DPI News for 10/30/07

The image “https://i0.wp.com/www.ncreportcards.org/src/images/SRCLogo6.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. * 2007 N.C. SCHOOL REPORT CARDS ONLINE

The N.C. Department of Public Instruction launched the 2007 N.C. School
Report Cards this morning, providing parents, educators and others with
access to a variety of information about how the state’s schools and school
districts are performing on various measures. To read more about this
launch, please go to the NCDPI Web site at http://www.ncpublicschools.org
and click on the appropriate link under ‘News.’ To access the N.C. School
Report Cards, just go to http://www.ncreportcards.org.

The image “https://i0.wp.com/praxisresearch.com/regionalsymposia/2003report/NashvilleSymposiumReport_final_files/image002.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

* Public Hearings Scheduled to Receive Feedback on
State Plan for Career and Technical Education

The State Board of Education has scheduled three public hearings for
November to receive comment on the State Plan for Career and Technical
Education for 2008-2013. For additional information on these hearings,
including the dates, time and locations, please go to the NCDPI Web site at
http://www.ncpublicschools.org and click on the appropriate link under
‘News.’

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E.C. 🙂

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Mission (im)Possible Teachers get the Payout (N&R)

The image “https://i1.wp.com/www.climatechangecorp.com/resources/images/content/large/20073282659_dangling%20carrot.JPG” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. The News & Record is reporting that those GCS Mission (im)Possible teachers will get their payouts this week…those incentives for them to teach at many high-impacted schools in the Peoples Republic of Guilford County.

See this short blurb:

Seventy-six teachers and administrators will receive performance bonuses from $2,500 to $5,000 this week under the Mission Possible teacher incentive plan started by Guilford County Schools last year.

The employees represent 24 percent of those eligible at 20 participating schools to receive the extra pay, according to district figures. The bonuses total about $270,000. They are being paid through local school dollars and a private grant by Action Greensboro.

Here’s an interesting spin on teacher incentives…take a look at this link to an education blog in New York City. Seems as though a recent NY Times article focused on this very subject. The blogger writes and comments relative to the article:

Is this implying that we as teachers are not doing enough already? Is a carrot going to make us run faster? I’m doing the best I can carrot or no carrot. The underlying assumption here seems to be that we as teachers can work harder if given more money. Show me the teacher that steps back and says, “Well if they paid me $3000 more I’d get them to pass.”

Interesting…any thoughts? I’d love to hear from you Mission Possible teachers to see how things are going so far this year.

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UPDATE: 10/30/07, 10:26AM:

Link to updated N&R story here.  See this short excerpt:

The image “https://i1.wp.com/www.gcsnc.com/boe/images/hebert1.JPG” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. “I’ve seen what I want to see after year one,” said Garth Hebért , a member of the Board of Education. “We got qualified teachers where they were needed.”

Hebért said he has concerns about teachers being expected to turn around students with a long history of poor academic performance.

The image “https://i2.wp.com/www.gcsnc.com/schools/images/Terry%20Grier%205x7.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. [Supt. Terry] Grier has said in the past he would relocate teachers who aren’t able to improve test scores in their classrooms.

“These are the hardest schools to teach in,” Hebért said. “These are the schools where kids give up.”

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So Garth doesn’t want the kids to give up, but what does it tell us when Grier wants to give up on the teachers in these schools who can’t get students to pass a test?

And to think this man just got a raise?

Link to N&R Chalkboard discussion here.

Link to GCS Memo about the bonuses here.

E.C. 🙂

Making Big Schools Smaller (web-chat)

The image “https://i2.wp.com/schoolcenter.gcsnc.com/images/pageitems/55961/p834634729_15003.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Since many are sounding the alarm on big schools versus smaller ones, now’s your chance to chime in with your thoughts to the so-called experts.

There will be a web-chat tomorrow, Tuesday, Oct. 30, sponsored by Education Week magazine, in which the topic will be how large schools can be converted into smaller learning communities. Here’s the information to participate:

Live Chat

 

Making Big Schools Smaller

When: Tuesday, Oct. 30, from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Eastern time
Submit questions here in advance.

Please join us for a live chat to talk about how large schools can be converted into smaller learning communities.

Much has been written about this topic for years and debates are ongoing about whether converting large schools into smaller learning communities results in improvements in student learning and teaching. But the guests for this chat argue that if such efforts are executed properly, they are likely to improve schools.

