It’s time to shake things up at TPSWritten by Steven Flagg | | firstname.lastname@example.org
A couple of months after the school year ended, Toledo Public Schools got its report card. It got a “C-minus” — just barely.
Superintendent John Foley seemed pleased that TPS made improvements in a number of areas and earned the designation of “continuous improvement” after slipping to academic watch last year.
Foley outlined the positives, including an increase of 1.3 percent in the Performance Index (PI), a reduction in the number of schools in academic emergency and watch by 22 percent, and a more than doubling of schools meeting Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) from eight to 19 schools. He identified schools that excelled, including Elmhurst, the Early College High School and the Toledo Technology Academy, as well as the report card standards TPS attained.
While Foley admitted he was not satisfied, he offered little insight into the problems and challenges facing TPS. He needed to provide a plan that specifically outlines how the board, superintendent and his staff will address the challenges TPS faces, most especially the chronically underperforming schools.
To provide a balanced assessment because TPS refuses to discuss the problems in detail, I looked at current and past TPS report card results.
- 33 percent of TPS students attend a school in academic emergency or watch.
- 14 schools have been in improvement status for five or more years.
- 23 schools have been in improvement status three or more years.
- Five of seven junior high schools have been in improvement status for five or more years.
- 14 of 22 schools in academic emergency and watch had declining scores in 2008 vs. 2007.
- 31 of 62 schools had declining scores in 2008 vs. 2007. The number was unchanged from 2007.
- Six of 62 schools met 75 percent or more of the applicable standards which was unchanged from 2007. Thirteen schools met 50 percent or more of the applicable standards, unchanged from 2007.
- Byrnedale Junior High School met 37.5 percent (three of eight standards) of the applicable standards. Two other junior high schools met two of eight standards. The other four met only one standard.
- One junior high met AYP requirements.
During the past four years, TPS has seen mixed progress with growth in the PI at 2 percent, 5.1 percent, —1.6 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively. The compounded growth rate has been 1.4 percent. Extrapolating the past growth using the current PI of 80.1, would give TPS a PI of 83.6 in three years.
During the TPS press conference in August, Foley stated his goal for the district was to reach the effective level (90 to 99.9 PI) in three years. To reach a PI of 90 would require a growth rate of 4 percent per year for the next three years. TPS has achieved an increase of 4 percent or more in only one year in the last four. Can it be done? It’s possible. Will it be done? It seems obvious that something will have to change substantively for TPS to reach the designation of effective.
TPS has 14 schools that have been designated in improvement status for five years or more. Last year, TPS finally took action regarding two schools, Pickett and Chase, which have consistently failed to meet improvement requirements — nine years for Pickett. Why did it take so long?
Current and past report cards show a district with inconsistent results from year to year, schools in academic emergency and watch that have declining scores, and many chronically underperforming schools clustered around the central city. In addition, TPS’ middle schools have particularly disturbing results that demand change. Perhaps even more disturbing is that the TPS bureaucracy is adept at seeing only the positive results, downplaying the problems, avoiding responsibility for what they can control by blaming poverty and parents and engaging in public relations instead of substantive action.
School administrators, board members and supporters may categorize these comments as negative. Much to the contrary, problem identification is the first step in a process to develop and implement a plan to address the challenges and identify appropriate benchmarks to monitor progress.
It’s time to shake things up at TPS. Among the options that should be implemented is performance-based pay.
Steven Flagg has been an education advocate for 13 years. Visit the Web site www.tpsinfo.com for more information.