School Officials Brief Board on NCLB Waiver

Change was in the air as the Clarke County School Board met for the first time in the auditorium of the new high school on Monday evening. School officials spent almost a full hour explaining and discussing the ramifications of the June 29th decision by the federal government to approve a waiver for Virginia schools that frees them from having to meet No Child Left Behind (NCLB) benchmarks in reading and mathematics or the federal law’s mandate that all students — regardless of circumstance — achieve grade-level proficiency by 2014.

While the waiver is generally viewed as a step in the right direction, Superintendent, Mike Murphy explained the undefined nature of the waiver makes its impact on the Clarke County School Division less than clear, ” Dr. Floyd and I have reviewed this several times and we can honestly say we have more questions about what the government has launched us into than we had before. I think in some ways it is a lot muddier.”

Murphy said the path prior to the waiver was relatively clear with goals and objectives, but now the VDOE plans to use the waiver to do something different and what that is remains a mystery. Dr. Lisa Floyd opened her prepared presentation on the impact of the decision by citing the VDOE State Superintendents who said in May, “Will it be confusing to the public? Absolutely. Will it be confusing to schools? Absolutely. Is it worth doing? Absolutely.”

At the heart of the waiver are Title I schools. Under the law in the Commonwealth of Virginia, Title 1 schools are those that receive federal funds under Title 1 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. These funds are given to help students in areas of low-income and high-poverty rates in order to help students who are behind academically or who are at risk of falling behind. There are currently 723 schools in Virginia identified as Title I in the 2011-2012 school year, but none of the schools in Clarke County currently fall into this category. So, while there will be significant changes for those 723 schools, it seems the impact on Clarke County schools will be limited.

One metric that has been scrutinized locally in the past has been eliminated. Virginia schools and school divisions will no longer receive annual “Adequate Yearly Progress” or AYP ratings. Instead, the performance metric will be based on Annual Measurable Objectives (AMOs) but the minimum expectations for AMOs has not been released by the state. Virginia’s 2012-2013 AMOs, which had been scheduled to advance to 91 percent passing in reading and 90 percent passing in mathematics, will be adjusted once the data from the 2011-2012 assessments have been verified by school divisions.

The waiver also creates a greater focus on Proficiency Gap Groups which include:

Gap Group 1 – Students with disabilities, English language learners, and economically disadvantaged students (unduplicated count)
Gap Group 2 – Black students, not of Hispanic origin, including students with disabilities, English language learners, and economically disadvantaged students
Gap Group 3 – Hispanic students, of one or more races, including students with disabilities, English language learners, and economically disadvantaged students

In order to meet federal accountability requirements, schools and divisions will be required to reduce failure rates in reading and mathematics by half during the next six years in each proficiency gap group and each individual subgroup. Additionally, high schools will need to meet federal graduation expectations.

Given the size and demographics of Clarke County’s school system even the impact of these accountability groups may be limited. Virginia’s “minimum n” has been reduced from 50 to 30. While the expectation is that all students will participate in statewide assessments, if fewer than the “minimum n” count of 30 students are in a group or subgroup, the individual performance of the group with a small n-size will not be included in federal accountability determinations. The assessment results of these students will be counted in the “all students” group.

While School Board members thanked Floyd for her thorough presentation, Berryville District Board Member Jim Brinkmeier tried to drive the conversation back to the request that the he made of school officials at the last meeting to produce a historical record of SOL performance for the last 3 years, in particular the preliminary SOL data that is available to the administration for this year’s SOL performance. “I have looked at our SOLs from the VDOE website over the last three years and just to give you the Readers Digest version here quickly, of the 11 subjects tested at Clarke County High School over the last three years, 6 areas were down. Some a little some more significantly.” He added, “The data that the schools currently have is preliminary and I know we have no benchmarks to measure it by, but we can look at similar school divisions in the Commonwealth and see how we compare to them.”

Superintendent Murphy and Lisa Floyd suggested that the examination of this year’s results should wait until the VDOE has had their final assessment of the results later in August. School Board Chair Janet Alger agreed and the group put the review of the 2011-2012 SOL scores in the agenda for the August 27th meeting.

Comments

  1. George Archibald says:

    School Board Member Jim Brinkmeier has made another important contribution and his question about how Clarke County compares in school results with other divisions in the state should be answered by School Superintendent Michael Murphy. As reported, Mr. Brinkmeier asked, “of the eleven subjects tested at Clarke County High School over the last three years, six areas were down — some a little, some more significantly. The data that the schools currently have is preliminary, and I know we have no benchmarks to measure it by, but we can look at similar school divisions in the Commonwealth and see how we compare to them.”

    So why can’t School Superintendent Murphy produce a simple chart that shows the NCLB results in the 11 subject areas for Clarke County, compared with Winchester, Frederick County, Loudoun, Fauquier and Fairfax Counties?

    Superintendent Murphy and Lisa Floyd suggested that the examination of this year’s results should wait until the VDOE has had their final assessment of the results later in August. School Board Chair Janet Alger agreed and the group put the review of the 2011-2012 SOL scores in the agenda for the August 27th meeting.

    • just the facts..PLEASE says:

      I would suspect that Murphy won’t produce the information because he does not WANT to!

      It is very likely that such a document would show the clear connection between falling test scores and his administration of the school system.

      It IS time for a change at CCPS!!

  2. George Archibald says:

    School Board Member Jim Brinkmeier has made another important contribution and his question about how Clarke County compares in school results with other divisions in the state should be answered by School Superintendent Michael Murphy.

    As reported, Mr. Brinkmeier asked, “of the eleven subjects tested at Clarke County High School over the last three years, six areas were down — some a little, some more significantly. The data that the schools currently have is preliminary, and I know we have no benchmarks to measure it by, but we can look at similar school divisions in the Commonwealth and see how we compare to them.”

