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On June 23, the Districts 65 and 202 School Boards took two important steps to ensure that they will work more closely together and that they will have the tools to do so. They agreed to share data and they agreed to prepare a joint achievement report.

Data Sharing

The Boards each unanimously approved an agreement that the Districts will share data with each other relating to students’ courses, grades, test data, attendance, participation in specific programs, discipline, and demographics.

The purpose of the data-sharing is to evaluate programs and to improve instruction in each District. The study will be limited to analyses of specific programs determined by a committee and approved by both superintendents.

The agreement only lasts through July 30, 2016, and all records shared must be destroyed no later than June 30, 2017.

District 202 and 65 Board Presidents Gretchen Livingston and Tracy Quattrocki each questioned why the agreement was drafted to last for only two years. In prior Joint D65/202 Board Committee meetings, Board members had discussed jointly analyzing data to track progress in meeting the Joint Literacy Goal, which has a 12- year horizon.

At the June 23 meeting, District 202 Superintendent Eric Witherspoon said, “I hope we see this as a long-term commitment.”

District 202 Board member Pat Savage Williams said she was comfortable with a two-year term, saying the Boards could evaluate their performance under the agreement in two years and decide then whether to extend it.

Pete Bavis, assistant superintendent of District 202, said a data-sharing agreement needs to have a termination date and a date by which the data shared would be destroyed. He added, though, that the agreement could be longer than two years.

While there appeared to be sentiment to extend the term of the agreement, Board members seemed to accept that they could extend the term of the agreement at the next joint Board meeting or in two years.

Each Board separately voted on the data-sharing agreement and each approved it unanimously.

The Joint Achievement Report

The Districts 65 and 202 School Boards also decided, each by unanimous votes, that they would jointly report and jointly analyze all student data, pre-K through high school.

Dr. Witherspoon said, “This was an idea, generated through School Board members, that there would be a lot of value if the two superintendents – and hence the Districts – gave a joint annual report regarding student achievement. I think it goes right in line with the kind of things we’ve been saying tonight that the education of our youth is a continuum from the earliest stages all the way through high school and beyond.

“I know Dr. Goren and I think this is an excellent idea and we support this proposal.”

Paul Goren, superintendent of District 65, acknowledged his “full support” for the joint achievement report. He said, though, “We want to be sensitive to when we will actually produce the reports. This lays the policy to establish and then work together to define the right data, and then to analyze the data and then to put it forward in an articulated manner.” He said the Districts would probably not be in a position to produce a joint achievement report in the 2014-15 school year, but most likely it would be after that.

Board member Doug Holt asked when would be a reasonable time to expect the joint report.

Dr. Goren responded, “We could see working hard the coming year and then producing it the following year.”

Bill Geiger said he did not doubt “the enthusiasm and commitment to this joint achievement report,” but said he would like updates on the progress being made.

District 65 Board President Tracy Quattrocki said that the Joint District 65/202 Board Committee had discussed “this will be an ongoing topic next year during our committee meetings so the Boards can have some input into what we would be looking for out of this report. So I think it will be alive most of the year at the Committee level.”

At the Committee level Board members had also discussed that it would make sense to present the first achievement report in the fall of 2015 because the PARCC assessments will be given for the first time in the 2014-15 school year.

Jonathan Baum, District 202 Board member, added, “I just want to underscore that this is not just – and I’m saying this for the public – a set of numbers. We’re not just going to slap the District 65 numbers together with the District 202 numbers. This is going to be a joint assessment.

“This is not only what are the numbers, but coming to a common understanding across the spectrum of what these numbers mean, what the implications are for us going forward,” added Mr. Baum.

“Right,” said Ms. Livingston. “How it drives our work.”