Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Lynwood 'State Takeover' Fable

MSD Decatur Township Superintendent, Don Stinson, is trying to sell the closing of Lynwood as an elementary school by blaming No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and the Indiana Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) school improvement programs. Often we are told that school choice forced on Decatur is just too hard to achieve. We are told that redistricting won't work, even though numbers supplied by the District show that less than 10% of students opt for choice. And, we are told that Lynwood is poised to be taken over by the State.

So, what happens when a school does not meet the State standards? Well, it all depends on whether that school gets money from the Federal Government under Title 1 to help schools in low income areas. In the Decatur District, only Lynwood and Stephen Decatur schools get these funds. If I am reading the State Department of Education information on AYP correctly - there is no penalty, other than the requirement that the AYP information be made public, for schools that are not Title 1 monetary recipients. Schools and School Districts that receive Title 1 money do face 'Interventions' according to how long they have failed to meet the AYP goals (click here for IN DOE information). I'll get to the District interventions later.

In the case of Lynwood and Stephen Decatur, they both have had to offer school choice, offer tutoring, create an improvement plan, use 10% of their Title 1 money for professional development, and accept advice from the District as well as the State Department of Education on how to improve, since 2005. Since 2004, Lynwood did achieve the AYP goals one year, and Stephen Decatur two non-consecutive years. Stephen Decatur met the AYP goals last school year and has a reprieve from moving forward in the 'intervention' schedule. Since Lynwood did not meet the goals for 4 years, they also had to offer their faculty online courses which are sponsored by the State DOE, and send a school team to a State sponsored 'Supporting Student Learning Conference'. Should they fail to meet the AYP goals this year, Lynwood will have to draft a plan to carry out in the 2011-2012 school year that includes one of the following:
"1) replace relevant school staff
2) sufficiently extend school day or year
3) hire full-time literacy or math coach
4) hire English language learner specialist."

Even if Lynwood failed to meet the AYP goals through 2014 and beyond - the harshest intervention is that they must 'receive a State Support Team' and use state-provided reading/math diagnostic assessment tools. Never is there a mention of a state takeover of the school.

Meeting AYP goals has been a target since 2002. So how are all of the Decatur schools doing on that front?

Lynwood met the goals in 2002, 2003, and 2006 - and did not meet the goals in 2004, 2005, 2007, and 2008 school years.
Stephen Decatur met the goals in 2002, 2003, 2006, and 2008 - and did not meet the goals in 2004, 2005, and 2007.
Valley Mills met the goals in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, and 2008 - and did not meet the goals in 2005.
West Newton met the goals in 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007, and 2008 - and did not meet the goals in 2004 and 2005.
The Gold Academy has not met the goals since opening - 2006, 2007, and 2008.
The Blue Academy has not met the goals since opening - 2006, 2007, and 2008.
Decatur Middle School met the goals in 2004 - and did not meet the goals in 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008.
Decatur Central High School has not met the goals since AYP began - 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008.
The District as a whole met the goals in 2004 - and did not meet the goals in 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008.

Now, there are interventions for School Districts who receive Title 1 money. Prior to this year, they had to notify the community about their status, develop an improvement plan, and spend 10% of Title 1 money on professional development. This school year, they also had to "under the state's direction, the corporation must review and analyze curricula and instructional practices within the corporation and make changes based upon the findings". But, here is where things get interesting. I'll just quote the DOE's information.

"Corrective Action - State maintains the option to implement any of the following additional corrective actions if previous interventions do not result in progress:
1) Defer programmatic funds or reduce administrative funds.
2) Replace corporation staff relevant to the district's inability to make AYP.
3) Remove individual schools from the corporation's jurisdiction and arrange public governance/supervision of these schools
4) Appoint a receiver/trustee to assume the administrative duties of the corporation's superintendent and school board.
5) Abolish or restructure the school corporation."

It is the District's failure to meet the AYP goals that could cause Lynwood to be removed from the District (item #3). Of course, other districts have done worse on the AYP than Decatur - and none of the possible actions have been taken by the State DOE. But, I find myself a bit partial to number 4 right about now.

All of this is a long way around to the conclusion that the closing of Lynwood as an elementary school is being blamed on NCLB and AYP, but it just isn't true.

[edited on Feb 11, 2010 to add : I have made a mistake. The school board minutes on 7-10-07 show approval of a new contract that gave a 3.5% raise in 2007-2008 and a 4.5% raise in 2008-2009. I slipped the dates by mistake.
I apologize for the error and I thank the teachers for sending me back to my notes to double-check the information.]


Anonymous said...