    So why can’t School Superintendent Murphy produce a simple chart that shows the NCLB results in the 11 subject areas for Clarke County, compared with Winchester, Frederick County, Loudoun, Fauquier and Fairfax Counties?

    Why wait? Let’s have the answer now.

    • Tony Parrott says:

      “compared with Winchester, Frederick County, Loudoun, Fauquier and Fairfax Counties?”
      Well of course; those counties are very comparable to the demographics of Clarke Co. Almost a mirror image……..

      “Why wait? Let’s have the answer now.”
      Aren’t you the “BIG Time” investigative reporter? I’m sure if you wanted the information George you would compile the data and then misrepresent it to the public.

      Well not that I’ve got that out of my system I’ll go back to my hiatus from the CDN…..
      Good luck and God Bless to all. Have a great summer and keep cool.

      • just the facts..PLEASE says:

        Was there a point to this comment?……or was it just a personal personal attack because ,like many in this community, you don’t want the light shown on the failing of our current administration. I understand and admire loyalty but I believe it is misplaced in this case.

        I think Mr. Brinkmeier and Mr. Archibald’s questions are very reasonable and pertinent and should be addressed by the administration ASAP…..decisions and changes need to be made.

  3. Loving Clarke County says:

    Modern education has really failed, it is an example of trying to make a better mouse trap.
    100 years ago, the great universities of the world created a generation of great scientists, yet I dare say you could get s degree in education. Education is an industry not s vocation. people with advanced engineering degrees cant pick up a 5th grade mathematics book to explain an arithmetic lesson to their kids,
    I was told by a grade school principal that this years 5th grade math tests in Virginia were a disaster, primarily due to the tests I presume. In the end, why can’t we teach the kids how to read critically, use math and write a paragraph, they could back in 1970, I saw it i was there.

  4. The state has adjusted their tests in social studies and math over the past two years(last year social studies, this past year math) without any real preparation and materials for teachers and administrators on how the tests were going to change. This is why the scores have dropped. In fact, the state put out only 10 sample test items(questions) for the style of the new history tests the summer after the students had been tested. With this being said I hope the VDOE takes a serious look at how they are structuring tests, what pass rates should really reflect, and how to effectively prepare schools to prepare students for these assessments.
    Many people say that teachers teach to the test but the reality is that the state puts out the curriculum that they think should be taught and then teachers have to scramble to cover all of it adequately. Something is obviously disjointed between the VDOE curriculum offices, the VDOE assessment offices, and the VDOE instruction offices. This all has nothing to do with Dr. Murphy, please contact the VDOE and tell them you want better resources for teachers in working through these changes, or demand different testing structures all together.

  5. George Archibald says:

    A review of so-called ratings to reader comments, representing “votes” of readers, indicates that a core group of the same 20-25 people with a pro-school division position or affiliation regularly band together and “vote” in order to control the ratings that are shown at the end of comments. For example, my own first comment above in praise of School Board member Jim Brinkmeier got a rating of minus-7 from 23 votes, indicating that the pro-school division people voted in masse against my comment. (NOTE: School Board member Brinkmeier defeated and ousted pro-school division School Board member Jennifer Welliver in the last election.)

    So the ratings that are represented reflect the views of a hard-core group of school division cheerleaders such as regular commenter Tony Parrot, who routinely post nasty ad hominem attacks against my comments in order to obtain a negative outcome. This reflects a nasty mean-spirited group of intolerant people in our community who are against fair discussion when they are in disagreement with a position taken by those who comment in this space.

    • jennifer says:

      George, I know what the reason for your personal vendetta against the Superintendent and the schools is. But what /exactly/ is your issue with me? I have not looked at this site but a handful of times this summer but it seems every time i do you need to mention Me and November’s election. Is there some reason you need to keep tagging my name? Because I have moved on, perhaps you should too.

      That said, I do continue to have very strong opinions about education reform, but they come from many (nearly 20) years of experience, not as an educator or a political writer, but as a parent and someone who has studied a great deal on the subject of education reform (particularly with regard to literacy) and served on the school board, thereby seeing the struggles from the inside that, like you, I never would have known about otherwise. Having served on the school board, i learned a great deal about the truths and fallacies of my believes prior.

      Ultimately though, I don’t believe anything will fix the need for education reform in this country, because unfortunately most of the citizens of this country are not willing or able to sit down together and discuss what it really is that we want from education. Ultimately, everybody is a “special interest”, even you George. Moderates are the only hope for this country and sadly, it seems full of extremists, on both sides.

      Also, as far as your concern over negative votes, you may note that no one gets to vote more than once from any given ip address, even if they can comment with a dozen pseudonyms. So perhaps all of the comments supporting you are actually…./you/. No one will ever know.

      <3 j

      • Right Winger says:

        “… even if they can comment with a dozen pseudonyms…”

        I’m glad the powers that be let you say something that they won’t let me say.

  6. Hey, George, your assumption as to whom is voting is just ridiculous. It also ignores the fact that, contrary to your opinion of yourself, there just might be quite a few people who don’t like your thoughts on a particular matter and therefore vote them down to reflect their opinions that you are wrong.

    The election results have nothing to do with voting on this site or any of its articles. Thus, it is an absolute stretch on your part to attempt to give any semblance of legitimacy to your slant by lamely attempting to link the two items. Additionally, by calling Mrs. Welliver the “pro-school division” candidate, you inadvertently label Mr. Brinkmeier the “anti-school division” candidate. Based on his antics on the board, I would not really agree with that sentiment, but he clearly asks lightweight questions and earnestly desires to look like a “player” of substance.