What models of success should schools follow? What misteps have been taken by schools that tried to transform bigger schools into smaller learning communities and failed? How can schools work to avoid such mistakes? And what are the financial costs of going from big to small?

For more information, read these related articles:
Commentary: The Not-So-Inevitable Failure of High School Conversions
High Schools Nationwide Paring Down

Guests:

Lewis Cohen is the executive director of the Coalition of Essential Schools.

Stacy Spector is the principal of the Academy of Citizenship and Empowerment, one of three autonomous small schools converted from a large, comprehensive high school in SeaTac, Wash.

Submit questions here in advance.

No special equipment other than Internet access is needed to participate in this text-based chat. A transcript will be posted shortly after the completion of the chat.

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E.C. 🙂

More on the Dropout Issue

The image “https://i1.wp.com/www.solidarity.com/hkcartoons/teachertoons/images/kono1april.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Now the Feds want to look at graduation rates and make the issue of high school dropouts more of a focus as part of a possible No Child Left Behind-Leaves Many Children Behind reauthorization.

Take a gander at this article from the Associated Press.  According to the AP, U.S. House and Senate proposals to renew NCLB-LMCB would give high schools more federal money and put more pressure on them to improve…the current law imposes serious consequences on schools that report low scores on math and reading tests, such as having to replace teachers or principals, but it lacks the same kind of teeth when it comes to graduation rates, the AP says.

More from the article:

Nationally, about 70 percent of U.S. students graduate on time with a regular diploma. For Hispanic and black students, the proportion drops to about half.

The legislative proposals would:

• Make sure schools report their graduation rates by racial, ethnic and other subgroups and are judged on those. That’s to ensure schools aren’t just graduating white students in high numbers, but also are working to ensure minority students get diplomas.

• Get states to build data systems to keep track of students throughout their school years and more accurately measure graduation and dropout rates.

• Ensure states count graduation rates in a uniform way. States have used a variety of formulas, including counting the percentage of entering seniors who get a diploma. That measurement ignores the fact that kids who drop out typically do so before their senior year.

• Create strong progress goals for graduation rates and impose sanctions on schools that miss them. Most states currently lack meaningful goals, according to The Education Trust, a nonprofit that advocates for poor and minority children.

The current law requires testing in reading and math once in high school, and those tests take on added importance because of serious consequences for a school that fails. Critics say that creates a perverse incentive for schools to encourage kids to drop out before they bring down a school’s scores.

All of these posts are timely…this one, along with the “sudden” focus our school board wants to do as it relates to the dropout rates among students of color, and the report released last week in which dropouts in North Carolina cost the state nearly $170 million.

As a matter of fact, we just received a comment from our friend Stormy, who makes an excellent point:  students may leave school in May and just not return in August, and they aren’t included in the dropout rate.

Good point. Something to think about.

E.C. 🙂

The Jamestown Revolt (and Belton responds)

https://i2.wp.com/www.gcsnc.com/boe/images/belton.JPG Jeff Belton’s comments at last week’s GCS Board meeting in which he mentioned the “R” word (redistricting) as it related to a WAYYY-overdue, newly-built Jamestown Middle School have certainly ruffled some feathers over the past few days.

I’m going to reference the ongoing hot-and-heavy discussion over on the News & Record’s Chalkboard blog as a starting point.

The image “https://i1.wp.com/schoolcenter.gcsnc.com/images/pageitems/p748493547_5403.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Let’s catch you up to date…the issue came as part of a discussion in which the final touches are being put on the nearly-half-a-billion-dollar bond referendum on next May’s ballot…which happens to be the same ballot my name will appear on (see previous coverage here). Belton asked Board member Anita Sharpe what she thought of a smaller Jamestown Middle School and what the community might think of it (BTW, a new Jamestown Middle was promised in the 2003 bond issue, it was never built). Sharpe said “outrage.”

And I’m okay with that response, seeing as though I didn’t really know where Sharpe’s head was at with respect to this and other issues.
But Belton also suggested part of the Jamestown Middle’s attendance zone could be redistricted to the old-Allen Jay Middle in south High Point while a new Jamestown Middle is under construction. And keep in mind that Allen Jay Middle is undergoing some renovations as well. That “R” word caused the crap-storm.

And since I’m a new Jamestowner, I’m right in the middle of the storm.

