Tuesday, February 14, 2012

2011 NECAP results + bill to bar high stakes tests from determining graduation

Last Friday, RIDE released the 2011 NECAP results, available in full here: https://reporting.measuredprogress.org/NECAPpublicRI/select.aspx.

I am grateful to Tom Hoffman for taking the time to share his thoughts on some of the results. I recommend you take a look, particularly for his analysis of the ways that the population shifting that 2011's school closures in Providence produced may have affected some schools' NECAP outcomes.

In other standardized testing news, available here, the Urban League of RI, Mental Health Association of RI, RI Disability Law Center, Parent Support Network of RI, Young Voices, RI ACLU, RI Legal Services, RI Teachers of English Language Learners, Children's Policy Coalition, LEP/ELL Advisory Council, Autism Project of RI, and Tides Family Services have gotten behind proposed legislation from RI Representative Eileen Naughton and RI Senator Harold Metts that would prevent the use of statewide standardized tests as a barrier to graduation. Currently, high stakes standardized tests such as the NECAP are slated to be part of the criteria for graduation beginning in 2014. 

Add me to the list of supporters - plenty of reasons why, many eloquently captured in "Future of Rhode Island Students," a video clip that made the rounds last year and is worth reconsideration. Check it out:

Friday, February 10, 2012

Providence Schools Superintendent Search Advisory Group Community Forum - 2/15/12, 6pm, PCTA

The Providence Schools Superintendent Search Advisory Group, which is conducting the work of identifying a permanent superintendent for the Providence Public Schools, is holding a Community Forum on Wednesday, February 15, 2012 from 6:00-8:00PM at the Providence Career & Technical Academy, 41 Fricker Street.

As well, the search group has created survey, online here and via http://www.educateprovidence.org that allows you to share input through March 3. Information on http://www.educateprovidence.org says that the survey results will be posted after March 12.

I have to say that I remain skeptical about the extent to which community input will be valued and at the same time totally committed to asking you to participate. My skepticism comes from my belief that the process isn't set up to be swayed or deeply informed by community input, so the survey and the forum may simply serve as release valves. I'd love to be wrong. Prove me wrong! I'm not being cynical. At least I hope I am not. 

I do think it's essential to share your views about whom you want to lead our city's schools and the direction you think that person should take. So weigh in. If you believe as I do that the current acting superintendent, Sue Lusi, should continue, use the comment sections at the end to indicate that, and use the rest of the form to try to indicate what you value and think is important. 

I hope that the forum on the 15th is conducted so that there's some public airing of the public's questions and views. I think there's value to small group discussions, as happened at the community conversation on education that I and 50 or so others attended on January 28, but there's a corresponding lack of accountability. I appreciate the opportunity to connect with others concerned about education in Providence, but that doesn't serve the same purpose as asking hard questions of leaders and being part of a group that hears those leaders respond. That's valuable too, and I hope it's part of the upcoming forum.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

RIDE's SurveyWorks - do it

Public school (district and charter) families, if you haven't already, please take a few minutes to participate in Rhode Island Department of Education's SurveyWorks at http://surveyworks.ride.ri.gov/. Taking the survey allows you to express what's working well and what needs improvement at your children's schools - it's a real way to weigh in about what matters.

You probably already know about the survey from notes home and other communications from your kids' schools - if not, you should know that you need a code for your kid's school to take the survey, which you can find out from the school. Otherwise, you just need about 10 minutes - just click on the Take a Survey link and get started. You can and should take the survey once for each kid you have in school.

If you don't want to or can't take the survey online, the site provides a way to print out a hard copy which you can return to your child's school or you can get a hard copy at your child's school. The survey is available in Spanish and English. The survey closes in a week, on Thursday, February 16, so take it while you can.

What happens to the data that are being collected? That's a real question from me. I think and hope it's shared with the school's principal and teachers so they can know what's working well and what isn't.I hope that if an area of concern emerges for a school, school staff members reach out to parents to learn more.  I hope it's used to inform future planning for parent and family involvement.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Providence Children's Film Festival - February 16-21

This is so awesome. Click here for Kidoinfo's in depth coverage of the upcoming Providence Children's Film Festival and then plan to check out the films with your kids!

You can go to the PCFF's site for even more info and to buy tickets.

One of the aspects of this film festival that I love is that the selection committee includes kids from 5 to 13 years old. Films for kids chosen by kids - we will see you there!

