Bouffault Pushes for Advanced Program Overhaul

On Monday night School Board member Robina Bouffault (White Post) presented her plan for reorganizing Clarke County Public School’s advanced education program. Bouffault said that her approach is the best way to deal with declining student enrollment and declining school revenue support and added that reorganization of programs like International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement are necessary if the school system hopes to achieve its performance goals.

“The question is how to continue to offer to our students at CCHS advanced and vocational offerings as we have in the past with fewer students, while at the same time improving the less than stellar performance to-date – and all of this with fewer resources” Bouffault said. “A daunting task, but I believe doable.”

Bouffault offered her plan for consideration by other School Board members on Monday night and prior to an upcoming School Board planning session scheduled for October 5. Monday night’s meeting was the second of two meetings intended to allow the School Board to ask questions about Clarke County’s supplemental education offering including IB, AP, Bridge, Dual Enrollment, vocational and technical career training.

At the meeting Bouffault characterized CCPS as being hit by a “double whammy”; declining enrollment figures, which have resulted in lower state educational funding support, and overall state and federal education funding support that continues struggle.

As of September 6th, CCPS’s overall school enrollment was 2,093 pupils according to CCPS Superintendent Dr. Michael Murphy. CCPS’s average daily membership (ADM), the student  enrollment count that drives most state funding for public education, was 2,166 for the 2008-2009 school year.

Clarke County High School’s enrollment has also fallen.

“Last year, in the fall of 2010, the CCHS full-time membership was 728” said Bouffault. “This year, it is currently listed as being 670. That is drop of 58 students, with little expectation of any major increases for FY13. For FY13, the Clarke County School Division is faced with a double problem that will require innovative measures, if we are to escape unscathed the negative consequences.”

But Bouffault says that declining student census counts are only part of the problem and believes that poor funding will continue to be a problem for the foreseeable future.

“The FY13 budget is going to be a very poor one, certainly the worst one this division has known to-date, due to both major state and federal cuts” Bouffault said. “Asking that local funding, which is already substantial, to make up 100% of the difference is unrealistic.”

Bouffault claims that for FY10, Clarke County ranked 18th out of 94 counties in local school funding.

Given the challenges of declining enrollment and school funding, Bouffault hopes to convince fellow School Board members that corrective action is needed in each of CCPS’s five advanced education programs:

IB Diploma Program

“Our school division has gotten away from the original intent of this program” Bouffault said. “We call it the ‘IB Program’, when in fact, it is the IB Diploma Program, and it is structured for those students taking the full IB Diploma – tests and all.”

Bouffault said that allowing ‘open enrollment’ in the courses, with no requirements to take any tests, is too costly, inefficient and difficult for teachers to coordinate and said that she would like to limit the IB Diploma to 20 “slots” for the entire IB Diploma program. Bouffault would like to ensure that all students who enroll be prepared to pursue the full diploma with testing in all six subjects areas as well as the Theory of Knowledge course and the Extended Essay.

“Students who apply must be recommended by their teachers, and have a minimal Grade Point Average to be determined by faculty” Bouffault said. “Subject choices in each category would be limited and adapted to the students’ abilities, not offering all of the subjects that IBO/Geneva proposes.

Bouffault believes that a limited IB programs would mean that fewer teachers will be required to teach the chosen subjects, freeing up staff for the other programs. As a result, Bouffault says, teachers will have more homogenous classes of diploma students all studying the same curriculum.

“Teachers will no longer be trying to teach two or three curricula in the same classroom at the same time” Bouffault said. “They won’t have to wear so many different hats”.

Bouffault is recommending that the IB costs be paid by the school division and incorporated into the FY13 budget. By having a pre-determined number of IB slots, Bouffault says, the program’s cost will be well-known in advance.

“The overall cost should not exceed $40,000 and cost efficiencies in limiting the numbers of IB courses should contribute to a good bottom line” Bouffault said.

College Board Advanced Placement (AP)

Bouffault said that while the AP program has a more scientific and mathematical attraction, it also has the advantage of being accepted in nearly every college and university in our country provided that students score well enough on tests offers a higher number of ‘singleton’ courses – a single course with no requirement for any group of subjects or diplomas – which she believes makes it ideal for CCPS’s advanced science and math students.

Bouffault noted that AP is also the least expensive of the advanced education programs.

