« Ed. Dept. Offers Ideas, Not Answers, in Turnaround Report | Main | Ed. Dept. Wants States to Standardized ELL Rules »

Critcs: NCLB Lacks 'Bite' on Turnarounds, Standards


Does NCLB lack "bite?"

When it comes to intervening in struggling schools, The Wall Street Journal says "yes."

Forty percent of schools in restructuring have done very little to change, the Journal reports, quoting Mike Petrilli about "a loophole to do very little."

"To solve a problem first you have to diagnose it correctly," writes Petrilli, who couldn't resist the chance to blog on the story. "And calling NCLB 'too harsh' is surely not the right diagnosis."

When it comes to setting world-class standards, Paul Peterson and Rick Hess say "yes," as well.

Compared with 2005, Peterson and Hess see little decline in expectations at 4th grade. But at 8th grade, states "are moving steadily away from world-class standards," they write in the latest Education Next.

They conclude that it's more important for policymakers to define what proficiency is than it is for students to meet a proficiency goal that doesn't reflect world-class standards.

"Those responsible for NCLB reauthorization, as they struggle forward, should first and foremost establish a clear and consistent definition of grade-level proficiency in reading and math, even if it means giving up the cherished but decidedly unrealistic goal of proficiency for all students by 2014," they write.


I'ver been feeling bad about criticizing the Ed Departmentt Guide on Turnarounds. The actual words of the report were excellent. But in my experience, the texts of these reports are rarely read, and only the main points are mentioned in the Power Point Presentations that the central office uses to set policy.

In all four of the recommendations, the Guide discussed the role of discipline, but that issue did not recieve the editorial prominence necessary to get the attention of decision-makers.

So I copied their words from just one recommendation: "Provide Visible Improvements Early." Had I had better software I would have done the same for the entire report in an effort to show that the issue of safe and orderly schools should have made the cut as one of the major recommendations. The following coming from four pages of the forty-something page report.

"A short-term focus on quick wins can establish a climate for long-term change.

In several schools, the principals faced such immediate problems as weak student discipline, parental dissatisfaction, and low teacher morale. In response, the principals chose one area to make progress quickly. The quick wins sent a clear message that the schools were changing. ...

Common planning time for teachers can improve instruction and student discipline—
a vehicle for problem-solving and brainstorming while keeping the focus on raising student achievement. ...

Attending to student discipline was another quick win in the case study research. A carefully designed student behavior plan facilitated learning by reducing disruptions and increasing the time and attention that teachers could devote to instruction.

Such plans included having teachers and administrators be a visible presence throughout the school during class changes and before and after school. At times, additional strategies were put into place, such as locking all entrances other than the main entrance, reducing transitions between classes, eliminating bells and lockers, and minimizing interactions
between younger and older students in the building. Throughout the case study research, reducing disruptive behavior and developing a safe and orderly learning
environment could be put into place quickly to initiate the turnaround.

For example, putting alarms on school exits may cut midday truancy faster than having teachers meet individually with parents of chronically truant students. Quick wins do not preclude long-term strategies. In the truancy example, the school might immediately reduce midday truancy with alarmed exits and then follow up with teacher-parent meetings once staff are committed to the changes. ...

Establishing a safe and orderly school environment
is another quick win. One urban middle school set rules for behavior
that were simple and strictly enforced. Gangs were prevalent, and school safety was a primary concern. The school administrators and safety officer maintained
a vigilant presence at various entrances when students arrived in the morning
and were dismissed in the afternoon. Boys and girls entered through different
entrances, and fighting and inappropriate language were prohibited.

Another middle school sought parent assistance
in discipline. The dean of students called every parent of every child who had a disciplinary issue and asked the parent to come to the school that day to reinforce the urgency of correcting the behavior. Teachers also had more autonomy in addressing disciplinary problems. The administration made it known to parents that students who came to school late would stay late to compensate for the lost instructional time. Indiscriminate tardiness
was not tolerated.

In one example of out-of-control student behavior, a low-performing middle school with 500 students logged 1,181 disciplinary referrals in one fall semester. The school made sweeping changes to the school schedule in the next fall semester, and disciplinary referrals dropped to 205. The district also created a special alternative program for referring over-age middle schoolers with discipline problems. The school’s willingness to send students to this program sent a clear message that inappropriate behavior would not be tolerated."

Very nicely put by the above author. I would also like to ad the following.
In Georgia we have not one, but two laws, OCGA 20-2-736 (c) and 20-2-85(s) that gives parents a legal right to be part of developing and updating the school codes of conduct. I have been denied such an opportunity by the local decision makers and today I decided to take it to the state BOE, the GSBA, and organizations such as the Everday Democracy organization. One board member actually asked me why I wanted to be involved with the codes of conduct. My question to him, why wouldn't I.
Codes of Conduct are the boundaries set to facilitate the best learning environment, and why not ask parents/gaurdians for feedback? Codes of Conduct, or deviation from the school law, is what actually can determine a child's academic career. Labeling in school occurs just like labeling in society. Perhaps allowing parents into the process may give the "human" part of school instead of relying on the "one size fits all" zero tolerance discipline procedures.
I would welcome any feasible theory as to why the law mandates parent involvement in such a crucial role of the decision making process developing and updating codes of conduct, while the school system consistently ignores the state law.

NCLB is adressing the wrong end - even if the whole school is changed - it's still the same students!
Where in NCLB are the additional resources to address outside of school issues? In Detroit we're lucky to have one social worker for schools of 1,000 kids. Four counselors for high schools of over 1,000 - they don't even have time to get paperwork signed!

Comments are now closed for this post.


Recent Comments

  • Mary: NCLB is adressing the wrong end - even if the read more
  • Kathy: Very nicely put by the above author. I would also read more
  • john thompson: I'ver been feeling bad about criticizing the Ed Departmentt Guide read more



Technorati search

» Blogs that link here