Monday, February 6, 2012

American School Board Journal's take on charter school expansion

I am not fully done reading the February 2012 issue of the American School Board Journal but am suggesting now that if charter schools interest you - whether you're pro, con, or conflicted - this issue, which focuses on the role of school boards in managing and regulating charter school expansion, is full of good reads. "Follow the Money" suggests that school board members be clear about where charter school funding comes from and offers the National School Board Association's view on charter schools:
The National School Boards Association takes the position that charters can have a role in sparking innovation, as an alternative education setting for families wanting something different, or even as an escape from a difficult local situation. But NSBA also argues there should be some ground rules: Charters should abide by the same regulations as traditional public schools, and they should be held accountable to the same degree. 
Finally, NSBA believes local school boards should retain authority over charters, retaining their role as the public trustees overseeing education services within their communities.
Emphasis mine. Very different from what's happening in Rhode Island now.

"Plan for the Best" offers perspectives on facilities and program planning that will bolster districts' public district systems, thus mitigating charter school promoters' opportunism; its author, Kelley D. Carey, offers a  perspective that doesn't map fully with the concerns or realities of many urban districts, including Providence, but his point that what parents are looking for is a well run, credible, effective school system and that the best way to preserve strong district systems is for school board to provide that is inarguably good advice for all.

2012 Charter Public School Open House - TONIGHT!

Better late than not at all, I hope, here's info about this evening's Rhode Island League of Charter Schools 2012 Charter Public School Open House, which is tonight, Monday, February 6, 2012, from 5:30 to 7:30pm at Times2 Academy, 50 Fillmore St. in Providence.

You can speak to school representatives, get info about RI's 15 charter schools, and apply on the spot if you wish.

Participants include:

  • Academy for Career Exploration
  • The Beacon Charter High School for the Arts
  • Blackstone Academy Charter School
  • The Compass School
  • The Greene School 
  • Highlander Charter School 
  • International Charter School 
  • Kingston Hill Academy 
  • The Learning Community
  • NEL/CPS Construction Career Academy
  • Paul Cuffee School
  • R.I. Nurses Institute Middle College
  • The Segue Institute for Learning
  • Times2 Academy
  • Trinity Academy for the Performing Arts
Links to all of the schools' websites are here.

Sorry about the last minute share - this got on my radar late last week and was just now able to get to the blog to write about it. Hope that those who wish to go are already in the know!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Providence Teacher of the Year - nominate by February 10!

This is cool - PPSD is seeking nominations for the district's teacher of the year, something that hasn't been a district initiative for I don't know how long. Quite a while. Glad to see this happening - not that identifying one great teacher out of many is adequate but it's a step in the right direction.

Here's most of PPSD's press release, which can be found in full here.


Providence Schools is restoring the practice of selecting a Teacher of the Year for the district, and is asking students, staff, families and the community to submit nominations for teachers who exemplify the best of the profession.

The nominee should possess the following characteristics:
  • Be knowledgeable in their content area.
  • Be a master at instructional delivery.
  • Be able to and demonstrate the ability to inspire students from all backgrounds with multiple
    learning abilities.
  • Be respected by their students, parents, peers and colleagues.
  • Be active in the community.
  • Be articulate in state and national educational issues.
  • Be a model representative of their teaching colleagues in the Providence Public Schools.
  • Have at least three years of teaching experience.

Nominations must be received by Friday, February 10. Nominees will then be asked to provide the selection committee with their résumé and professional credentials, letters of recommendation, and their answers to a series of open-ended essay questions, giving the selection committee a feel for the individual style and philosophy of each candidate. The winner chosen for Providence will represent the district in the statewide selection of Teacher of the Year, with the winner at that level representing Rhode Island in the national competition.

Those wishing to nominate a teacher are asked to write a letter to the “Teacher of the Year Selection Committee,” describing how the nominee meets the criteria above, and why that candidate stands out among his or her colleagues. Letters should be submitted to Mr. Earnest Cox in the Office of Advanced Academics, Fine Arts & World Languages at the district office, 797 Westminster Street, Providence, or by e-mail at earnest.cox@ppsd.org, with “Teacher of the Year” in the subject line. Questions about the nomination process can be directed to Mr. Cox by e-mail or at (401) 456-9286. 

Achievement First Mayoral Academies Receive Preliminary Approval

Apologies for the sporadic recent posting - amped up demands at work and home have limited my time. Happy to have a few minutes now to to note - as all locally who care already know - that yesterday, the Rhode Island Board of Regents voted to preliminarily approve Achievement First's Mayoral Charter schools application. The vote was 5-4 - more details online via various news outlets, including WRNI's Education Blog and the Providence Journal.