Inadequate Progress Spurs School Plan

When the Virginia Department of Education released its School Report Cards on August 12th detailing which schools made “Adequate Yearly Progress” (AYP) under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, the scores didn’t place Clarke County Public Schools in a favorable light.

Do Clarke County’s AYP scores provide reason for concern? Do the scores reflect a school division in decline?

Nineteenth-century American statesman Henry Clay said, “Statistics are no substitute for judgment.” While AYP results are one indicator of the quality of education delivered by a particular school or school division, there are other considerations that must be taken into account in order to understand the complete picture. Here’s a closer look at just what Clarke County’s AYP scores demonstrate, what the scores do not demonstrate, along with some of the other considerations not reflected by statistics.

Making the Grade

The  Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) requires states to set annual measurable objectives of proficiency in reading and mathematics, participation in testing, and graduation and attendance. These objectives are in addition to the standards for learning and achievement required under Virginia’s Standards of Learning (SOL) program. Schools and school divisions that meet the annual objectives required by the federal education law are considered to have made adequately yearly progress (AYP) toward the goal of 100 percent proficiency of all students in reading and mathematics by 2014.

According to VDOE, only 60% of the school in Virginia accomplished their AYP goals. The statistics below show Clarke County Public School’s AYP ratings along with neighboring schools and divisions:

2010-2011 AYP Ratings


Made AYP

Did Not Make AYP

Virginia Schools



Virginia Divisions



Clarke County


(Boyce Elementary)




Fauquier County





Frederick County





Loudoun County





Shenandoah County





Warren County





Even though only one Clarke County school achieved AYP, school officials are quick to point out that there is still much progress and learning taking place across the division.

“We’re proud of what all of our schools have achieved this year” said Lisa Floyd, Director of Curriculum and Instruction for Clarke County Public Schools. “The AYP results have helped us identify where our challenges are by sub-group and we’re now working with building principals to dedicate staff and resources to address the deficiencies”.

More to the Story than Statistics

Floyd and Testing Coordinator, Ed Shewbridge were both newly hired in 2010 replacing Dr. Matthew Eberhardt’s role as Director of Curriculum and Instruction. Floyd and Shewbridge work together to analyze SOL testing results and then coordinate with education staff to develop strategies for reaching struggling students.

“We focus on AYP scores because that is a factor that the state uses and that we are accountable for,” Floyd said. “But that’s only one measure of an education program. Extracurricular activities, community service, sports, arts, homework and attendance are also important measures for evaluating progress.”

For a Virginia school or school division to achieve AYP, more than 81 percent of students overall and students in all subgroups must demonstrate proficiency in reading and more than 79 percent of students overall and in all subgroups must have demonstrated proficiency in mathematics.

A minimum of 95 percent of students overall must participate in reading and mathematics testing, and 95 percent of students in each subgroup – white, black, Hispanic, students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged students, and students with limited-English proficiency – must take state assessments in both two subjects:. Students may be counted in more than one subgroup. Students overall and in each subgroup must exceed the annual measurable objectives (AMO) for proficiency in reading and mathematics or reduce the failure rates on tests in reading and mathematics by at least 10 percent.

AYP goals for Virginia schools require a four percent yearly improvement in the number of students passing reading and math SOLs. A school or school division that falls short in a single subgroup is not considered to have made AYP.

Because schools and districts are measured by overall performance as well as student subgroups, by design, the AYP approach causes a school to fail to meet its AYP if even one student subgroup fails. This built in evaluation criteria is literally meant to ensure that “no child is left behind”.

For example, 27 of 29 indicators were met at D.G. Cooley Elementary school yet the school did not achieve AYP due to failures in reading and math by one subgroup, economically disadvantaged students. Similarly, 27 indicators were achieved at Johnson Williams Middle School yet the school failed AYP because the overall student subgroup and the economically disadvantaged subgroup did not pass mathematics.

Clarke County High school failed AYP because its economically disadvantaged subgroup did not pass mathematics.

Both Boyce Elementary and Johnson Williams Middle School would have fared more poorly in the AYP evaluation were it not for having less than 50 students in several of the measured subgroup categories; black, economically disadvantaged and students with disabilities at Boyce and students with disabilities and students with limited-English proficiency at Johnson Williams.

A school student population of less than 50 students in any specific subgroup excludes the subgroup during AYP certification. Sixteen percent of Clarke County students are classified as “economically disadvantaged” by qualifying for “free” or “reduced price” lunches.

An Adequate Measure of Education Progress?

Upon hearing that a child’s school has “failed to make adequate yearly progress” parents might be forgiven for assuming the worst – that the entire school is encountering problems.

Not so according to Clarke County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Michael Murphy. At a recent school board meeting Dr. Murphy summarized the difficulties that many school divisions face in communicating adequate yearly progress goals to their communities.

