Thursday, May 24, 2012

Restore public comments at the end of meetings

There's a petition started by David Taylor urging the school board to restore the second public comment section at the end of the school board meetings.   I encourage everyone to sign it.  Regardless on where you stand on the school board issues, I think we can all agree that additional public input can only help.

During the election, the candidates, who are now the new board members, campaigned on what good listeners they would be, especially in contrast to the then current board.  I know this, because I repeated it many times on this blog.   I was pleased when the board moved the first set of public comments to the start of the meeting, allowing them to hear from the public before they had their own discussions on the issues on the agenda.

 I was however dismayed when the board eliminated the second round of public comments.  It was a chance for the public to comment on what just transpired at the meeting.   Without the comments at the end, the public is forced to write letters, or to wait two or three weeks until the next meeting before they can voice their opinions.

The meetings of late have been largely uncontroversial.   Not too many members of the public have been attending.  I take this as a good sign -- the public thinks the district is in good hands and trusts the board to run things.   At the most recent meeting, I was the only member of the public to stick it out to the very end.

Presumably the main reason to eliminate the second round of comments is to shorten the meeting.  Given the recent attendance, it's pretty evident that restoring the second round would only add a few minutes to the meeting.  I urge the board to stand behind their campaign rhetoric about what good listeners they'd be, and restore the second round.   I think if we get enough members of the district to sign the petition, the board will see the light.

- Dean

Software testing from here down, please ignore. - Dean

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Mast Way Wins Appeal, Makes AYP

 “Over seventy percent of schools and sixty-five percent of districts failed to make AYP in 2012. This is ample evidence that the accountability system is broken, not that the vast majority of schools in New Hampshire are failing.”
            - New Hampshire Department of Education Commissioner Virginia M. Barry, Ph.D.

2012 MW AYP Report with a problem
Just in, yet another reason to feel bad about Principal Kris Gallo leaving: she's incredibly effective.  She has succeeded in reversing the finding in a recent NH DOE report that Mast Way failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).

You'll recall there was a problem in our No Child Left Behind NECAP testing this year -- a proctor apparently incorrectly filled in some bubbles which resulted in three SPED kids getting zero scores.  The reading scores of these three children have big implications for the district as making AYP in reading among the educational disability cohort is an essential step towards Mast Way losing its SINI label.     Principal Gallo has been trying to correct these three scores for some time. She recently officially appealed the result.   I must admit I was doubtful that she could persuade the state bureaucracy.

But the truth prevailed.   Mast Way won its appeal.  I'm guessing that Directors of Instruction Phyllis Schlichter and Danielle Bolduc were in on the effort as well.  Congratulations to all of them for a job well done.   Unfortunately they're all moving on soon.   I will miss them all.

Someone forwarded me this email, which seems OK to share:

Mast Way AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress on NECAP assessments)

The Mast Way staff recently learned that we won our AYP appeal for both mathematics and reading. When AYP results were announced last month, Mast Way's educational disability cohort had not make AYP in these two areas. Upon investigation, we discovered that three students had received zeroes for all parts of the testing due to data entry errors. Once we received the students' actual scores, we re-calculated our AYP status and determined that our educational disability cohort had indeed made AYP in both mathematics and reading. We submitted our appeal to an appeals committee consisting of NH educators, and Commissioner Virginia Barry ultimately approved it. Congratulations to the students and staff at Mast Way for attaining this lofty goal for all of our cohorts!  


Mast Way remains a SINI (School In Need of Improvement) because it has to make AYP two years in a row in its problem area (reading for the educational disability cohort) before it loses its SINI designation.    If Mast Way again makes AYP next year, it will no longer be a SINI.   With the lapsing of NCLB in 2014, I'm not sure what difference any of this makes.  If we're lucky, we may avoid some unpleasant consequences that come with additional years of being a SINI.

In last month's roundup I printed a table from the state which is now wrong.   Here I try to correct the table to reflect the result of the appeal (click to enlarge):

Congratulations, Mast Way!

- Dean