement strategies that incorporate class participation. Q: What is administration going to do to keep teachers accountable? (Meeting the needs of all the students in the class) A: T4S walkthrough protocols and teachers observations.

4 Q: How will the administration be kept accountable with this new plan? (How will parents know how effective the SLC model is?) Note: a suggestion is that parents and students be given a survey quarterly which will be sent directly to DOE with a cc to Ms. Albert and Mr. Maeda. Results should also be made available to parents for parent feedback. A: The data will determine the effectiveness of good teaching. Keep in mind that it will take at least 3 years to have a complete picture of change. What type of information would you like to see? We currently have a yearly SLC survey and the SQS survey. Q: How will teachers manage behavior problems in the classroom and ensure that the students receive their full instructional time? Currently there are some classes that are heterogeneous (general ed and honors) and students are telling parents that the teacher had to deal with behavior problems which take away from instructional time. This is a current concern that needs to be addressed. A: There are protocols in place to deal with behavior problems on campus. Questions related to SLC and honors classes: Q: Have other schools using the SLC model discontinued their honors classes for students? How have other schools who are utilizing the SLC model dealt with this concern? A: Some schools have dropped honors while others have not. Presently, we are the first school to have wall-to-wall SLCs so the protocols are a bit different. Q: What are the specific reasons why and honors program is not compatible with SLC s at Castle? A: See above. We have provided other options for these students open AP classes and running start. Q: How will teachers be kept accountable to move students forward/challenge students with such a diverse group of learners? (concern that the honors students will not be challenged to their potential, students who need additional support will not get it). A: Differentiated instruction and T4S protocols. Q: What are the teacher s plans on how to administer embedded honors in their heterogeneous classes? Please explain in detail how teachers are going to teach embedded honors. Will all teachers implement the same model? A: We are not ready to implement embedded honors until proper training is provided to teachers. Q: Who will be accountable for ensuring that teachers are not using students to tutor other students in class? Or is this part of the SLC concept/expectations? A: Through classroom observation by administration and district personnel, good teaching practices are being evaluated. The focus is not on using students as tutor, but on collaborative learning. Please read College Readiness: Learning Collaboratively (Ben Johnson, 1/26/12)

5 Q: How will colleges know a student had completed honors courses if it is not indicated as an honors class? A: When embedding is implemented, an honors class distinction is possible to code. Q: Is it more beneficial to participate in the Running Start Program vs. taking AP classes? A: Both are an advantage to the student. Running start is a dual credit course if you pass the class. There is a cost to take the course ($300.00). AP classes require a test to gain college credit and it is up to the college to accept scores. Cost ($85). It is a choice that a parent will need to make. Q: Is there a means for distance learning with the Running Start Program so that students do not have to attend Windward Community College weekly? A: No, the idea of running start is for the student to gain the college experience of being on a college campus. The State and the UH system is working to find more opportunities as far as online, dual credit type classes. Q: What options do Freshmen/Sophomores have to enhance their learning opportunities? Sophomores could be considered for AP courses however is this appropriate for students in this grade level? How many sophomore students in the past 3 years have enrolled in AP courses? A: 7 sophomores enrolled in AP Chemistry last year. AP enrollment is encouraged to any student who feels they are ready to take such a course. Next year, AP Chem and AP Bio is available for students Q: Is there a possibility of re-establishing honors classes in the upcoming school year? A: Not for the school year. We are looking at embedding in the future. We are also looking into pre-ap courses Grading: Q: What system will be used when Gradebook is discontinued? Parents are requesting a mechanism to monitor their child s progress. A: Jupiter Grades (SNAP Grades). Online grading is all percentage based and as we move into standards based grading we will need to reassess compatibility. Q: There seems to be inconsistency with the new grading policy and how teachers are implementing. Why is there inconsistency and who is keeping the teachers accountable to ensuring consistency? A: T4S protocols and teacher observations. Q: If your child is not a good test taker how will he/she bring up their grades? A: Standards based grading is not only based on tests. Formative assessments are given along the way to gauge progress or the need for enrichment before a summative assessment is given.

6 General Questions: Q: Why were parents not informed of this change earlier (SLCs) so that questions could have been discussed prior to implementation and other options could be investigated. A: It has been ongoing over the past few years. Community presentations and feedback was solicited and taken into account. Castle High School has had some type of SLC since Terminology has been interchanged over the years. The SLC grant was awarded in February of The planning and design was mostly finalized in November of Parents were informed shortly after. Q: Has Castle considered what the impact will be from eliminating (embedding) the honors program in relation to Castle s future? Parents are already seeking alternate school options for their children with Castle s decision to eliminate the honors program. This will have an impact on weighted student formula and overall funding for the school. A: Yes, we have considered the fact that some parents may want to pull out their child. We are doing our best to improve good teaching which impacts all types of classes. Q: Castle is implementing SLC with the new school year. The Redesign must submit their plan by June. What happens if the Redesign plan does not align with the SLC model Castle has implemented? How will this impact students who are in their Junior year in the school year? A: Castle is doing its best to intersect with the Redesign group to show that we have put things in place to restructure our school. Ultimately, it will be up to the Redesign team to make a final recommendation to the CAS, but the decision lies with the CAS and Superintendent. If the redesign is different from Castle s design, it will take up to two years to implement. It has been stated that our design is an asset to the redesign initiative.

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