Education laws frustrate local educators

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

CLOVERDALE -- Superintendent Carrie Milner showed some frustration with a few educational laws before the Senate during the school board meeting Monday.

She discussed Public Law 221, which is the state's comprehensive accountability system for kindergarten through 12th grade education. The Indiana General Assembly passed P.L. 221 in 1999, prior to the federal No Child Left Behind Act in 2001.

"It is just another frustration," Milner said.

The law uses five categories -- exemplary progress, commendable progress, academic progress, academic watch and academic probation --to measure Indiana school's progress based upon student performance and improvement data from standardized testing.

"It doesn't really compare apples to apples, which is what we want," Milner said.

Category placement is based on three factors:

* Performance -- percentage of all students who pass the state's English and math ISTEP+ tests (averaged across subjects and grade levels).

* Improvement -- improvement in the passing percentage of students passing ISTEP+ over a three-year period.

* Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) -- schools that do not make AYP under the federal No Child Left Behind Act for two consecutive years can place no higher than the "academic progress" category.

According the Indiana Department of Education's Web site, all Putnam County schools were on academic watch in 2008, even though Greencastle and South Putnam schools showed more improvement.

Since improvement and performance are valued equally by the law's category design, schools with lower performance but strong improvement may be placed in the same category as schools with higher performance and lower improvement.

However, Cloverdale schools reached exemplary progress in 2005 and 2007, but fell to the academic watch category in 2008.

In addition to P.L. 221, Milner discussed Senate Bill 150, which would move the annual school start date to after Labor Day. The legislation would maintain Indiana's 180-day requirement of instructional days and provide school districts with flexibility in deciding a school end day in June.

Milner said teachers who attend professional development classes would miss the opportunity should the school start date change. She also mentioned the athletic events, which take place in August, would be affected and Christmas vacations and other holidays would have to be shortened.

The main idea behind the bill is to extend student's summer vacation time to give families more of opportunity to take family trips.

"This legislation has an added benefit to economic development and tourism by extending the summer season..." said Senator Scott Schneider (R-Indianapolis), one of the authors of the bill.

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  • More W residue.

    -- Posted by Xgamer on Wed, Feb 10, 2010, at 6:28 AM
  • Just put on a program that gets your students lifted up to those better results.Many schools are able to do it,why not these local schools.Work with the students in a more individual way.The top %10 or 20 achieve well,the middle bunch are fence sitters,but doing well enough to help with the states evaluation levels,then there is the lower ones.Work with the ones in the lower bunch individually as much as possible.A chain is only as strong as its weakest links.Help the middle group in a better way. The students are kind of the "product" that the business(schools)are producing.They have to be able to put out better products.Put all the collective heads together and come up with a plan to improve your ability to produce more capable students.Figure it out "in House",no need to commission a $50k study.The state wont budge from its expectations,might as well put effort into doing a better job. Its all about helping the kids becoming better students and improving their chances in life,so the extra hard work will be worthwhile.

    -- Posted by honestyisbestpolicy on Wed, Feb 10, 2010, at 8:33 AM
  • Ah!! The famous words blame W. Yes, let's blame W for underperforming schools, even though the underperformance of schools has been going on for years. I as an educator, was not all that thrilled about No Child Left Behind not because I disagreed with what the President was trying to fix, but because I do not want the federal government involved in education. You want to fix education do away with the Department of Education at the federal level and return education to the states. Furthermore, do away with teacher unions and tenure. I am a parent as well and just because a teacher has been with a district for 20 years does not mean if they are not doing the job they can't be fired. We spend more money on education now then we did 50 years ago when we were second to none in producing the best and brightest. I asked the question what has changed?

    -- Posted by Heritage Lake Resident on Wed, Feb 10, 2010, at 9:03 AM
  • Blame game does no good for anyone, a worthless exercise in debate. The bottom line is academic achievement. The kids must learn and the means to measure the learning is handed to the schools. While objective/subjective tests may not be our best measure of learning, it is what the schools are given.

    Lots of good points in these comments, but the situation is ours to deal with and grow. Many of the factors are handed to us and few options "in our court." We better make sure something works before all options are in the government's court.

    Just something to think about. Good luck to all our schools!!!!!!

    -- Posted by cvilleguy on Wed, Feb 10, 2010, at 12:01 PM
  • It seems to me that as long as the school has a good "score", the corporation really doesn't care how it is calculated. Instead of complaining about the way something is determined why not put all of the necessary efforts in place to ensure the children are educated. If our children get a good education, won't the schools "score" reflect that no matter how it is calculated? The one who complains about the way the ball bounces is likely the one who dropped it. Let's educate our children to the best of our abilities, and ignore some arbitrary evaluation done by someone from outside of the community. Now, I know that's not reality because money is that's a shock, isn't it?

    -- Posted by almostfootballfree on Wed, Feb 10, 2010, at 12:08 PM
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