General Membership Meeting Minutes — October 11, 2022

Call to Order #

The virtual meeting was called to order at 7:02 pm. 44 participants were present. Executive Committee members in attendance:

  • Sharon Burd, President
  • Ken Venable, VP for Educational Programs
  • Clare Rosenberger, VP for Fundraising
  • Megan Miller, VP for Community Relations
  • Meredith Greene, VP for Events
  • Ashley Farrugia, VP for Staff Appreciation
  • Christian Lindstrom, Treasurer
  • Dan Burd, Secretary

Membership voted to approve the agenda for this meeting as well as the September 12, 2022 meeting minutes.

Gifted Services #

Maria deOlazo, Resource Teacher for the Gifted

The presentation file is available here.

Ms. deOlazo described how she and her colleagues provide curricular resources and make instructional adjustments for gifted learners at Abingdon.

There will be more information provided on the gifted referral process in January or February.

Questions and Answers #

Q: If a student has a better reading level than peers in his/her class, how does the teacher address it?
A: We’re in a new language arts curriculum right now. The county is helping us look at the data and to form small differentiated groups. Their needs will be met either by the classroom teacher or a specialist that works with that team, including myself. I’ve worked in a book club with students who read at an advanced level. We want to be sure that we’re matching texts to interests. Also students can sometimes read quite high but can’t comprehend deeply without sufficient background experience.

Q: Can you address any opportunities or less formal strategies that are employed in kindergarten classrooms?
A: Did some Critical Creative Thinking Strategies trainings in the classroom. Many of those are now digitally provided to teachers. Also been approached by teachers to provide material for students performing above grade level. That differentiation is provided informally but can sometimes become the evidence that the student can be identified for gifted services.

School Plan #

David Horak

Principal Horak presented about the results of recent standardized tests and spoke about a “School Plan” which is intended to raise those scores. The School Plan presentation is available here.

  • Scores
    • There are many ways to determine student success, and the most important to Principal Horak is that the students are excited about school and that they are learning.
    • State accreditation is based on grades 3 to 5 from the previous years.
    • This year at Abingdon, we are in Tier 2 Accreditation Support Status, which means we’re not fully accredited but we have thre years to get out of this status. And that is because of the gap between our overall pass rate in math and the pass rate of the students with disabilities.
    • Students with disabilities scored a lot lower than the overall pass rate for the entire school. We need to make that gap smaller because we need to make sure that we’re serving all of our students.
    • The overall reading pass rate is 61% and the overall math pass rate is 50.5%.
    • Science is different from math and reading because only 5th grade students take it, but it’s on both 4th and 5th grade curriculum. There was an impact from COVID since it’s a two-year test. The overall pass rate was 45.5%.
    • All schools and subjects have had a noticeable negative impact from COVID, but math and science in particular.
  • Goals & Remediation
    • The School Board tells the school that they need to write goals that match the School Board goals.
    • The school has seven goals that they believe will be supportive of Abingdon students.
      1. (Math) Goal based upon growth of all students on the Math Inventory (MI) test
      2. (Math) Goal to close the achievement gap between all students and EL and SWD
      3. (Reading) Goal based upon growth on the DIEBLs test for K-3
      4. (Reading) Goal to close the achievement gap between all students and EL and SWD
      5. (Science) Goal to close the achievement gap between all students pass rate and EL and SWD
      6. Community Engagement Goal
      7. Social-emotional goal for all students on self-regulation
    • The school has several planned actions that they believe will help raise test scores.
      1. Responsive Classroom (social-emotional program)
      2. CETA
      3. Second Step curriculum
      4. Morning Cardinals - a great way for staff to build relationships with students
      5. Collaborative planning time - ensure students have time to work together
      6. Multiple staff working on targeted intervention
      7. Coaching support for teachers
      8. Structured literacy - FUNdations phonics program
  • Principal Horak anticipates a huge jump in student achievement this year now that they have two full years of in-person instruction under their belt.
  • He believes learning will take place once students feel that Abingdon is the place for them, and they’re going to work hard for the teachers that love them.

Questions and Answers #

Q: How do we support our English learning community?
A: We have eight full-time teachers and one half-time teacher for English language learners. One EL teacher per grade level, and two teachers that work in multiple grade levels. Their job is to work with those students who are EL, and modify curriculum for those needs. All of our staff are masters of being culturally proficient in how to reach out to those kids.
A (Vasthy Delgado): Family and Community Engagement (FACE) is also working with teachers to provide families with strategies that they can use at home across different cultures and different languages to support learning.
A (Michele Michael): Letters sent out to families are in multiple languages. We also have the Language Line that our teachers are able to use to connect with a translator so that they can communicate with families about conferences, meetings, whatever the case may be.

