Schools improve, but districts miss mark
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Posted by International golf (+114) 14 years ago
Maybe Mr.Regan should worry more about the test scores than President Obamam giving a speech.

Thursday, Sept. 10

Schools improve, but districts miss mark
By Joseph Boushee
Neither of the two districts in the Miles City Public Schools system met Adequate Yearly Progress goals this year.
Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), a provision of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, is a measure of yearly advancement toward meeting accountability goals in the subjects of reading and math.
Students are required to achieve certain benchmarks in the subjects. The requirements are currently an 83 percent proficiency rate in reading and a 68 percent rate for math. Benchmarks remain the same next year but go up after that.
Scores for 2009 were reported during Tuesday's meeting of the Miles City Unified Board of Trustees.
The standards are expected to rise in both subjects to a 100 percent proficiency requirement by the 2013-2014 school year.
"I don't know if it's a winnable battle," said Superintendent of Schools Jack Regan, during the meeting.
Looking at each school individually, kindergarten to sixth-grade schools actually made AYP standards.
Garfield Elementary scored an 85 percent in reading and 67 percent in math, just under the required standard. But the school still achieved AYP under "Safe Harbor," a sort of "safety net." Garfield qualified for Safe Harbor because it showed a significant enough improvement in its math scores over the previous year.
Highland Park met AYP standards with scores of an 89 in reading and an 81 in math.
Lincoln School also made AYP with a different scoring process than the other schools.
Washington Middle School, part of the elementary district, didn't make AYP. If one school in a district does not make AYP, the whole district does not.
WMS, when factoring the scores of all students, scored an 85 percent in reading and 75 percent in math, but did not make AYP overall because one tested subgroup didn't reach the benchmarks.
AYP scores are broken down into certain subgroups. If a school has less than 40 students in a group, that subgroup is not counted in the scoring process, said WMS Principal Jon Plowman. Subgroups that apply to the public schools are "Students with Disabilities" and "Economically Disadvantaged."
Overall scores for the whole elementary district were an 86 percent in reading and 71 percent in math. Elementary district students in grades three through eight are tested.
Custer County District High School, which is in its own district, scored 76 in reading and 63 in math. Only sophomores are tested in the high school district.
Regan later noted that the scores are not reflective of a poor school system.
"Test scores are just a small fraction of what a school does," Regan said in an interview Wednesday. "A test score like that should just be one part of the puzzle as far as determining what kind of school you have."
Teachers are working to improve the yearly scores at the schools. Among their efforts, they make tutoring available to students and take time to review incorrect answers from the test.
According to a press release from the office of Denise Juneau, the state Superintendent of Public Instruction, scores and overall AYP numbers at schools across Montana are improving.
The release reports that 603, or 73 percent of the state's public schools achieved the standards. That's an increase of 14 schools over last year.
In other business at the meeting, district-wide enrollment numbers are down compared to last year.
Total enrollment is 1,567 - down from 1,594.
K-6 enrollment is 777, down from 786. But K-8 enrollment is up overall, to 1,003, compared to 997.
Total 7-8 enrollment, which is Washington Middle School, is up to 226, from 211.
High school enrollment is 564, down from 597.
On maintenance issues, some projects at buildings around the district are done or near completion.
The lighting retrofit project at Garfield is finished, as is the chiller installation project at the high school. Heating system upgrades at Jefferson and Highland Park were nearly finished as of Tuesday.
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Posted by polar bear (+509) 14 years ago
Testing is a minute part of what education entails and the current testing is more like trivial pursuit than real education. It does not tell us if our children can think for themselves, problem solve, analyze, read between the lines.

There are so many important things that happen in a school that are not measurable by tests. Children learn new ways to think, to reason, to be creative. They become inspired and more curious. No tests show these most important things. Imagination is not a paper/pencil result.
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Posted by MilesCity.com Webmaster (+10054) 14 years ago
International golf: In the future, please provide proper attribution when posting material from another source. Thanks.
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Posted by Buck Showalter (+4461) 14 years ago
Now if you can get him to stop preventing the things that make students curious...
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Posted by Jim Brady (+425) 14 years ago
There are so many important things that happen in a school that are not measurable by tests. Children learn new ways to think, to reason, to be creative. They become inspired and more curious. No tests show these most important things. Imagination is not a paper/pencil result.

Stupid tests are only a measure of whether or not dirty Johnny can read, write and do math. How the hell can that be more important than finding "new ways to think"?

Yes, polar bear. I think you have defined the problem.
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Posted by Richard Bonine, Jr (+15595) 14 years ago
"There are so many important things that happen in a school that are not measurable by tests. Children learn new ways to think, to reason, to be creative. They become inspired and more curious. No tests show these most important things. Imagination is not a paper/pencil result."

Try telling that story to the Department of Education the next time you are looking for funding. As Jim said, more than you know or intended you have defined the problem.
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Posted by Bob L. (+5095) 14 years ago
Ricardo:

Too bad your boy Bush signed NCLB into law, huh?

Republican President, Republican majority Congress.