“By limiting the IB program to diploma students only, we will free up some of our teachers to allow, at no extra cost, a good development of our AP offerings” Bouffault said. “If we add the AP Virtual Virginia offerings, our division should be in a position to offer a fairly complete list of AP courses, with little in the way of cost implications. Focus on the AP Virtual Virginia courses will need to be emphasized.”

Dual Enrollment

“The Dual Enrollment program is an extremely important program that must be continued and encouraged” Bouffault said.

“In 2010, we had 310 student/courses enrolled for LFCC, and while this dropped in 2011, there were still 284 students/courses. 2012 is still unknown, however there are fewer courses being offered than previously.” Bouffault said .

Bouffault said that Dual Enrollment courses are the most cost efficient and rewarding programs because they allow students the possibility of college credits at minimal cost while, at the same time, opening college doors to students state-wide.

“It is important for our school division to continue to develop these programs in the high school, and to make sure that a maximum number of our teachers have a Masters in the subject matter they are teaching, to ensure that they all meet the LFCC dual enrollment eligibility requirements” Bouffault said. “I believe that narrowing the focus of the IB and AP programs will help our DE courses as well, with not only highly qualified, but duly certified and trained teachers being required for them all.”

Honors Classes

“Our Honors courses need to live up to their name” Bouffault said. “A narrow focus on our SOL curriculum with ‘specialized’ teachers who are not wearing two or three other ‘advanced’ hats, should ensure a good improvement in results. The Master Schedule will need a serious overhaul.”

Bridge

Bouffault said that eliminating Bridge, a program that allows students to earn college credit at James Madison University, would not in any way adversely affect CCPS’s college-bound students.

“Elimination of this program will free up teacher periods that can be dedicated to other courses” Bouffault said. “The $10,000 cost, currently paid for by the Clarke County Education Foundation, can be transferred to our other programs.”

School Board Planning Session

While Bouffault’s program realignment plan will be considered by the School Board and school officials at the October 5th planning session, the plan faces an uphill challenge to adoption. With elections only weeks away, even if Boffault’s plan were adopted in total, an extremely unlikely event given the School Board’s divided position on the topic of advanced programs, the new School Board will be under no obligation to necessarily support the changes.

Similarly, given the complexity and magnitude of the suggested changes, which school administration and faculty have yet to comment on, Bouffault’s plan will more likely lay a foundation for discussion by the next School Board should they elect to continue the advanced education debate.

Comments

  1. Fly on the wall says:

    For non-Early College Scholars (ECS)-enrolled students in CCPS, the school division would pay a cost of $375 X the Local Composite Index (currently .5346 for 2010-2012) per student per course ($200.48 per student per course). Those students who are accepted as ECS students do not incur a fee paid by the division. Also, there IS a $75 fee (paid by the division) for ANY student who withdraws from a VVa course after 21 calendar days.

    http://www.virtualvirginia.org/generalinfo/finance/index.html

    http://www.doe.virginia.gov/school_finance/budget/compositeindex_local_abilitypay/2010_2012/composite_index.pdf

    So…while at first blush it seems there’s no cost, there is…to the division.

  2. Midwesterner says:

    Hey
    since the parents pay for the IB testing — how much does the school district actually pay for the IB program? I know I paid about $700 -$800 last year. What more was there to buy since there are no ‘official’ texts or course plans that my son could see.
    ??

    • Bill Templeton says:

      I believe that the division pays a fee of $10,000 to be an IB Programme site, as well as costs associated with teacher training and other fees. The testing fees cover the costs of administering and assessing the tests, many of which are sent off-site to be graded and reviewed. Not unlike paying for the SAT or any other such test.

