Thursday, July 21, 2011

The importance of releasing AYP scores ASAP

I read the following tidbit over on another Peoria blog:

“... preliminary results from the Illinois State Board of Education, leaked to PeoriaStory show that only four public schools made adequate yearly progress,as shown in test scores.

They are Calvin Coolidge Middle School, Charter Oak Primary School, Northmoor-Edison Primary School, and Washington Gifted Middle School. Hines, Kellar and Lindbergh made AYP in math but not in reading.

Watch for the official results to be released later, including the high schools, which District 150 reportedly is appealing.”


District 150 does not start taking school waiver applications until August 1st.

Boundary Waivers (BW) (from the District website)
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.


Special Programs (SP) CHOICE Applications will be accepted for the 2011-2012 school year until June 10, 2011. Boundary Waiver CHOICE Applications will be accepted between August 1 and August 12, 2011 for the 2011-2012 school year. NCLB-School Improvement CHOICE Applications (opt-out) may be submitted until June 6, 2011, but the Illinois State Board of Education approved form (obtained with a letter from the District’s Title I Department) must be used.
Could there be some concern at the District that if the public were to receive the list of schools that did make AYP and those that didn’t, it could set off a chain of transfers to the higher performing schools that did meet AYP (as mandated under the federal No Child Left Behind Act)?

For the sake of students and parents, the information should be released sooner rather than later. I understand that results need to be certified or whatever and the District “is reportedly appealing” the high school info, but these tasks should be of the highest priority.

The District could save families from having to deal with the distraction of scrambling to find a good placement. It’s not fair to receiving schools or students when they have to throw another student in the mix without being able to adequately plan for receiving them.

Once decisions are made as to who will receive transfer students, schools will not likely have settled schedules, classrooms, teaching and support staff until after Labor Day.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Grading Grenita

Superintendent Grenita Lathan says she's excited as she looks back on her first year on the job, wishes she could have done more.
"There was so much that needed to be accomplished this year, I think I beat myself up more thinking what I wanted to get done. When you think about improving personnel practices and the operational side of the house, there's still more I wanted to accomplish."
When questioned on what kind of grade she would put on her own report card:
"I Think about a B or a B-plus. I need proficiency rates. I need to see what we accomplish in student achievement this year. What does it show, how many students are meeting or exceeding standards in reading and math? Then, we'll be able to assign a score beyond that."
Lathan says she remains focused on continuing to keep a tight reign on the budget and making sure the curriculum changes she put in place begin to show fruit. Additionally, she is especially proud of the contract agreements reached with teachers and support staff in - what she calls - record time. Source

Is the grade of B or B-plus a fair assessment of Dr. Lathan's first year? What grade would you give Grenita?

Monday, July 11, 2011

District 150 Superintendent's Goals Revealed

What I am trying to understand is why were the Superintendent's goals secret to start with?

WMBD 31 has obtained part of District 150 Superintendent Dr. Grenita Lathan's contract; it was being kept secret.

The district's school board made changes to the contract at its meeting last month. At the time, the district would not release what specific changes were made.

After filing a Freedom of Information Act, we learned the superintendent must evaluate student performance on standardized tests, curriculum, and attendance and drop-out rates.

She must also report to the school board and make any changes she sees necessary. The report must include goal and student achievements required by school code.

Friday, July 1, 2011

District 150 School Board Meeting today @ noon - Agenda

PEORIA PUBLIC SCHOOLS
BOARD OF EDUCATION
ORDER OF BUSINESS
July 1, 2011
AGENDA ITEMS
A. CALL TO ORDER – 12:00 p.m.
B. ROLL CALL
C. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
D. SPECIAL RECOGNITION – Jim Stowell, outgoing Board Member
E. BOARD MEMBER COMMENTS ON THE 2010-2011 YEAR
F. ADJOURNMENT SINE DIE
AGENDA ITEMS
______________________________________________________________
PEORIA PUBLIC SCHOOLS
BOARD OF EDUCATION
ORDER OF BUSINESS

