Sunday, May 17, 2009

CCSD Students' Failure to Thrive

Can you hear me now?

Maybe what CCSD has done over the last 40 years should be prosecuted as a criminal conspiracy.

Believe it or not, some of us 40 years ago knew that social promotion, elimination of "tracking," and "special education"[note: I don't mean for those with true disabilities!] plus lax discipline promoted by the education establishment and swallowed wholesale by liberals on school boards would fail to teach a portion of students in any effective way. We just didn't know how bad it would get.
The P & C finally used its clout with CCSD Superintendent Nancy McGinley, forcing her to calculate grade-level equivalencies for the mysterious (to parents and the public) reading scores achieved by students on standardized tests, in this case the MAP--Measures of Academic Progress exam. (See Putting Focus on Literacy in Sunday's edition).

McGinley called the results "eye-opening," after she "initially said that looking at students' reading abilities in this way on a district level wasn't important." That's because it wasn't eye-opening to her; it was eye-opening to the rest of the community! If McGinley really didn't know in advance that the results would look as they do, she's even more incompetent than I thought.

One aspect the newspaper does fudge is the definition of "functionally illiterate." According to the article, that is "defined as reading below an eighth-grade level." Assuming that definition, would it not be appropriate to know what percentage of eighth graders read at grade level? After all, the standard high-school curriculum does not include reading classes. True, some high-school materials are available for the sixth-grade reading level; how many more of the remaining students will be unable to read those either?

Critics will shout that we don't have the same school population that we did 40 years ago. Who will disagree? However, look at the numbers again for non-reading incoming high school freshmen-- 46% at North Charleston HS; 39% at Stall; 43% at Burke. What do these schools have in common? It's the poor and black that are short-changed. They've been short-changed by their parents first and the schools second. What the article doesn't state, but what must be true is that almost all of these students are classified as "special ed."

Classifying someone as a special education student when he or she has no disability except a poor environment at home should be criminal. Laws and policies need to be changed. Once he or she is classified, discipline frequently dissipates, if anecdotal evidence is to be believed. Now imagine a class at least half-full of mainstreamed 14 and 15 year olds who cannot read and cannot be disciplined. Must be something like the tenth circle of hell.

No doubt McGinley will try to convince taxpayers that the solution is more tax money. She has already begun, if you read her comments carefully.

Also, "Some local school district officials said they never had looked at numbers [this] way because they hold little value for the district in terms of improving instruction." Not true.

What should happen now is retroactive number-crunching of MAP scores to see if reading rates have improved during McGinley's time as Chief Academic Officer and Superintendent. Why do I think this analysis isn't going to happen?


Clisby said...

Remember when it hadn't occurred to anyone to correlate MAP/PACT scores, so everyone was shocked! SHOCKED! to find out about the discrepancies at Sanders-Clyde?

Deja vu all over again.

Anonymous said...

I never heard if SLED found any irregularities at Sanders Clyde when they investigated the rumors. Have they reported any or made any accusations/arrests?

Anonymous said...

How is it an entire community, led by its representatives on the school board, can be so forgiving of someone who has been in charge of academic progress for the past 5 years? So we're just now figuring out CCSD officials been effectively socially promoting kids into high school this past year who can't read on anything higher than a 3rd grade level!! No wonder Dr. McGinley is skipping some of the graduation programs, most notably where her neglect has been most obvious.

This is not a criticism of the students, who live up (or down) to the expectations CCSD puts before them. It is a finger pointed at the people, like Nancy McGinley, who heard the complaints about student reading and math comprehension years ago and still chose to ignore the messages.

Clisby said...

SLED wasn't called in because of rumors. It was called in because:

a) The State Dept. of Education had flagged S-C's PACT tests as having an unusually high number of erasures, with wrong answers changed to right;

b) When CCSD (rather than the school personnel) monitored the next year's PACT tests, the scores plunged across the board.

There probably were plenty of rumors - but the fact remains that the S-C scores first showed unusual gains, and then a huge drop once monitoring was taken out of the hands of the school.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for clarifying....I guess the "rumor" I was referring to was whether or not that was the direct result of the principal's cheating, which is the accusation. But my question still remains. What did SLED find? Has their been a report?

Anonymous said...

Goodness - CORRECTION: Has THERE been a report?

Clisby said...

I have not read or heard anything about the investigation in quite a while.

I'm also unclear as to whether the investigation focused entirely on the principal.

Anonymous said...

And the 'not-so-surprising' thing is that the P&C has let McGinley wash her hands of her performance as chief academic officer. no doubt the mess with Brentwood and Burke Middle and A+ and the rest matters. But she marks time when she became Supt. and let Maria hold the bag for the McGinley CAO programs. Amazing. Good piece on the reading though -- eye-popping indeed

Anonymous said...

Well, it's about time we get some sort of report on the Sanders-Clyde affair. Ultimately, it's the kids who were lied to that will need some sort of fix.

The only place that can fix it is McGinley's office. After all, she's been either CAO or CEO here for nearly the 5 years. The fact is she failed to assess the situation truthfully at Sanders-Clyde until it was too late, and then only after she was forced to look at it after an external audit.

Just like the illiteracy rate within the schools, she's in denial until someone forces her to see problems (or are these really oportunities?) as they exist. Only then she tries to make us believe she's suddenly ready to repair this new problem (caused by others, of course). She's also quick to point out that SHE has discovered all by herself.

Give us a break. We need leadership. Like the calendar she's using that starts with "after Maria", her controled PR angle just isn't doing anything for us either.

Anonymous said...

The sad thing is that after Maria decided to leave, the board anointed Nancy without any screening by the community and she was never forced to take responsibility for her CAO stuff. They didn't want to put the white lady through the wringer that Maria went through when she got pregnant. Nancy and her girlfriend would never have survived the public scrutiny. Frankly, I don't care what Nancy does in the bedroom (gag) but the public should demand that the district do its business in the sunlight -- not in the closet.
Now that literacy is her main goal, perhaps Nancy will read the handwriting on the wall and leave town, surfboard and all.