“Clarke County High School only missed AYP by one indicator” Murphy told the school board at its August 16 meeting. “Our kids continue to learn and excel and our schools continue to do very well but we do have to be more focused in areas where we may be falling through the cracks.”

However, at the same school board meeting, Berryville resident Jeane Cromer expressed outrage that Clarke County Public Schools were reacting to student SOL score failures after the fact rather than addressing learning challenges beforehand with proven educational approaches for earlier identification of learning problems.

“These children did not fail their SOL’s,” Cromer told the School Board. “You failed them. Eighteen little boys failed their third grade English class and I don’t understand why because we know the predictors that should have indicated this beforehand.”

Cromer believes that Clarke County Public Schools ignored Virginia Department of Education longitudinal data on 59,718 students who took both third grade and fifth grade SOL reading tests showing that success on the grade-three test is a strong predictor of success on the grade-five test. Ninety-five percent of the students who passed the grade-three test subsequently passed the grade-five reading assessment. Remediation enables a substantial percentage of students who fail the grade-three reading SOL test to enjoy success by grade five, but 44 percent of the students who failed in grade three also failed in grade five.

“The Phonological Awareness Literacy Screenings  (PALS) potent predictors are ignored by CCPS,” Cromer said “The PALS scores should be used to identify kids in Kindergarten who will not pass the SOL without remediation. For many of these kids now, it’s too late.”

Designing a Strategy for Learning

Lisa Floyd’s job is to design CCPS’s instructional strategy that will help not only improve SOL and AYP achievement but also address predictable learning problems like those described by Cromer.

“Our job is to figure out how to help every single child achieve even if it doesn’t improve AYP scores,” Floyd said. As Floyd and Shewbridge sift through CCPS’s SOL testing results solutions are already beginning to take shape.

“The testing data helps us partner with each school to design individual solutions versus systemic solutions,” Floyd said.

For example, Floyd said that she is working with Boyce Elementary on a plan for improving its reading program. At the same time, CCHS is planning to designate a staff member to provide remediation help for students encountering difficulty in particular topics. Floyd also described plans for creation of school “watch lists” for providing additional support to students with below average subject grades, poor attendance, or who have failed an SOL test twice.

On a division level Floyd hopes to convince the school board to purchase an online benchmark assessment tool that is tied to SOL testing. Floyd says that the tool allows instructors to create practice tests that can help measure a student’s retention of subjects covered by SOL’s. She also plans to improve staff development through attendance at national conferences, but with a caveat;

“The staff member has to come back home and share what they’ve learned with other staff.”

Floyd said that in some cases education solutions are more traditional. For instance, she is investigating the purchase of disposable history and reading newsletters that illustrate facts and concepts in ways designed to capture a young reader’s attention.

Yet nationwide, with millions of children still far from reaching NCLB’s ambitious goal that 100% of U.S. students be grade level proficient in reading and math by 2014, and in Virginia, with 40% of school not achieving AYP, it is easy to wonder whether Washington DC’s emphasis on SOL scores will continue.

“AYP reauthorization is in process now,” Floyd said “There may be adjustments to how it looks in the future but it’s not going away.”


  1. Disillusioned says:

    When the current school board was elected, this school system started to decline…

    • I beg to differ. I think that when the current board was elected, the smoke screens were cleared and the illusions were shown for what they really were, just illusions. The only problem with the current board I can see is Robina is leading it with Pete Dunning pulling her strings.

  2. Fact Checker says:

    100% by 2014 is a noble goal, just like 0% unemployment. However, it assumes that all children are put together the same, or at least, have similar mental processes.
    This reminds me of the story of an academic who claimed he had invented an automated chicken plucker. When asked how it worked, he replied “First we assume a spherical chicken……..”

    • You know what happens when you assume, don’t you?

      NCLB assumes not that all kids are the same, but that schools will educate all kids. See, as opposed to the kids confirming to the system, the schools need to reach kids, all of them.

  3. Fly on the wall says:

    I wonder how they’ll reconcile the impetus to revamp how material is taught, etc., with a tight (and even shrinking) budget.

    • Shrinking budget, cite your source. While the % from feds and state have gone down, the % from the county has gone up. As have the budgets.

      • Fly on the wall says:

        Here’s the FY2011 budget resolution, adopted in May of this year by the BoS:

        Is that a decent enough citation for ya?

        The school appropriation is on p.4 of 11 of the .pdf file. It shows a decrease of $426,333 from last year’s budget, despite an increase in state public education funding of $473,194. (p.6 of 11) Federal school money went down $253,156. It’s a testament to the commitment of Dr. Murphy and the staff of CCPS that they do as much as they do given the cuts.