See some of the exchange on the Chalkboard:

Wally World said:

I think that Mr. Belton and the others should have a community meeting in Jamestown to solicit the community’s thoughts on this. Lets’ see, they diverted the bond funds away from Jamestown to other more important projects, even though Jamestown was listed on the bond when it was submitted to voters for approval. They then promised Jamestown that their school would be priority on the next bond referendum, and now they are talking about redistricting because the school would be to big. What game is being played here? Is this a ploy to garner bond support in Jamestown?

Yes, they should have a community meeting in Jamestown. I suspect the good citizens there have something to say to Mr. Belton and the school board.

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He’s right. It is past time to have a community meeting to talk about this.

Here’s more:

double doubtful said:

The image “https://i2.wp.com/www.gcsnc.com/schools/elementary/jamestownelementary/JamestownElem.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. I’ve heard that Jamestown Elementary is out of control this year because of all the overflow while Union Hill is being built. Also heard a few weeks ago that the school didn’t have teachers for their specials.

A smaller Jamestown Middle is a better idea since that middle school is having behavior problems also.

https://i2.wp.com/www.gcsnc.com/boe/images/kearns1.jpg I must agree with Doubtful. The school board should have learned their lesson about messing with North HP and Jamestown. One by one the old board is being replaced. Dot’s turn will come in 2008 then most of the mission will be complete.

The school board should realize by now that NHP and Jamestown will continue to fight for their children. Their lives have been turned topsy turvy, their home values decreased…..they have nothing else the school board can do to them…..patriots are united more than ever and on standby to fight again

the underground has spoken; silent now but a strong, UNITED force to be dealt with

Score:

https://i0.wp.com/www.theyoungdemocrats.com/sykes.jpg marti gone
https://i0.wp.com/www.nwobserver.com/images/schools/rep2.jpg susie gone

johnny gone

slow, steady and united wins the race

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But Mr. Belton responded:

Jeff Belton said:

Perhaps what I did not make clear is what is my intention in asking this question about the size of Jamestown MIddle. The current Bond list was in large part, put together before Garth and I began service on the current BOE. I have, from my own experiences as a parent, concerns about the size of our school populations. I think that 1200 students in a middle school is too large. That is my personal opinion. Because it is my opinion, and not an issue that I had heard clear discussion about, I asked the question. Because I do respect the wishes of both parents and taxpayers, is precisely why I asked Jamestown Middle’s representative(Anita Sharpe) what she thought. That was not the first time I had mentioned this to Anita. If I were simply out to forward some agenda of my own, carelessly implementing what I think is best, I would not have asked for input from Anita. It is my intention to give this community one last chance to say what they want in a new school. Once we build the new school it will be too late to shrink its’ capacity.
I asked this question to give all parties involved an opportunity to be sure of what they want. I am uncomfortable in building such a large school, however, I have been an advocate of our school facilities for many years and understand the importance and validity of community input. I am seeking to foster that input. I have asked the staff to give the BOE and the community an idea of what a smaller Jamestown Middle might look like.
While a candidate for the BOE I stated repeatedly that the then BOE had erred in not prioritizing the 2003 Bond package. Leaving themselves open to justifiable criticism when those Bond projects were reduced, changed or altogether removed from the list.
I am aware that Northwest H.S. and Northwest Middle are by BOE standards and in my opinion too large. I am also aware that they have had significant academic success despite their size. If the Jamestown Middle community really wants a middle school with 1200 students to be their current and future size, then so be it. I will not oppose it.
Lastly, this discussion about Jamestown Middle does not change its’ position as the number one item on a prioritorized
[sic] bond list. I, nor do I think any Board member has any intention to change that number position for Jamestown Middle.
Yours,
Jeff

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To which, I responded this morning:

E.C. Huey said:

Mr. Belton: Thank you for your response. As you can see, a Jamestown revolt has started. I can understand your concerns about such a large middle school, and because the Board in general fails to properly plan for growth, our schools are getting larger. Failure to properly plan for growth in High Point resulted in the many rounds of redistricting GCS saw…and you saw the result.

Granted, our Jamestown area schools have weathered some recent challenges, but many good hard-working folks in this community believe and take stock in these schools, and I can assure you that they will not have them wrestled away in the name of politics.

As Jamestown…and High Point…and many parts of Greensboro and other parts of Guilford County continue to grow, our schools are going to have to grow with them. But it will take smart growth as it relates to our schools. Right now, as is, this bond does not have a chance. It’s dead. So if I were you, I would be putting collective heads together to see how we can get these facilities built…smartly and cheaply. The way Jamestown continues to grow, I feel as though another middle/high school is probably not too far off the horizon.