Thank you. Thank you. The closing of Lynwood is NOT about AYP or NCLB. Can't the state take over a school district that does not spend the taxpayer money correctly??? Lynwood is not a bad school. Don Stinson and Candice Baer have not provided the the resources - like classroom assistants - to help the kids and teachers. The reinvention throughout the district has not worked. Even though they got rid of a bunch of kids to the DDA and the DEC the high school doesnt work. You are right this is a big cover up. They make big money not the teachers.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know what happened at the "work session" last night? I just wondered what state laws they broke last night.

Anonymous said...

How about the nice new charter school in the works? Yes it is a wonderful great idea...the idea of a construction trades charter school where kids get hands on construction trades learning, like in an apprenticeship program...but WHY do we have to be the ones to pilot it? And why now when the trades have so many union members laid off without work and on unemployment? Another new charter school? And Decatur is piloting it? Go figure... way to go Decatur! Just heard about this one... is this the Charter School what was discussed in the potential cuts? Someone please tell me yes, this is the one that they are cutting loose for now. This is a great idea, but not for Decatur to pilot, not now.

Anonymous said...

Teachers, parents, bus drivers, and students had better go to the meeting tonight - Thursday. This could be a valuable lesson for students. Maybe there can be a prepared written statement givng all of the data collected. Who knows what the media has been told up to now. Children should not be left behind due to the greed of a few.

Anonymous said...

Tonight? What is tonight? I missed something apparently.

Anonymous said...

I thought there was an executive session to be followed by a regular board meeting at 7:00??????

Had Enough Indy? said...

anon 12:04 -- there are two meetings tonight -- an executive session at 5:30, which the public may not attend -- and a regular meeting at 7pm, which is open to the public.

The regular meeting will be held in the High School cafeteria.

Anonymous said...

where does the information that teachers got a 4% raise come from?...I teacher in decatur and I did not get a raise????

Anonymous said...

Many teachers want to speak up but fear they will be the next to be "targeted"....pushed to the limit by administrators who want to help clear out the higher salaries. Current school board and high paid administrators, with their sweet retirement packages, will quietly go away and we will be left with lots of property, no money and unhappy teachers.

Had Enough Indy? said...

anon 6:39 -- I have made a mistake. The school board minutes on 7-10-07 show approval of a new contract that gave a 3.5% raise in 2007-2008 and a 4.5% raise in 2008-2009. I slipped the dates by mistake. I'll make an addition to the main entry so that it is there as well.

I apologize for the error and I thank you and another teacher for sending my back to my notes to double-check the information.

Anonymous said...

Do teachers still have the tenure system? If so, then I don't know why more teachers publicly speak out.

Anonymous said...

So I just seen on the news they haven't really decided on what teacher cuts would be made but what exactly do they mean when they say they have made cuts to clerical and intrammurals. Does this effect the Armstrong pavilion since it's consider a intramural place

Anonymous said...

Even tho there is a tenure system that does not mean teachers cannot be "targeted". Every year older higher paid teachers are put on a "plan" for improvement and they are asked to jump through impossible hoops. Teachers are VERY AFRAID to speak out. The evaluation of teachers is subjective....a principal can see all the good or all the bad that they NEED to see to begin the process of breaking down an educator. It happens every year and excellent teachers are pushed to a breaking point. I am not making this up it is real.

Had Enough Indy? said...

anon 7:21 - so how do we stop that from happening? Give me some ideas. If the teachers won't talk with the school board, how can the school board (a functioning school board) begin to address such things?

I'm serious. How do you break up a system of forced retirement? A system that can continue because of silence.

Anonymous said...

"Tenure" is a life license. That license is not offered anymore. The only teachers who have a life license are the ones close to retirement.

How can the district make life hell for teachers?

1) Give some teachers larger class sizes than others

2) Give teachers a class full of students with special needs and/or students that are disruptive. A good teacher will bend over backwards to try to teach and become exhausted.

3) Put teachers on an improvement plan w/o telling them why

4) Ignoring questions or complaints about any of this. And who can teachers go to? The union's in bed with admin.

5) Pressure the teacher to join some pointless, time-intensive committee

6) Make the teacher work closely with (in other words, do the work of) the most ineffective, scatterbrained administrator so that they get fed up and quit.

7) One principal in the district has a reputation for picking a new scapegoat every year.

What to do?

1)The school board needs to go to teachers and talk with them privately. Teachers are NOT ALLOWED to contact the school board.("All communications from staff members to the Board or its committees shall be submitted through the Superintendent. This procedure is not intended to deny any staff member the right to appeal to the Board on important matters through established procedures.")

2) Teachers need to speak up anyway. They can't fire all of us, and people will notice when something happens to the loud ones.

3) Parents who see problems can go to the school board privately or publicly.

4) Anyone can submit comments anonymously to Let It Out in the Indianapolis Star.

5) Anyone can write letters to the editor, although not safe for teachers to do so. Pseudonyms not allowed.

6) Contact reporters at newspapers, radio stations, local tv stations and cable news networks.