|August 16, 2007
Well, it is that time of
year again when we report the No Child Left Behind measure called Adequate
Yearly Progress (AYP). As I have written many times, this measure has a
good purpose (to help all children learn) however, the measure does not
make sense. We will find out this year that almost 60% of the schools in
North Carolina did not make AYP. We will find that almost every school
system in the state did not make AYP. Why? As was the case in ISS, we met
90% of our goals related to AYP, however, we will be called a failure.
Why? Because children with disabilities did not meet the grade level standards.
These children have improved significantly over the past few years and
teachers are learning how to help these children. However, they have disabilities
like autism that may be extremely difficult to overcome and may take many
years of intervention to help them be successful. Finally, some children
with disabilities may never reach grade level performance because they
do not have the capacity. I hope readers will keep No Child Left Behind
ratings in context. Our school system met over 90% of the goals set for
us. We are among the top 20 school systems in NC in academic performance.
Our students, teachers, and schools are not failures they are doing a great
job. The measure is not adequate to tell the story. Below is a story that
tells how other states are dealing with the same issue.
One-Third of Mo. Districts
Haven't Met Federal Academic Goals
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
ST. LOUIS, Mo. --
Nearly one-third of the state's 524 school districts learned Monday they
have fallen short of federal education standards — a list that a state
education official cautioned will grow as government benchmarks become
The local districts notified that they've fallen short of the academic
goals established under the federal No Child Left Behind Act include Hazelwood,
Fort Zumwalt, Francis Howell and Parkway, which last year claimed more
National Merit Scholars than any other district in the state. "This
is indicative of the bigger picture and demonstrates why everyone in public
education has to drill deeper to find students who are not successful and
to find out why they are not successful," said Parkway district spokesman
Paul Tandy. In Parkway, Carman Trails and Hanna Woods elementary
schools were singled out for missing state benchmarks. Assistant
State Education Commissioner Stan Johnson said most of the 167 districts
landed on the "improvement list" because specific groups of students, such
as those needing special education and those learning English as a second
language, fell short on state tests.
"To paint an entire district with a broad brush when, in fact, the areas
in need of improvement are very narrow is very misleading," said Brent
Ghan, chief communications officer of the Missouri School Boards Association.
But the idea behind No Child Left Behind is that if one group of students
falls short academically, the whole school falls short. The federal
law requires that by 2014, all students be proficient in reading and math.
States must set goals each year for the percentage of students that must
score proficient on state tests, gradually increasing to 100 percent.
Missouri, for example, set a goal of 18.4 percent of students scoring proficient
on the Missouri Assessment Program test in communication arts in 2002.
By this spring, more than half of students must hit that mark.
Schools and districts that fail to make such annual progress in academics
and also miss targets for attendance and graduation rates for two consecutive
years are added to the improvement list. The rising expectations
each year will cause more and more school districts to land on the improvement
list, Johnson predicted. Districts on the list must upgrade school
improvement plans and notify parents of the federal designation. Parkway,
Francis Howell and Fort Zumwalt sent mass e-mails to parents on Monday.
Fort Zumwalt Superintendent Bernard DuBray said the district plans to notify
parents at Forest Park, Hawthorn and Lewis & Clark elementary schools
as soon as possible of their option to send their children to one of 12
other elementary schools in the district. School starts Monday. Johnson
said he doesn't expect the classification of these districts to change
when the state releases this year's Missouri Assessment Program scores
Johnson cited a recent National Center for Education Statistics report
that found Missouri students proficient in math, reading, science and writing
as evidence that the state is holding its own academically. "Our
standards are pretty tough," he said. "Proficiency in Missouri means proficiency."
House Minority Whip Roy Blunt, R-Springfield, Mo., said the list demonstrates
why No Child Left Behind deserves close scrutiny as it faces congressional
reauthorization. "It has been overly burdensome to educators and
parents alike," Blunt said in a statement. "And, it is a step across the
bright line principle of local officials knowing what is best for education.
There may be ways to improve NCLB by providing local educators more flexibility."
August 15, 2007
I came to ISS five years ago, I discovered an issue that had been going
on for several years. Teachers were having to call their own substitutes.
As a high school principal many years ago, I always went to work around
6:00 a.m. and teachers who were sick called me and I called subs. If I
was absent, the assistant principal handled the duties. I was amazed that
our teachers had to call their own substitutes. Quite often getting a substitute
could take 20 -30 minutes. Imagine a sick baby crying while you are trying
to get a substitute. Imagine you are very ill with a stomach virus and
you have to stay on the phone for 20-30 minutes trying to reach a substitute.
This was a bad situation and every year, teachers have asked the Board
of Education to address this problem. Every year, this was a top budget
request from teachers. Finally, we have found a way to fund this request
through an inexpensive technology platform. Teachers will either log in
to a computer site and request a substitute or call the computer site and
request a substitute. The computer and an office professional then ensure
that substitutes are arranged for in schools where they are needed. Great
benefit - right??? Well today, we begin to get calls about what a waste
of money this is and the calls are from teachers. GO FIGURE????
issue is just one of many where things we do will never please everyone.
The Board of Education makes decisions with the best interests of students
and teachers in mind. In this case, I think they made a very wise decision.
One that will impact teacher morale and satisfaction. Time will tell whether
or not the investment was a good one. Until then, the debate will continue.
Let me know or your local newspaper know what you think about this.
August 14, 2007
August 13, I attended the Blue Ribbon Commission on Accountability. This
group has been meeting for several months in order to make recommendations
to the State Board of Education on how to improve the NC testing and accountability
system. The group is getting close to finalizing recommendations. Many
of the group think that NC needs a writing program but the current writing
assessment at grades 4,7, and 10 does not appear to give a balanced view
of how students are performing in writing. Therefore, the Commission may
recommend an alternative to the current writing assessments. I would be
interested in hearing from more teachers, parents, and students about this
issue. Just e-mail me through the connection above.
recommendation would be the elimination of any test that is not required
by No Child Left Behind. Currently, we are required by NCLB to test reading
and math in grades 3-8 and once in high school. Also, science is being
added at 5th, 8th and high school biology this year to the NCLB requirements.
This recommendation would eliminate computer tests and numerous End of
Course tests. I would like to hear from teachers, parents, and students
on this issue also.
if you have other recommendations that I could take to our next Commission
meeting on September 17, please let me know. I have been very vocal about
getting curriculum standards that teachers can actually address within
a school year and also getting teachers support for the curriculum through
instructional materials and formative assessments on-line.