  4. No Child Left Behind with its AYP while a nice try, represents classic top-down government and its inherent short-comings. Be it education or the economy, centralized control does not work and actually makes things worse. Even with the drama associated with the school board in recent years, Arnie Duncan and everyone else in the Dept. of Education does not know how to educate Clarke County’s children better than the people that are closest to them. Even Ms. Bouffault with all of her controversy knows more and cares more than any bureaucrat in DC – but her hands are in part tied because of the box the feds and the state put her in.

    The commonwealth already has SOL standards and AYP is built upon them. If there is an achievement issue, the SOLs were designed for Virginia to identify and address those issues. AYP serves as further distraction and red tape for administration and teachers as yet another hoop to jump through. Instead of resources being spent where it should – on the children and the quality of their education, those resources gets used so the state and the feds don’t come in and shake things up.

    Obviously, a blanket goal of 4% increase year after year for every school in this nation is unrealistic. Not only is 100% impossible because with every 4%, the goal gets harder, we are talking about a diverse group of children and families. Resources in the school system, quality of teachers, ability of the student, and involvement by the family all contribute in various degrees to academic success. Extrapolate that across the country and you know the results will be different in affluent Connecticut versus Appalachian Kentucky. We all know that the there is no way to get a 100% pass rate by 2014 and that should call to attention the effectiveness of program that is trying to implement such a goal.

    By stressing SOLs and AYP goals so much, the tail is actually wagging the dog. This is the problem with big government. It implements policies and measures less efficiently (blanket 4% year increases is a perfect example) than those who know what is best; namely the administrators at a local level. Those rules become the focus instead of what the feds were trying to better in the first place. In this case it is raising test scores as a measure of academic success.

    Then, the school system spends more time figuring out how to game the system and get around the rules (IEP portfolios instead of SOLs come to mind) and meet the standards for the lowest 20% of achieving children and it takes up 80% of the time. That is in part why we have an article full of qualifying statements as to why the county has shortcomings for AYP.

    Unlike Europe, we are not a society based upon being your brother’s keeper. You have equal opportunity here, but you succeed or fail by your own merits. Keep that in mind when big government says ‘no child left behind’ because it runs contrary to that notion; such thinking actually works against itself and serves to drag everyone down. Read “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand if you want to see the results of a centralized, over-protective government that wants to make everyone equal. It has disastrous results.

    – G.S.

  5. Jeane Cromer says:

    Well, GS, I guess someone has to stick around and pick the apples-huh? Might as well be some one just a bit different than you.

    I don’t know who the “we” is in your statement, but many DO believe 2014 is a realistic goal. Small rural school divisions with small budgets are making the grade all over the state. Some of these schools have 70% AYP subgroups. Large urban mostly minority schools are also making AYP and are NOW, not in 2014, very close to 100%. It’s not about a “diverse group of children and their families” my friend; it’s about committment to education and celebrating diversity.

    To be able to read, is to be able to succeed. I am my brother’s keeper, with literacy and justice for all.

    • Jeane,
      I think you take my comments as divisionary or even elitist. On the contrary, I am very much of a ‘pick yourself up by the bootstraps’ type of person. Henry Andrew Carnegie and Abraham Lincoln both come to mind as highly successful and esteemed men who taught themselves. Through hard work and perserverance, they made a name for themselves and changed history. They did not do it by sitting around lamenting about how poor or uneducated they were. They were not content just to ‘pick apples’ – and there were far fewer programs or support systems back then to help the underprivledge. There is a plethora of opportunites out there for those who are willing to sacrifice and work hard.

      The point I am trying to make in my retort is that we are obligated to giving all of Clarke County’s children equal opportunity to learn. Some will have it harder than others, like coachlc says in her post. We have a duty to accomodate them too. However, there are two factors outside of the County’s control that hurts performance.

      1) All of the red tape that goes into meeting AYP guidelines hurts the administrator’s and the school boards ability to do what is best for the children. They have to instead devote money and time to simply teach SOLs, which is a less enriching environment for all students AND do the process to exempt the IEP and ESL students so that they do not drag the AYP scores down.

      2) We all recognize that not every child is going to be an astronaut when they grow up – coachlc’s hypothetical class makes for a good example. By trying to pass AYP standards for all of those children, many of which can’t, you actually take away from the education of the children that actually could become physicists or engineers and need good math skills. They just plug along instead of getting excellent instruction the teacher could provide because the school system’s resources and the techer’s time is finite and is being spent on trying to teach mainstream math to kids who simply can’t learn it. There are better places for those children. The IEP kids could get pulled out into their own multi-grade math class that is separated out by ability. the ESL kids could go into a combination english/math class. The bad/unsupported kids get basic math skills in another ‘practical math class’ that lends itself towards vocational math skills because they most likely do not have the grades or knowledge to go to college.

