GCSD board discussed several policy changes, standards-based grading

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District to hold special meeting Monday to swear in new board members

GOSHEN COUNTY – Standards-based grading, policy updates and alternative school schedules were the topic of discussion at the Goshen County School District (GSD) board of trustees meeting on Nov. 8.

Following the Pledge of Allegiance, GCSD Superintendent Ryan Kramer proposed a motion to appoint a board member for the vacant position following former GCSD Chairman Zachary Miller’s resignation last month, which expired that night due to the Nov. 8, General Midterm Election.

Outgoing GCSD Board Member Katherine Patrick nominated former GCSD Board Chairman Mark Jespersen to the position, despite Jespersen having resigned from the board Oct. 13, 2021. Board members elected Miller as the new chairman and Michael Sussex as the vice chairman at that time. Sussex was voted to be the new chairman in October following Miller’s resignation. Board Member Sarah Chaires was voted to be the new vice chairman.

Patrick will be leaving the board after being elected Tuesday night to become a new Eastern Wyoming College (EWC) board member.

On Election Night, GCSD Board Members Justin Hurley and Chaires won their election bids after being previously appointed to the board. Additionally, Bob Peterson, Wade Phipps and Chris Alexander were elected to the board on Election Night; new board members will be sworn in on Monday, Nov. 21 at 5:30 p.m. at the Goshen County Central Administration building in a special board meeting. GCSD has 10 days once election results are official to swear in new board members. According to the Wyoming Secretary of State’s website, the Nov. 8 Midterm General Election results are pending certification and not yet official.

Kramer honored two current board members for their years of service with a small presentation of appreciation for Patrick and GCSD Board Clerk Kerry Bullington.

Southeast Schools Student Board Member Alex McIntyre, Lingle-Fort Laramie (LFL) High School Student Board Member Kamryn Rafferty and Torrington High School Student Board Member Klacie Groene were asked to discuss the district's proposed district-wide school dress code it is seeking to implement in all Goshen County schools.

According to Kramer, the new dress code policy will go into effect for the 2023-2024 school year.

Groene told board members, “I recently attended the 95th National FFA (Future Farmers of America) Convention and Expo earlier this year in October – and from there I have seen different dress codes and why people need a dress code.”

Groene described the number of different outfits she had seen and noted how some outfits were not professional.

Adding, “We soon noticed we were dressed for success,” after her team had been given a stricter dress code for their attendance at the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana.

McIntyre told board members, “I think a dress code across the school district would allow students to be more unified in the district. I see a lot of separation between the three (high) schools; with a dress code specific to the entire district – I see a lot more unity.”

McIntyre, who said he came from a private school background, said oftentimes an unrestricted dress code policy can lead to other student body population concerns but that a stricter policy can tend to backfire with students pushing the dress code to the limits.

“They will test you on everything,” McIntyre said. “Another thing – dress codes are out there for everyone’s safety.”

He said a unified dress code would codify the district's synergism as one district with the same and common goals.

Rafferty told board members, “After hearing the topic (dress code) – I did not know exactly how to address this.”

“After hearing about the idea of having a unified dress code – I think that is a great idea,” Rafferty added.

“The purpose of high school is to get us ready for college or whatever you decide to do with the rest of your life – there is no real dress code in college and there is no real dress code for real life,” Rafferty explained. “But we don’t really see people out in real life pushing things necessarily in the way that a high school student would.”

Ultimately, Rafferty told board members it was a great idea even for teachers because it would be one less thing teachers would need to focus on, address or worry about in the classroom.

The new district dress code policy reads; Any dress that is determined by school authorities to disrupt the educational process, and/or causes a distraction to student learning will be considered unacceptable as indicated below:

  • Clothing depicting immoral behavior, illegal acts, obscene language, or sexual innuendo.
  • Clothing depicting or describing any alcohol project, tobacco product, illegal substance, or legal substance that is prohibited.
  • Insignia in any form containing words, symbols, messages, styles of gang symbols, logos, or emblems which degrade gender, religion, culture, ethnic values, or (anything) considered obscene.
  • All head coverings unless worn for religious reasons or medical reasons (with documentation), or as a hair accessory.
  • Spiked bracelets, collars or necklaces.
  • Undergarments that are visible below the waistline during normal activity.
  • Footwear must be worn at all times.

Students from Torrington High School’s (THS) student leadership presented board members and attendees with artwork students did as it relates to its program, Sources of Strength, as reported in an earlier Telegram story in October. The THS student leaders also presented a slide show of what they have learned in becoming student leaders as it relates to campus culture. The students highlighted some on-campus activities, events and initiatives they took part of with the student body population, including its ‘You Matter’ parade.

THS students explained student leadership’s goals in promoting a culture and community that spreads a message of hope, help and strength via future events, activities and student leadership campaigns on campus.

