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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Middle School, Where Parents Seem to Check Out, or Maybe They Just Get ELR'd to Death

The meeting last night at my daughter's middle school was fairly well publicized.

It was about the fact that the school is trimming the time it devotes to electives, science and social studies, so there can be more time for math, writing and reading, where many of the kids there flamed out on the WASL, this year and last.

I just wish that those that blindly support the WASL and NCLB could have been at that meeting last night. There were teachers (math) in tears, angry parents and a frazzled principal. This was not something the school had a choice in, but was mandated from above, since we're in the second year of AYP (probation for a school, I guess.) This, even tho we received kudos in a letter from the gov and OSPI on how well we increased our scores. But not enough, I guess.

Of course, my daughter refused to go to meeting, and I really can't blame her. I wouldn't be there either were it not for the fact I'm the PTA secretary (kicking myself here to nodding yes to this three years ago.)

But all, in all, out of a school of 740 kids, there 30 parents there, maybe representing 20 kids, mostly the honors kids. So do the rest not care that science and social studies are being sacrificed to the WASL/NCLB juggernaut? I think that many of the parents do care, but schedules and other problems get in the way. Or maybe they don't understand what's happening. I know I had the feeling of walking in on a conversation that had already started.

I know when they start throwing words around like ELRs, GLEs, and Content Fundamentals, even my eyes glaze over. But when frankly, they tell us that they emphasized writing, reading and math because of the WASL, and ditched electives, science and social studies, because there won't be any WASLs in the near future that count, it makes ed reform sound pretty clinical and heartless.

But at least 20 parents did come to this meeting. As you may have guessed, getting any parent to any middle-school PTA meeting is a challenge. The most we ever got, 350, at the welcome back barbecue, was a surprise. Must have been the burgers, which we ran out of.

Finally, here is an interesting link to the Charlette Observer story on "The Sorting Hat Syndrome."


Krista said...

That's because ed reform is clinical and heartless. It's done by big people in big buildings who really don't have a clue what goes on in the classroom.
And those candidates who want to "reward" teachers for their kids performing. I'd like to see them rewarded for how the economy and war on terror go! Might make them change their tune, eh?

Barbara Clements said...

I have really mixed feelings about the WASL and how its been used in the world of NCLB.

First, in the name of full discloure, I used to work for a very pro-WASL group, and since my daughter always passed the tests with flying colors, I had no problem with the cheerleading.

However, I did notice that usually, I was on the only parent at the table, or the only one with skin in the game. Usually, the pro-WASL groups seem to be driven by YUPPIES, no kids, or young kids, or kids that will end up at Lakeside.

And there is a 30,000-foot view that often doesn't translate well in the day to day classroom. (Usually, they didn't want to hear about this.)

I think we should have some form of test to make sure the kids get out with basic skills. Is the WASL it? I can't say I know anymore.

If I could push reset and go back 15 years, I'm wondering if a system like NC, with a series of exit tests is a better, and fairer solution.

Getting back to my daughter's school. They have GREAT teachers, a GREAT principal, and good kids. But there is a high population of special needs (that's folded into the overall scores), those who've opted out (which are recorded a 0 in WASL-land) and ESL. I don't think this is fair.

Okay, end of my rant. My daughter has to finish GWTW today.