      AYP sets a standard that is both wasteful in effort and not useful to anyone except bureaucrats in DC who say they are addressing America’s problem with adequately educating our children. It is a failure of the school system when a child wants to learn but cannot because the tools the school system is using are misplaced. It happens in part because of big, top down government mandates like No Child Left Behind (NCLB). What such programs can’t address, no matter how much they try to meddle is the fact that it can’t help the student and their unsupportive family when they have a perfectly good brain in their head, but they could care less about the child doing the work required to learn their schoolwork.

      I agree that literacy is fundamental (not sure where the justice part came from Jeane) but they aren’t even getting that with NCLB because it and AYP are not addressing the real problems. They are simply making systems that make it harder for Clarke County to adequate serve its school children and teach them those basic skills.

      At some point those children become adults and they have to lie in the bed they make because of the educational choices they made essentially from high school on. Their education (or lack thereof) started long before that however. Unfortunately, the system is failing them because it is rigged towards these arbitrary passing rates instead of separating the education process out for college-bound and non-college bound children; they fail to meet their full potential and that part is not fair because it is the system’s failure almost as much as their own personal choices.

      – G.S.

      • [redacted] First, NCLB was passed during a Republican administration based on what the state of Texas did. They allowed states to set their own yardsticks. Cite your source on red tape and bureaucracy. [redacted] attitude of assuming “many of which can’t” make it, including special ed students. As a former special ed student myself (and parent of one as well), I got my degree (actually two), and so will my kids,[redacted]

        Bottom line, CCPS hasn’t met AYP 3 years running, and the list of schools is growing. Instead of apologizing and rationalizing, fix the problem!

        • Hay Zoos,
          If I have to cite a specific source for my red-tape comment on government be inefficient with our tax dollars and then making everything harder with more rules, I have to ask…where have you been. You are exactly right, the size, scope, expense, and waste of government expanded woefully during the Bush years. This is not a partisan issue for me. I am against all top-down government programs, be they put in place by any party. I also do not make any assumptions of saying a child ‘can’t make it’. I say that children need to be taught at the level that is best for them – the same point that coachlc was making in her classroom example. Finally, I agree with your final statement…they shouldn’t apologize and rationalize the AYP shortfalls but my point is that the county is futher hindered by simply trying to ‘fix the problem’ and pass AYP. The educational shortfalls are far more fundamental.


          • First, nice ad hominem answer to the source. Not sure why you are making comments without facts. Taking a test is top-down government overreach? In that case, what isn’t?

            As for your attitude when it comes to children learning, you now say “children need to be taught at the level that is best for them”. Nice backtrack. What you originally said was: “By trying to pass AYP standards for all of those children, many of which can’t, you actually take away from the education of the children that actually could become physicists or engineers and need good math skills.” These two statements say two very different things. The second one is offensive.

          • The proof is on you sir. Tell me how or why government isn’t laden with red tape. I could point to $600 hammers and $800 toilet seats but I don’t have to the general populace knows the bureaucracy as part of the larger scheme of fraud, waste, and abuse in government causes it. I don’t have to prove that the red tape exists, the burden on you is to prove that it doesn’t.

            That really doesn’t add to the issue at hand. I want you to understand my point which I obviously have not gotten across to you clearly yet. My point being: having a consolidated classroom full of various ability levels takes away from all childrens’ learning. We need more pull-outs. For IEP students and ‘gifted’ student. There that simple.
            If I offend you by saying that teachers do not have the resources and have to spend an inordinate amount of time on the behavior and IEP children instead of teaching the children that could most benefit, then I am sorry. I am truly not trying to denigrate any student. What I am trying to say is that since the ‘smart’ kids don’t need any help, they also don’t get pushed or challenged in school. They just muddle through like coachlc said. Such a classroom setting does not adequately address bad behaving students, it does not address children that need more individual instruction, and it does not challenge students that need less help. I think you and I actually care about the same thing but we are looking at it from different angles


        • Lies and more Lies says:

          Since Teddy Kennedy was one of the main writers of NCLB I do not think it was based on what the State of Texas did or did not do. Nice revisionist history though.

      • Jeane Cromer says:

        GS-You cite two VERY important men in history in your first paragragh. Carnagie, who was a lover of education and gave much of his money to it, and Linclon, a learning disabled person. How are they different, and how are they very much the same?

        And when I pledge alligence to my flag and to the United States of America, I do substitute literacy for liberty.

        Forgive me, but one cannot know about their true liberties if they cannot read.

        • I agree with you, reading is fundamental to education – and education is fundamental to our future. I will cite a bit of American history from the time of Lincoln and Carnegie. The Morrill Act of 1862 and 1890 both invested in Americas future through the use of federal funds put towards creating dozens of new colleges across the nation in that general time period. Here is a list.

