Tag Archives: AYP

May 100 percent of our students score proficient or above on standardized tests by 2014

by Ray Guzman

Many profess that a goal as noble as ensuring that all students score proficient at the same time and place is beyond reproach. Well, it is simply reprehensible.

An attributed Chinese proverb is often wished upon one’s enemies by asserting, may you live in interesting times… This understated “curse” levied upon one’s enemies has a restrained Buddhist sensibility even as one wishes ill toward others. Educators today are indeed living in interesting times. Students and parents are certainly living in interesting times as well. However, the curse placed upon us all is not restrained but rather overt.

The curse is well known to educators and asserts the following, may 100 % of your students score proficient or above on standardized tests by 2014. So then, who has placed this “curse” upon us all? I am certain we can think of obvious enemies. Nonetheless, I am not certain many of us are thinking about the less obvious and thus more lethal enemies. They give politically correct speeches, and radiate a fatherly presence. Their threat resides precisely in the proximity to their victims, us. We often develop a blind spot for such figures and hope that they will protect us from sorcerers and things that go bump in the night. Unfortunately, simple examination of deeds, rather than speech, proves otherwise.

Their “curse” is characterized by dilution and diminution. Teachers, students, administrators and parents are diluted in endless paper chases disguised as tests, assessments and reports. Conversely, the edification of concepts and individual free will are systematically diminished. The combined effects may elicit the maddening image of a hamster running endlessly in a caged wheel. However, a more accurate image of these effects is more akin to desperate victims racing to the top of an inextinguishable inferno.

May 100 % of your students score proficient or above on standardized tests by 2014 is particularly stressful when father figures emphasize the deadline, by 2014. This has been the curse that has dominated the bulk of my teaching career. A curse so powerful it has decimated all attempts to render it inoperative. This “super curse” has brought forward other conjurers, who with wands in hand have temporarily waved away some provisions yet, have not been able or willing to undo this “super curse”. What would motivate someone to place such a curse?  Let’s entertain some thoughts.

Many profess that a goal as noble as ensuring that all students score proficient at the same time and place is beyond reproach. Well, it is simply reprehensible. This cynical goal suffers from a pernicious pathology, which advocates forgive as a delusion for perfection. Shamefully, these apologists hide the correct diagnosis. It is not a delusion of perfection that motivates the jinxers, but rather a pathology of exclusion. We all know the consequences of not scoring proficient and obtaining AYP, –they close your (our) school. However, 2014 can’t seem to arrive soon enough for some hexers. Hence, the rush by officials –this year-, to close as many public schools throughout our country under the convenient excuses of “austerity” and “scores” is well afoot. The unprecedented shuttering of dozens of public schools particularly in largely African American communities, as in Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. etc. are justified under the rationale of budgetary challenges.

This rationale anchors itself on the operational premise of right sizing. Irrespective of the fact that we are talking about children and their development -this thinking may have legitimate administrative basis in the private sector. However, the current juxtaposition of private sector practices and public sector commitments, such as providing an adequate and free education as stipulated in the constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, have dissimilar agendas and unequal strengths. Why then the rush if the “super curse” will effectively close thousands of public schools all across our country within a year? We will surely have the right size and number of schools soon enough. Could it be that the proponents’ zeal for the “super curse” is waning? Hardly.

In fact the “super curse” is going very well. The political party, pardon, -the political parties, both of them, have put away their profound pedagogical partitions to unite in this effort. Likewise, the industrial testing complex continues to redact tests, assessments, practice workbooks, study programs, while hiring consultants, garnering ever greater budget allocations, and accumulating data all aimed to ensure that scores comply with targets of soon to be imposed common core standards. But above all of these machinations, one supersedes them all, the president’s silence on these matters is the best indicator that all is truly going well among the jinxers and hexers. Conversely, hope for a change is sequestered. So again I ask, why the rush? Could it be that the “super curse” itself is waning? Hardly.

In fact, the jinxers are emboldened by their powers and lack of meaningful restraints, -why wait? “Let’s exclude NOW!” they demand. What we have in front of us now is a turn to Kronos, but an inverted Kronos. We have all seen the depictions of Kronos devouring his children. His filicides are motivated out of fear, a fear of competition from his children. Thus, he eats them. In our case, our Kronos is not committing filicide, but rather devouring the children of others. One can imagine a repented titan with a renewed paternal instinct and displaced fear of competition in the presence of other children asking another titan, “How do we devour the potential competitors of our children?” The other titan may respond, “Well, one way is to be proactive. For example, you offer your children greater pedagogical and assertive experiences and opportunities. In addition, you enroll your children in a school that is free of stigma, for example, one that does not administer standardized tests, say a private school or a divinity school. In other words, enroll your child in a school that does not partake in omens or curses.”