  3. IB Students says:

    Being involved in the program, we believe that Bouffault’s plan is absurd. To start, limiting the IB Programme will be to destroy it. With limited involvement and funding, it will have a continuous decline in interest, thus causing its eventual disappearance. The advantages of IB are that all the courses are unified and are relative to one another. Creating a standard for the “IB Diploma model student” would corrupt the ideals of the Programme from the bottom, up. The purpose of IB classes in general is not only to absorb knowledge, like the sole goal of Honors classes, but to also learn how to think about the world around us. If we were to exclude students from these classes, then we would be setting them up for failure. Doing so, would be saying that only those already at the top will succeed and no one else has the potential to do so. Therefore, to replace the system with a composition of singular advanced classes in which the content is only relative that particular course, would limit learning. On that note, if the only goal of offering more rigorous Honors courses is to acquire higher SOL scores, then what do we care about more: education or funding? SOLs are devised to test the minimum standard required by the state. If we are going to devise a plan knowing that the only thing that we want to achieve is the bare minimum, then what is the point of even pushing advanced classes? In continuation, the notion to eliminate the Bridge Program and emphasize Dual Enrollment is ridiculous. More often than not, only in state colleges will accept Dual Enrollment credit. But even so, on only two conditions: they have to match the curriculum and it can’t be a required course for a high school diploma. The Bridge Program is done in cooperation with a major University. While it may be more costly than Dual Enrollment, it is more beneficial in the long run. By proposing this plan and even taking it into consideration, contradicts the motto located on the school website that “we are committed to excellence” because all students deserve the opportunity to learn.

    • Yes, all students do deserve the opportunity to learn. But not all students are qualified to learn at the highest level. That’s life.

    • First, edit your post before you click “Post Comment,” especially when it apparently represents more than1 student. Your glaring errors undermine your points.

      Second, yes, all students deserve the opportunity to learn, in a course that is appropriate for their abilities. What good does it do to put kids NOT cut out for IB/AP/Bridge/Dual-enrollment if they don’t have the requisite skills to handle that rigorous material? Mountain Vista Regional Governor’s School was a similar thing: are you saying that any CCHS student should have been able to go to MVRGS simply because they wanted to? There’s a reason that gate-keeper devices like test scores, GPA scores, and other means are used to determine who gains access to more rigorous programs. To not do so dilutes what that program truly is designed for – a program of study for those who are ready for it.

      Yes, SOL tests measure a minimum standard and are much ridiculed. However, they are the law of the land (as in, they are c alled for in the state Code of Virginia AND in the federal NCLB), so they are here to stay for the foreseeable future. Thus, with school and division accrediation and AYP pressures a very real deal, to not focus on them is silly.

  4. With IB gone, will there be hope for students? says:

    While I see the benefits of limiting the program, where would that leave the kids who do have the capability of taking said Ap/IB/Bridge classes, but do not meet a requirement because of past performance? They would have to resort to taking “Honors” classes. This may not sound like a terrible thing, but it has gotten to the point that these Honors classes are the exact same coursework as academic, just with a different name. On the matter of “Dual-Enrollment”, I completely agree with “IB Students”; it is almost pointless. Robina’s plan says that we need to push Dual-Enrollment, but these classes ARE the IB classes, and the only thing that it has to offer is the title. Would she propose to take away the IB program, but continue using their curriculum? If that is the case, then WHY would we cut IB and NOT Dual-Enrollment, especially when IB classes tend to look better and count for more when it comes to college? Limiting the programs is a good idea, but there is not a standard that we can use to cut them because there are ALWAYS exceptions.

    As a student at CCHS, I know that the only thing making my high school education worth my time is the Advanced courses that are offered. If the school were to start enforcing a rule that measures the student’s potential based on their class rank, then I know that I would be one of the students that would get cut out of the program based on my grades from freshman year and middle school. In my opinion as one of the students who needs these programs but wouldn’t potentially be deemed “fit”, we do need to limit the advanced programs, but if we are going to do that then we have to ensure that something will actually be taught in the “Academic” and “Honors” courses. As it is now, they are no more meaningful than having a free block.

    Simply so as not to offend anyone, I will state again that I’m posting this in my opinion as a student in these advanced programs. In reality, I do know that some kids are pushed by these honors classes, but there ARE cases that some of the kids that would thrive in these Advanced Programs would not meet the cut “on paper”. If we are going to actually limit the classes, we need to base it on something more pointless than a grade point average.

    • Naked Truth says:

      What if you and your parents were responsible for 100% of the cost for the IB course? Then that way, if you didn’t make the cut we, the taxpayers, would not have to take the loss. Back in my day schools had “gifted” programs for brighter students. This was based on rank, as it should have. You had to earn it. It wasn’t offered to everyone like a trophy at the end of soccer season.
      Sounds like you are learning a life lesson by not applying yourself earlier in your school years and now trying to catch up this year. Everyone is evaluated based on past performances. This will be true throughout your adult life. It’s never too late to try harder.

