Ilana Spiegel readily admits that she is “that” parent: the mom or dad who wants more detail about what their kids are doing in school, the one who doesn’t always take at face value what teachers or administrators say. Spiegel has learned that being “that” parent is a good thing and a common quality among members of the District Accountability Committee, also known as DAC.
“We tend to be ‘that’ parent who asks really hard questions about our children, their learning and what kinds of opportunities are being provided for them,” explained Spiegel, who now serves as the DAC chairperson. “Even if you’re not ‘that’ parent, DAC is about creating ‘that’ district for ALL students and families.”
DAC is a districtwide committee made up of parents, community members and district staff who meet once a month from September through May to delve into complex and critical issues, including academic achievement, the district budget and charter schools.
“I think DAC is the best place to find information on student achievement, what’s going on in the district, innovation and those things,” said Jen Brandon, a parent who has been a DAC member for eight years. She says serving on DAC has given her a deeper understanding of the education her daughters are receiving.
“You can really see when they bring home homework, the ‘why’ and the thought process in that,” Brandon said. “I learn about PLCs (Professional Learning Communities) in DAC and then I see my kids bring work home and I see the PLC work in that, so it really brings home what your kids are doing.”
In fact, at the first DAC meeting of the 2018-19 school year, which was held Sept. 5 at the Instructional Support Facility, the group learned more about the district’s PLC work, which brings teachers together regularly to hone in on specific aspects of student learning, with the ultimate goal of increasing achievement for all students.
Dr. Mary Shay, director of Professional Learning for the district, shared information on the “100 day plans” that PLCs at every school are using to identify and reach specific goals. She shared a rubric that teachers use and asked DAC members to submit feedback that will be used as the district’s PLC work moves forward.
During the Sept. 5 meeting, DAC members also analyzed achievement and accreditation data and got an update from Board of Education Member Kelly Bates.
As required by law in the Education Accountability Act of 2009, DAC advises the Board of Education on student achievement issues, budget items and more.
“It’s about stretching our ideas about student learning, how resources are allocated,” Spiegel added. “It’s really about parent and community engagement.”
On Oct. 3, DAC will hold a joint meeting with the District PASS Committee at Overland High School. PASS stands for Partnership for Academically Successful Students and the group is also focused on student achievement. The combined meeting will welcome new superintendent, Dr. Scott Siegfried, who will report on the state of the district. Spiegel invites all interested parents and community members to attend.
“We’re looking for parents who are saying ‘Hey, I want to figure out how to make this work for my child, my school and my community, ‘” Spiegel said. “Parent participation is vital. We know that when parents are engaged and when they feel like they are a part of their student’s school and district and community, that all children will learn more.”
DAC member Jen Brandon agrees.
“I would encourage everyone, but especially parents who are new to the district, to come and learn,” Brandon said. “I think DAC is the best place to find out everything you need to know about Cherry Creek Schools.”