The Science of Running Schools

The Tiverton School Committee meeting has gotten around to the abysmal NECAP science scores, which I described when they came out. Superintendent Bill Rearick has run through the process of evaluating the problem, yadda, yadda, yadda, yadda. It takes some years to turn things around. The East Bay Collaborative is attempting to come up with money to fund new “kits.” The district is applying for grants.
News flash: There are kids graduating every year. There are students taking inadequate classes right now.
This is a bottom-line kind of thing for me. Screw contracts and hierarchies and standards and all the other grown-up junk. The district has resources allocated to it within which it must work. This is a basic function at which it is utterly failing. Expand the time that science teachers must work, if it’s necessary. Fire anybody who isn’t willing to put in the same degree of effort that any other professional who is utterly failing would have to put in.
Everything must stop until students are receiving the education that they deserve, and for which the town is already paying.
7:51 p.m.
Chatter. Starting the conversation with the statement, “this is obviously unacceptable,” isn’t sufficient. I don’t want to hear what balls the district has started to roll. I want to hear what they’re doing to roll them faster.
7:55 p.m.
Committee Member Danielle Coulter is trying to push the conversation toward what can be done immediately and what further effort can be pushed. You know, any private company, in any industry whatsoever, seeing a public release of this level of badness would be out in the public with a plan for repairs within a day. The tone of the administrators of Tiverton school district is what one unfortunately expects in the public sector. Essentially: “We’re doing all of the steps that you’re supposed to do. We need money. We’re looking into tools.”
These results (and not just science, either) should be keeping administrators across the state up at night.
7:59 p.m.
Supt. Rearick just said that there is no local money left to invest in this. Earlier in the evening, Director of Administration and Finance Doug Fiore proclaimed that the budget is balanced. I hate to contradict that, but there are clearly holes therein.

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Monique
Editor
11 years ago

“Screw contracts and hierarchies and standards and all the other grown-up junk. The district has resources allocated to it within which it must work. This is a basic function at which it is utterly failing. …
Everything must stop until students are receiving the education that they deserve, and for which the town is already paying.”
Exactly.
In Rhode Island, student achievement is at the bottom 20% (pretty clear from these NECAP scores) while, less obvious, teacher pay is in the top 20%. This can be laid squarely at the feet of school committees around the state, including, clearly, Tiveron’s, who have been too generous on the compensation terms of the contract and too neglectful of the student aspect of it.
Enough with the empty hand wringing and the completely baseless complaints about inadequate resources and “no local money left to invest”. [Inadequate resources? With the fifth highest property taxes in the country? And “no money left”. H’mmm, now why do you suppose there is no money left?]
Here’s what you do. Effective immediately, teacher pay around the state is pegged to student performance.
And then we all work together to bring student scores (and with them, teacher compensation) up.

Patrick
Patrick
11 years ago

Wait, aren’t teachers hired to teach subjects that they’re experts in? I know some people believe that standardized tests are biased in some way, don’t always test on the most relevant material, etc, but that’s a separate issue. The schools of RI have determined that the NECAP is the test they want to use on students. So I never understand why we don’t teach to the test. On the NECAP web site (http://www.ride.ri.gov/assessment/NECAP.aspx) they give study resources and sample tests. Why not use these to create the science curriculum, and then use the sample tests a few weeks before the real test to get the students used to the format and the timing? Figure out where they’re deficient and start teaching that stuff. If Ohm’s Law is on the test then that should be taught. If Darwinism isn’t on the test, then only teach it if there’s time after everything else is covered. It’s all just a game. The state’s education department is playing the game and setting the rules for the schools and teachers. Play by the rules of the game, teach to the test.

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