To strategize now is smart growth…and growing smartly. I still am a fan of K-8 schools and I know this is the way the county is thinking of traveling…so this is something to think about down the line…but the clock is ticking.

Any talk of redistricting will make people upset, me included. You cannot have this kind of discussion off-the-cuff, without any type of community-meeting or a wide-ranging discussion of some sort. Anita Sharpe properly described it…”outrage.”

I would be willing to sit down with you to discuss this and other issues with you over coffee, if you’re interested.

E.C.

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This story continues to develop. And we’ll keep watching.

E.C. 🙂

“Our children are being tested WAY TOO MUCH”

The image “https://i0.wp.com/teacher.scholastic.com/lessonPlans/images/jan05_unit/250_poster_grade912.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. …so says GCS Board member Darlene Garrett during the meeting the other evening, in which she publicly thanked the district’s guidance counselors for participating in a recent Shared Communication Committee meeting. Unfortunately, Garrett made the remark as a response to why our guidance counselors are doing everything else OTHER than counseling…they’re de-facto test coordinators at many schools, something that’s not really in their job descriptions.

This week’s Rhino Times inks a story on just this very issue…and it is now an issue. See this excerpt:

Counselors and social workers spoke of what they are dealing with, and warned that if something is not done soon regarding their heavy workload, the number of students dropping out of school is soon going to increase and test scores are going to plummet.

Southeast High School counselor Elgina Manuel begged the committee members in attendance, Garrett and Routh, as well as the school board members who sat in on the meeting, Kris Cooke, Dot Kearns, Amos Quick and Chairman Alan Duncan, to find a “feasible” solution that is “reasonable.”

“If you want to increase the dropout rate, this is the way you do it,” Manuel said.

Guilford County School’s dropout rate in 2006-2007 was 3 percent.

Manuel read off a list of tests students have to take at the high school level, barely taking a breath between words, and said it is too much. Students are tested annually in reading, math, science, US history, civics and economics and computer competency. But before the real tests, students take benchmark tests to make sure they are learning what the teacher is teaching, often every four weeks throughout the school year. Tests are administered by teachers, counselors, social workers and anyone else who can help. Students also take behavioral and emotional tests.

This is nuts, folks. All of this, in the name of accountability…there’s got to be a better way.

Another excerpt:

Manuel continued, “We have interns handling case loads” because counselors and social workers don’t have time to get to them. Since the start of the school year, Manuel said she has worked with over 300 seniors who need services.

“Something’s wrong,” Manuel said. “You’ve got to advocate for these students. Mandates are driving the students’ needs. Students’ needs need to drive the mandates.”

Triangle Lake Montessori counselor Bruce Pugh said he didn’t think any of them were doing the jobs they were trained to do.

“I have eight hours of tutoring that I have to do, and I’m not trained to do that,” Pugh said.

Pugh suggested school board members should investigate having a testing coordinator for each school. Pugh read a list of items that he said he does in a school day, most of them something he was not hired to do.

“If we are counselors, let us be counselors,” Pugh said.

This blog writes itself, folks.

E.C. 🙂

Rhino Reports Real Story on S.E. H.S. principal

https://i2.wp.com/www.gcsnc.com/sehs/SEHigh.jpg This week’s Rhino Times (on racks now) reports that former Southeast Guilford H.S. principal Keith Kremer submitted his resignation effective at the conclusion of this academic year. Kremer was recently reassigned from the school following reports that he sent out a “Connect-Ed” automated phone message to parents to support the recent Jena Six rally.

An excerpt from the article:

Kremer sent out a Connect-Ed that stated that Thursday, Sept. 20 had been designated Black Thursday, and “people are asked to wear black to demonstrate their support for three [sic] students in Jena, Louisiana.” The message told parents the decision came from the central office and that students would be allowed to wear black that day even if they attended schools that required uniforms, currently known as a standard mode of dress (SMOD).

Parents were outraged that the school would make such a one-sided political statement about the event.

In addition, academics at Southeast have taken a steep dive from last year, with approximately 60 percent of students passing state tests, compared to more than 70 percent in 2005-2006. Students at Southeast have scored in the mid-70s during most of the time Kremer has been principal at the school.

Wow. Let’s hope things can begin to turnaround down there at Southeast.

E.C. 🙂