Defining Accountability

Task Force has existed since 2004, but what is it
Gilroy – The name is thrown around at meetings. District officials often refer to it during discussions.

But do locals who are not enmeshed in the Gilroy Unified School District familiar with the Accountability Task Force?

“I’m not sure what it is that they’re doing,” said Denise Apuzzo. “I don’t know what the make-up of the committee is.”

The Dispatch columnist and mother of three attends school board meetings and is an involved parent, but every time she’s tried to check out what the task force does online, she’s hit a dead-end.

“They don’t update the Web site,” she said. “There’s no way of the public knowing. It’s hard for me to say what kind of a job they’re doing when I don’t know what they do.”

A click on the Accountability Task Force link on the district’s Web site reveals that the most recent agenda and minutes posted are from May, even though the group met Nov. 16.

The minutes from the November meeting aren’t ready yet, said Superintendent Edwin Diaz. But there are also no minutes or agenda posted from the Aug. 17 meeting. The old minutes say the next meeting is scheduled for June 29.

Only six of the 16 representatives attended the Aug. 17 meeting.

But Raul Vega, president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and one of the task force representatives, said the group is effective.

“What it mainly is is a way to measure the educational goals of the district,” he said. “I see it as being in the district forever.”

The group is made up of “people with different views coming together to improve education,” he said.

Also, Vega said everyone in the community can attend meetings.

The Web site does have a link explaining what the task force hopes to accomplish and its background. Gilroy’s accountability system is based on the work of Douglas Reeves, who founded the Center for Performance Assessment. According to the district, Reeves has helped school districts across the country “dramatically” improve student achievement.

The site explains that the Accountability Task Force is “a collaborative decision-making process that allows us to define success, design the path to achieve success and monitor our progress along the way.”

At the Nov. 16 meeting the group discussed the results of the Academic Performance Index and the federal Adequate Yearly Progress. Assistant Superintendent Jacki Horejs also discussed the Tier 1 and Tier 2 levels of the accountability system.

The district analyzes Tier 1 indicators, which include data such as test scores, attendance, safety and drop-out rate. After analyzing the Tier 1 data, the district sets goals for the Tier 2 level. At the end of the year staffers from each school site prepares a Tier 3 report, detailing their successes and failures.

The next meeting is scheduled for today at 6:30pm.

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