Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"CHOICE" options at Peoria Public Schools?

A lot of us have been talking about wanting "choice" in District 150 for some time now. The District has CHOICE school info posted on their website, I have reposted some of it below. Is this what we were talking about when we asked for school choice?

School Choice - OverviewCHOICE Schools and Programs allow students to opt-out or opt-in to select schools throughout the District. Schools that are considered CHOICE, are designated for a variety of reasons. A school might be a Magnet program, Academy, may follow a different schedule than the traditional schools at PPS or may be designated as a school in restructuring, as outline in the No Child Left Behind Act. Here is a list of CHOICE options at Peoria Public Schools:

Specialized Programs (SP)
•Northmoor Primary, Franklin Primary and Rolling Acres Middle - Each of these schools follows a different, longer schedule than the rest of the District. The day begins at 7:30 a.m. for each of these buildings and ends at 2:45 p.m. The longer school day equates to 45 minutes additional contact time than a student at other schools in the District would receive. The additional minutes also allows extra time for teacher team planning and professional development, and more “extras” for students, such as foreign language, art, and/or music.
•Roosevelt Magnet School - While also housing a traditional primary and middle school, Roosevelt Magnet also accepts students that wish to focus on the fine arts during their middle school years.
•Manual 7th and 8th Grade Academy OR 9th Grade Academy and High School Career Academies - The academy structure for Manual middle and high school students uses a block schedule. These academies follow a curriculum based on the recommendations of Johns Hopkins University.

Boundary Waivers (BW)
Boundary Waiver (BW) requests are received for a short window each fall, prior to the start of school. Applications for boundary waivers must be approved by Central Office Administration, the Principal of both the receiving and exiting school, illustrate a specific concern with the student's “home” school and space (and resources) must be available in the receiving school. Transportation is not provided by the District for approved Boundary Waiver requests.

School Improvement (NCLB-SI) (Separate Form Provided by the Illinois State Board of Education)
This program is available for district students attending a Title I school that has not met one or more of its identified academic targets known as Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for at least two years in a row. These schools are identified as School Improvement (SI) schools. Authorized in the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), Peoria Public Schools provides parents of all students enrolled in a School Improvement (SI) school up to two designated non-SI receiving school choice options. The School Improvement School Choice (SISC) Pattern for each school year is based on the test results received in the spring prior to the start of each school year. The District is mandated to send a letter and form approved by the Illinois State Board of Education to families residing in NCLB-SI boundary areas each spring.

Charter Schools (Application available through Charter School)
One Charter School is authorized by the PPS Board of Education. However, they do not use the CHOICE Schools/Programs Application, as it is not a district run school. Visit the Quest Charter Academy website (www.questpeoria.org) to learn more about enrollment procedures for this Charter School. (Yeah, they actually mentioned Quest.)

To find out who is eligible to opt-in; should students re-apply each year; what to do if you don't like the school that was selected; or if your child will receive District-provided transportation, click here.


Emerge Peoria said...

Curious about Trewyn IB... would that be considered a "choice"?

Mahkno said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mahkno said...

Lathan made clear that the primary and middle year IB programs will not be choice programs. She told the parents at a meeting I was at, that all the kids at Trewyn and the other IB schools will be under the IB curriculum. It is not to be selective. So she said....

Sharon Crews said...

I do not what provisions are made in the new contract concerning length of day at all the schools. If indeed the former Edison schools still have a longer day with extra pay, then some teachers (not sure if just high school) have just voted in a contract requiring them to work a half hour longer with no extra pay. I am not necessarily opposed to the teachers working an extra half hour at the same pay--however, not if other teachers are still making extra money for working a longer day.

Frustrated said...

I continue to have concerns regarding the way it which the PYP and MYP will be implemented. So, I visited with the IB coordinator at my children's school. This individual has been involved with IB his entire career and is a master instructor that teaches others to be IB teachers and is also an IB exam evaluator.

He offered the following:

1. PYP and MYP are not meant to be used as professional development for teachers. It is an all or nothing program. A school cannot adopt some portions of the program and skip others. When adopting a program, say the MYP, there is a 3-year implementation period during which the IB organization visits and monitors the school's progress and if all goes well it receives accreditation at the end of that period.

2. There is a tremendous amount of work and cost associated with implementation of the MYP program. It is an "inquiry" based model of learning which requires a complete re-work of course material, rubrics, and evaluation tools and of course, much teacher training. Our current small school just completed the 3-year process of implementing the MYP and the IB coordinator described the process as "daunting." I cannot understand how the District will have the staff resources and finances to implement PYP and MYP in so many schools.

3. The MYP spans the grades of 6 through 10 and is designed to be a preparatory program for the IB. How does the District plan to integrate the MYP offered in the middles schools with the 9th and 10th grade curriculum?

4. MYP requires students to take a foreign language beginning in 6th grade in order that they are ready to sit for the SL or HL language exam that is part of the requirement of earning the IB diploma. I thought the District was in the process of reducing staff? Implementing MYP would at the very least require the addition of foreign language instructors.

