Monthly Archives: November 2010
Explaining to alarmed parents why their child’s school has failed to meet those goals can be a challenge.
In 2009, Appoquinimink’s Redding Middle School posted higher marks on the state assessment, seeing gains in nearly every group of children.
“Our scores were actually higher than they had ever been,” said Principal Matt Burrows.
But the Middletown school still was labeled as failing to meet federal test-score benchmarks.
The school’s special-education math scores missed the mark by 7 percentage points. That was enough to fail the entire school.
Parents, most of whom saw only that the school had failed test-score goals, were concerned, said Kim Wagner, co-president of the school’s parent-teacher organization and a teacher in Pennsylvania.
“They think it’s just one score for the whole school, and it’s not,” she said.
To help explain this, the school brought in Jeff Klein, who works on data analysis for the Appoquinimink School District. Klein, who has a particular knack for making abstract concepts understandable, used a 28-page PowerPoint presentation to explain the process. On page 15,
the words were bold and red: “Schools with fewer subgroups attain AYP more easily, even when their average student performance is lower.”
Indeed this is a terrible numbers game, and as you can clearly read, the parents needed to hear from a statistician that the school obviously did not address special education math. This is the both the hypocrisy of the system and its tragic failure. DE schools are chasing numbers instead of teaching children in some cases. They are managing a mathematical formula. It is disgusting at its core and the Aspen Institute, mentioned in the article, aligns itself with the ed-reformers that are masters of numerical manipulation: From Seattle, to Chicago, to Atlanta, New York and beyond…..
This was written by Yvette Jackson, chief executive officer of the National Urban Alliance and former executive director of instruction and professional development for the New York City public schools.
By Yvette Jackson
I wanted to cry when I read about the recent widely publicized report from the Council of Great City Schools about the underachievement of African-American males in our schools. Its findings bear repeating: African-American boys drop out at nearly twice the rate of white boys; their SAT scores are on average 104 points lower; and black men represented just 5 percent of college students in 2008.
When I was the executive director of instruction and professional development for the New York City Public Schools, I grew keenly aware of the challenges schools face in educating African-American males. For many reasons, far too many boys don’t get the support at home or in the community they need to thrive as adults. Instead, that job falls almost completely on their schools. And that means it comes down to their teachers.
Driven by the intense focus on accountability, schools and teachers used standardized test scores to help identify and address student weaknesses. Over time, these deficits began to define far too many students so that all we saw were their deficits – particularly for African-American males. As a result, we began losing sight of these young boys’ gifts and, as a consequence, stifled their talents.
As the report notes, it would be great to create national urgency around this issue and find more mentors for African-American males. But we have an army of educators in schools now who can help black males by doing for them what works for gifted students.
Teachers and schools can create activities that identify, affirm and build on student strengths. This can be done through student surveys, honest conversations and teacher professional development. We need to shift from remediation focused on weaknesses to mediation that develops strengths.
Damaging and pervasive chasms grow between teachers and students when teachers feel unprepared to meet the needs of students of color or economically disadvantaged students. Making cultural connections and strengthening teacher-student relationships are critical to making learning meaningful and relevant to students.
Finally, students must be enabled to be more active in their own education. Schools should give students opportunities to participate in teachers’ professional development aimed at enriching curriculum, improving teaching and expanding the range of materials students create.
In this way, student strengths will be illuminated. Teachers will get meaningful feedback on their instruction. Numerous ideas for creative classroom activities will be generated, and new bonds between teachers and students will develop. We must embrace a new approach to African-American males that focuses less on what they aren’t doing and builds on what they can and want to do as the path to improving their academic performance.
This is what a 6th-grade African-American boy from Newark, N.J., said recently when asked how it felt to lead his class in a lesson: “I got a lot of compliments from teachers saying that they think when I grow up I am going to be a very good teacher. I felt proud because it felt like I was doing very good. It was one of the best feelings that I had in life.”
Our schools and our teachers need to help more students grow up capable and confident. Students who don’t believe in themselves or who accept adults’ low expectations are one step closer to dropping out – or worse. Growing up to become a very good teacher is a destiny we can all support.
at least parents, who have children at heart, can be the ones to load the gun as all 4 models will destroy the schools and communities. Better than DOE or school boards for sure!
Destruction notes: http://www.ceps-ourschools.org/pdfs/Communities_Left_Behind.pdf
Maybe if the News Journal editorial board researched the four intervention models……nah too much to ask them to be informed I guess……
Maybe if you give them a simple link: http://www.ceps-ourschools.org/pdfs/Communities_Left_Behind.pdf
I know, I know….still too much to ask…..