          Look at that list. That is an investment that has paid of in spades and something this government should learn from instead of passing hollow rules that don’t really help the K-12 education in this country. Granted my example was higher education, but I think you get the point that I am making.

          I also think I see the allegory you are trying to depict. It would be easier and better for all involved to help the rat in the first place (providing education). Instead everyone passes the buck for whatever reason and you have a much higher societal cost to all of the farm animals (unemployment, underemployment – lost taxes revenue through lower wages, prison, etc).

          – G.S.

  6. As an educator(not in Clarke), I strongly agree with most everything that GS states. I am so glad that I do not teach SOL course because you are required to teach completely to a test. You have to fly through material to hit everything while teach it in depth so that everyone understands. Fun add-ons almost completely fall by the wayside for fear of not getting to a certain point.

    2014 is not a reasonable goal. 2024 is not a reasonable goal. It is an admirable goal, but not a realistic goal. The people who created all of these ideas were not educators. I would love if every student could achieve great success in the classroom, but they don’t. I am by no means saying there is anything wrong with a student who has been declared special ed(learning disabled). They have the right to take courses they wish if they are in mainstreamed classes. However, the reason they are special ed is because they have some difficulty with learning. It could be a wide variety of things, but the AYP says that these students need to pass the exact same test as the regular ed student. How does that make sense?

    Are there bad schools? I am sure there are, but just because a school doesn’t make AYP does not mean that the teachers are not trying or that they are bad teachers.

    Let’s make up a hypothetical class: There are 24 students in this Algebra I class. 5 of them are labeled as special ed. 4 of them have parents who are never available to help them at home and thus have to attempt all homework on their own if they attempt it. They receive no help or encouragement to study for tests. 13 others are “normal” (whatever that means) Two of those plan to work on the family business and don’t really care about school and don’t really care about the SOL. 2 of them are ESL and don’t speak much English but are in the regular Algebra I class. The rest of them are just plugging along.

    Should all of those students be expected to work and pass the SOL? Yes

    Should I as a teacher try to personally connect and reach those students? Yes

    Should I try to make a lesson that allows the ESL student to understand what I am saying while keeping the top level student occupied and not losing the special ed student while motivating the student who has no home support? Yes

    Are the odds that 100% of that goal will be reached very good? No

    I try to reach and teach every student who walks in my door, but we are human and we fail to do this at times. Can we improve? I am sure that we all can.

    • Thank god you never taught me or my kids. First, NCLB allows for test modifications and/or exemptions for special ed kids (not timed, questions read aloud, special rooms, etc.). But then if you were a real educator, you would know this. Second, your attitude about special ed kids [redacted]. Perhaps instead of focusing on their alleged shortcomings, why don’t you focus on your own. Finally, NCLB originally came out of Texas, from educators.


      • No reason to go there Hay Zoos – ad hominem attacks don’t contribute to this discussion and actually hurt the point you are trying to make.

        – G.S.

        • You and your fellow tea partier started the ad hominems. Being a blowhard doesn’t add contribute to the discussion either.

          • Throttle back there, turbo. You’re just making yourself look worse. I really am trying to have a rational forum discussion. Getting mad, assuming I’m a part of the tea party, and name calling doesn’t solve any educational issues. Also, even IF someone supposedly starts something, that serves as a poor justification for you to continue. Look at the US Congress or the Middle East peace process; they too have fallen into the ‘yeah, well they started it, so I’ll join in’ trap. It gets you nowhere.

      • Jesus said: ” … NCLB originally came out of Texas, from educators.”

        ds replies: Perhaps you’re thinking of _Friday Night Lights_ 🙂

        Giving credit to Texas is misplaced.


        Before NCLB: The History of ESEA

        [excerpt from the abstract] The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was passed in 1965 under the Johnson administration. Before that, federal legislation dealing with education provided funding or land for schools and special programs but was careful not to intrude on states’ rights to make decisions on curriculum and the general operations of schools. The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) is the latest reauthorization of ESEA.



        The No Child Left Behind Act was actually a rebirth of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965. Part of Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society,” the passing of ESEA represented the first time that federal, state and local governments came together to begin addressing the national problem of low-performing schools across the nation by providing federal funding for students and schools in challenging socioeconomic situations.



        The principles of No Child Left Behind date back to Brown v. Board of Education, when the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed racial segregation in public schools and determined that the “separate but equal doctrine” was unconstitutional. That decision is now 50 years old.

        Just after the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act became law in 1965. No Child Left Behind is the 21st-century iteration of this first major federal foray into education policy–a realm that is still mainly a state and local function, as envisioned by our Founding Fathers.

        On Jan. 8, 2002, President Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 into law with overwhelming bipartisan support. The final votes were 87-10 in the Senate and 381-41 in the House. Senators Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Judd Gregg (R-NH) and Congressmen George Miller (D-CA) and John Boehner (R-OH) were its chief sponsors in the Senate and the House.