Nonetheless, there is still another way, a more reactive way, to devour your children’s potential competitors, -you close their schools and in doing so -eliminate the competition. Once shuttered, you place stigma upon the displaced children and adults. Moreover, you place a scarlet tattoo on both and you never lift the curse. The calculation is the following; the failure of some children will ensure that mine will thrive. This charter is an open collusion devoid of formalities.

I am well aware that we live in highly secular times, which are dominated by facts and figures. But for some of us who recognize the evil that lurk in men’s hearts, we cannot ignore the immutable. Those who conspire against children are devoid of judgment. Consequently, their motivations are drawn from an irredeemable well. They practice technical numerology, model apparitions, and consult conjurers. Some of them believe in curses. Others still are weary of omens. Some even fear children, often their own. I believe in God. Evil may cause great pain and destruction, but evil never prevails. Evil’s harvest never mature and eventually in its rage devours its own seed.

Colleagues, may 100% of your summer be a blessed one.

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Test your knowledge of Pennsylvania’s charter schools!

1.  What percentage of public schools in PA are charters?

A)  11.3%

B)  18.4%

C)  0.45%

 

2.  What percentage of PA charters made AYP in 2011?

A)  73.1%

B)  89.0%

C)  55.6%

 

3.  What percentage of PA’s 142 charters are in Philadelphia?

A)  22.4%

B)  41.4%

C)  56.3%

 

4.  What percentage of Philadelphia’s charters made AYP in 2011?

A)  78.0%

B)  92.9%

C)  54.7%

 

5.  After the Philadelphia School Reform Commission signed the “Great Schools Compact” in an effort to win grant money from Bill Gates, what percentage of Philly schools will be charters by 2017?

A)  15.5%

B)  33.3%

C)  43.1%

 

ANSWERS:   

1.  The answer is C.  There are 3,096 public schools in PA, and 142 are charters (one half of one percent). 

2.  The answer is C.  Only 79 of PA’s 142 charters made AYP in 2011.

3.  The Answer is C.  There are 80 charters in Philadelphia in 2012. 

4.  The answer is C.  Only 40 out of Philadelphia’s 73 charters made AYP in 2011.

5.  The answer is C.  The Compact calls for turning around the District’s lowest 25 percent of schools into charters by 2017.  There are currently 249 traditional public schools in the District (.25 x 249 = 62.5).  Add 62 charters to the 80 already in existence, and you get 142.  This number (142) is 43.1 percent of 329 (80 charters + 249 traditional schools).

(Data from the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s website.)

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The Big, Bad Roommate: Why the Department of Education is Overreaching its Powers

by Rainiel Guzmán

On average, federal spending accounts for 10 percent of public school funding.  Yet somehow the U.S. Department of Education continues to dominate policy.                 

Imagine the following scenario: two roommates agree to rent an apartment.  One roommate is named Local and the other State. They cosign the lease agreement and make regular rent payments on time. However, unforeseen fees, inflation and other miscellaneous costs burden their monthly budget. They start to fall behind on their rent payments and are unsuccessful in obtaining modifications on their lease. Desperate they try to cut back from other expenditures yet are unable to cover their deficit. As a last resort they agree to find a third roommate, but whom?

One night Federal, a large, opinionated and manipulative guy knocks on their apartment door.  Local and State answer the door. Federal introduces himself and asks if he could come in to talk about possibly rooming with them. They agree and invite him in. They begin to converse and eventually arrive upon matters of money. Local and State propose that everyone pay a third of the rent. Federal informs them that he is unable to afford that percentage. Local and State are surprised by his statement then ask, “What percentage can you afford to pay?”

“About ten percent,” he answers. Local and State are insulted but find themselves in such dire straits that they entertain Federal’s insane proposition with the hope that he would later change his mind. However, Federal stands firm on his offer. Local and State become angry. Nonetheless they agree to Federal’s terms. This is when things get surreal. Federal proceeds to share some terms and conditions he would like everyone to meet. Federal begins by voicing his concerns about Local and State’s financial mismanagement. He proposes to oversee the payment of bills—to make sure that no bills are left behind. “We need to be more accountable in order to prevent these situations from ever happening again,” he asserts. Local and State begrudgingly agree again. Additional terms and conditions follow.

