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  • PALS

PALS September 2014 - Speakers FCASD Superintendent Gene Freeman & SpEd Director Lonnie Carey


  • Dr. Gene Freeman: FCASD Superintendent

  • The Board has charged him with two tasks:

  • Student achievement/growth

  • Looking at low achievers, students who are growing, students with various needs.

  • Looking at what is needed and how to move forward starting with the elementary schools. Through differentiated instruction, project base learning.

  • Construction Project

  • Not his first construction project

  • Found an underground spring

  • Middle school project bid pushed from Spring 2015 to Fall 2015

  • Most likely issues with the pools foundation, cafeteria/kitchen area, and outside the library

  • Q&A:

  • Testing question from Sarah: Is there a % of students that do not take the “tests”? Carey: PDE allows 1% to take the alternate test. Usually identified by 3rd grade. It is video taped instead of paper/pencil. This is for all state assessments. Freemen: Common Core “national set of standards” currently being repealed in may states. Some say the Common Core tells you how to teach which received push back. Cathy: Are the Keystones required for graduation? Freeman/Carey: Politicians do not hear from parents and do not know that some students would preform better on the tests if there was an option other than paper/pencil. Parents do not have anything to worry about regarding the Keystones because the district can “override” the state and issue a regular diploma not a special education diploma. Greg Nickel: Legislators have committees that work on the bills that go in front of the “assembly”. It does not take many parents to affect one legislator. Organizing as a group for the meeting on December 4th is an option, put the information on the website, on social media, etc…

  • Freemen: December 4th Legislative Forum at FCASD. Greg Nickel: PALS/ESE Families/Community may want to come up with a position paper from the group to provide to the Forum prior to the meeting. Freeman: We are going to hand the Forum a list of questions instead of bombarding the Forum. “We must make friends.” Legislators don’t listen to people like Freeman they listen to parents.

  • Sarah: How does “Elements” work? A child who failed all three Keystones, is required to take “Elements” in an effort to pass the Keystones in the future, creating more work for the student who all ready has a lot on their plate. Freeman: Don’t worry about it. Carey: the student will receive the same diploma; the transcript will indicate IEP Team decision to give the diploma without the Keystones. Cathy: Do PSSA’s and Keystone’s have the same accommodations? Yes.

  • Sarah question to Freeman: You indicated you wanted to talk about student test scores, did you want to talk about that because it was in the Trib or was there a different reason? Freeman: I agree with you all when it comes to special needs students, I don’t really have an answer for you regarding that. It is growth of all students that concerns me, it is important that all students grow.

  • Sarah: The testing model doesn’t work for our students. Freeman: The community expects of well-rounded students, the state has a numbers expectation. The “community” also thinks about the taxes they pay and the value of their school system as it relates to the value of their property. Sarah: Do the students at Beatty take the NCATT? Freeman: Yes, the NCATT test is for the completion of the program that the student is in. Tech schools are still responsible for Math and Reading scores.

  • Dr. Lonnie Carey: Coordinator Pupil Services/Special Education

  • In response to questions about testing:

  • Elementary School

  • There is a social thinking at the elementary level, with the use of RtI: Response to Intervention, new assessments, and new interventions.

  • Middle School

  • The technology roll out (iPads) has been great for special education students. Helps with organization (students less likely to lose homework), organizational tools available.

  • High School

  • ESE team presented at state level. ICONZ, collaboration with PITT is a social skills program and FCAHS is the pilot site. ICONZ participants identify symbols in social situations as they work in developing their social skills. Sarah’s son participated last year, Cathy’s son will participate this year.

Open Forum

Challenger Baseball information was brought to the attention of the group; more information is available online.

In Attendance

Sarah Nickel, Abby Torres, Stacy London, Dr. Gene Freeman, Dr. Lonnie Carey, Cathy Nader-Syick, Michael Williams, Ronna Riffle, Greg Nickel

Next Meeting

Wednesday, October 8, 2014 6:30pm Cooper-Siegel Community Library 403 Fox Chapel Road Pittsburgh, PA 15238

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