Nice job.
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Posted by Jim Brady (+425) 14 years ago
Bob:

As you conveniently forget, that was a "bipartisan" effort with Ted Kennedy involved all the way to his ears.
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Posted by International golf (+114) 14 years ago
Webmaster,

Sorry about that.Joseph Boushee from the Miles City Star.
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Posted by Bart Freese (+926) 14 years ago
As a teacher, I have had students with tremendous memories and abilities to deliver the information. I have also had those students who don't have great memories, but great problem solving skills -- kids that can look at a science lab and say, "Maybe we should try this instead." And, yikes, their idea works.

Measuring knowledge and ability to think is not easy. Personally, I have found kids with good senses of humor to be some of the brightest. I'll leave you with that thought.
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Posted by Steve Craddock (+2732) 14 years ago
Jim and Richard: I'm not sure about "NEW" ways to think -- It would seem to me that just plain learning to think is something that schools should definitely be teaching. Once people know how to think, then they can think of NEW ideas and solutions to age old problems as well as emerging challenges.

The thing about your comments that bothers me is this: Why do you think that teaching the 3-Rs is mutually exclusive from learning the skills of logic, analysis and creativity?
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Posted by Steve Craddock (+2732) 14 years ago
Bart - I've noticed the same thing, and I think the reason is that people who have great logic skills and/or powers of observation combined with a quick mind can carry an observation to it's logical extreme or make an unexpected association before the rest of us are even out of the gate - with usually hilarious results.
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Posted by Richard Bonine, Jr (+15595) 14 years ago
"The thing about your comments that bothers me is this: Why do you think that teaching the 3-Rs is mutually exclusive from learning the skills of logic, analysis and creativity?"

I don't think they are mutually exclusive. It is in fact critical that they go together. One of the problems we have today is that education is driven by "the test". Much of a schools funding is based on how the students do on "the test".

While I agree with others that current testing is sort of "trivial pursuit", I also have an issue with parent who want to minimize the importance of the testing, even though it is a terrible system. There is a lot of funding at stake. Students who blow off "the test" not only hurt themselves, they make life rough for teachers and school administrators.

Frankly, this kind of system is what happens when federal bureaucrats get involved with their heavy-handed approach. They ought just get out of the way and let teachers teach.
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Posted by Maryann McDaniel (+249) 14 years ago
I was really confused as the Math Coordinator in a small Texas school district of 5200 students, where the percentages were coming from. Just from memory, the % are the 2010 figures, so that means if they did not meet AYP this year, they scored even lower. Not meeting AYP can bring funding to the district, however.

Anyway, I think I know Mr. Reagan from my days at CCHS and his, I believe at Sacred Heart, and thought about emailing him but had trouble on the school site finding him. I think I figured it out based on others' emails and may yet hit him with this:

Any school district in the country who continues to use a scripted mathematics program -- such as Saxon -- as I was advised several years ago by a fellow CCHS graduate, then math chair at the high school, Schleppe, needs to really, really rethink what they are doing.

I would welcome a dialogue with him, as there are many things that can be done. Since I have been math coordinator 5 years ago, the scores at our junior highs have risen from 38% passing to over 80% passing. This is only because the teachers were empowered, encouraged, and shown that all students can learn, that teachers are the experts and must make the instructional decisions, and that the district sees them as the professionals they are. That is a mindshift that administrators are not always willing to make.
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Posted by Jim Brady (+425) 14 years ago
The thing about your comments that bothers me is this: Why do you think that teaching the 3-Rs is mutually exclusive from learning the skills of logic, analysis and creativity?

I don't think they are mutually exclusive, Steve. I'll tell you what I do think. I believe the 3-Rs are fundamental to developing the ability to master the skills of logic, analysis and creativity. If the right bricks are not in the foundation, the whole structure is at risk. It's an unfortunate fact of life that in order to know whether or not the bricks are sound, you have to test them. You can't tell what you need to do by empathizing with them.

Testing is absolutely essential in that it is a tool which allows us to be challenged and it allows us to experience failure. If you have never experienced either, you will never be motivated to try to achieve greatness or grab your ass by the seat of your pants and try again because now, you have learned something about yourself.

For 10,000 years, the emphasis in education was on developing the mental ability to master the skills of logic, analysis and creativity. For the last 50 years the emphasis has shifted toward emotional development as well, in an education system that desires to control and integrate all aspects of learning and social interaction. In a well-meaning but seriously flawed attempt to "level the playing field" and "develop self esteem" for all students, the system stifles the motivation to excel and institutionalizes the acceptance of failure.

In the past 50 years we have gone from the most powerful Nation on Earth; a Country that put a man on the Moon with slide rules, to a Country engaged in economic and social collapse. I hardly think that is a testament to the success of what our educational system has become.

I don't know what the solution is, Steve. Do you?

I do know that what we are doing now, isn't working.

[This message has been edited by Jim Brady (9/17/2009)]
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Posted by Bob L. (+5095) 14 years ago
Jim:

It's the homos' fault. And black people too. And liberals.

[This message has been edited by Bob L. (9/17/2009)]
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