All Articles Tagged "tests"
Last Tuesday, while most folks were distracted by all the election day coverage, the School District of Philadelphia quietly announced its plan to restructure the city’s public school system, including closing 64 schools in the next five years.
Calling the plan an attempt to right size a district, which has been bleeding both seats and money, while making it competitive by offering parents more choices, Chief Recovery Officer Thomas Knudsen said that 40 schools would close by next year and six additional schools would be closed every year thereafter until 2017. The remaining schools would get distributed into “achievement networks” where public or private groups compete to manage them while the Central District headquarters would be reduced to a skeleton crew of about 200. The District chief also said that the ultimate goal is to have about 40 percent of students in Philly’s public school system moved to charter school management by 2017.
The announcement of basically the dissolution of the School District of Philadelphia, a city that’s the fifth largest city in the nation, has received minimum attention in the mainstream media. Even as the city of brotherly love becomes the latest city to weaken under the prospects of trying to balance budgets, while working with decreasing amounts of funding, meet the standards of federal No Child Left Behind guidelines and compete with the sudden rise in charter schools, which continues to pull necessary monies and resources from the already battered school districts. According to the Philadelphia Daily News, “across Pennsylvania, school boards are finding it increasingly difficult to manage tax dollars responsibly as the pressure to open more charter and cyber-charter schools builds, even as these schools show little evidence of performing better than regular public schools.” And it is not just Pennsylvania.
In Detroit, which last year announced plans to close half of that city’s schools and increase high school class sizes to 60 students, the city has also embraced charter schools as the cornerstone of its “Renaissance 2012″ plan even as the performance of the district’s 14 authorized charters so far has been less than impressive. In New York City, which has undergone a similar style restructuring plan similar in kind to Philadelphia, has too not seen the success as promised through its reduction of publicly held schools in favor of privately managed charter schools.
According to Diane Ravitch, former Secretary of Education under George H.W. Bush, New York City has not gotten the remarkable results it promised. She writes, “The city’s proficiency rates, which seemed to be flying up by leaps and bounds every year, got deflated in 2010 when the State Education Department admitted lowering the cut scores on state examinations. Overnight, the New York City miracle disappeared, as the percentage of students who reached proficiency fell to levels near where they had been years earlier. And the achievement gap was as large as it had been in 2002, when the mayor took charge.”
Following last week’s release of an 800-page Georgia report outlining one of the nation’s biggest cheating scandals in public schools, Atlanta’s interim public school superintendent is promising reform and the removal of the teachers and administrators involved.
Erroll Davis Jr. has removed four area superintendents and two principals this week. One former Atlanta deputy superintendent who is now located in a Texas school district, has agreed to go on paid leave.
The report listed these persons by name in its detailed account of the widespread systematic cheating committed by students, teachers and administrators on Georgia’s annual standardized testing of elementary and middle schoolers.
According to the Wall Street Journal, investigators focused on testing in 2009 and allege administrators tampered with tests and intimidated teachers. Teachers were found guilty of providing students with the answers and fixing the tests themselves. Cheating was found in 44 of 56 schools in Atlanta. Eighty-two of 178 teachers and administrators implicated have already confessed.
Similar instances of cheating have also been found in school systems in Baltimore, Philadelphia and Washington DC, and have increased since the 2002 No Child Left Behind federal law was implemented. The law “sanctions schools that fall short of state-set goals.”
Davis says he hopes to take some of the focus off testing and place more importance on academic progress made throughout the year. But the implicated teachers and administrators must still be removed.
“You’re either going to have high integrity, or you’re not,” he told Wall Street Journal. “And if you’re not, I don’t want you in this institution.”