PEORIA, IL -- What has been described as a "dog and pony show" by those who witnessed it took place at the Peoria School District 150 School Board meeting on Oct. 14.
There was much discussion about test scores which omitted the most important scores of all, the ISAT scores, the state of Illinois test scores. PSD 150 officials said they will be released Oct. 31, though some parents have reportedly claimed they have received their childrens' scores already.
During the public comments, critic Terry Knapp said a presentation devoted to "student achievement" should include them. And comparisons with prevous years should also be released to the public, he said.
Here is a recording of the public comments.
Critic Sharon Crews urged the board to "please stop believing that your PR efforts are working." Only smaller class sizes and the removal of disruptive students from the classroom will improve achievement she said. A written account of her comments will be posted below, along with a post meeting comment.
A representative from Change150 noted that two board members from District 2 have refused to attend the group's town hall meeting on Saturday for District 2 (see post below for details), Debbie Wolfmeyer and Linda Butler. They are missing an opportunity to discuss school issues "with the voters who put you where you are," he said to the board.
-- Elaine Hopkins
Here are the public comments of Sharon Crews:
No Child Left Behind succeeded in discrediting public schools. Parents fled 150 to avoid the stigma of failing schools. A significant number of students did well on the test, but neither NCLB nor you acknowledged their successes.
In 2012 the board allowed Lathan to place an ad in the Peoria Journal stating that in 2010 the state had declared 150 a failing District but declaring that she had raised the bar. Dr. Lathan chose ISAT as the measuring stick for others, so doesn’t she need ISAT proof to show that she significantly negated NCLB’s claims that 150 is a failing district? I never believed this test should be the deciding factor—but you accepted it. Tonight no one even acknowledged ISAT’s existence.
Only in my lifetime did public education become compulsory. My father’s education ended with the sixth grade and my mother’s with the ninth. Until the Civil Rights’ Movement many African-American children were not encouraged or sometimes allowed to go to high school. We have been given a relatively short time to catch up and to motivate young people whose grandparents were never required or allowed to dream of a high school, much less, a college education.
Every lesson that teachers prepare must be complex enough to challenge the highest performing students and simple enough to make achievement for the lowest performing students possible. Unfortunately, equal opportunity does not guarantee equal success.
You have many “on-site” witnesses who carry tales all over the city about what is happening in District 150. The grapevine is extensive, so please stop believing that your PR efforts are working.
The board and administration should direct their efforts in the two arreas they could most help teachers do their jobs and provide students with an education comparable to their abilities. Smaller class sizes are mandatory. Obviously, 25 to 30 students can be given little one-on-one attention. They have to learn with group instruction, usually tailored for the average.
One very interesting statistic that we will never see but about which we are all aware is how much teaching and learning time is lost because of discipline problems. It is your job to see to it that disruptive students be removed immediately and with appropriate consequences and help so that learning can take place. That wasn’t done toward the end of my career and, I believe, it is even worse now. As James Rainer espouses, teachers should be given “the ability to avoid instructional downtime.”
(I ran out of time for this comment:)
Tonight you are again talking about the strategic plan, how to seek public input after you decide what kind of input you want and from whom, and how to sell your message to the public in the hopes of our votes for a tax increase.
Post comment remarks:
When I originally wrote out my public comments, I wrote them with the intention of asking when the ISAT scores would be made public. However, when I read the agenda, I saw the words “Annual Student Achievement Update.” Therefore, I assumed that we would learn the scores last night. Of course, I was bewildered when I didn’t hear ISAT mentioned.
Please check out the District 150 website. Search “NCLB scores” and you will find a document labeled:
2012-13 Superintendent Annual Student Achievement Update
August 26, 2013
Please note that the wording is exactly the same as the wording on (the Oct. 14) agenda for “District Presentations.” Therefore, why shouldn’t we have expected to hear ISAT scores? Please note the date—so why shouldn’t we have expected to see scores on October 14, 2014?
I have also learned that parents can access their children’s ISAT scores on Skyward and that those scores have been up for quite some time. I do acknowledge that individual scores might come out before the District data is ready, but I do believe the District has the scores but do not yet know when the State has told districts to release the information.
Last night was an obvious public relations stunt meant to soften the blow when we finally hear the ISAT scores. Why can’t the deception stop?