Friday, August 23, 2002

Digging Deep To Learn

In this story from the Commercial Appeal, we get the expected news that Memphis schools dominate the list of underperforming schools in Tennessee, with 64 low-performing schools and 46 now on probation, due to be taken over by the state next year if their is still no improvement.
"Many of these (probation) schools were starting much, much
further behind" in efforts to improve, Taylor said.
All but six schools statewide failed to make any improvements at
all, she said.

"These folks have been out there working very, very hard. But
sometimes shining a light on the problem makes the team a little
bit bigger."
Sounds like a teacher putting the best face on a failing student, doesn't she?

Superintendent Johnnie B. Watson says
"My projection is that few if any schools in Memphis will be taken
over by the state in 2004."
He's right, but I think not for the reason you'd suspect. I just can't see the State taking over schools. I can't imagine many people in Nashville, even the most ardent social engineers, wanting to tackle the problem schools here. There are related issues of home life, parental involvement and instruction, poverty, etc., that play into this that no bureaucrat can overcome, no matter how pretty the program.

On the other hand, I can see some education theorists who'd like to use us as their experimental subjects. And I can imagine a judge who forces the State to abide by its laws giving that person the chance. God help us all.

Buried deep in the bottom of the story was this bit:
For years, a federal process of identifying low-performing schools
has flown under the radar of the public, and even many

President Bush's No Child Left Behind Law brought to the
forefront a "school improvement" list, that included 132
Tennessee schools, 73 of which were in Memphis. There was a
good deal of overlap between the state-identified list and the
federal list.
Apparently, it's flown under the radar of the local paper, and the way this is tacked on at the end suggests that someone doesn't want to give the Bush administration any credit. Shame.

On a related note, another story from today talks about ACT test scores. The headline is "Local ACT averages hold steady" and if that's all you read you'd be left with a false sense of reassurance. But dig down and you learn that the composite City score is 16.8, while the State average is 20 The Shelby County average is 21.4! That's not good at all, for Memphis.

Just for the record, Your Working Boy took the ACT in his high school days and got a 30. One student in my class got a 34.

Until next time,
Your Working Boy

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