Metro schools fail to make adequate yearly progress; 55 schools called 'high priority'

Monday, August 1, 2011 at 4:43pm

Three days after Gov. Bill Haslam asked the federal government to waive No Child Left Behind requirements in Tennessee, Metro school officials on Monday released test results that, as expected, show the district’s students aren’t meeting federal targets.

Due in part to heightened academic standards implemented last year, 55 Metro schools are categorized as “high priority” under the national education law, Director of Schools Jesse Register told reporters Monday. The school district itself has fallen into “Restructuring I” after Metro failed to demonstrate adequate yearly progress for the fifth year. 

“We’re not where we want to be,” Register said, before pointing to a few positives, including bumps in students’ value-added scores.

“The most important thing to me is to see that trend line going up for all of our students,” he said.

Haslam and other governors have said the controversial Bush-era law has established unreasonable measuring sticks. Register said he supports Haslam’s waiver request, which the governor made Friday. 

On Monday, Register described a law that requires all student subgroups — African-Americans, the disabled and English language learners, for example — to meet testing benchmarks in all subject areas. Register said targets had previously been set at getting 40 percent proficiency of each subgroup. The threshold is now up to 60 percent; hence, Metro’s complications in reaching standards.

“What’s important for us is to have an aggressive turnaround strategy,” Register said, adding that Metro’s large English language learner population presents a major challenge.

The focal point of that strategy is Metro’s new Office of Innovation, led by Alan Coverstone, who will be overseeing 10 low-performing schools across the district. Schools within the new cluster, unveiled Monday, were based on No Child Left Behind testing. They are as follows: Napier Elementary, Bailey Middle, Margaret Allen Middle, Antioch Middle, Whites Creek High, Apollo Middle, Cameron Middle, Wright Middle, Jere Baxter Middle and Glencliff High schools. 

“These schools were selected because they were further down the list,” Register said. “They have not met adequate yearly progress for a longer period of time.”

With the new low-performing school zone, administrators are hoping to bring more direct resources and intervention to schools that need it most. Register has tapped United-Kingdom-based Tribal Group Inc. to help engineer reform efforts.

With its new “Restructuring I” status, Metro is just one more round of poor No Child Left Behind results away from becoming susceptible to a state takeover. But Register doesn’t expect that to be an option based on conversations with state education commissioner Kevin Huffman.

“He continues to assure us that the strategies we’re using in the district are good and there are no plans to take over MNPS,” Register said.

Education has long been one of my top priorities, and this underscores the need to keep it that way,” Mayor Karl Dean said in a statement issued late Monday afternoon. "We know we still have work to do, particularly when it comes to improving test scores, and Dr. Register is taking the right steps to help students succeed.”

In addition to Metro, schools districts in Memphis and Murfreesboro, and in Hamilton, Knox, Roane, Sevier and Warren counties did not make adequate yearly progress.

14 Comments on this post:

By: left on 8/1/11 at 4:34

YOU MUST HAVE ....... DISCIPLINE IN SCHOOLS FOR IT TO WORK!

By: gdiafante on 8/2/11 at 6:06

You must have parental support. You must have teachers who are capable. You must have students who are willing to learn. You must have a society that values education.

No wonder schools are failing.

By: govskeptic on 8/2/11 at 6:13

So, just to prove how valuable the Federal Government is in education, we are "again"
wanting to scrape a 10 yr old program that has cost a national and local fortune.
Our wishes to keep 1950's-60's values and curriculum's along with 70's forward Union bargaining for more pay-less hours makes it time to change again!

I suggest it's time to again make the Teaching Profession one of interest for
the Teachers instead of a clerical baby sitting job. As we attempt to make
Education importance to the students, and let the slackers, trouble makers,
and totally non-interested along with their whining parents know there's no
more room in the classrooms for them. This would assist with the illegal
immigration problem as they could then pluck the chickens and pick the
fruit across the nation.

