Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Disappointment

For those of you requesting the AP scores by subject and by school, I'm sorry to report the Board decided against obtaining this information. I have requested the data be presented in this fashion on three separate occasions...(1) during the September Board meeting, (2) via email on 9/27/07 and (3) by email on 10/09/07. I even received a return email from Mr. Richmond on 9/28/07 stating the information requested was being compiled and would be presented at the October Board meeting.

Upon leaving the Board meeting last night, I had a heavy heart and am greatly disappointed in my fellow Board members. Some of the same Board members who just months ago stated they were running for election based on openness and transparency have voted against not only releasing these scores to the public, but also for the Board even obtaining these scores. I ask, how are we as a governing body suppose to make decisions on our ability to educate ALL students if we don't have ALL the data? How are we to ensure equality in courses for ALL students in ALL schools?

The argument was made, the release of this information could embarrass individual teachers. If a teacher feels embarrassed than I am sorry. However, it is my belief, they are teaching in a public school system and therefore their performance is a public matter.

I would like to thank Ms. Cook and Ms. Pedersen for adhering to their campaign promise of being open and transparent as well as our student Board Member, Mr. Shah for speaking up and requesting the scores in this fashion. To my constituents, I'm truly sorry.

12 comments:

Heather said...

I'm really disappointed in my voting choices.

I don't know what I could have done differently though because I was going on what I was told by the candidates - essentially I was trusting their integrity.

Anonymous said...

This is certainly hogwash!

For one thing, these teachers SHOULD be embarrassed by the scores of last year. I'm sure that this year shows no sort of "statistically" positive trend.

These people that voted against this are just a bunch of losers that have
1) No backbone
2) Want to CTA
3) Don't give a s*** you know what about the students.

If they did, they'd publish these scores and embarrass the H* double hockey sticks out of the incompetent or just basically lazy teachers.

If the teachers should blame the system for putting unqualified students into the classroom, then get off your hiney and complain to the BOE administration and go public.
This system is corrupt and going down the same toilet with the PG County school system.

How many other counties will cower
down and keep "their" AP scores private?

Why don't we get rid of Mr. Schwartz, Ricmond, and the rest of
these spineless apologists for the liberal educational establishment?

Let's post last year's scores. We'll get a little mileage off of those.

I'd like to see what other the other Maryland Counties Administrators think about Charles County's "stonewall the bosses" attitude.

They sure as h*** aren't getting any of my children. Mine were in the schools and now are being competently educated at a private school.

For all the time that these people have wasted, and not being able to perform (yes, not publishing these scores shows nothing but a LACK OF THE ABILITY TO PERFORM), we should withhold the portion of property taxes used for the salaries of incompetent administrators, teachers, and God knows, 5 social studies teachers in
one lousy middle school classroom? You've got to be kidding me!

Since when do we have 5 teachers in a class of 20 students? What kind of a moronic decision is that?

No wonder Richmond wants to keep the parents "informed" on-line.

Come on, grow some cahones and allow parents into observe their children anytime they want.
Of course, this is no game. We want to see some of these problem teachers at their best. We want to see the violence, the swearing, vulgarity, disprespect, etcetra. That's the only way we are going to get rid of them and put some heat on this administration.

im1ru2 said...

Again, it seems that the only news MOST of the BOE and the administration wants to publish and share with us parents - or any of the public - centers around what is considered good news.

The point of having open statistics is to allow EVERYONE the opportunity to see/know what is going on and how things are going; should things stay the same? Should things be improved? Do we need to make changes or stay on course? This is what PARENTS need to work on with the BOE, the administration and the educational system as a whole. Without having ALL the information we are making uniformed decisions.

All levels in the education system continually harp to parents to "get involved", "stay informed", and “be aware of what your child is doing in school". Well, this is very hard to do when we seem to get only what the "system" wants us to know.

Always asking parents to volunteer and be a part of the school system and our kid's education is great as long as we are included - and MUST BE, WE ARE THE PARENTS, WHO ARE ULTIMATELY HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR OUR KIDS - in knowing all the facts.

Just including us when the schools need to raise money (and how come we always seem to need fund-raisers with such a huge education budget? - the liberal line that more money is always needed and that there is never enough money for education, is just plain wrong and a waste!) or to help out with field trips and classroom parties or only giving us the "good news" is an insult.