        No Child Left Behind ensures accountability and flexibility as well as increased federal support for education. No Child Left Behind continues the legacy of the Brown v. Board decision by creating an education system that is more inclusive, responsive, and fair.

        • Don,

          Read your comments. NCLB “reauthorized” EESA is liked saying the 19th amendment in the US constitution reauthorized the 17th.

          Who were the champions for NCLB: Bush and then Secretray Rod Paige. here was Paige from: Houston TX.


          • Jesus wrote: “NCLB “reauthorized” EESA is liked saying the 19th amendment in the US constitution reauthorized the 17th.”

            Ummm … No, it’s not. Texas has given much to America, but I really don’t think that education reform is their notable export.

            From Mr. Paige’s abstract:

            “In this essay, former secretary of education Rod Paige depicts the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) as the culmination of more than half a century of urgent but largely unheeded calls for reform of the nation’s public education system.”

            I suspect that the rest of the article will support the notion that the genesis of the legislation did not take place in Texas. Perhaps you’d like to pony up the $9.95 it costs to read the full text, then we could see.

        • Fly on the wall says:

          It only works when federal funds match the federal mandates, AND states (like Virginia, with tough SOLs) are allowed the flexibility to meet the benchmarks. Right now, in its present iteration, NCLB is neither inclusive, responsive, or fair.

          • Ok, you didn’t really use the words “tough” and “SOL’s” in the same sentence did you?

          • Don Specht says:

            Gonzo, I am curious as to how you, and the parents who have kids in secondary ed., really do perceive what it takes to earn the verified credit, i.e. pass the SOL EOC test in a particular subject. I’m not out to excoriate anyone over this issue; I’m just curious as to what the public perceives, and I do think that the Virginia DOE had been remiss on this issue.

            I was part of a VDOE pilot standard setting group in the late ’90s that did a dry run on the SOL testing procedure with respect to the setting a number for the passing score on an SOL Algebra 1 test and just what it meant to pass. It’s simple really. A passing mark on a SOL test is equivalent to saying that you have a chance to pass the next course in the sequence. Pretty much what a C in the course should say …

  7. Jeane Cromer says:

    Ok boys and girls, listen up! It’s story time:

    Once upon a time, on a Clarke County farm, there lived a RAT-the lowest and most despised in the farmyard. One day, this rat saw the UPS guy comin’ down the road and delivered a box to the farmer’s door. The rat happened to notice the box was labled “rat trap”. Sensing his eminent demise, the rat went to find his friend the chicken. When he asked for help, the chicken refused citing a busy schedule, but suggested the pig. Well, the pig was polite and all, but said he couldn’t help
    (he’s a rat, ya know and any excuse will do) but suggested the cow. Now, the cow was eating and declined to help as well.

    So, night fell, and in the darkness of night there was a loud “SNAP”!The farmer’s wife awoke eager to find you know who. But because it was dark, she did not see that what was in the trap, was the tail of a venemous snake.

    Well, the sanke bit the farmer’s wife and she fell sick with fever. Now, we ALL know the cure to a fever is chicken soup. So, there went the chicken. The farmer needed so many people to help his wife he had to have a BBQ. There goes the pig.

    Well,the farmer’s wife died. So many people came to show their respect that the farmer had to feed them. Yep, there went the cow. And the farm too.

    Now, what did we learn today boys and girls? Should we have helped the rat? Even though he was a rat?

    • Jeane Cromer says:

      I guess the anti-christians are in the thumbs-down mood 🙂 The story is, amongst other things, a reminder of the lessons of Cain and Able.

      • Being “anti-christians” (sic) has nothing to do with it. Your story was lame, and had no purpose germaine to the initial article.

      • Cain and Abel? Really?!? THAT story is about jealousy over one being exalted over another by God, and going to an extreme length (murder) to level the playing field. Cain STILL ended up banished, and Abel remained dead. Exactly HOW does this story tie into NCLB/SOLs and your weak attempt at parablyzing?

        • Jeane Cromer says:

          Well, Just Sayin’ it’s like this my friend-the tie in here is about being your brother’s keeper. It may have saved the chicken, the pig, the rat, and the SPED, black, poor and hispanics kids who (if you read the article)are
          underachieving at my son’s school. Now, you can forget them-I’m sure you’re OK with that-but if they end up joining the 50 million other illiterates eventually they may rob the Wal-Mart, break into your house or worse. Just sayin’…

          • Naked Truth says:

            Because only Black, Hispanics, and Special Eds rob walmarts? I guess people like Madoff are illiterate? The rat story stinks and has meaning here.

