Saturday, February 5, 2011

Grading OUR Schools

You may have seen this article in the Robertson County Times this past week.
Interesting, yet simultaneously disappointing:
The recent release of Robertson County School’s report card has people talking about schools being on the target list and one school moving into the improvement 1 category. But what does this actually mean?
This report card showed Greenbrier Middle and Jo Byrns Elementary Schools as target schools, but with the state’s tougher standards, that it is something not easily explained.
GMS is judged on 42 subgroups of test scores. Out of that 42, GMS had one test entry not make the grade. The class is an eighth-grade special ed class that is tested using the same test that the regular and advanced eighth graders took.
That one entry out of 42 entries on the report card put GMS on the target list.
Springfield Middle was classified as an improvement 1 school. Part of the issue pushing it into this category was due to being named a Title 1 school.
A Title 1 school is a school with more than at least 60 percent of their students being enrolled with the free and reduced lunch program. If a school has more than 75 percent, they will automatically be put in the program.
However, if it has between 60 and 75 percent students enrolled on the free or reduced lunch program, the school officials can decide to put them on it.
“We knew we were taking a risk but it was a calculated risk,” said Dr. Dan Whitlow, director of schools.
“We chose to change it to a Title 1 school because we could get more federal money.”
The $500,000 of federal money paid for new electric wiring and new computers, something Whitlow said wouldn’t have happened if the school system hadn’t taken the chance.
Because of SMS’s move to the improvement status, letters were sent home to parents with an offer of changing their child to a different school. Parents at SMS were offered a chance to transfer to White House Heritage or to East Robertson.
Transportation would be provided for as long as SMS was on the improvement list.
Many of the students are in process of taking TCAP writing assessment tests in the next week or two. And school officials advise to check your child’s scores for a better understanding of the testing.
“The best indication of how your child is doing is the TCAP test results,” said Whitlow.
I am going to post the overall numbers when I retrieve them.
As a new member of the RCC, and particularly as an Education Committee Member I am listening this year. What I have been able to observe is the “more money” solutions may not be working within our schools, particularly within my district: schools found within the City of Springfield.
What I will find interesting is the offer children have to transfer schools.
In my humble opinion (watch out because this lawyer-speak for me taking an unpopular opinion) the sectionalism of this County will always prove to be a big reason in which all of our schools will be held back.  For I would be willing to bet some folks outside of the schools referenced in this article would generally care far less about those schools. It is unfortunate that this opinion is prevalent, for the care and concern for solely one weighs down all.