Torrington Middle School (TMS) Principal Marv Haiman and TMS Teacher Josh Jackson presented board members and attendees with a comprehensive look at the standards-based grading system used in GCSD.

First, the two identified four common publicly stated concerns from students, parents and guardians, teachers and administrators, and community members. Those four concerns include: it allows too many retests, which does not prepare students for college; a lack of understanding what true standards-based grading is; standards-based grading hurts achievement; and students aren’t held accountable for doing their classwork and homework.

Haiman explained “Standards-based grading has existed at Torrington Middle School for about seven years...It was voted in by faculty after a year of researching the theory of standards-based grading.”

Haiman and Jackson shared a number of insights from the school’s perspective regarding standards-based grading at TMS.

Jackson shared these five basic concepts to standards-based grading: averaging is the antithesis (direct opposite of something) of standards-based grading; standards for academics and behavior are separated; communicate learning through standards, which provides students and teachers with a clear journey for success; students track their data and have clear steps to attaining their standards-based goals; and consequences of not doing the work is doing the work.

Jackson reiterated; standards-based grading isn’t about a specific set of metrics – it’s about students learning toward clear targets.

The pair cited standards-based grading researcher John Hattie and highlighted four areas of concentration TMS and GCSD focuses on.

Those four areas include:

  • Teacher estimates of achievement: positive relationships that push all students to want to succeed.
  • Collective teacher efficacy: together we can positively affect students and get all students to succeed.
  • Self-reported grades: student reflect, score their learning based on exemplars, and make goals.
  • Clarity: students and teachers have a clear target for learning.

Jackson showed board members and attendees how missing weighted assignments and homework along with poor quizzes could harm a student’s overall performance and does not adequately demonstrate a student’s comprehension and masterization of a subject.

For example: if a student has two 50% weighted tests with scores of 90 and 90; five 25% weighted homework assignment scores of 0, 0, 100, 100 and 0; and five 25% weighted quizzes with scores of 20, 40, 50, 60 and 80 – a student could effectively receive a percentages-based score of 67.5%, or an F, for the class for that grading period.

Jackson explained how removing the percentage-based weighted grading system for the standards-based grading system better assesses a student’s overall performance during a particular grading period.

However, parents still believe it doesn’t hold students accountable and gives students a reason to not complete homework or classwork assignments and/or do poorly on quizzes and tests as stated in several prior school board meetings.

Jackson broke down the GCSD process framework for Standards-based grading by week and showed how roughly every two weeks students can provide feedback, take self-assessments and self-exemplars, look at a tracking system and make a plan for remediation and/or enrichment.

Jackson and Haiman explained how the self-assessments, pretests and GCSD process framework better aids teachers in designing around criteria with targeted daily lessons based on overall student need and where they can further breakdown instruction time for small group times.

Jackson quoted Hattie again and said, “When students self-evaluate their learning, teachers offer opportunities to elicit student insight in their own learning by reflecting on progress toward a goal, refining strategies, setting future goals and using critical problem-solving skills to find meaning to thoughts and questions.”

For more information visit the district website’s tab Standards-based grading at, www.goshen1.org or visit the district’s YouTube channel to view the slideshow presentation by Haiman and Jackson.

Administrators of GCSD presented an alternative district calendar via a committee delegation as required per Wyoming statute.

Kramer said the presentation is merely informational only and a first step for GCSD to be able to present the Wyoming Department of Education with an alternative school calendar that is not strictly based on the required number of days and hours. The board did not vote on this agenda item.

Kramer said there would be at least two public comment sessions regarding the finalized proposed alternative GCSD school calendar before it would go to the state but did not provide details as to when that would be.

GCSD’s current school calendar schedule is based on 18-week semesters, 8 credits per year, 32 credits possible with 28 needed to graduate high school, and a daily course load of 8 classes per day. Additionally, the current schedule operates on a five-day semester from Monday through Friday with each class being 49 minutes long Monday through Thursday and 34 minutes long on Friday.

According to GCSD, this current schedule does not allow students to retake failed courses until the following school year, often when knowledge and motivation is lost. Additionally, failed core classes from a previous year are essentially “doubled up” in the following school years’ schedule, meaning, if a student failed a science class, they would be enrolled in two science classes the following school year and may still require summer school for credit recovery.

The current schedule is also reportedly not flexible enough for scheduling singleton, advanced and elective classes according to the district. The district also believes the number of classes a day and the shorter length of time in a class makes it difficult to teach and hard on students to engage in learning.

The proposed alternative schedule would be based on 12-week trimesters, 9 credits per year, 36 credits possible with 28 needed to graduate, and a daily course load of six classes per day. It would remain a five-day a week schedule with classes running 65 minutes long Monday through Thursday and 45 minutes on Friday.