This account may seem too fantastic to resemble any plausible reality. Nonetheless, this story serves as an allegory of current K-12 public education funding formulae.  Nationwide, local and state governments account on average for 83 percent of K-12 funding. The federal government contributes roughly 10 percent. Private sources account for the remaining contributions. Given this imbalance of funding, one may ask, How can the federal government dominate K-12 public education policy?

The answer is that the federal government is overreaching its powers. The Constitution of the United States enumerates under the Tenth Amendment that “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States, respectively, or to the people.”

This is why in matters of public education the responsibility for K-12 school policy rests with the states as outlined in the Constitution. The reality we face today is a funding formula unaligned with proportional powers. Would you share an apartment with such a roommate? You probably would not. I certainly would not. Others are expressing their growing reluctance as well.

Discontent over the federal government’s increasing Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) requirements under the No Child Left behind law has pitted several state superintendents—such as Montana’s Denise Juneau—against Arne Duncan and the U.S. Department of Education.  In near open rebellion, Juneau announced her decision to forgo raising Montana’s scheduled annual AYP objectives. Undeterred by the threat of losing federal funds and counting on Congress’ prolonged inaction to rewrite NCLB, Juneau reiterated her stated intentions. The Department of Education’s response was swift—Secretary Duncan backed-off and announced he would unilaterally override provisions of NCLB and “grant” waivers to states seeking redress.

Despite the announcement of waivers Juneau nearly pulled out of NCLB altogether in August. In an earlier letter addressed to Secretary Duncan dated April 25th, 2011, Juneau wrote “In the absence of a new bill, the Department continues to hold states and schools accountable under the current law although the [Elementary and Secondary Education Act] accountability system does not conform to the Department’s new priorities, particularly around growth models for student learning. The split in priorities, established under your leadership and those established in the current ESEA has Montana reeling from additional data collection and uncertain about the path to continuous improvement.”

Ms. Juneau, a Native American and Democrat, along with other state superintendents such as Idaho’s Tom Luna, a Hispanic and Republican, and South Dakota’s Melody Schopp, a veteran classroom teacher and a nonpartisan, represent an interesting challenge to detractors of politicians who appeal to states’ rights as a constitutional imperative. These superintendents who seek to assert the Tenth Amendment defy the moniker of rabid racist secessionists often associated with reactionary rural politicians.

In fear of being evicted from the “Montana Apartment,” the Department of Education found a clause in NCLB allowing Montana to waive the increment of AYP for 2012 free of penalty.  Montana, along with a growing number of states, is asserting its authority over K-12 public education. The Department of Education is reluctantly acquiescing.

Conversely, the Department continues to manipulate the reform conversation through its swollen purse. It continues to pursue prominence in the implementation of education policies with programs such as Race to the Top.  As expected, the “granting” of waivers has been accompanied by additional terms and conditions which, surprise-surprise, accentuate the leading role of the federal government.  

Old habits die hard—if ever.

The moral of this story is this: Be weary of a cheap, bossy, Johnny-come-lately knocking on your door in the middle of the night.  He might turn out to be the worst roommate you will ever have.   

Rainiel Guzman is a 2011 Lindback Distinguished Teacher Award winner.  He is an adjunct professor at Eastern University, and teaches art at Swenson Arts and Technology High School in Northeast Philadelphia.

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Only 54.7 Percent of Philadelphia Charter Schools Are Making AYP

by Christopher Paslay

Last year’s PSSA results prove what multiple studies have already shown: Charter schools perform no better on PSSA exams than traditional public schools. 