          • The sentiments you ascribe to me never came out of the pixels I typed. I don’t forget those you describe as cast-offs and prone to robbing Walmart.

            Your sanctimonious, shallow, use-the wrong-Bible-story-to-attempt-to-prove-a-point bashing of the school system as shown more about you and your true self than anything else.

            You like to bash the school division, yet you overlook other factors that impact AYP scores and student success: reduced teaching resources and materials, and even positions, as budgets have been cut (nearly $2 million over the past 3 years); parents of those students who can’t or won’t or aren’t able to help encourage their kids’ education @ home; and kids who don’t care. All of those also need to be considered.

            So…save your sermonizing for somebody else, and pick a better parable. There are plenty, told by The Master Himself, that would have done a better job than what you tried poorly to do.

          • Jeane Cromer says:

            Me thinks thou protest too much.

            Or, you just want higher taxes! As 85 percent of all juveniles who interface with the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate.

            More than 60 percent of all prison inmates are functionally illiterate.

            Penal institution records show that inmates have a 16% chance of returning to prison if they receive literacy help, as opposed to 70% who receive no help. This equates to taxpayer costs of $25,000 per year per inmate and nearly double that amount for juvenile offenders.

            Illiteracy and crime are closely related. The Department of Justice states, “The link between academic failure and delinquency, violence, and crime is welded to reading failure.” Over 70% of inmates in America’s prisons cannot read above a fourth grade level.

          • Nope…no protests here. Just a person, you, who fails to see that she is a prime example of someone who – when armed with various factoids and whatnot but not the skill to link them adequately – coems across as a pale version of Don Quixote and negating any positive impact she might have had.

            You, ma’am, are using a sledge hammer to tap in a finishing nail. CCPS has failed to meet AYP, but not by the margins your pitiful rantings would suggest. Is it acceptable that any child failed to meet these benchmarks? Indeed not, and I believe that the division is working hard to do more (with less) to rise up to those challenges. You mention that there are other rural school divisions making the grade; perhaps, but – if you look at the results from the latest round – there are a LOT of divisions (from affluent to middle to poor) that did not meet the benchmarks.

            Funding cuts in CCPS have caused some good programs (LINCS, PALS, meaningful summer school, etc.) to get shelved or set aside for several years now. As with every other division, our schools are caught between ever-toughening federal standards and a shrinking pool of resources with which to meet them. Yet, despite these shortcomings, there are still a LOT of good people working with ALL children who come through those doors. Unlike the elite private schools in Millwood or Middleburg or Warrenton, CCPS have to take every child who shows up – regardless of their abilitiy levels, disabilities (if any), language(s) spoken, race, creed, or mailing address.

            You sure do bring a lot of sound and fury with you onto your small little soapbox. Yet, in the end, despite your strutting and fretting upon the stage, you really signify nothing. Are there challenges? Yes. Will they be hard to meet? Sure. Are they meetable? Absolutely. But, your tactic of bashing folks when their down and using hyperbole and “chicken little” sermonizing doesn’t get the schools one tic closer to those goals.

          • Jeane Cromer says:

            Me still thinks thou protest too much.

            ……the advocate for children’s literacy runs and hides, afraid the PhD posse will come and possibly not give her child an education:)………..

            “I don’t give ’em hell; I just tell them the truth, and it gives them hell”

          • You act like an [redacted] and I thank God my kids won’t ever have you. You make the last English teacher that left look like a saint!

          • Jeane Cromer says:

            Come on RW and FLY, I need a GOOD retort for a touche!

            Let’s change the subject to Math. Now, there were 84 children in my son’s third grade class last year. 24 of them cannot read at grade level (ok, I’ll give you a margin or error of the two who had to pee, having a bad day, no breakfast..)

            Now, presuming the CDN editor did his research, that’s eleven little boys and girls who won’t be able to read properly down the road or EVER. Research ( NCLB, VDOE) shows it’s too late. The other 14 might survive.

            As an FYI, 84% of the children in this cohort left Primary reading at or above grade level. At what point on Main Street did we drop 12 of them on their head going to their feeder school? Or did we not teach them to read PROPERLY.

            And, hey…I did I mention this is not news to administration?

          • Fly on the wall says:

            Jeane, if you want a “GOOD retort for a touche,” serve up something of substance to respond to, instead of the weak gruel you serve up which is nothing more than ham-handed sermonizing and crappy parables.

            You don’t know what the home life for those students might be; you don’t have any answers with any sort of context. All you have are statistics, which you use to berate the school division and the administrators and teachers who work in it.

            My child came out of Kindergarten with stats showing a reading level of beginning-3rd Grade. Hit 1st Grade? Well…not so much…more like below age-appropriate. Weird, but we buckled down and got to work. By 3rd Grade, because of the efforts at home and of those hard-working teachers in a division you love to malign, the gap had risen considerably. My child left 5th Grade truly on a middle-school reading level. But…it took a concerted effort at school AND at home to get my child there. That’s the point you don’t wanna accept.