  5. livein22611 says:

    No, with IB gone there would be no hope for the students of CCHS. The only students accepted into colleges now are the ones who take IB classes. Those poor kids over in Loudoun.
    Taking advanced classes and challenging yourself will get you into college. Taking advanced classes and getting great grades will get you into college. Being involved in your community and school activities will get you into college.
    IB is a nice program, but not the end all be all that it has been touted to be. A quality advanced program is what this county needs. One that gets good results. Scoing a 3 out of 7 on exams is not a good program. If your going to do it, do it right. Right now CC does IB in name only. Not in quality or in results. With the results presented are our kids getting a good education? Again, 3 out of 7 on an exam is not even average. How can we expect our kids to think global with results like that? They are obviously missing some of the basics.
    IB or no IB, CC just needs to focus on doing what is best for the students and to ensure their success. That doesn’t seem to be happening right now. Are we really willing to accept below average for our kids?

    • ElinorDashwood says:

      “The only students accepted into colleges now are the ones who take IB classes. Those poor kids over in Loudoun.” I’m not sure I understand this statement. I have a friend who’s daughter attends the high school in Round Hill. She is taking IB courses and the parents pay $80 for her IB tests, the county pays the rest.
      My son is taking several IB courses here but is not seeking the IB degree. He was taking honors courses but since they aren’t available anymore, he enrolled in the higher courses because the general classes are not challenging enough for him. He plans on attending college but for practical reasons, he will take his first two years at LFCC and transfer to a four year college after. I’ve encouraged his choice as it will save a considerable amount of money and selfishly, he will still be living at home. My sister did the same and transferred to Cornell to finish her Bachelors.

  6. Consider another alternative, young student. Push yourself. Don’t wait for the school, teacher, or your parents to remind you to step up. Push yourself. Trust me, this may be the toughest lesson you will ever learn in school and in life, and there simply is no single class, no one entity, no magic bullet that can do it for you. Do it for yourself.

    You said, “Robina’s plan says that we need to push Dual-Enrollment, but these classes ARE the IB classes, and the only thing that it has to offer is the title.” I beg to differ. The DE status carries with it a guarantee of college credit if you earn a C or better in the course, assuming CCHS is following the requirement set forth by LFCC. [I have no knowledge of SU’s guidelines.] Further, in difficult financial times it would behoove CCPS to make appropriated reductions based on duplicity. That to me would mean eliminating the IB program while enhancing the more cost-effective Dual Enrollment option. If any duplicity is to be retained, then the best option would be the fusion of DE and AP.

    There is nothing magic about any curriculum, be it IB, AP, or DE. English is English; math is math, et cetera. These acronyms are nothing more than delivery systems. Of course the merits of each are debatable, but to place IB above the others, or Cambridge or Bridge for that matter, is disingenuous at best.

    Not incidentally, if these honors classes are watered down, THAT needs to change. Even more to the point, if GPA is pointless, then the entire assessment process needs to be overhauled. Finally no one needs to cry when a grade of C happens. Lots of people are average at something on occasion, and performing at an average level means you have the chance to succeed in the future and at the next level. To ACCEPT being average as the best you can do is the problem. And you solve the problem by pushing yourself to do better.

  7. You may not like Ms. Bouffault, but at least she has put suggestions on the table. It sounds like limiting the IB courses to students wishing to earn the DIPLOMA will focus resources and allow improvement in the offering of AP/Honors courses as at least one student believes in necessary. You get to keep both programs while compromising on $$$ and teachers’ availability.

  8. I’m surprised that no one has mentioned the CLEP program, CollegeBoard’s best kept secret. It really has little to do with the high school, other than a good college prep curriculum will prepare them for CLEP and the price is right. $0 for CCPS and a small expense for the student/family. It’s worth a look …

    http://clep.collegeboard.org/

  9. Bill Templeton says:

    For other examples, take a look at Prince William County Schools. Each of the high schools there has some sort of special “school-within-a-school” setup: one for languages, one for science & math, etc. Heck, one even has a planetarium. My point is that it is not uncommon for high schools to offer an “elite” or other such program for students who earn the right (via grades or test scores or some combination of factors) to go there. The magnet schools, and the regional Governor’s School, also operate that way.