Jack Markell recently returned from what may be the future, and he found that it is working against us.
That future is China. The governor went there and to Taiwan in an effort to woo jobs and investments to Delaware.
But the reality of the challenge facing Delaware and the whole United States hit him hard.
For the first time, he said, he saw the real meaning of globalization. It’s a race for the very best jobs.
Going forward, he said, any real economic development must be based on great schools.
This isn’t a message we are used to hearing. As the governor and Education Secretary Lillian Lowery point out, past assessments of our children’s academic achievements have been less than honest.
A student who was told he was a top achiever by Delaware standards rarely was on the same level as the students coming out of Chinese and Indian schools. The world is changing quickly, and our current joblessness, especially for those lacking skills, portends what is coming.
The challenge is blunt. If America is to continue to be the land of opportunity, if the next generation’s standard of living will be better than the current one’s, then our students must compete and win on a global level.
The schools are only going to get better if everyone — elected officials, educators, parents, businesses and taxpayers — works together.
Delaware is lucky. We are small enough for cooperation to really work. State officials are working with business groups and the Delaware State Education Association to make these reforms work.
Delaware came out first in the bid for federal Race To The Top money. That’s the easy part.
Now the work really begins. Four schools have already been picked to be part of a Partnership Zone. They must develop plans to radically improve students’ performance over the next three years. That’s been said before; but this time, there will be consequences.
New assessments will show how Delaware students really compare with other states. But the assessments also will give teachers and parents tools to help individual students learn and grow.
Gov. Markell warns that the steps will be difficult.
But what other choice do we have?
We have a new player in the DE education Blogosphere. I am confident she will be a valuable and interesting contributor…WELCOME Frederika!
Illinois Superintendents Preparation Academy studies school budgets and cost savings best practices (via Dr Joseph (Joey) Wise’s Blog)
New London Schools to Brokers: Get to Know Us
The reason, he said, is the reputation of the city’s public school system. Achievement assessments are lower than in surrounding towns, and most of the schools are not meeting the goals set under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
The district’s new superintendent, Nicholas Fischer, is on a mission to change public perceptions. To help in that effort, he contacted the ambassadorial arm of the business community: real estate agents.
With Mr. Turner’s help, Mr. Fischer recently invited agents in the area to take a day off from house tours and spend it touring city schools. One day last month, 18 agents working in and around New London took Mr. Fischer up on his offer, following student guides through the schools.
The experience proved popular enough that a second tour is in the works, said Debra J. Chamberlain, the president of the Eastern Connecticut Association of Realtors and an agent with William Raveis.
“I’ve been selling for 11 years,” Ms. Chamberlain said, “and this is the first time a school system has reached out to us to this extent. It was a fabulous idea.”
Taking agents into urban classrooms is a strategy Mr. Fischer says he used in previous posts in Broward County, Fla., and at the Christina School District in Delaware, before he was hired by New London in 2009. In both places, he said, “people said they were shocked at how much better the schools were than they’d heard they were.”
In his experience, many people form negative perceptions about urban schools without ever having set foot inside one. By introducing more people to the New London schools, he hopes to broaden their perspective on school quality, and ease fears about safety.
With roughly 3,000 students, the New London school system is no bigger than some large suburban school systems. As with many cities in Connecticut, however, it must contend with problems engendered by poverty. For instance, so many students come from low-income households that the district provides free lunches to all. Roughly 20 percent are not fluent in English, and the district’s dropout rate is, in Mr. Fischer’s estimation, around 30 percent.
Schools can be a delicate subject for agents. Under the Fair Housing Act, they are prohibited from steering clients to communities based on traits including race, color and nationality. When buyers ask about schools, conscientious agents keep their opinions to themselves and point toward sources that will help them compare school districts on their own.
Mr. Fischer has asked that in New London’s case they try another approach: “They can invite people to visit our schools. Or they can take them to a couple of schools and say, ‘Tell me what you think.’ ”
Alvin Kinsall, a Realtor and a distressed-housing counselor in the Waterford office of Randall Realtors, takes it a step further.
“I think a Realtor, without damaging their reputation, can indeed mention that, ‘I’ve been through the school system, I’ve spent a day there, and there’s nothing wrong with the schools,’ ” he said. “ ‘They are beautiful schools, the kids are well mannered, well behaved.’ ”
If that description sounds a bit one-sided, it is quite possibly because Mr. Kinsall, who lives in New London, is also president of its Board of Education. He says he has seen a marked improvement in school discipline, functionality and attitudes over the past five years. Taking outsiders to the schools will help open eyes to those changes, he added.
