Monday, January 07, 2008

A Look Back and Forward at Schools

A Janus-like look backward at the past six months and forward to the remainder of the school year will be part of a community forum Thursday (Jan. 10, 2008). Supervisors and directors will handle that part of the forum, which will also include presentations from all school principals on what they are doing to help boost test scores. At the end of the meeting, those who attend are encouraged to give their thoughts on the session face-to-face with the principals and administrators.

The meeting is from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Washington School cafetorium. The school is located on Darrow Avenue, but the cafetorium is best entered from Spooner Avenue.

Considering that the district has 13 schools and numerous supervisors and directors, the format is somewhat ambitious. How much "face time" will there be, realistically? Maybe I have sat through one too many ill-conceived community forums to believe this will be worth a night out.

For those with more optimism, I would suggest a short review on what Adequate Yearly Progress means before setting out to hear how each school leader is preparing children to do well in 2008. Click here for a Q&A on AYP from the DOE.

Here is an excerpt from a prior blog post on AYP:

In Plainfield, the high school, middle schools and three elementary schools did not show adequate improvements. The high school and Maxson are in Year 5 status. Hubbard is among 38 schools statewide that are in Year 7, a category for which the No Child Left Behind has no provisions, but Commissioner Lucille Davy said the DOE “must continue working with these schools.” Individualized action plans will be developed.

Among the elementary schools, Dewitt D. Barlow met the AYP standards but must do so again next year to get out of Year 2 status. Cedarbrook met the standards for two years and is out of Year1 status. Clinton met the standards but is on hold in Year 3. Frederic W. Cook met the standards and is out of Year 1 status for Language Arts. Emerson met Mathematics AYP standards, but not Language Arts and is Year 1 status. Evergreen met the standards and is on hold in Year 3 status. Jefferson met Mathematics standards but not Language Arts and is on Year 3 status. Charles H. Stillman met mathematics standards but not Language Arts and remains in Year 3 status since the 2003-04 school year. Washington met both standards and is on hold in Year 2 status. Woodland met AYP standards for the second time since 2005-06 and is not in status.

As noted above, Hubbard has not met federal Adequate Yearly Progress standards for seven years. Former Interim Superintendent Peter E. Carter said when top state DOE officials came to Plainfield, they spent an hour out of a 90-minute meeting talking about Hubbard Middle School.

Carter, before his early departure in December, had promised to see test scores rise this spring. The new Interim Superintendent, Garnell Bailey, was named to the post just weeks ago and must pick up where Carter left off. Bailey called for Thursday's forum to let the community learn where things stand.
Students must also take state assessment tests in the spring. Previous scores for all schools are on "report cards" on the DOE web site.
The school district web site has a link for each school. Perhaps each principal could use that means to explain what is being done to improve test scores. Meanwhile, ignore this writer's less-than-sanguine view of community forums and head on over to Washington Community School Thursday. As the district press release states, "...we need the entire community to be aware of where we are and where we are going!"
--Bernice Paglia


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