    If the academic program at CCHS is to be strengthened, then the efforts to overhaul the advanced courses and the vocational side of things are worthwhile. IB is a great program, offering a rich course of study that my child found made the adjustment to college courses easier. AP is also a solid option, and I don’t really see why they should be mutually exclusive. What will make the efforts more successful is to put more real dollars – including local dollars – behind the efforts. Without that, it really isn’t much more than a shell game.

  10. Clark Hansbarger says:

    Though part of me wants to write a long analysis of the misrepresentations and “conclusions” of Ms. Bouffault, countering with data, simple logic and all I learned in three decades of public education, I would rather point out a single indisputable fact: Everything Ms. Bouffault notes in her most recent “analysis” of the advance programs has already been explored– in great depth– by two separate and quite different School Board appointed Curriculum Committees. Each concluded– after two year long studies focused on detailed analysis of data and substantial interviews of teachers, students and parents– that the advanced programs Ms. Bouffault is once again maligning serve Clarke County teenagers well.

    If this Board chooses to consider Ms. Bouffault’s “options,” they will be joining her in disregarding the serious and honest efforts of the very citizens they appointed. Such an act would undermine the validity of any future (and current) Board- appointed committees, and, once again, make the valuable work of these committees secondary to the opinions of a single board member. Janet Alger and Emily Rhodes served well on these committees; they know how rigorous the studies were.

    If this board seeks to maintain its integrity, it will recognize Ms. Bouffault’s opinions as her opinions, thank her kindly, act upon the recommendations of the two Curriculum Committees and get back to the hard work of maintaining and improving the advance programs.

    Ms. Bouffault’s document is one more attempt to promote her personal biases about the education of teenagers. For the past ten years, the community has heard these claims from her many times before.

    We get it: Ms. Bouffault simply does not believe the idea that if we provide a variety of increasingly challenging advanced academic courses– and encourage and prepare all students to participate in them– a larger majority of our students will achieve at higher academic levels than if we don’t.

    That Ms. Bouffault does not believe this is fine; she is a free citizen; it is her right. But that this philosophy and its application were studied and upheld already by two board appointed curriculum committees makes her most recent proposal sound like a last ditch effort to have her way before she leaves.

    During Ms. Bouffault’s tenure, the number of students involved in higher academic challenges has declined in most every academic category. So have the scores. That we are now seeing a fall in SAT scores seems less coincidence than simple cause and effect.

    In the three years before Ms. Bouffault took office, Clarke County provided the most variety of advanced courses to the most teens. During these three years, a higher percentage of CCHS seniors were accepted to colleges of their choice, bringing with them a higher number of transferable college credits than we see now. These same three years, CCHS students won 19 state athletic championships and the Wachovia Cup. This also was not coincidence, but validation of the idea that if we build a culture of high academic expectations—and provide the challenging courses to encourage this— success branches out into all aspects of our students’ lives.

    This is the very job of a modern school system.

    It takes only three votes on a five member board to do right. As a retired educator and taxpayer of Clarke County, I trust this board to follow the lead of the very committees they appointed and support entirely the advanced programs currently in place.

    • My oh my, Clark –

      Gosh, someone might think that you don’t like me!

      What you say concerning my motivations is utter nonsense. And your “Jay Mathews” viewpoint about advanced programs and stuffing all of the students into them whether they are qualified or not, has already been amply proven to be a failed theory as well.

      Yes, in 2008, there was effectively a Curriculum and Instructional Materials committee, that made a detailed report to the board. However, a number of the recommendations were not implemented by our staff, and since then, for the last three years, and with no change in the curriculum by the school board or school administration, the performances all across the board have continued to decline. You were there for two of those three years (IB HL English) and your IB classes’ results did not fare any better.

      You speak of the athletic Wachovia Cup? You are correct, we won that cup a number of times. Did you know that there was also an ACADEMIC Wachovia Cup as well? At the same time, and during your tenure as English teacher in the years of which you speak, Clarke County did not come in better than 50th!! Certainly nothing to brag about.

      Reading your nonsense, one would think that I had single-handedly and deliberately manipulated all of this in order to make the students fail, and was not simply one vote out of five, with a professional school administration managing the school operations. Shame on you for spewing forth such twaddle.