Of course, more interest in the city’s schools would benefit agents as well, in the form of greater housing demand. As it stands, New London’s rate of homeownership is fairly low: About 30 percent of all dwellings are occupied by owners. And the foreclosure crisis has taken a heavy toll on single- and multifamily houses at the lower end of the market (below $150,000), Mr. Kinsall said.
General Dynamics Electric Boat is moving engineers into the downtown office complex formerly occupied by Pfizer, and city officials are hoping that some of them will choose to live in New London. A new downtown condo complex, Harbour Towers, on Bank Street, is awaiting residents.
Attracting such buyers has been a problem partly because corporate relocation specialists have been known to advise new employees to look only in certain suburbs, Ms. Chamberlain said.
“The corporate relocation people are not as constrained as we are,” she said. “They will tell people, go live in this town or that town.”
Cornel West on Charles Rangel, Bush & Kanye West and Why Obama Admin “Seems to Have Very Little Concern for Poor People”
Princeton University professor and author Cornel West join us to talk about Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) being censured for ethics violations, President George W. Bush saying the worst moment of his presidency was when Kanye West called him a racist, and President Obama’s policies toward the poor. “The Obama administration seems to have very little concern for poor people and their social misery,” West said.
Waiver to ensure the PZ schools with SIG monies are aligned to AYP accountability: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/sif/summary/desigltr6152010.pdf
7.6.1 Districts with a Partnership Zone school and Partnership Zone charter schools shall enter a memorandum of understanding (“MOU”) between the Department and the district or the charter school. The Partnership Zone MOU shall include the following provisions:
126.96.36.199 Selection of one of the models outlined in section 7.6.2;
188.8.131.52 Provisions for regular oversight of the Partnership Zone school by the Department or its designee;
184.108.40.206 For schools at which a collective bargaining agreement governs its employees, a further agreement between and among the district or charter school, the collective bargaining unit, and the Department addressing those subjects, if any, that may inhibit the schools’ successful implementation of its model, including but not limited to:
220.127.116.11.1 Limitations on hiring, reassigning and transferring covered employees into and out of the Partnership Zone school, such as seniority limitations;
18.104.22.168.2 The methodology for determining which teachers will be transferred or reassigned as
part of the model;
22.214.171.124.3 Work rules relating to the educational calendar and scheduling of instructional time
and non-instructional time,
126.96.36.199.4 Instructional reform;
188.8.131.52.5 Professional development requirements and other specialized training;
184.108.40.206.6 Retention and employment incentives, including performance incentives for effective
teachers and principals; and
220.127.116.11.7 Any other subject required by these regulations to be addressed in the Partnership
Zone school’s selected model.
18.104.22.168 In the event the parties are not able to reach the agreement required by 22.214.171.124 within
seventy-five (75) days of notice as a Partnership Zone school, each party shall present its
last best offer on the areas of disagreement along with a draft agreement, to the Secretary
of the Department, who shall accept one of the last best offers, or reject all of them.
Should the Secretary reject all offers, the parties shall have thirty (30) days to confer and
present the Secretary revised offers for re-consideration pursuant to this section.
126.96.36.199 Other provisions required by the model or mutually agreed upon by the Department and the district or charter school, which may include the following:
188.8.131.52.1 Instituting flexible funding at school level and oversight of same;
184.108.40.206.2 Engagement of a partner, consultant, education management organization or other
alternative leadership structure; and
220.127.116.11.3 Extending learning time and community-oriented supports, including more learning
time for students, collaboration time for teachers, enrichment activities, and
mechanisms for family and community engagement.
18.104.22.168 Schools designated as Title I shall continue to offer supplemental services and choice as
required by ESEA.
22.214.171.124 Partnership Zone schools that are not making AYP by the end of the second school year
following implementation of the restructuring plan shall renegotiate the MOU or select one
of the other available models under 7.6.2.
7.6.2 Districts having Partnership Zone schools and Partnership Zone charter schools shall work with the Department to implement a plan from the list below. The District may request funding from the Department for implementation of these provisions.
126.96.36.199 School Closure Model, in which a district closes a school and enrolls the students who
attended that school in other schools in the district that are higher achieving that are within
reasonable proximity to the closed school and may include, but are not limited to, charter
schools or new schools for which achievement data are not yet available;