            Do all kids have such a support network? Nope. Will the best efforts of the schools fall short? Yep, for they deal with human beings, who display at least one of several characteristics: fallible, lazy, challenged (and/or challenging), distracted, etc. Should they still try to reach every kid? Absolutely, and they are.

            Your muckraking and demoralizing attacks serve no good purpose, though.

  8. Jeane Cromer says:


    Muckraking NO. Awareness YES.

    As a fact, my son has been in this school system for four years. He has never ever ever had a bad teacher. Not one! ( well, some inexperienced, some having a bad day, and some misguided) But, NEVER a bad teacher.

    I’d buy FLY’s arguement of “lack of support” a little if his son’s experience wasn’t a case in point. Or, if other schools in the Commonweath with children known to have “lack of home support” wern’t achieveing. BUT, they are. How come?

    BPS has been teaching our “Babies to Read” in three monthly installments of $19.95.
    (whole language-flashing kids words to memorize). A terrible philosophy ( see results above)

    No child can memorize 2000 words-they need PHONICS (decoding). Oh, did I see they offer that on the Boyce ES website?

    Why does it matter HOW they read as long as they CAN read?

    Consider this: Why did the makers of Celebrex take out a full page page ad in the NYT urging Phamacist not to confuse Celebrex with Clelexa. Yipes, whole language!

    So what? Are they all dyslexic? Reseach says whole language promotes dyslexia.

    Whole language instruction determines YOUR childs future. That’s why NCLB mandates the 5 componets of reading instruction. My son will never ever be able to pick up a medical textbook( should he so choose). He reads improperly and it’s too late, so says the literacy specialist.

    SOL testing doesn’t mean to “trip these kids up”, more it is a measure of how

    • Fly on the wall says:

      My child’s experience in no way serves as a “case in point” for your pathetic sermon.

      You pick and choose your points (regardless of context), and fire away at CCPS, and one school (and its administrator) in particular. Yet, you don’t bother to consider all the other factors that impact SOL scores. My child (interesting you put a gender reference in there when I did not), if support at home hadn’t been stepped up to reinforce what was being taught at school, might have had a tougher time closing the gap and finding success.

      Your kid’s in 3rd Grade. It’s a bit early to write off his ability to “pick up a medical textbook,” don’t ya think? The typical medical textbook is on – what? – a Grade 12+ reading level, given what it covers (medical terms, Latin terms, etc.). You exaggerate way to much, so nobody takes you seriously.

      • right fly, and of course once the parent(s) have already written their child’s future abilities off then what can we expect a child to do?

      • Jeane Cromer says:

        I didn’t write off his ability. One of the top literacy specialist in the country did under clinical evaluation. And, it made me cry to hear the news. My son left BPS reading at a middle school level. But, still does not read properly. You will understand one day when your child gets older. Trust me.

        • Fly on the wall says:

          My child IS older. Middle school was a challenge, as the content got harder and the vocabulary more complex. But, between school and home, my child managed to get As and Bs (and the occassional C in math, like the old man back in the day…*ahem!*). High school looks to be about the same, but my child is a stronger independent reader now because of the efforts of all of the teachers (including the ones who provided instruction at BPS) and we the parents here at home.

          Jeane, I won’t deny that the statistics are not as good as they could be. Indeed, despite all the successes, the % of kids who don’t meet benchmarks or whatnot is disappointing. I am encouraged, though, that CCPS is and will continue to do all it can to close those gaps – and I have a hunch that those kids who fell short in elementary school are on the radar of the J-WMS staff.

          However, to use these datapoints to merely bash one particular school in a pitiful attempt to avenge a personal grudge only makes you look shrill and small.

  9. Fly on the wall says:

    Without support at home, the road to literacy and academic success is that much harder. Nice try.

    • Jeane Cromer says:

      Then, FLY, you must disagree with Ms. Floyd’s agreement/expenditure to have her “bang for the buck”, sending our staff to a national literacy conference. Save us some money if you disagree with the Endowed Professor’s presentation who opines on children’s(or in my case my child’s) literacy.

  10. Fly on the wall says:

    Actually…I “must” not do anything you screech about. I think that there is good to be gained from sending staff members to national coferences on literacy, particularly if they then come back to CCPS and share what they’ve learned. Many things have changed over the years since CCPS really promoted staff development; there are a lot of new strategies out there, that can enhance what is already being done.

    What you cannot seem to tolerate is that folks are not listening to your ravings about the PALS predictors (solid though they might be), and are not doing what you prescribe. You’re upset about your personal experience, so you wish to belittle and tear down the whole because of that.