Saturday, October 22, 2011

Holliday Reflects on the Achievement Gap

This from the Commissioner: Fears and Challenges
Almost two years ago, I revitalized the Commissioners Raising Achievement and Closing Gaps Council (CRACGC). This council recently published recommendations to ensure equity in access and outcomes. The recommendations from the council will become a required component for a new group of schools and districts that will be identified as part of our No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waiver request.

This new group of schools will be called “focus schools.” The Kentucky Department of Education will identify those schools that have the largest achievement gaps. These schools will be required to address achievement gap issues through school and district plans. Targeted interventions will increase with each year that the school or district does not meet targets to close achievement gaps.

My biggest fear is that, even with our best efforts through state accountability, a commissioner of education will be writing an article in another 40 years documenting that not much progress has been made ensuring equity of access and outcomes for ALL children.

What will the collective WE do differently over the next 5-10 years? The collective WE must involve communities in addressing poverty and access. The collective WE must address early childhood education, since that is where the gap can best be closed. The collective WE must address jobs and hope in our most challenged communities. We cannot rely solely on teachers and schools to make a difference (we tried that with No Child Left Behind). We cannot mandate equity. Equity must be a belief that a community holds dear and then takes action to accomplish.

You are part of the collective WE. What will YOU do?


Anonymous said...

So let me get this right, the commissioner has "revitalized" and as a result we will have yet another list of schools not making the grade like the list we got a week ago but this will be based on achievement gaps. And the way he is going to address these "focus schools" is by requiring them to address achievement gaps in their school and district plans???

NOTE TO COMMISIONER: School and district plans were suppose to address achievement gaps way before you ever got here and "revitalized" us.

Anonymous said...

First, I think our commissioner is muddying the water by lumping access and outcomes together. Not all schools have resource or access issues which can justify gaps, plus how do gender gaps play into that type of logic? There is obvious linkage between the two issues but they are not specificaly liniar in their relationship.

I can't seem to figure out if the "Collective WE" is political jousting, an attempt to curry favor with teachers or just him trying to deflect responsibility for the last two years of basically not getting any tangible results. He has spent so much time and monney gathering up all the plans and materials that now its time to build the house and it sounds like he is telling us we can't build on the foundation. I suspect he might be getting in his truck to leave town with us holding the bill.

Is he telling us that if "WE" would have heavily involved, hopeful communities where there was no poverty, equal access to all resoruces for all schools, with heavy investment in early childhood ed and everyone employed in decent jobs then "WE can overcome achievement gaps? Are those the conditions which must exist before HE is willing to take on HIS responsibility as commissioner? Heck, anyone one of us in the collective "WE" could serve as commissioner if that was the environment in which we functioned.

Who does he think he's talking to? Does he really think that a few months after hoping off the plane from NC that he is the only one who sees the distressful conditions which many live under in our Commonwealth? His tone in the last paragraph is insulting, elitist and condesending sarcasm. What a self righteous insult to Kentuckians. Same old outsider BS telling us we are backwards instead of doing the job he was hired to do and dealing with it within the parameters he has to function.

Anonymous said...

Is this the same guy I saw at the Willie Nelson Concert last week at EKU getting his picture taken and smoozing with educational and political leaders/candiates in the box seats before taking his chair on the front row next to the stage? Guess equity and equal access doesn't apply when it comes to concerts, just education.

He must have just gotten back from Brazil no doubt having looked into early childhood education, community involvement and job creation.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that the commissioner can tell us that he doesn't think we can make much progress with gaps due to community indifference, poor parent support and bad economic conditions, but when we as teachers for years have identified these as significant factors, we have only been told that we needed to work harder and find altnerative instructional approaches to reach these children. The moral burden and instructional failure was placed solidly on educators' shoulders but now the commissioner seems to be using the same concern to excuse his leadership's lack of success.