Am I a geek or a nerd?

School Improvement?
June 14, 2010, 10:57 am
Filed under: Geek | Tags: , ,

I’m going to try to explain what I think I learned about some of our school improvement process this morning in our staff meeting (besides the fact that staff meetings sometimes seem like they are something we do because we’ve always done them…). 

If I have this straight, the Michigan Department of Education will be identifying schools in need of improvement based on those that are in the bottom five percent of achievement based on MME/ACT scores. Those schools at the bottom will be told in August/September and will have 30 days to write an  improvement plan and submit it to the state. The state (and I’m not sure exactly who ‘the state’ will have representing it) will then either accept or reject your plan. In order for your plan to be accepted there are one of four paths the school must take; each path includes removing the school principal and replacing that person with someone who has experience in leadership and school improvement.  Schools will be notified sometime in late fall if their plan has been accepted. So when do they fire their principal? January? June? No answers to that one.

If the plan is rejected the school becomes part of the state reform school district, and again, your principal is gone. When is still the question. There are several buzzy superintendents who actually don’t mind this part–high schools are much more expensive to run than k-8 buildings and while it takes FTEs/money away, its seriously reduces their headaches.

In all cases there will be a weekly progress monitor on side to determine if the school has the means and ability to accomplish whatever plan it has set forth/the state has created for it. If they progress monitor decides that the schools running their own plans do not have the ability to create improvement, the ISDs will then be able to manage the schools. While our county schools may not be unhappy about that (we have a pretty positive relationship) there are lots of other counties where that is going to go over like a lead balloon.

But back to the principal thing and my main concern/point/bug in my butt: when will they be replaced and with who? Its been stated that there were not practitioners present when the state created these guidelines that essentially make all principals in failing schools lame ducks, if not for the whole year then at least for half. And certainly the Assistant Principals who have often been assumed to take the helm are not going to be interested in taking their turn in front of the firing squad. Where will these experienced administrators come from? One can only assume from other districts and we don’t have a wealth of people who’ve had success turning around a school who are jumping up to try it again. In truth, we don’t even have a few people who have actually improved a school…

I’m not saying I think our current batch of leaders in failing schools should keep on doing whatever it is they are doing, but I’m not sure we are going to get better replacements either. I don’t have an answer, but I do feel that more bureaucratic hoop jumping allowing elected officials to claim they are taking action isnt’ an answer either.


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