Decatur, Georgia – Throughout the school year, City Schools of Decatur will evaluate the district’s foreign language program and focus on collecting data on the global K-12 language program, the deputy superintendent of education and training said. learning Kristy Beam at the September 28 school board meeting.
During their presentation, the board reviewed the Spanish curriculum and benchmarks for the STAMP (Standards Based Competency Measurement) scale and the International Baccalaureate curriculum.
The main objective of the foreign languages ââprogram is to provide students with the functional knowledge and language skills that will help them understand and connect with cultures and communities, according to the agenda.
The STAMP 2020 benchmark data indicates that for the Spanish curriculum, elementary classes, as well as middle and high school students in years 1 to 4 performed below national data. But middle and high school students in years five and six of the Spanish program performed better than the national average.
Students are tested in the second, fourth, seventh and 10th years.
Beam noted that there are questions about the data that will be considered throughout the evaluation of the program. For example, CSD does not offer an advanced placement course for world languages, but the data reflects some AP scores. Beam said two students self-selected to take the AP German exam.
Beam explained that part of the difference may be that most other elementary schools probably offer an immersion program where the CSD is not. City Schools of Decatur offers three days of language instruction per week for a total of 90 minutes per week in elementary schools.
âI think that’s important, and you’ll see it in our IB course as well, the exposure they get in the early years, although that doesn’t compare favorably to immersion programs, it gives them an edge. in the bottom line, long term, âBeam said.
In the IB program, high school students in the Spanish program achieved a pass rate of 92% and the world average was 91% in 2020. The average score for Decatur High School was 4.75 compared to the world average of 5.12 last year.
The Spanish review team will engage in a comprehensive assessment to develop a cohesive overview of the program, review the attributes of the program, analyze current best practices, review the program and how teaching is delivered, what professional learning is necessary, then will make recommendations to the school board in the spring.
– In other cases, the school board has discussed its legislative priorities with district lobbyist Don Bolia of Peachtree Government Relations. The council set its initial priorities as building relationships with lawmakers, promoting increased funding for early learning, assessing the tax exemption for seniors, supporting equity work at within school districts and maintaining the ability to charge tuition fees if the district chooses to do so.
The town of Decatur does not have a single lawmaker who represents the city, so Bolia recommended that the school board work to build relationships with lawmakers who represent the area, such as Senator Elena Parent.
“It’s not atypical of what all cities and school districts do, you really want to have, whether you’re the county or whether you’re the city or whether you’re an area, you want to have someone who represents you who have the same community of interests as they are likely to defend your specific interests, âBolia said.
He added that the legislative redistribution is taking place this year and the district should pay attention.
âI think it will be interesting to see how they shape the DeKalb legislative delegations. It will be done in November, âBolia said. âRight now, you really don’t have a Decatur-centric legislator. You don’t have someone who really cares about Decatur’s interests. So the hope is that they draw a district that maybe put someone as a Decatur-centric lawmaker. “
The district senior tax exemption will be on the ballot on November 2. Earlier this year, Gov. Brian Kemp signed a bill that would grant tax cuts to seniors living in Decatur that would apply to school taxes in the town of Decatur. The SB 292 replaces an earlier, more expensive version of the tax cuts.
The legislation gives tax relief to seniors by providing an exemption on $ 200,000 of the home’s estimated value, or $ 400,000 of appraised value, for those aged 65 to 69, if their combined household income does not. not exceed $ 53,000. People aged 70 and over will benefit from the same exemption on the same assessed property value, but without an income ceiling, according to a press release from the CSD.
The bill has a two-year deadline. If approved, the exemptions will take effect on January 1, 2022 and will remain in effect until 2023.
School board member Heather Tell said the board needs to stay on top of the issue as the CSD will need to re-introduce the discussion to the legislature in 2023.
Superintendent Maggie Fehrman added that the council should prioritize funding for early learning, especially to ensure that every student in the Decatur Housing Authority has access to free early learning.
âI think it would be a huge reward for me and support for our children,â Fehrman said.
Some board members also questioned the Georgia Board of Education’s June resolution banning teaching students about racism. The State Council wants to encourage schools to teach facts and also to ensure that in the long term, nothing that divides by nature is not part of the standards of the education system.
The resolution appeared to be aimed at “critical race theory” and it was in response to a letter sent by Governor Brian Kemp, Decaturish reported previously.
âI absolutely expect to see something like this. I’d be shocked if someone didn’t show it off, âBolia said.
Bolia recommended putting topics, like Critical Race Theory, on the agendas of larger groups like the Georgia School Board Association, because sometimes it’s better to have a unified front on issues that have an impact on many school systems.
School board member Jana Johnson-Davis wondered if it would be enough to leave the matter to the GSBA.
âOther districts have not done everything we have done and are not as invested as we have been in this [equity] work, âJohnson-Davis said. “I think it’s a Decatur problem because the other districts haven’t done as much as we have.”
Fehrman said the district may insert a declarative statement in the resolution on the CSD’s position on critical race theory and equity work.
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