The Speak Up Summit "State of The District" event provided the intimate setting that was ideal for what Speak Up Summit President Melanie Wilson said was the event's aim: to inform parents on key issues in the public schools, and to expand the dialogue between the parties. Also present at the event were Board of Education President Gloria Ron-Fornes, Board of Education member Celia Colbert, and former Common Council members Tom Getzendanner and Mike Vernotico.
Parker and Glazer spent time outlining the status of several key topics, including full-day kindergarten, the PARCC testing program, and the new report card initiative. They welcomed and took questions and comments along the way, creating a conversational flow that consumed two hours on the three topics alone.
The Full-Day Kindergarten program, which is accepting applications for a lottery system through Jan. 21, has already seen more than 100 registrations for the 60 allotted spots. Much of the commentary focused on the consensus need for a permanent program, although Parker and Glazer both noted that approval would have to come from the Board of School Estimate, and that there was not sufficient political steam behind the initiative currently in order to gain approval.
Glazer detailed the upcoming PARCC testing program, which will be filed tested this year prior to its official roll out in the 2014-15 school year. The program will replace NJASK and HSPA in the Summit school system, and New Jersey is part of a 19-state consortium that is using the new PARCC program to better evaluate students progress relative to the common core curriculum.
Glazer acknowledged that the new report card initiative for grades K-5 was a work in progress, and solicited and welcomed feedback on the proposed changes, stating that the District is on "Draft 2", was still making adjustments, and that the final report card format was anticipated to be finalized shortly. The new report cards are designed better set expectations and communicate a child's progress as related to the common core.
A consistent theme throughout the morning was a call to activism, both in terms of garnering information and taking the initiative to get involved. As such, attendees were encouraged to attend Board of Education, Common Council and other education-related group meetings. Wilson encouraged those in attendance to come to future Speak Up Summit meetings, the next of which is Feb. 11 and will feature Alison Grill, who is college specialist within the guidance department at Summit High School.
For more information on Speak Up Summit, including upcoming meetings and how to join the organization, visit speakupsummit.org.