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TASK FORCE ON GENDER EQUITY IN EDUCATION

Thursday, October 14, 2004
9:30 AM - 12:30 PM
McIntire Room, The Buchanan Building, UM at Orono

ATTENDING: Susan extended the sincere regrets of Commissioner Gendron, Deputy Commissioner Patrick Phillips and First Lady Karen Baldacci, all of whom unavoidably had to be in Eastport, Augusta or Portland, respectively, today. Others attending were Harry Osgood, Rob Pfeiffer, Lisa Plimpton, Henry Kennedy, Diana Doiron, Charlie Harrington; Katie Bauer, Carla Ritchie, Sharon Wilson-Barker, Mary Madden, Jeanne-Whynot Vickers, Heather Linnell, Kathryn Danylik, Susan Corrente (facilitator). Two guests also attended: Craig Haimes from the Real School attended for Pender Kimball, and John Kennedy from the Department of Education attended as presenter today.

WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION OF NEW MEMBER: The members introduced themselves for the benefit of John Kennedy and Craig Haimes. Aileen Fortune from the USM Cooperative Extension and "The Gender Project”, a new member, had hoped to be here but was unable to make it.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES OF SEPTEMBER 16, 2004 MEETING: Those attending approved the minutes of the September 16, 2004 meeting, by consensus.

SCHEDULE OF UPCOMING MEETINGS, PRESENTATIONS AS OF OCTOBER 1, 2004: Susan noted that the updated schedule was distributed earlier to all members. Rebecca Sockbeson has requested that her presentation be in the spring, to allow for the continuing gathering of data, so that presentation may be scheduled for the April meeting. Also, it is possible that Lyn Brown and Mark Tappan of Colby College may present a gender analysis of the Search Institute's asset inventory data, sometime after the first of the year. She also noted that we will be building time into all of the meetings scheduled for 2005 for interactive conversation about the implications emerging from the data we have collected so far.

UPDATE ON THE WORK OF THE RESEARCH TEAM: Susan reported that the Research Team has met twice since the last full Task Force meeting and has concentrated largely on developing a plan for incorporating student voice into our work. The Team developed a proposal that was distributed to the members today. Mary Madden explained the plan for gathering student input; it is not a research study but rather a way of hearing from students on some of the issues before this Task Force and gathering their ideas and comments to complement the research being compiled and as a potential source of quotations for the Report. The plan for Research Team members to conduct focus groups, according to a uniform protocol, with mostly high school students attending a group session on privilege/difference at UMO on October 27, 2004 with visiting Professor Allan Johnson, along with follow-up sessions with some of the groups back in their own schools with additional students, was endorsed by the members attending. The Report will be explicit on which students were involved in the focus groups (student leaders; from certain geographic areas, etc.), and each focus group will include both a leader and an observer, and will be tape recorded as a potential source of quotations. Confidentiality requirements and the protocol to be followed are those that Mary has used in other research projects and thus subject to approval by the University.

Charlie asked about including middle school students; Mary's recommendation was to work with the high school students because of their greater comfort/ability in expressing themselves on these issues and because the focus group leaders can ask them to reflect on their middle school experiences. Diana asked if the students would only be drawn from the area around Orono; Mary explained they'd be drawn from those schools in the Maine School Leadership Network that send teams to Professor Johnson's groups session, and that follow up sessions may take place at schools relatively close by, in light of the time constraints that the Research Team members may have. Carla reiterated her understanding of the purpose: to add student voice to our data and to point, possibly, to other avenues of research that may be helpful, that the Task Force may recommend in its Report. Harry asked that the Research Team make the attempt to include types of districts that reflect the variation in Maine; Mary agreed with that approach and will do that to the extent that it is possible, given the limitation that goes along with relying on groups already coming together for another, albeit related, purpose.

Rob offered to make groups available back in his area for follow-up discussions, in order to include some students who do not feel themselves to be a part of their schools. Jeanne offered to explore the possibility of making some groups available, as well. Heather noted that it may be difficult to separate these focus groups by gender, as that's not a natural separation she sees at her school but rather the male and female students are typically all together; she also noted that shy students may not feel comfortable talking, even in single-sex groups, and that some students are more comfortable or less intimidated with students of the opposite sex that with their own. Jeanne noted that the adult advisors and the student representatives may be helpful, here - depending on how approachable, friendly they are and their ability to move across social groups. Mary agreed that it would be important for the focus group leaders (Research Team members) to work with the adult contacts at the schools before conducting the follow-up discussions there. Sharon asked if there was a need to prime the students beforehand; Mary suggested that it may not be necessary, given the prompts that she's selected to use (ones used in national studies) and how the questions can be asked. Jeanne noted that Portland had done community forums on the Search assets inventory and that their data didn't seem to reveal any urban differences; Mary said she would look at that data. Members agreed on the importance of having the students themselves help us motivate other students to get involved in this.

Rob acknowledged that the Department had indicated that making a videotape as part of our work was beyond our capacity at this time but wondered if this might be an opportunity to videotape, for use later in the rollout of the Report. Mary indicated that videotaping the students would never be approved by the University committee that approves the research proposals. Susan noted that, while making a videotape has been ruled out, the Task Force will certainly be returning to the conversation about the formats/venues for delivery of our findings, the best practices, etc. to ensure that this work is effective and effectively used. Diana noted that, in her work with the Local Assessment System training, they have used the studio in the Maine State Library and actors as students. She has not yet seen the video to assess quality, but will keep the Task Force apprised, in case this turns out to be a useful tool.

UPDATE ON THE WORK OF THE EVENT PLANNING TEAM: This Team will convene at a later time, to discuss the rollout event. At present, the emphasis is with the Research Team and its work on student involvement.

DESCRIPTION OF "THE GENDER PROJECT": As noted above, Aileen was not able to attend today. Materials from "The Gender Project" were distributed and members were invited to email any questions about it to Aileen.

PRESENTATION: John Kennedy, Department of Education, gave a PowerPoint presentation on NAEP data, in relation to gender issues. He also gave a PowerPoint presentation on MEA data from that perspective for Brud Maxcy, who was unable to attend. Handouts of each PowerPoint were distributed.

GENERAL DISCUSSION: Among the general questions and comments made during John's presentation were the following points of interest: while girls generally do better than boys in reading in the 4th, 8th grade NAEP, there are 60 schools in Maine where that is not the case and it would be interesting to see what those schools are doing. John also noted that New Hampshire's Even Start program has been identified as promoting success for families with multiple needs; Susan noted that Maine has an Even Start program and John wondered if it correlated at all with the 60 schools described above. He also acknowledged that the link between performance and motivation of boys (to read, to perform on tests) is an issue recognized by NAEP. However, the gap between boys and girls in reading by 8th grade (in favor of girls) is worldwide and transcends materials, and instructional practices.

NEXT MEETING: November 17, 2004, 9:30 AM - 12:30 PM at the Cross State Office Building, Room #103B.

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