Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Shout out to Cassidy and Meadowthorpe

Well, the new test scores are out and I'm not sure I know what they mean. But whatever they mean, a couple of "my old schools" came out near the top. And that doesn't mean nothing; not to me at least.

Congratulations to the faculties of
Top Ten
Cassidy School
Meadowthorpe Elementary!!!

My other "old school" is Ryland Heights Elementary in Kenton County, sitting at a pretty cool 91.5.

Actually, the Council for Better Education, the Kentucky Association of School Councils and the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, created an index score, to bridge the three year period while SB 1 is being enacted. The group shared that formula with the Herald-Leader, and H-L used it to create the rankings.

This from the Herald-Leader:

Test results mixed in Fayette County
Fayette has 4 of top 5 elementary scores
Results from statewide student tests released Wednesday offer the Fayette County Public Schools both some things to cheer about and some things to mull over.

Among the county system's bright spots: it had four of Kentucky's top five scoring elementary schools; five elementary schools and one middle school in the top 10; 25 schools exceeded the benchmark of 100 on the statewide transitional index.

On the downside, Fayette high schools continued to struggle. Once again, no public high school in the county reached adequate yearly progress goals under the No Child Left Behind program. Other concerns: index scores fell at six schools; district reading targets for African-American students were missed; and six schools that made NCLB targets last year failed to do so this year...
And this:

Majority of schools have made progress

The percentage of Kentucky public schools that met federal goals fell slightly from last year, according to statewide student test results released Wednesday, but education officials said that could be misleading.

The results show that statewide, 696 Kentucky public schools — or 60.2 percent — made Adequate Yearly Progress goals for 2008-09 under the federal No Child Left Behind program. For the 2007-2008 school year, 72.9 percent of the state's public schools made AYP.

But state education department officials said during a briefing in Frankfort on Tuesday that new, higher goals for reading and mathematics probably helped depress scores and contributed to the lower percentage of Kentucky schools meeting AYP for '08-'09.

Overall, 464 schools failed to make AYP this time. Even so, 228 of them did make 80 percent or more of their goals, officials said.

Statewide, 110 Title 1 schools will face consequences under NCLB.

One school, Jefferson County's Thomas Jefferson Middle School, now has failed to meet NCLB standards for nine consecutive years. But it faces no stiffer consequences than schools that have missed only seven years.

Similarly, Jefferson County's Knight Middle School ranks near the bottom of Kentucky's middle schools and has languished there under the same leadership for most, or all, of those years.

Nineteen years into KERA, Knight's estimated index for this year is 60.1; down from 61.1 in 2008; and down from 63.4 in 2007 - and they only met 6 of 16 NCLB targets.

When critics ask why Kentucky educators would put up with these situation year after year without a change in leadership, or an even more radical restructuring, I say - it's a good question.

This situation cries out for a charter school.

It also makes me wonder what it takes to get fired in Jefferson County.


Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for the scores link from the H-L, Richard! As a school board member, it would have been days before I'd been given this information.

Anonymous said...

I am a teacher in the Fayette County Public Schools and would prefer not to give my name. These celebrations you publicize are almost shameful. The kids do the work and teachers get the credit. The kids don't do the work and we teachers get kicked in the face. Certain schools in 40502 are at the top. Others in less affluent zipcodes are at the bottom.

We are all in this together, and the sense of rivalry and testing mania have only intensified under the current superintendent.

What have we allowed ourselves to become? Most importantly, why are we allowing it to continue?

Anonymous said...

For 7:12 PM

I agree. Also, one of the biggest problems I see with the current testing system is the lack of accountability for students. Most students in elementary (and, sometimes, even middle school) *want* to do well on their 'tests'. However, if a system has some disgruntled high school students and they decide to 'throw the test', the teachers are blamed.

Anonymous said...

Forgot to include this with my previous post...

Not only can you have disgruntled students, but there's the upset parent factor, as well. I have, unfortunately, heard parents *encouraging* their children to do poorly on these tests. It has happened in my district.

Anonymous said...

The testing system is a farce. Each teacher knows it. 11:01 is right right: there is no accountability for students: remember those students who zip through an hour test in fifteen minutes? Especially on the multiple choice tests...It's disturbing, but the principals will blame us...and the superintendent blames the principal.

The lazy students get the last laugh, often egged on by parents who loathe testing, and someone in the College of Education (Curriculum Department) will hurredly putting together a seminar on "Motivating the unmotivated student."

Thank heavens for this blog. Seems to be the teachers are taking to the podium since the principals choose to remain silent.

Richard Day said...

7:12 et al - Is it really that simple? Good zip code = good school?

If so, then perhaps teachers and schools don't really make a difference.

But I don't think that's the case.

The question isn't whether we know how to teach or whether schools are important; America became the national and economic power it is largely due to a strong system of public schools. The question is whether we can extend that educational benefit to the greatest precentage of our population through a system of academic, applied and technical programs. It is by that means that America's GDP grew, and I hope, will once again.

I understand teachers' complaints about the unreasonable demands and insufficient resources - and that percentage of unmotivated students who seem to act outside their own best interest. But the goal is crucial and it remains. The thing to do now, it seems to me, is to contribute our best effort toward making the new assessment better than the old one.

In the meantime, Arne Duncan is saying the right things about NCLB; how it was a good idea but was implemented exactly backwards. It will help Kentucky a lot if the feds get rid of the unhelpful parts of NCLB.

But "almost shameful" to express congratulations to Cassidy, Meadowthorpe and Ryland? Sorry. I don't buy it.

Perhaps it's because I remember the days when Cassidy's feet were held to the fire over the achievement gap. Or when Meadowthorpe and Ryland were largely unregarded.

For the record: Meadowthorpe is in40511. When I was there the student population was a near perfect bell curve, but of course, since my departure they picked up the gifted program.

Ryland Heights, in Kenton County (41015) is a fairly typical rural school except for the third of its students who were poor and living in federal housing - hardly affluent - with no special programs that I'm aware of and a decent index.

The work is hard. The obstacles are significant. We ought to celebrate when we can.

But trust me on this one: It is not the lazy student who gets the last laugh. They live with their choices forever.

Anonymous said...

The debate over education and school reform will rage on, won't it? Longer school days, as President Obama says? Remediation and mastery learning as advocated by Bloom and others? Discovery learning as advocated by Dewey? None of this will work unless parents are held accountable, too. The triangular relationship --teacher-student-parent --- must be observed and respected. In our nation, it is not. The burden is placed squarely on the teacher's shoulders.

Like others on the blog, I continue to be disgusted by the rivalry between the public schools regarding test scores. And silently I buck every attempt by a principal or academic coach to tell me I must do more to get the scores higher. You see, I care about education (learning), not a school's academic index.

Richard Day said...

You are surely correct, the debate will continue.

But the debate these days isn't like it used to be. America seems sold on quantification and the debate is around which data to collect. The public bought the idea of accountability.

I like the idea of teachers being able to teach what they know, all for the love of learning. I'm just not sure how realistic that is in today's world.

If there is some counter movement somewhere that is picking up steam let me know about it. But I'm pretty sure the tide is going the other way.

Look for national standards, a national assessment, and teachers being unfairly assessed with even more testing.

Perhaps the good news lies in expanded choice options. Get enough like-minded folks together, and the opportunity may soon exist to start your own school around whatever principles you value.

But somehow you'll have to prove the school's worth in order to continue being funded. There's the rub.