Feb 05, 2010 Herm Card Uncategorized
In the report, released last week by New York State Education Department (SED) Commissioner David Steiner, three schools, Delaware Elementary, Hughes Magnet School and Fowler High School were identified because of unacceptable scores on English Language Arts (ELA) and math testing. Fowler was also cited for its low graduation rate.
It was, however, also noted in the Commissioner’s report that “Hughes Elementary School in Syracuse, for example, made Adequate yearly Progress (AYP) in English language arts and mathematics in 2008-2009. If the school is able to make AYP again in 2009-2010, the school will be able to be designated as in Good Standing.”
The “backstory” is a predictably confusing program known as “Race to the Top,” (RTTT) a 4 billion dollar federally funded program designed to encourage states to advance education reforms around four specific areas:
* Adopting standards and assessments that prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace and to compete in the global economy;
* Building data systems that measure student growth and success, and inform teachers and principals about how they can improve instruction;
* Recruiting, developing, rewarding, and retaining effective teachers and principals, especially where they are needed most; and
* Turning around our lowest-achieving schools.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, “Awards in Race to the Top will go to States that are leading the way with ambitious yet achievable plans for implementing coherent, compelling and comprehensive education reform. Race to the Top winners will help trail-blaze effective reforms and provide examples for States and local school districts throughout the country to follow as they too are hard at work on reforms that can transform our schools for decades to come.”
Since the program was announced in July, 2009 by President Barack Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, 40 states (including NY) and the District of Columbia have applied for a piece of the grant money.
Thus, the SCSD is involved in the specifics of “fixing” three of its schools with an eye to complying with appropriate RTTT guidelines. The SCSD released its overall timeline and school-specific plan for the process of accomplishing the improvement of the schools in question to deal with the three listed schools, but an overall plan is in place, aimed at the success of the district, overall, and the prevention of other schools falling into the unacceptable category.
The timeline in place covers the period from January through August of this year, within the parameters of the SED’s announcement of the deficiencies on Jan. 19, and the opening of school in September. The essential actions of the process involve implementing specific steps toward the ultimate goal, with the steps under the guidance of designated lead persons or groups.
Most of the supervisory responsibility will be that of Superintendent Lowengard and his deputy superintendents. In January, they were overseeing the creation, and coordination of a number of “redesign” teams that will examine student achievement trends and other critical issues, and evaluate how they are currently being addressed. The teams and supervisory administrators will be responsible for maintaining the flow of the process from start to finish
An essential component of the process involves staffing issues. Putting the right people in the right places may sound like a relatively logical and straightforward operation, but is not. A process needs to be created to identify staff who will be asked to stay in their present position, and those who will be asked to relocate. A timeline for the process is being determined, criteria established, and incentives to move (or stay) created. A model of the process is scheduled to be presented and approved by the Board Curriculum Committee.
Once the process is in place, the posting of positions and the associated incentives for staff members to change sites is scheduled for March. At the same time, the RTTT application and its budget will be developed and an update on staffing progress will be submitted to the Board Curriculum Committee.
It is anticipated that by the end of April, the final model and plans, along with leadership recommendations will receive board approval, and move forward, with the hiring process (to include staff transfers) would begin in May. It is planned that by the end of May or early June staff moves and hires would be finalized, allowing for realignment, planning and the implementation of newly established programs to take place during the summer.
Training for staff and administrators would then be conducted throughout the summer, allowing the entire plan to be in place for the opening of school in September.
Ahead of the curve: What’s already in place at the three targeted schools and the SCSD as a whole.