This measure of seeing the total picture regarding the AP scores by teacher/school is paramount to parents having all the facts. Without it we are simply being closed off from knowing everything there is about a key program in our schools.

You can go to great schools.com and see what the MD curriculum for our schools are suppose to for each subject by grade, so why not tell us how we are doing? It is just another clear example of people getting into positions (either elected or appointed or bought - in the case of organizations/unions) ensuring that the "customer" not really be informed about what the "supplier" is really doing.

The 4 BOE members and the superintendent need to be reminded that they all work for us; not the other way around. Secrets are not permissible no matter what the news. Even the fact that yet another teacher in the school system has been caught with drugs (today's MD Independent). It is regrettable but information that MUST be known to all parents.

Get involved...yeah right!

Jennifer said...

JUst wanted to let you all know I am reading this thread and agree and I haven't thrown in the towel yet :)

Anonymous said...

Well said by Mr. Andrew Nesbitt as written in the Independent "Letter to the Editor":

"The decision of the Charles County Board of Education not to explore the declining AP scores in the county is a dismaying example of poor leadership.

The school board is responsible for providing ‘‘an academically challenging, quality education.” To be confronted with clear evidence that students under their purview are unable to meet the national benchmark for advanced coursework — calling into question the quality of the education provided — and to dismiss it without further investigation leaves me disgusted.

The education of the students must be the primary concern of the school board, not whether or not a school is embarrassed by its performance. Without taking measures to investigate the strengths that can be amplified and the weaknesses that can be remedied, the school board merely allows one year’s performance to echo the last — and when the previous year’s performance is inadequate, the maintenance of the status quo or worse is unacceptable.

To exacerbate matters, these tests are not cheap — they are almost $100 apiece, and the school system has a program in place that absorbs many of those costs for students. Thus, their failure not only facilitates defrauding students of the best education possible, but it wastes tax dollars on tests that the students are ill-prepared to take, much less pass.

To fall short of a goal is not necessarily a failure, but it is a failure when the cause of the shortfall is not addressed, and the school board’s refusal even to review the scores is the most embarrassing part of this affair."

Andrew Nesbitt, La Plata

It's sad when a student sees the buffoonery displayed by the CCBOE administration. Trying to cower and hide behind Ms. Wise's "Fear of embarrassing teachers" is a slap in the face to the bosses (taxpayers).

Denying the preponderance of incompetent teachers and administrators trying to cover up lousy AP scores (with exception to few) should make all concerned parents feel sick.

Anonymous said...

As an AP teacher I feel compelled to add my .02 to this debate. I will open by stating that every one who teaches AP would agree with the desire to improve scores, or at least should. I will not even attempt to counter this point. On the other hand, that should be the goal of every AP teacher that does not have 100 percent of their students earn a 3 or higher on the exam.

That point being conceded, some perspective is also in order. Over the past six or seven years enrollment in AP courses and the number of exams taken has increased by something in the neighborhood of 500 percent. While average scores may have decreased, the percentage of students that are earning scores of 3 or higher has remained fairly constant. (a pessimist might say stagnant). The fact is that what this means is that if we look at raw numbers more students are earning scores of 3 or higher on these exams. (25% of 100 is greater than 25% of 50 for example when we look at raw numbers.)

AP courses in Charles County are no longer solely for the hand-picked elite. It would unquestionably be easy to improve average scores greatly by reducing the number of students in AP courses as well as the number of students who take the exams but would that be in the best interests of kids? Since the enrollment in AP courses has increased dramtically while the percentage of students earning 3's or higher has remained steady what that also means is that many students who previously may have been discouraged from taking AP courses or for whatever reason chose not to have performed reasonably well on these exams.

Again, should we strive to improve scores? Without question that should be our goal. But we also need to understand that the situation is not all gloom and doom.

Jennifer said...

ANonymous,
I too applaud Mr. Nesbitt's letter. If only more students would step up and bring the situation to light and demand a better education...hmmm.....

Jennifer said...

Anonymous AP Teacher,
First, thank you, thank you, thank you for commenting and you two cents are always welcome. I was hoping an AP teacher woudl comment and give us another perspective.