July 1, 2011
AGENDA ITEMS
OPEN SESSION – Administration Building, DLC Board Room
A. CALL TO ORDER
B. ELECTION OF CHAIRMAN PRO TEM
C. RECOGNITION OF ELECTED BOARD MEMBER
Oath of Office – Debbie Wolfmeyer, District 2 and Rick Cloyd, District 3
D. ADOPTION OF BOARD AGREEMENT ON THE FOCUS OF THE WORK OF THE BOARD & CODE OF CONDUCT Proposed Action: That the Board of Education adopt for 2011-2012 the Peoria Public Schools Board Agreement on the Focus of the Work of the Board and the Code of Conduct.
E. ELECTION OF SECRETARY PRO-TEM
F. ROLL CALL
G. ADOPTION OF RULES AND POLICIES OF THE NEW BOARD Proposed Action: That the rules and policies of the immediate past Board be the rules and policies of the new Board.
H. PRESENTATION BY AUDIENCE
(Board Policy 2:230 – An individual may address the Board at this time for no more than five minutes with further time allotted as appropriate, at the discretion of the chair and with the concurrence of the majority of the Board. Total time on any one subject shall exceed twenty minutes only at the discretion of the chair and with the concurrence of the majority of the Board. Each speaker will give his or her name and address.)
I. ELECTION OF OFFICERS
1. PRESIDENT
2. VICE PRESIDENT
J. APPOINTMENT OF SECRETARY, ASSISTANT SECRETARY, TREASURER, AUDITOR AND ATTORNEY FOR THE 2011-2012 SCHOOL YEAR Proposed Action: That Joan L. Bastian be appointed Secretary of the Board of Education; that Kena Brown by appointed Assistant Secretary of the Board of Education; that Dr. David Kinney be appointed Interim Treasurer and the firm of Hodges, Loizzi, Eisenhammer, Rodick and Kohn be appointed as attorneys.
ACTION ITEMS – CONSENT AGENDA
(Action by the Board of Education on the items listed with the Consent Agenda are adopted by a single motion unless a member of the Board or the Superintendent requests that any such item be removed from the consent calendar and voted on separately. Generally, consent agenda items are matters in which the Board and Superintendent agree are routine in nature and should be acted upon in one motion to conserve time and permit focus on other-than-routine items on the agenda)
1. Deleted by EP
2. HUMAN RESOURCES REPORT – Dunn Proposed Action: Appointment, employment, compensation, performance, resignation, retirement or discharge of an employee.
3. TRAVEL REQUESTS - Lathan
4. INTERIM PAYMENTS – Kinney Proposed Action: That the Board of Education approve the School District’s expenditure of funds to defray necessary and proper expenses and liabilities of the School District incurred for educational or operations and maintenance or transportation or site and construction purposes of the District, until which time the Annual Budget of the District is adopted in conformity with applicable sections of the Illinois School Code.
5. RESOLUTION APPROVING THE ILLINOIS SCHOOL DISTRICT LIQUID ASSET FUND PLUS CERTIFICATE OF DEPOSIT PROGRAM (ISDLAF+) – Kinney Proposed Action: That the resolution be approved as presented.
6. RESOLUTION AUTHORIZNG INTER FUND TRANSFERS AND LOANS AND AUTHORITY TO INVEST FUNDS – Kinney Proposed Action: That the resolution be approved as presented.
7. TAX DEDUCTIONS – Kinney Proposed Action: That the resolution be approved as presented.
8. RESOLUTION DESIGNATING DEPOSITORIES – Kinney Proposed Action: That the resolution designating depositories be approved.
9. RESOLUTION APPROVING TREASURER’S BOND – Kinney Proposed Action: That the resolution providing for a $15,000,000 Treasurer’s Bond be approved.
10. PREVAILING WAGE RATES Proposed Action: That the resolution establishing prevailing wage rates, in compliance with Illinois Statues, be adopted and that a copy of this resolution be filed with the Secretary of State and the Department of Labor by the Secretary of the Board of Education.
PRESENTATION AND SUGGESTIONS BY BOARD MEMBERS
REPORTS FROM BOARD COMMITTEES
ADJOURNMENT

Is the under-representation of urban parents in schools solely their fault?