4. I spoke to not only the IB coordinator but the Principal of our school,and neither felt the PYP or MYP program were a good fit for learners that are not functioning at grade level. These administrators could not understand why a instructional program targeted at improving reading and math would not be pursued instead.

A MYP magnet school would be a wonderful idea and would be an opportunity to identify low-income and minority students in primary school and help bring them along with the MYP in order that more students would be ready to take on the challenges of the IB program. But, implementing the MYP in 3 schools simultaneously seems unmanageable and not within the District's budget.

D150 parent said...

A longer school day for students?no extra pay? More choices for parents? These were things out-going board member Stowell was advocating for ever sense Hinton floated wacky-weds against his vocal opposition. Despite their critics, this board has made cuts and moved forward on many issues in a productive and positive fashion. Not all decisions do I agree with, but right-sizing the district and planning for true a alternative school and more vocational opportunities is long overdue.

Emerge Peoria said...

Good information Frustrated. Thanks. It sounds like it will be a huge undertaking for the District.

I'm all for making changes and I don't expect that I will agree with every one of them, however, so many changes, many of which are complete program overhauls seem rather ambitious to tackle in the midst of cutting staff.

By the way... every working person deserves to get regular raises, etc... However, there is something ironic about hearing about teachers getting raises all while schools are being shuttered and programs are being cut. Not to mention the raging epidemic of children who show up to school every day to keep the money coming in, yet they are not learning anything.

Sharon Crews said...

Frustrated, I agree with you and I hope the PYP and MYP programs will demand that District 150 follow the program to the letter. If they do, then the plans for Trewyn are completely bogus.

Emerge, if children aren't learning in District 150, it has little to do with incompetent teachers. Besides there is learning going on in District 150 whenever teachers are able to teach instead of handling discipline problems.

I am now working on the suspensions for disruptive classroom behaviors--it is obvious to me that teachers spend most of their time dealing with disruptive students.

Who says the children show up every day to learn? Have you FOIA'd the attendance records--that's another reason teachers can't teach--absenteeism. Yes, and suspended students aren't in school either. There must be consequences, but all these suspensions are not changing any behaviors.

Yes, an alternative school would be a solution, but I hope none of you believe that there are any plans for a viable alternative school--so far I have not heard about any plans other than moving the current alternative programs to Woodruff--and certainly no plans to add to the number of students there. At least, there are no plans to hire teachers for an alternative school.

As long as people continue to blame teachers for the problems in the schools, the problems will never be solved. At some point the real problems must be addressed. It isn't so much a matter of defending teachers, it's a matter of solving the problems. For the last 25 years, at least, teachers have been blamed--and within that 25 year period, many of the original teachers to bear the blame have retired. Where is the district going to find the teachers who will solve 150's problems? in Dunlap, Metamora, Washington, etc.?

Emerge Peoria said...

I don't blame teachers. The entire system is flawed. And it's true, a great deal of the blame needs to be directed towards parents.

Sharon Crews said...

Emerge, I know that you understand the real problems. Another point to make--with shuttered schools, teachers will undoubtedly have even more students in their classes. Therefore, shouldn't teachers be compensated for an increased workload--which does increase the potential for more problems: discipline, more children who need remedial help, etc.

Sharon Crews said...

I do need to state that I'm not particularly pleased with what seems to be my constant defense of teachers--some of whom are bad. Of course, I observed what I considered to be bad teachers at the high school level. In my estimation, they were the ones who didn't take any work home--just taught "by the seat of their pants," etc., but they didn't get into trouble because students didn't get failing grades, so there were no complaints. And they didn't have or report discipline problems because classroom disruptions didn't upset their lesson plans--they didn't have any.

However, it is my contention that getting rid of bad teachers isn't going to change much--test scores won't be affected all that much. I am just saying that the real problems won't be resolved if the total focus is on making teachers accountable. Teachers can't accomplish anything until students and parents are held accountable. How to do that? Those solutions are possible but very difficult. It's easier to pretend progress is made by getting rid of teachers or not offering them tenure.

Dennis in Peoria said...

The education of a child in any school district is like a 3-legged stool. The top of the stool represents the child. The legs represent: 1. parents; 2. Teachers & Administration; 3. The Community. If any of those legs end up short or broke, the child falls.

Somehow, in Dist. 150, each leg has failed at one time or the other. Maybe not at same time, but
it seems one leg keeps blaming one of the others.

Just a thought.

Sharon Crews said...

Maybe it's a 4 legged stool--parents, teachers, board and administration, and community.

Sharon Crews said...

Choice but not much choice. A parent just read me a couple of letters sent home to 150 students. The letter makes clear that Northmoor and Rolling Acres remain choices for only those who live north of War Memorial--unless, of course, one receives a coveted boundary waiver and is willing to provide transportation to and from school for your child.

Anonymous said...

Emerge...you forgot the specialized program at Richwoods' IB and their make believe pre-IB....students apply for these programs. And Peoria High's Fine Arts program...students also have the opportunity to apply for this program.