LONG BEACH, CALIF — April 30, 2010 — Six of the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) Task Groups met during the week of 19 April 2010 in Long Beach, California to discuss their work and topics currently under review.
The participating task groups were:
Using Data to Differentiate Instruction (Steering Committee);
Multidimensional Administrator Performance Appraisal (MAPA);
Early Childhood Education;
Middle Level Education; and
21st Century Skills.
There were also representatives from the Scheduling and Staffing task group present at the meetings to observe the work of the other task groups. The information that they gathered from these sessions will help them with their own recommendations when they meet again later on this year.
DoDEA’s Task Group Initiative began in School Year 2008-2009 with the establishment of seven different task groups to examine Assessment, PreK-12 Literacy, PreK-12 Mathematics, Professional Development: Administrator Performance Appraisal, Professional Development: Data-Driven Decision Making for Differentiated Instruction, Professional Technical Studies, and the Virtual School programs. Three additional task groups were launched at the beginning of School Year 2009-2010 to review 21st Century Skills, Early Childhood Education (ECE), and Middle Level Education.
Another new task group was launched this school year to review scheduling and staffing within DoDEA schools. Their first meeting was held in March. As with the other task groups, they will review qualitative and quantitative data, current issues, and the effectiveness of the block schedule and the seminar period with regard to student achievement.
The task group participants meet throughout the school year and represent a cross section of educators, administrators, and association representatives from all levels of DoDEA. In keeping with DoDEA’s intent to maximize task group representation at the classroom-level, more than 81 percent of task groups are composed of teachers and counselors. The task groups in each topic area are charged with a variety of duties including reviewing data, current issues, program evaluations, and student achievement. Members were selected by the three teacher association leaders and the Area Directors.
Following their reviews, task groups make recommendations to the DoDEA Director and Deputy Director that focus on improving, modifying, and eliminating programs. Task groups will meet until their activities are completed.
The recommendations of DoDEA’s task groups will chart the course for the future of education across DoDEA and ensure that DoDEA provides students with an educational experience that ensures consistency, progress, success, and highest achievement.
During task group meetings, participants emphasize developing connectivity across all groups with a major “crosswalk” activity that enables all the groups to discuss how the individual group tasks and recommendations intersect and support the DoDEA’s systemic focus.
A brief summary of what was discussed during each task group meeting follows:
Using Data to Differentiate Instruction
The Steering Committee for the Using Data to Differentiate Instruction task group met for the final time in Long Beach, Calif. The purpose of the Steering Committee was to develop a proposal for a systemic focus on professional development as related to data driven decision making, and differentiated instruction as it relates to the Community Strategic Plan (CSP).
The steering committee gave one presentation during the week on implementing flexible grouping modules to a representative group from each Task Group. These representatives provided essential feedback on the effectiveness of Data for Flexible Grouping. The Steering Committee will use the feedback along with feedback from other groups to revise and refine the module.
Later in the week, the Steering Committee presented their proposal to DoDEA Director, Dr. Shirley Miles.
Multidimensional Administrator Performance Appraisal (MAPA)
This was the fifth meeting for the MAPA Task Group and the first year that MAPA has been implemented within DoDEA.
The task group spent the first part of the week reviewing data from a survey that was completed by administrators in DoDEA schools in February. The survey included numerical data as well as comments. These survey results were especially helpful as they allowed the group to use the data to determine what to change or how to modify the MAPA tool.
The task group also used the data they gathered from the survey to help them in preparing professional development training that will be delivered to administrators during DoDEA’s first Worldwide Administrators’ Conference in June of this year. The professional development training they are preparing is also for new administrators coming into the DoDEA system.
This was the fifth meeting for DoDEA’s virtual school. This task group has served as a stakeholder group contributing to the preparation for the Virtual School’s recent accreditation as a supplemental school by the AdvancED North Central Association: Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA: CASI). Students will be able to enroll in classes starting in the fall of this year.
One of the big goals for the task group was preparing for the introduction of the Virtual School later this year. The task group reviewed the process of becoming an accredited institution, outlined plans to communicate with parents, teachers, students and other stakeholders, and highlighted ways in which it is working toward becoming a comprehensive program so that DoDEA eligible students can earn a diploma even if they cannot attend a DoDEA school. The Virtual School task group also discussed their process for continuous school improvement, and worked on clarifying roles and responsibilities for the virtual school.
Early Childhood Education
The Early Childhood Education (ECE) task group met for the third time during this task group session. The task group reviewed guiding principles and DoDEA’s philosophy for early childhood education. They outlined the components within curriculum, assessment, instruction, and the learning environment necessary for an effective early childhood education program that is designed to meet the specific needs of young learners.
Middle Level Education Task Group
The Middle Level Education Task Group has been determining how non-negotiables about Middle Level can be implemented across the system.
Completing its third meeting, the group hopes to help the leadership determine what constitutes successful middle level experiences in all DoDEA environments and identify ways to implement both philosophy and practices cross DoDEA.
The group worked to polish the philosophy, best practices, and non-negotiable elements of a sound middle level approach as they prepare to make some recommendations to the DoDEA Director. The group will be providing a recommendation on which grade levels are to be considered Middle level. That identification will impact some of the staffing and scheduling discussions in the other task group. Issues relating to Middle Level staffing and scheduling will be addressed by the Staffing and Scheduling Task Group.
21st Century Skills
This was the third meeting for the 21st Century Skills task group. During the week they looked at a variety of research to determine how to incorporate the concept of 21st century skills into DoDEA’s curriculum to prepare students for a new era of learning. They looked at and spoke with other schools and educational institutions to get an idea of how they are preparing their students to learn not only in the 21st Century but to learn in the future as well.
The High School Counseling and Advanced Placement task groups have already presented their recommendations. You can view these recommendations at: intranet.hq.ds.dodea.edu/intranet/education/index.cfm.
DoDEA plans, directs, coordinates, and manages pre-kindergarten through 12th grade education programs for Department of Defense (DoD) dependents who would otherwise not have access to a high-quality, public education. DoDEA schools are located in Europe, the Pacific, the United States, Cuba, and Puerto Rico. DoDEA also provides support and resources to Local Education Activities throughout the U.S. that serve children of military families.