Is a School Secretary Administration or Instructional Support?

Chariho school board member (and Rhode Island College iconoclast) Bill Felkner has an interesting op-ed in today’s Projo expressing concern that some of the information being produced to meet No-Child-Left-Behind requirements isn’t reliable…

The Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) uses the Teacher Certification System to tabulate the types and numbers of employees at every Rhode Island public school. This information is sent to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), located within the U.S. Department of Education, and compiled for every public school in the country.
School employees are divided into eight categories: teachers, instructional aides, coordinators, guidance counselors, library/media specialists and supports, district administrators and supports, school administrators and supports, and student support services and other supports.
Can you imagine how beneficial this information could be? You could compare your district with the best in the country, and set your goals accordingly. But in a recent school-board meeting I learned that this simple yet powerful comparison is impossible….For example, the NCES reports that the Chariho District has 74 guidance counselors but the administration contends that the number is only 10. But if you move the remaining 64 employees to the support category, the analysis is still useless because some schools include secretaries in their support category (which we categorize as administrators).
The Chariho administration has investigated the Teacher Certification System and found social workers and psychologists listed as administrators, found single employees counted three times and even identified employees on the lists who had “retired, transferred or resigned.”
If we included the dead, I would think we were looking at the voter registration rolls.
On March 27, the Chariho School Board was presented with an e-mail from Edward Giroux, the director of the Office of Network and Information Systems at RIDE, that said, “It’s obvious that the information is incorrect.” According to Chariho Regional School District Superintendent Barry Ricci, RIDE has also said that it has “no faith that the reports for any of the districts are accurate.”

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