Friday, September 12, 2014

Homework policy, contracts and AP scores

A revised homework policy, top-level management contract extensions and exceptional Advanced Placement scores merit attention as the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District begins a new year.

--The district's revised homework policy replaces a document first formulated in 1968 and was developed by a committee that relied on surveys from teachers, parents and students as well as California School Boards Association policy recommendations.

One focus of the policy is to provide for “meaningful homework” that emphasizes “quality rather than quantity,” practices “previously taught skills” and develops “a feeling of responsibility in the student.”

The policy says homework should “consider individual student needs, learning styles and abilities” and “include clear instructions and performance expectations so students can complete homework independently,” among other criteria.

Also, homework should be “assigned regularly and in reasonable amounts,” as well as “provide timely feedback for the student.”

Parents, according to the policy, play a “supportive role through monitoring completion of assignments, encouraging students' efforts and providing a conducive environment for learning.”

Parents can confer with teachers regarding homework issues, including time spent on homework and the amount or type of homework and “determine if adjustments are appropriate.”

Weekend and holiday homework is discouraged in the policy, which doesn't specify the amount of time to be spent on homework at each grade level, but a brochure will be available to parents listing times at each grade level.

Of course, gifted, honors, Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes will require homework with greater depth and complexity and may require more time to complete.

--Superintendent Doug Domene's contract was extended through June 30, 2017, with a 2 percent salary increase July 1, 2014, and another 1 percent Feb. 1, 2015, for a total $247,248, plus longevity. He accrues 22 vacation days yearly to a maximum 44 and is entitled to 12 annual sick days.

Assistant Superintendents Mary Jane Christakos and Candy Plahy also were voted contract extensions through 2017 with annual salaries of $168,874, plus longevity. Kevin Lee was selected as the third assistant superintendent, replacing Robert. Kent.

--The district administered 3,527 Advanced Placement examinations at high school sites last May, with 2,991 earning a score of 3 or higher on a 5-point scale for an 84 percent pass rate. Many universities offer course credit for specified scores on the tests offered in 33 subjects.

Individual results: Esperanza had passing scores on 413 out of 516 tests for 80 percent; El Dorado on 495 out of 607 tests for 82 per cent; Yorba Linda on 874 out of 1,016 tests for 86 percent; and Valencia on 1,209 out of 1,388 tests for 87 percent.

Valencia also administered 305 International Baccalaureate exams, with 287 scoring a 4 or higher on a 7-point scale for a 93 percent pass rate. The campus graduated 49 students with full IB diplomas this year and expects 55 next year, stated program coordinator Fred Jenkins.