Polski3's View from Here

Quote of some personal revelence: "Is a dream a lie, that don't come true, or is it something worse?"

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Random Thoughts about "School Improvement"

Some random thoughts. Our Junior High School gets students from a number of feeder elementary schools. Students are required, AFAIK, by district office mandate, to all have had the Open Court reading stuff in Grades 1-6, certain math programs, etc. Neglected are Social Studies/History, Science, Art, Music, PE etc. IMO, at least here in my school district, these downtown mandates and control of curriculum are not making a difference in our test scores. We are a year five improvement school; teachers are being inserviced, selected very low test scoring kids are getting more language arts and math instruction instead of history and science, and of course, teachers are being held accountable. Students are free to take advantage of free, expensive tutoring....or not. Most do not and these are the "sub groups" that keep us as a "under performing school." This got me to wondering.......

Do schools at the "mid-level" who have more "control" of their curriculum for grades 6-7-8 have higher standardized test scores than schools that only have two grade levels ( 7-8 ) and who get a number of sixth graders socially promoted to JHS who are two to three years behind in their academic skills? I'd think that the answer would be, "Yes," schools with more control of their curriculum would have higher test scores and not have to spend so much time and effort to catch up a large number of students. If so, why isn't this done ?

Are there any school districts that are taking their under-performing, academically-lagging students and refusing to promote them from Grade 3 to Grade 4 or from Grade 6 to Grade 7, and placing them into special "transitional" schools/classes to help them catch up academically ?

Likewise, are students who emerge from schools with 6-7-8 grades better prepared for high school ?

And, if doing things like having middle school ( grades 6-7-8 ) are conductive to student learning and improved test scores, why are schools being told to waste untold millions of tax dollars on private tutoring companies who provide negligible services, etc., instead of doing what really needs to be done to help students learn ? Why aren't these students required to attend tutorial classes to help them learn how to read and do math at grade level ? If a student has a right to fail classes for failure to turn in work, pass tests and otherwise perform at a satisfactory level, Why are schools legally mandated to keep these students enrolled? Maybe it is time to take a close look at mandated education ?

Likewise, will it take a lawsuit for high end kids to stop being neglected by the mandates of NCLB which seems to care only about the bottom end kids ? Will it take parent lawsuits against public schools to ensure that their children are receiving a complete education ( English, Math, Science, History, Art, Music and Phy. Ed.) ?

Just some random thoughts.....

Thanks for reading my blog.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

NCLB not to be renewed this Year !

Buried in a tiny, news wire provided story, back on page A7 of today's San Diego Union-Tribune Front Page section, was this headline: "Rewrite Postponed on education law."

Dateline: "Washington - The top two lawmakers on the Senate Education Committee said yesterday they are putting off consideration of a new No Child Left Behind law until next year.

Sens. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., and Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., said there's not enough time this year to complete work on the legislature, which has not yet been formally submitted.

The five-year law, up for a scheduled rewrite, requires math and reading tests in grades three through eight and once in high school. Schools that miss testing benchmarks face increasingly stiff sanctions. The law is among President Bush's top domestic-policy priorities. (Associated Press) "

So, does this mean NCLB will continue as it currently is written ? Does this mean that our elected representatives in Washington do not wish to threaten the huge amounts of campaign money from the teachers unions that they need to try to win whatever elections for 2008, by quickly rewriting NCLB so that it continues to please few and makes enemies of the teachers unions ? Does this mean that NCLB will not be funded for the 2007-08 fiscal year (or was it already funded by Congress for fiscal year 2007-08?) Is this action on part of the Senate Education Committee a way to kill NCLB ?

I have also heard that the California Teacher's Association is totally "put out" with Rep. Miller, a California Democrat and leader of the House of Representatives Education Committee, because he apparently refused to even meet with CTA President David Sanchez. (I wonder how many thousands of teacher's money CTA has given to Rep. Miller over the years ?) I will be looking forward to hearing Rep. Miller's comments regarding this delay in moving forward with much needed changes in NCLB.

Thanks for reading my blog.