      For the last five years, the high school has also continued to lose students, with today some 100 fewer students. The school division has consequently also lost state funding. We have fewer students and less money to educate them with – and that is not my fault either. You can’t support multiple ‘advanced’ programs with fewer students in them and less money with which to fund them. That is common sense.

      Hard choices have to be made. FY13 will be a brutally hard year for all of us. Continually whining when the economy is in its current dismal state, will not make the money grow on trees.

      It is indeed the school board, who dedicate many hours every month to many meetings, that are responsible for making those decisions. And next year, they will have some very difficult decision to make.

      RRB

      • Robina,
        I don’t know how you do it; I’m on your side. I have worked with this board before, researched curriculum, talked to students, spoken to colleges, and have had students at the school who suffer(ed) because of this IB bs, so to speak. This county cannot see further than the dirt its new school rests upon, but know that I send kudos to you for speaking your mind. Those of us who have not bought into the system for any reason admire your tenacity for what you believe in. ANd I’m sure the “thumbs-down” button tally will be going strong here, but thanks. I truly wish people would be more open-minded about this issue, as those students who are middle-of-the-road or below suffer. We need to worry about them, not the ones who will be successful in any situation.

      • FY13 will be much better without you leading the regime!

      • Robina, I love you! You are the only person in this backwards county who’s got the [redacted] to set people straight!!!! …tha’ts what scares everyone.

      • Clark Hansbarger did more to lift the educational experience of the youth he touched than just about any educator I have ever witnessed.

        Conversely, Bouffault has done more to rip the heart right out of our schools than I ever could have imagined possible.

        Don’t go away mad Bouffault. Just go away!

  11. Clark Hansbarger says:

    Ms. Bouffault,

    This has nothing to do with liking or disliking you or anyone else. This has to do with a deep conflict in beliefs. You and I do not see eye to eye about public education.

    I believe in the untapped and unlimited potential of teenagers and teachers– and you don’t.

    I believe that when we provide, encourage and support access to advanced coursework for all, we see a rise in the general performance. This is what happened in Clarke and what is happening in progressive schools across the nation.

    Our job is not to serve our best and brightest better, but to cultivate a rise in the majority.
    To engage all of our students in the hard work actually provides a situation that increases competition and increases our chances of making the majority of them stronger.

    When we opened access to our most advanced programs to all students, we did not see a fall, but a rise in the achievement of our top academic students. In fact, our best and brightest began to achieve in ways they never had before in Clarke. The list of universities that accepted our top kids expanded remarkably in both quality and number. For the first time, our grads got into institutions like MIT, University of Chicago, Stanford, Duke, West Point and many, many more. And the SAT scores of our top 10% were better than ever. These are facts, simple and clear.

    And our middle group – the majority of our teens—showed signs of academic growth. SAT scores rose overall and college acceptances for them increased. More than half our seniors earned college credits, including about 30% each year who earned the Governor’s Early College Scholar rating for graduating with 15 or more college credits in hand. In one year, we had a record number of early acceptances to UVA and, that same year, six of our seniors completed LFFC Associate Degrees before graduating high school. This too set a record for both us and LFCC. And we ranked 6th in the state then for the number of students graduating with an Advanced Diploma. We could only have done this if we were focusing more on the middle than the top.

    If this was not success, then please, please, please show me what is.

    One of my silent joys as a teacher in open access advance courses was to see an academically gifted scholar squirm when an “average” kid understood something better. This wasn’t a cruel joy—I didn’t want to see our already best and brightest uncomfortable—but I did enjoy knowing that this gifted kid now understood that enlightenment is not only for the elite. Even a modest kid from Frogtown or Berryville can learn to see.

    I always thought this was our job. That is why talk of “selection” and “qualifications” seems counterproductive to the aim of American public schools. If kids aren’t “qualified,” it’s our job to make them so. It is our job to prepare the largest number of our citizens possible to thrive in a quickly changing world. For this world, we need a majority of educated adults, not a minority of best and brightest leading a crowd of averagely educated adults. We’ve already tried this aristocratic approach; it led to a nation at risk.

    After years and years of working with teens, good and bad, this all seems self-evident and non-negotiable. I suppose that’s what a belief is—that one part of your heart and mind that cannot be moved.