According to data on the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s website, only 40 out of 73 charter schools in Philadelphia (54.7%) are making Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) under the federal No Child Left Behind law.  They breakdown as follows:     

 (40) Making AYP

Made AYP for two consecutive years: 2010 & 2011

AD PRIMA; ALLIANCE FOR PROGRESS; ANTONIA PANTOJA COMMUNITY; BOYS LATIN OF PHILADELPHIA; DELAWARE VALLEY; DISCOVERY CHARTER SCHOOL;  EASTERN UNIVERSITY ACAD; EUGENIO MARIA DE HOSTOS; FIRST PHILA CS FOR LITERACY; FOLK ARTS-CULTURAL TREASURES; FRANKLIN TOWNE CHARTER EL; FRANKLIN TOWNE; FREIRE; GLOBAL LEADERSHIP ACADEMY; GREEN WOODS; IMHOTEP INSTITUTE; INDEPENDENCE; KHEPERA; KIPP PHILADELPHIA; KIPP WEST PHILADELPHIA PREP; LABORATORY CHARTER; MAST COMMUNITY; MASTERY CS – LENFEST CAMPUS; MASTERY CS – SHOEMAKER CAMPUS; MATH CIVICS & SCIENCES; MULTI-CULTURAL ACADEMY; NEW FOUNDATIONS; PAN AMERICAN ACADEMY; PHILA ELEC & TECH; PHILADELPHIA PERF ARTS; PLANET ABACUS; PREPARATORY MATH SCIENCE TECH; RICHARD ALLEN PREP; RUSSELL BYERS; SOUTHWEST LEADERSHIP ACADEMY; UNIVERSAL INSTITUTE; WEST OAK LANE CHARTER; WISSAHICKON; WORLD COMMUNICATIONS; YOUNG SCHOLARS   

 (6) Making Progress

Made AYP for one year: 2011

ARCH AND DESIGN (in Corrective Action II); HARDY WILLIAMS (in Corrective Action I); MARIANA BRACETTI ACAD (in Corrective Action II); PEOPLE FOR PEOPLE (in School Improvement I); PHILADELPHIA ACAD (in Corrective Action II); WEST PHILA ACHIEVEMENT (in School Improvement II)

 (15) Warning

Did not make AYP in 2011

ASPIRA BILINGUAL CYBER CHARTER; BELMONT; CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS; IMANI EDUCATION CIRCLE; JOHN B STETSON; MARITIME ACADEMY; MASTERY CS HARRITY CAMPUS; MASTERY CS MANN CAMPUS; MASTERY CS SMEDLEY CAMPUS; MASTERY CS PICKETT CAMPUS; MASTERY CS THOMAS CAMPUS; NORTHWOOD ACADEMY; TRUEBRIGHT SCIENCE ACADEMY; UNIVERSAL BLUFORD; YOUNG SCHOLARS FREDERICK DOUGLASS

 (5) School Improvement I

Did not make AYP for two consecutive years

ARISE ACADEMY CHARTER; NEW MEDIA TECHNOLOGY; PHILADELPHIA HARAMBEE INST; SANKOFA FREEDOM ACADEMY; TACONY ACADEMY     

 (1) School Improvement II

Did not make AYP for three consecutive years

 NUEVA ESPERANZA ACAD

 (1) Corrective Action I

Did not make AYP for four consecutive years

 PHILADELPHIA MONTESSORI

(5) Corrective Action II

Did not make AYP for at least five consecutive years

COMM ACAD OF PHILA (5th year in Corrective Action II); HOPE CS (5th year in Corrective Action II); UNIVERSAL DAROFF (2nd year in Corrective Action II); WAKISHA (3rd year in Corrective Action II); WALTER PALMER LDRSHP LEARNING PRTNRS (4th year in Corrective Action II)

Click here to see the data on the PA Dept. of Ed’s website.

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Safe Harbor

 

“SAFE HARBOR”

 by Christopher Paslay

 

You made “safe harbor,” you half-wit of a teacher,

you grunt, you nincompoop, you mule.  You made it

by the skin of your teeth, teeth we’ll wait another year

to punch down your throat.

 

You can thank the former president, George W.—

that gray-haired Texas stooge,

and that Margaret Spellings woman, who never taught

a day in her life, but who was “a mother of school-aged children.”

She was investigated for academic fraud, asleep at the switch

on student loans.  Nonetheless, her reform gives us

the power to fire, to overhaul, to turn you to stone. 

 

You made safe harbor, so we’re not going to blow you to bits,

firebomb your classroom like Dresden, boil the water

in the yellow bucket you use to wash your boards. 

We’re not going to reduce your erasers to ash.        

What about your students?  You think our reforms

are failing them?  You hear them crying-out

in their anger, their disenchantment, their fear?  Are they

panicking, huddled under their wooden desks?            

You must be mistaken. Our data

shows otherwise.       

You made safe harbor, mister.

Congratulations.  You and your deadbeat colleagues

can keep your jobs.

 

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