Q: Which scores need to rise and how much in order to regain full accreditation?
A: The gap between our overall pass rate for math and the math pass rate for students with disabilities has to close. The overall math pass rate is 51% and the math pass rate for students with disabilities is 14% or 15% [secretary’s note: pass rate is actually 17.6%]. So the gap is 39% [secretary’s note: gap is actually 32.9%], and to regain full accreditation the gap has to close by 10%. We want the overall pass rate to increase to about 70%, which means our pass rate for students with disabilities needs to increase to bring their score to within a 26% gap.

Q: A student was recently attacked by a dog at drop-off. What can be done to enforce the current rules that no dogs are allowed on school property?
A: Fairlington is a dog-friendly community, but Abingdon is not. Abingdon school grounds are for students and not for dogs. If you see someone, especially during school hours, you’re welcome to talk to that person or to call the school to tell them to come out and speak to the person. We’ve gone out multiple times to talk to community members who may be walking the track during school hours and who are very kind and just didn’t understand that they shouldn’t be there. Also, sometimes at pick-up in the afternoon, people are standing around in the grassy area with their dogs. If they are off school property, we can’t do anything about that other than to ask them to move behind the tree line so that the dog isn’t interacting with our students and our parents. No dogs are ever allowed on school property. We have signs to that effect but they aren’t huge.

Q: I’m the parent of a student who was attacked by a dog on school property after drop-off. The dog was being walked by another Abingdon family and was on a leash and was not being held by the leash and ran after my daughter. There could be issues with dogs that are both on-leash and off-leash. It does seem like people either don’t know about the rule or are aware that it’s not being enforced. I would just ask that the administration give some thought into how to enforce the rule better so that it has the desired effect.
A: We are having a conversation with our safety and security office. They will stick their heads out on a regular basis and see what they see around there. They always say to call the non-emergency number in case things are happening. They probably won’t drop everything for a dog, but it’s also for awareness on their end. This is a public safety danger with a lot of people in a very small space. But the best call is to the front office. We’re always around and we have our walkie talkies and we can generally respond pretty quickly.

Q: Can the students resume having outdoor lunch?
A: We have had some classes eat outside. Sometimes teachers treat their students with an outdoor lunch. It’s a possibility for teachers to do this. The challenge is that when we had outdoor lunch last year, APS provided a lot more staffing. So now we have to get a little creative with the people we have on lunch duty because we have to have a certain number of adults per student out there. So it’s certainly something we can work on about how to schedule lunch outside. But it’s dependent on staffing and whether things line up so we can do that. It probably won’t be a regular thing but it’s something we can work in some structures about how to do that.

Q: What is being done about ensuring the pedestrian safety of students? A student was almost hit by a car a couple of weeks ago. Many of us were near the crosswalk and saw it. Was the county alerts and are they able to provide any help with that?
A: Talked to Dr. Mayo, the school system’s Chief Operating Officer, about this a little while ago. We’re not the only school who is short on crossing guards. I know that they are aware of it. We have to ensure the safety of students. I don’t have control over this but I have had a conversation about this. It’s noticeable that crossing guards are not there. And that puts the onus on parents more. If we’re going to have a pedestrian crossing area for students, we need to provide the support to do that.

PTA Updates #

Treasurer’s Report #

Christian Lindstrom, Treasurer

Christian stated that the PTA is on track for this year. We’ve spent about $5,000 and raised about $5,000.

The financial statements are here and here.

Trunk or Treat #

Meredith Greene, VP for Events

Trunk or Treat will be Saturday, October 29 from 12:00 to 2:00 PM. We would love for people to decorate their cars and distribute candy. We also need volunteers from 11 to 12 to help set up, and from 2 to 3 to help clean up. We will have kids decorate pumpkins with stickers and paint pens. Assistant Principals will also be going to other neighborhoods within Abingdon’s attendance zone to distribute candy. It will be a lot of fun. Bring your families, kids - everyone is invited.

Snack Pantry #

Megan Miller, VP for Community Relations

The PTA had a great first showing of volunteers to kick off our first week of packaging our snack bins for teachers and distributing them to classrooms. Volunteers will be doing that every Thursday from 2:30 to 4:30 so we definitely appreciate additional volunteers. We also reached out to high schools to get more volunteers. We’ve been working out a few kinks with the process, but it’s a learning process and the program has been very well received.

To volunteer, please click this link.

Spirit Week #

Sharon Burd

Abingdon is having Bullying Prevention Spirit Week next week. Thank you to Ms. Delgado for helping to organize this.

  • Monday, October 17:* Team up against bullying! Wear your favorite team gear.
  • Tuesday, October 18: It’s okay to be different! Wear mismatched, silly clothes and/or socks.
  • Wednesday, October 19: National Day of Unity. Wear orange to unite for kindness, acceptance, and inclusion.
  • Thursday, October 20: Abingdon Upstanders. Wear Abingdon Pride gear or colors - red & black.
  • Friday, October 21: No School! Parent/Teacher Conferences

Adjournment #

  • The meeting was adjourned at 8:49 PM.
  • The next meeting will be Tuesday, November 8 at 7 PM.

/s/ Dan Burd, Secretary