    That’s where my passion for all this comes from. I’m not arguing from any desire to hang on to Clarke County’s past nor from any sour grapes. Hell, I believed these things long before I came to Clarke County High School, long before I ever heard of Jay Matthews or Eleanor Smalley. In fact, I’m happy to be retired from it. Part of me thanks you for making it so difficult for me to stay.

    I keep pushing these ideas because I truly believe they are right, and I truly believe they are right because I saw them result in success for Clarke County teens over and over again.

    Twenty-five years ago, I learned the 10-80-10 Rule from a great principal named Kenny Culbert. He said that 10 percent of the students in a school will soar no matter what we do. And 10 percent will stumble, even fall, regardless of our best efforts. So, the job of any good school is to keep the 80 percent looking up instead of down. Before your board took office, Clarke County was building system that makes kids look up. We made mistakes, but we had a vision of where we were going.

    Now, I see a diminished system with a muddy vision.

    In addition to being inaccurate—even misleading– in a dozen different details about the various advanced program, your “Options for Advanced Credit Courses” reflects an educational philosophy that leans toward the top instead of the middle. It might well save money and present “a good bottom line,’ as you say, but it won’t serve the greater majority of our students well.

    Once again, I trust the other four members of the School Board to consider the recommendations of the two previous Curriculum Committees and act accordingly. What we have now is flawed, but it can be fixed without being gutted.

    Here’s another idea that might seem novel to you:
    Provide the challenge of fixing this to your administrators and teachers. Give them the time, resources and support to solve the problems and then get out of their way.

    • Your problem is that you don’t seem to understand that not every kid is CAPABLE of advanced work. Not every kid WANTS to do advanced work. Not every kid WANTS to work in an office. Some kids work BETTER with their hands than their heads, and THAT needs to be fostered just as much. NOBODY IS THE SAME, EVERYBODY IS DIFFERENT. Allow them that luxury.

      • Roscoe Evans says:

        Your problem, RW, is that you don’t read for comprehension. Your secondary problem, is that you seem to feel the need to comment on anything and everything, even when you have nothing meaningful to say. Here, you’re way off base.

        This is public education we are dealing with. It is intended, as a matter of law and philosophy, to give opportunities to the widest range of the school age population. Hansbarger believes that even students who have not yet been categorized as qualified for advanced learning classes can stretch themselves to reach those qualifications, and a still larger group of students can benefit from advanced classes when they attend them and pay attention (ie, learn). Ms. Bouffault is unwilling to spend the money to create opportunities for anybody other than those who already have been stamped as “qualified.” That attitude stops education in its tracks.

        Nobody is in favor of forcing students into classes that they cannot handle, or in demeaning students who prefer vocational or other pursuits over academic disciplines. But Hansbarger, not Bouffault, is the one who recognizes that students have different capabilities and learn different subjects at different speeds and different levels of comprehension. Follow Bouffault’s logic, and your child’s future will be set in stone when he is in the 6th grade: if he’s an A student then, he’ll continue to be placed in the A level classes until he falls on his face. If he’s a C student then, he’ll always be in the C level classes.

        You seem to have had a bad experience with Hansbarger. That’s too bad. I had a good one. But you’re letting that experience color everything you say here. That’s the opposite of smart. Try harder, you’ll do better.

    • Ack…sorry, I just threw up a little in my mouth.

      Dear Lord I thought I had escaped the pontificating of Hansbarger. The vestigial tail of the “All Children will Learn at High Levels of Achievement!” disaster, of which we are all now beneficiaries.

      Hansbarger, you may not agree with Robina, but the reality is she is the only one that has put forth any plan for fixing the disastrous state of affairs in the advanced placement courses in Clarke County or anything else for that matter. You “trust the other four members of the school board?” They have put forth zero, nothing to deal with this problem. They (minus one besides Robina) sit and stare at the papers handed to them by the school administration and nod their heads and do nothing.

      And as far as the 10 80 10 crap. That tired story has been used for everything from sales (10%easy to sell, 80% if you have skill and 10% cannot be sold) to business and industry ( 10% innovators, 80% maintainers, 10% inhibitors). It’s just another tired old way of propping up a position that does not take into account that ALL children are different and not all (or even the majority) should be attempting to take advanced course work. If 80 % are taking advanced it’s the standard, not advanced. Where does that leave your top ten percent? Bored and plotting ways to embarrass blowhard teachers.