"Can you hear me, now?" was a popular query in a cell phone ad a few years back. The caller was seeking confirmation that two-way communication was occurring. By inference, and assuming no language barrier or auditory impairment, any caller could depend upon that brand of phone for clearly transmitted conversations. By contrast, when it comes to communication between urban schools and parents concerning involvement in the children's education, either something gets lost in the transmission or the schools fail to connect in a meaningful way. Miscommunication between schools and parents can have serious consequences for both, but especially for the parents who may be affected more negatively.

Since the positive correlation between parent involvement and student achievement has been well documented, the under-representation of urban parents appears to be solely their fault. Conventional wisdom is that schools bend over backwards to get every parent involved, but for whatever reasons (ignorance? fear? unconcern? other priorities?) many urban parents choose not to do so. "They" are the problem. "They" don't know what's important. If "they" really loved their children... and so it goes. That communication from the school may be misdirected is never a consideration.

Schools seldom see themselves as part of the problem. They fail to consider that the opportunities for involvement they are offering may not be what urban parents really need, at least initially. Traditional parent involvement tends to be student-centered and/or school-based, characterized by activities conducted in or out of the school with the child and/or the teacher. For parents whose personal and family circumstances afford them the confidence and comfort to involve themselves in these activities, student-centered opportunities can be very attractive.


However, for parents whose circumstances may be less than optimal, invitations from the school to get involved may as well be communicated in a foreign language. For these parents, the activities of daily living may be so compelling that finding time to attend meetings, conferences or volunteer at the children's school seem like an impossibility. It is tantamount to asking them to run before they know how to walk! Until they can discover new ways of thinking about themselves, their children and their future, nothing will change.

Instead of repeatedly dialing the wrong number, urban schools can play a major role in transforming reality for urban parents by offering them parent-centered opportunities as a critical first step. Empowering parents with a different sense of themselves clarifies their perspective and unleashes their commitment and creativity to benefit their children. Thus far, there is little evidence that urban school leaders understand this potential or desire to tap into it.

Rightly or wrongly, urban schools seem to expect parental commitment without the development of trust or mutual respect. Among many urban parents, for whatever reasons, the kinds of commitments desired by today's schools require cultivation. Investing time and scarce resources into cultivating more than superficial relationships with urban parents seems fiscally irresponsible when the return on investment may be modest. Moreover, failure to do so assures the status quo. If the status quo is unacceptable, urban school educators should do two things: 1) resist the temptation of short-term "quick fix" approaches that typically over promise, but under deliver; and 2) invest in programs that not only build trust and respect, but also change parental attitudes, values and behavior.

Changed attitudes, values and behavior are the building blocks of empowerment. So, what needs to happen is not rocket science. Priorities for parent involvement need to be changed and alternative approaches explored. The future of our nation and its children resides in our ability to radically re-direct the trajectory of our aspirations in a global community. Otherwise, the coveted place the U.S. once held on the world stage will become ancient history. Consistently, the airlines remind adults on-board each and every flight what to do for children seated next to them "in the event the cabin pressure drops and the oxygen mask appears." "Put your mask on first; then, attend to your child!" Urban school leaders should heed this directive! Parent-centered engagement programs are not a quick fix, but they can resuscitate uninvolved moms and dads with fresh air.

Providing urban parents experiences that motivate, enlighten and bond many of them for life transforms their ability to impact the education of their children. Those of us who do this work persevere because our auditory capabilities are intact. We heard the needs of those whose reality we now champion long before any of them knew we were listening. We will not rest until others take time to hear and heed their call! Source