Committee to Study the Mission of CHS

April 26, 2007




Attending:  Anne Freske, Lee Kounovsky, Ellen Adler, Sharon Heater, Shirley Burrus, Ken Donner, John Moran, Bill Martin, Jan Ophus, Sue Bowers


Anne Freske opened the meeting at 6:45 a.m.   The agenda and the minutes of the March 22 meeting were approved.  


Diploma Options Report


Mr. Moran shared the written update that he and Mrs. Chrones had prepared concerning the Honors Diploma proposal.  It includes using the 8th grade state test results to help identify candidates, an additional writing sample and/or exam from freshmen, a requirement for taking upper level electives as well as advanced academic courses and looking at the possibility of raising the standard grading curve at CHS, possibly to where 93% is required for an “A” and the other grades are adjusted upward accordingly.  Other suggestions made by the group included requiring a third year of foreign language, a third year of science, additional reading assignments, a 26th credit, community service hours and additional effort on CRLS.


Several concerns were also raised during the discussion.  Mr. Donner warned that raising our grading curve could put CHS students at a disadvantage when competing for scholarships against students from other schools whose GPAs use the 90-80-70 scale.  Mr. Martin stressed the overall advantages of students being together in mixed ability groups and cautioned against adopting something that resulted in too much tracking.  Mrs. Zacharias encouraged using measurements we already have available rather than trying to invent a new system.  There should be opportunities for transfer students to qualify as well as those who start meeting the requirements as CHS freshmen.


Mr. Ophus asked members of the committee to identify why they felt CHS should add this kind of diploma.  Mrs. Freske sees it as a way of helping individualize education.  Building on that, Mr. Kounovsky suggested a whole range of colored cords at graduation highlighting different student strengths.  He also noted that the 4J district is simplifying their Honors Diploma requirements so it is clearer to all students and parents what they are.  Mrs. Burrus sees an Honors diploma as something that can motivate students to achieve more, helping strengthen their college applications.  In addition to providing that kind of incentive, Mr. Donner reminded the group that it also would provide good community PR.  Our brightest students would know that CHS does have an Honors program and would be less likely to look for that at a different school.


Mr. Ophus suggested a possible set of criteria that would include 26 total credits, requiring that students take the most demanding course available in each of the four core academic subjects (math, science, social studies and English), community service and a specific GPA.  He asked the subcommittee to continue its work, aiming to have a proposal to the School Board for consideration at its June meeting.


Counseling Issues


Mr. Ophus reminded the group about the K-12 Counseling program workshop to be held this summer.  He would like the Creswell District to embrace such a program.  Amber-Dawn Krupicka could explain the program more at a future meeting.


CHS Homeroom


The CHS staff has been discussing the idea of a regular homeroom session to provide a venue for ongoing CRLS work and an opportunity for staff to build continuing relation-ships with “their” students.  A homeroom period could also be a time to work on teaching positive behavior, which Mr. Ophus is more interested in trying at CHS since Ms. Kingsbury and Ms. Jackson returned from a recent ESD workshop on PBS systems with enthusiasm for implementing such a program here.  There are mixed opinions from teachers about a homeroom and also questions about when such sessions could be fit into the school day/week. 


Mrs. Burrus described the CMS “Advisory” period, which is 15 minutes each day, tied in with lunch scheduling to allow for a divided lunch session.  Some study skills are covered during this time as well as a variety of “housekeeping” activities such as binder checks.  Some of the “Second Steps” (the PBS-type program used at CMS) material is covered, but that is mostly done in more formal, half-hour sessions scheduled on a weekly basis.  There are “canned” lessons available for each grade level, which build upon one another.  The students are taught such seemingly basic topics such as how to move through the hallways, how to form a bus line and how to act in the cafeteria.  The middle school staff notices a big difference after the students complete the lessons.  The GROWL reward system used at CMS would need modification to be meaningful at the high school level.


Mr. Ophus reiterated his interest in exploring the continuation of PBS at the high school.  He noted that, while most experienced teachers have good methods of managing behavior, we have a large number of new teachers and the lack of a school-wide approach makes things more difficult for them.  Dr. Adler described the pyramid diagram that is used in PBS training.  Working with the 5-10% of students whose behavior (or lack thereof) puts them at the top is much easier when there is a strong base of support built through a school-wide system of expectations that are taught to everyone.  Mr. Donner noted that there may be some funding at the state level to help pay for PBS staff training.  The next step will be to survey CHS staff about a PBS program.


Pathways Academy


Mr. Kounovsky described a recent meeting he attended that included representatives from all 17 community colleges in the state.  They are very interested in encouraging joint enrollment programs like LCC’s College Now classes.  He heard about the possibility of students at McMinneville High School having enough college credits to earn an Associate’s degree when they graduate from high school.  Realizing that having a Master’s degree in their subject area is a barrier to many teachers being able to offer College Now classes here, he suggested trying to prioritize the District’s training dollars toward helping more of the high school staff meet the requirements for offering College Now classes.  Mrs. Zacharias reviewed the number of LCC-approved classes already available here and noted that Ms. Weber will be adding writing and literature classes next year.  Increasing the availability of college credits is another way to help “market” CHS in our community.


The “Pathways” topic provided a segue to the next agenda item:


6-12 Career Education


Mr. Donner has used various CIS modules at the middle school in the past.  He would like to renew an emphasis on Career Planning, but wants to first be sure it is coordinated with the program at CHS.  He will be meeting soon with Mr. Kramer and will make a point to discuss with him the new curriculum for the Freshmen Academy class.  Mr. Ophus suggested beginning aptitude testing at the middle school level and having those results available to share with students and their parents.  More planning work is needed on this topic between the two schools.


Next Meeting


As a number of the participants needed to get to other meetings, the next committee meeting was set for May 17 at 6:45 a.m. and the meeting was adjourned at 7:45.




Respectfully submitted,


Sue Bowers, Secretary