      What about vocational programs? Is there room for those in your utopian world view?

      No you keep your “faith.” Your lack of discernment in whom you put your faith in speaks volumes about your approach and ability to shed any light on the problem.

      • Please remember that this discussion revolves around a positon that reading assignments were the purview of the teacher, independent of the standards of the parent. Please remember that Mr. Hansbarger assigned reading material that was deemed by the Chair as inappropriate to be read aloud at a School Board meeting . The new reading list is miles better.

        • No…THAT “discussion” resulted from a few hyperresponsive folks who hijacked the process, emailed a sitting SB member who then read an email into the public record at a meeting, and foisted their views on the curriculum for the whole English department. Let’s not deflect off the real issues here.

  12. That is her problem, she can’t get out of the way!

  13. Tammy Lanham says:

    Boy this article made my head hurt.

    To me it is simple. Some points were valid, but honestly “corrective action” should not be taken simply to cut costs…. at the center of this whole discussion should be STUDENTS… how best to offer challenging courses for students at every level and in every subject area. I suggest the school board listen to Educators, Students, Parents — AND increase FUNDING by putting pressure on the Board of Supervisors as needed! The New High School is nearly completed, now it is definitely time to revamp programs for the betterment of our educational system.

    I wasn’t even going to respond to this article but couldn’t help it after reading the latest comments…… so here ‘goes:

    – We have to offer either AP or IB programs so students can rise to added challenge and perhaps place out of college courses (if they can afford to take the exams and do well on them).

    – Dual enrollment sounds good, but the cost of tuition may be be a limitation for some students (and I do question this option if AP and IB offer more course options- have the same level of instruction -and if more teachers are qualified to teach AP and IB….I’m sure CCPS isn’t able to help teachers pay for additional certifications or coursework)

    – Courses should be clearly presented to students and parents in the 8th grade year- which classes are needed for specific diplomas, which levels are recommended by the student’s teachers, what exactly is an “Honors” level? which career path is recommended by a career coach (ahem, wish we had one…)

    – ALL courses should be challenging- no more video history lessons, classes of 30 stuffed in trailers, students allowed to slide through without being motivated and unclear expectations given about whether to take IB, PSAT, duel enrollment credit etc. (ok, this is the real reason education is not a typical business…. personal guidance and teacher influence really does make or break success in a classroom.) Teachers use their motivational energy for fundraising, coaching, taking trips, performing, etc. ….. not always for steering students toward academic goals. A unified approach is needed.

    – Kenny Colbert was absolutely right- and Clark you are too! Believing in the unlimited potential of students and teachers is what successful education is all about. It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly thirty years since I was sitting at a student desk in your classroom- and in all that time educational philosophy really hasn’t changed that much (ha! and we haven’t either- still thinking deep thoughts and writing alot…)

    Good communities with good school systems with good administrators with good teachers turn out good students. (GREAT communities with GREAT school systems support GREAT administrators and teachers…. get the idea?)

    So I guess we all agree some changes should be made, funding is a problem and students deserve to learn (perhaps even be challenged and motivated). So what’s the best way to make this happen? Start with community…. support the school system…..support the administrators…..

  14. My First Post says:

    My first post,
    I have a teenager CCHS that is taking IB, AP and duel enrollment courses. I have stood on the side line and watched as these programs have failed to meet the expectations they should. My teenager took 2 duel enrollment courses and in these courses little to no work was done but A’s were earned. What does this teach? Two summers ago my teenager worked hard to complete a summer assignment for an IB course that was not even graded or given feedback on. This past summer my teenager was less motivated to do summer homework but none the less worked hard to get it done. On the first day of school the students were given more time to get the work done. What does this teach? Sadly, I could keep going with these negative examples and have few good things to say. I wish I did! Is it just me or do others recognize that we are actually teaching down to those that aren’t doing the work and sending the wrong message to those that actually want to learn or are willing to work? But it seems to be okay because it is AP or IB or whatever. It shouldn’t matter what the class called or what we paid for it, if the teachers aren’t doing their job it is a waste of time.
    As a parent I realize it is my job to advocate for my child but in this small I have learned that WILL have a negative impact on my teenagers. With all this being said I will take CCHS over almost any public school in Virginia. My immediate family gives me close connections in over 20 high schools VA, and I will take our problems over theirs any day.
    My last Post