The proposed alternative school schedule would give “breathing room” for students to retake failed classes in the same school calendar year and would eliminate “doubling up” of core classes in the following school year. According to the district, it would reduce the need for summer school for credit recovery.

Another potential benefit the district highlighted with the alternative schedule is the ability to offer more classes for ease of scheduling which could reduce classroom size.

The district did not comment on or present other alternative bell schedules, such as a three class a day, alternating days schedule, but did say the biggest benefit is with longer classes and less transitioning, students can better engage into learning; the district cited several sources and studies as it relates to longer classes.

The district also presented a proposed four-day school week as well as an extended year, or sometimes referred to as a year-round calendar schedule. The district noted both of these schedules had been previously proposed for GCSD, but that neither had resonated with the district or parents in the past. For more information and a complete breakdown of these schedules visit the GCSD website and YouTube page.

The district voted on allowing GCSD Board Treasurer Carlos Saucedo to be a delegate of the Wyoming School Boards Association (WSBA) to represent the district as it relates to state K-12 educational concerns.

GCSD mother Rebecca Cochran, who serves on the GCSD Health and Wellness committee, gave an update about the lack of goals the committee initially had, but stated the team hopes to establish goals at its meeting on Nov. 17.

“One of the things I have learned that was quite interesting, at least I thought it quite interesting, is the public perception that the school district does not provide a proper breakfast or hot lunch meal,” Cochran told board members. “Several of the cooks said that for their school size, they have provided ten to fifteen hot breakfasts.”

Cochran also told board members the committee discovered that youth “almost always” choose the “fast food option” such as chicken nuggets or a cheeseburger instead of a “home cooked meal” such as lasagna when presented with an option to choose.

The board approved its nine item consent agenda which included things such as accepting Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) grants for the 2022-2023 fiscal year; approving a request for an exception to district policy 5147 regarding fields and budgetary items for custodian and software needs.

GCSD accepted a $11,000 WDE Cutting Edge Grant and a $49,210 Wyoming Education Trust Fund Grant.

The board also approved the exceptions to district policy 5147 to extend overnight field trips for Lingle Fort Laramie High School senior National Honor Society members to travel to Denver later this month; they also approve an exception for Torrington Middle School sixth grade students to travel to Custer, South Dakota at the end of May 2023.

In a continuing effort to consolidate, update and restructure its policies, the board voted to approve a number of district policy revisions.

District policies 4119.5, 4219 and 5156 regarding sexual discrimination and harassment were passed on the first reading which changed the time from ten school days to ten business days for each process of policy to respond and/or receive a response for parents and administrators.

District policy 4230 regarding classified staff fringe benefits as presented with editorial revisions where 10-month employees who now receive 12 paychecks per 2022 salary relations as it pertains to group health insurance payroll deductions.

The district approved the proposed revisions, a combination of related title change policies 4150.1 and 4240.5 pertaining to maternity and paternity leave as presented on its first reading. The change reflects combining maternity and paternity leave into parental leave following the birth and adoption of a child.

Following the birth or adoption of a child, district employees will be given five days of paid time off (PTO) first and then be given an additional 15 days of paid parental leave; after which, remaining PTO can be used to further extend parental leave.

The board approved editorial revisions to district policy 5105 regarding student representatives on the district school board. The policy revision updated the application process for students seeking to be a student member of the school board. Student representatives earn .5 high school elective credit for each semester of successful board service and a $200 scholarship is provided upon completion of two full semesters of service to be paid upon graduation from high school.

The district approved the purchase of 270 student laptops and 70 staff laptops totaling $227,888,98 through the WSCA-NASPO purchasing contract using ESSER 2 and general fund money.

Board members approved the change order submitted by Goshen County Construction LLC for the interior finish work of the new Southeast Ag Shop for the amount of $981,559, pending approval of the insurance company.

The board was also presented with a Continuous Improvement Plan for the 2022-2023 school year at Lingle-Fort Laramie (LFL) Elementary and Middle schools from Principal Cory Gilchriest.

Earlier this year, LFL were identified as “Not Meeting Expectations” on the WDE School Accountability criteria.

In its plan, LFL administrators stated they would use data teams to implement effective intervention strategies in reading and math and will meet monthly to routinely address concerns quicker. Both improvement plans for the elementary school and middle school have been shared with parents and are available on GCSD website.

Southeast Schools received a rebate check of $4,410 through WYRULEC Company for installing 63 LED lights in its buildings. Southeast High School received $1,890 for 27 LED lights installed and Southeast Elementary School received $2,520 for 36 LED lights installed.

The next GCSD board meeting will be held on December 13 at 7 p.m. Currently Kramer is in Casper attending the annual WSBA, WDE Annual Conference.

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