I hear what your saying about the stats. But...in your opinion, are the extra studetns being pushed into these classes ready for this level of work and is it hindering the more advanced students? The complaints I keep hearing repeatedly from across the county is that the AP teachers cannot teach at the same pace and therefore or not able to cover all the necessary material required to make a decent grade on the test. Therefore the actual "advanced" students or losing out.

Also, how do you feel about the scores being released. Do you think it would "embarass" teachers? How else can we tell where the deficiencies are?

Anonymous said...

Jenifer,
I think that the question of whether students are being pushed into AP courses without being ready and whether or not the courses are watered down as a result are complex and difficult to answer.

Without question, some students are being encouraged (pushed?) into AP courses in many cases before they are ready. However, that does not necessarily mean that teachers have to water down or slow down their pace of instruction as a result. I wouldn't ever attempt to argue that there are no teachers who do so, however that is irresponsible on their part. I do not believe in the case of my class that instruction is watered down or slowed down at all. At the same time there is very real pressure from parents and in some cases (not mine) from adminstrators with regard to grades. Because AP enrollments have increased so greatly in an attempt to improve system rankings on the challenge index, there are very real pressures in some cases to make high report card grades more easily attainable so as not to discourage students from taking AP courses.

An entirely separate debate is the educational value of AP courses. Where I do agree with Jay Mathews is that there is inherent educational value to rigorous course work. That value is not measured soley by AP scores. That being stated, philosophically AP courses should not be the exclusive domain of a hand-picked elite. Of course, if it was you would absolutely see jaw dropping "passing percentages" on the AP exam. The same could easily be accomplished by discouraging lower achieving students from taking the exam. However as I asked in my previous post, is that what's in the best interest of our students?

As for publication of scores by school and teacher my concern is that the scores alone do not tell the entire story. There are too many variables besides the teacher that come into play. Among these are student readiness for an AP exam developmentally. Whether or not it is a first AP exam ever taken is a factor as is student work ethic and commitment. None of these are intended to let teachers off the hook, but rather to point out that scores alone measure neither the educational value of the course nor the competence of the teacher.

Kurt Wolfgang, Esq. said...

Jennifer asked my opinion if these score MUST be released in response to a Maryland Public Information Act request. My answer is yes. A Md. PIA is like a Federal FOIA request. There are really no formalities to it. Send a letter to whomever the "custodian" of the records should be. If the records are with CCPS, address it to the Superintendent. If the records are with the State Board, then with the State Superintendent. The law allows them 30 days to answer. If the addressee is not the proper custodian, then the law places the burden on the addressee to find that info and provide it to the requester.

There is no information here that would justify a non-release of the docs that I can see. If someone needs more info, send me an e-mail. kurt.wolfgang@verizon.net

im1ru2 said...

Jennifer,

Based on Mr. Wolfgang's response I think it is a great idea to request the results (AP scores), but are you able to tell us (Charles County resident requesting) who the custodian of the records/results actually is? Is it the State or the CCPS superintendent?

I am of the opinion that it is CCPS superintendent since CCPS now has the information. The "owner" or "provider" of the information may be the State, but now that the scores and other information have been forwarded on it seems that CCPS is the custodian. However, I am making an assumption and would greatly appreciate any input you can provide. If need be I guess one could email Mr. Wolfgang and ask. Many thanks.

LegalBeaglette said...

Under Public Law 107-110 (commonly known as No Child Left Behind “NCLB”), Part G – Advanced Placement Programs:

Sec. 1702. Purposes. The purposes of this part are – (1) to support State and local efforts to raise academic standards through advanced placement programs, and thus further increase the number of students who participate and succeed [emphasis added] in advanced placement programs;…

Do we need to define “and succeed?”

In addition, the Advanced Placement program has been promoted by CCPS as one of the ways in which it accommodates “gifted and talented students” (or “highly-able students,” for those of you who find the G&T reference objectionable.)

Under NCLB, Subpart 6 – Gifted and Talented Students (sorry – the law’s verbage, not mine), grants and contracts for programs to build and enhance the educational needs of these students are available, but applications for those grants and contracts must describe how the proposed program can be adapted for use by all students, AND how the proposed programs can be evaluated.

How does CCPS evaluate its AP program? It is not enough, in my opinion, to simply offer AP classes, or encourage students to enroll in them. And I don’t think the Secretary of Education will deem ranking on Jay Mathews’ Challenge Index an appropriate “evaluation” tool for purposes of awarding grants and contracts.