By: conservarage on 8/2/11 at 6:42

NCLB needs to be scrapped, if for no other reason than it is a federal program. education needs to be controlled locally.

By: artsmart on 8/2/11 at 8:34

It would be nice to let the States take care of it but imagine where we would be if TN schools would not have had their feet held to the fire. I believe that Metro has somewhere around 50% failing schools. That is knowing they had to bring up standards. Left to their own devices they would just drop standards. They need to get Administrators held as accountable as teachers. They need to point out in big bold letters where the problems are occuring. Political correctness will not fix this problem.

By: richgoose on 8/2/11 at 8:52

The gene pool made up of intelligent and value minded students have either moved to an adjacent county or are in private schools. This is a problem that political correctness calls for a new plan every year or so to fix what is unfixable.

By: Radix on 8/2/11 at 9:03

The question that no one asks. What do you do with bad kids?

Wouldn't it be great to have "boot camp" school for them?

By: BenDover on 8/2/11 at 9:04

NCLB shined the light on a room-full of scattering roaches. This festering mess has not been harmed by NCLB as much as it have been revealed by it.

By: conniem on 8/2/11 at 9:15

I look at this list and I am not the least bit surprised, MNPS knew that they didn't have the teachers in place to advance students to this level. As a parent in West End Middle, I am very aware that MOST of the teachers were on board to get a check. They would stand in the hall way and speak ill of certain students, but these are the people that should be educating the students. I for one think that you have to have caring staff people to make anything work. The administration and teachers were telling the students that "The State will take over and then you all will be sorry", well if the State is going to make you do your job, then so be it!!!!!

By: conniem on 8/2/11 at 9:16

@Radix, my question is "What do you do with bad teachers?"

By: JeffF on 8/2/11 at 9:19

Ben nailed it. Since the babyboomers reached political power in the 60s there had been zero accountability and zero performance measurement in the education sector. Yes in an idealized world there would be no need to measure since everyone would be doing the best they could, but this is the real world. Here we have some disinterested students, disinterested parents, and disinterested teachers all wanting to keep the outside light out of their environment.

I personally am happy with NCLB, even if it gets some goals wrong, at least someone is trying to hold people and managers accountable for previously invisible results. We all heard promises prior to NCLB that things would be fixed within a few year. This neglects the kids who were coming through in those intervening years. NCLB was the first program to at least attempt to help every student and all times. No one got a free pass for helping one group at the detriment to another group or groups. All kids have to improve or the school flunks.

I have always wondered why everyone always forgets Ted Kennedy's role in NCLB while bashing Bush?

By: conniem on 8/2/11 at 9:20

People please understand that we don't get money is the schools are passing, MNPS needs failing schools. Get back to the basics, every student is NOT going to college!!!! I will use my mechanic more than I see my Dr., think about it.
Let them learn to READ!!!! You have to get back to the basics!!!!!!!

By: conniem on 8/2/11 at 9:21

People please understand that we don't get money if the schools are passing, MNPS needs failing schools. Get back to the basics, every student is NOT going to college!!!! I will use my mechanic more than I see my Dr., think about it.
Let them learn to READ!!!! You have to get back to the basics!!!!!!!

Sorry I meant if.

By: Balo on 8/2/11 at 3:20

These scores do not matter. The theme of any test or any question is validity. These tests are not valid. Just because someone at the federal level who is clueless attaches a dollar figure to these scores does not mean that this is the end all or be all for education.

The ONLY valid test for public education is prepared by the local teacher in his/her classroom. The bases of a valid test comes from the teaching environment (classroom) established by the teacher for his/her students. The purpose and should be the only purpose of the test is to measure the learning of the students so to pass them to the next grade. It is about educating the students and moving the students from grade to grade. Education is the only profession where the professionals never see the final results.

The politicians have reversed the course of action and put the focus on NOW. There have been a few policies that has hindered the positive movement of education, but none worst than this politiical madness.