King Philip and Hall on failing school list

King Philip Middle School and Hall High School are listed among 315 Connecticut schools that are “in need of improvement” for failing to meet federal No Child Left Behind Act benchmarks, the State Education Department reported today.

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34 Comments

Filed under education, King Philip Middle School, Schools

34 responses to “King Philip and Hall on failing school list

  1. EJ

    KP is on the list and it’s on the North End, remarkable.

    The BOE is proud of our being #56 on the Mastery Tests, they must be really tickled with KP.

  2. I think it has something to do with special ed kids who didn’t do well enough on the tests.
    Any of the education types out there have the real skinny on what this is about?

  3. Harry Captain

    I need to check to be 100% accurate.

    I do believe that whdad is correct. No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is based on multiple cohorts, of which one cohort is kids with special needs. If ANY single cohort fails, the entire school fails.

    Frankly, I don’t think it’s fair. In fact, I think that it’s cruel to expect children with special needs, some with severe mental and physical challenges, to be tested at the age appropriate grade level of their regular education peers.

    It’s ludicrous and the legislation should be adjusted. It would also be nice if the federal government funded NCLB. Then again, the feds have been under funding the Students with Disabilities act since the ‘70s.

  4. Gary Reger

    Harry is correct. I am a KP parent. KP failed last year as well, and I think the year before, too. The reason is the special ed kids, who must by law take the same test and be included in the figures. There is also something about the size of the school that forbids separating out groups, but I forget the details. Last year the KP principal dispatched a letter explaining the situation to all KP parents.

  5. EJ

    1- Hall High was pparently on the list as well

    2- I can understand your complaints about Special Ed, but it was you progressive liberals that wanted them main-streamed. I guess it is one thing to suppose that they may be responsible for the lower score, but a better question is if they are so slow in learning are teachers paying too much attention to special ed at the expense of non-handicapped students.

    In other words are regular students suffering due to the extra attention Special Ed requires? If so how cab that be handled

  6. EJ,
    “Progressive liberals”??
    It was President Bush who wanted to include everyone in this testing, saying that no child should be left behind.
    The theory is nice. The reality of it, of course, is ridiculous.

  7. EJ

    Mainstreaming predates Bush.

    And wasn’t the whole No Child program set up under the tuttelege of Ted Kennedy?

    And if students are expected to be in normal classes shouldn’t they be expected to perform to standards, otherwise all they do is drag the whole class down.

  8. EJ

    WHDad you also twisted my comment.

    I said it was progressive liberals who wanted special ed mainstreamed.

    But since Ted Kennedy is a progressive liberal I guess you could say they were also heavily involved with the design and implementation of “No Child”

  9. I didn’t realize it was a conservative-liberal issue to try to have kids in school together if they could be. From what I’ve seen, that’s a great idea that’s working out well.
    What isn’t working — and this is all Bush — is the notion that all of them should be proficient at every subject, even if they are severely mentally challenged or can barely speak the language.

  10. EJ

    Working out well?

    The intent of mainstreaming was to try and stimulate special ed, is the reality that they are dragging down regular students in the process?

    Again if the teachers have to teach at a slower/simpler pace are normal students suffering?

    Has the idea failed is a better question?

  11. Gary Reger

    I believe that the kids in question at KP are not mainstreamed. They are kids with severe issues, who are taught in their own classes by special education teachers.

    The issue is not mainstreaming, but rather that these children are required to take exactly the same test as all other kids, and if they fail, their failure puts the KP on the failing school list.

    If you disaggregate the special ed kids, KP passes with flying colors.

  12. St. Gianna

    As a parent of a special ed child (not yet at KP), I would like to make a couple of points. First, don’t blame the special ed kids for KP’s failure. Sedgwick has special ed students and that school hasn’t made the list.

    Second, if the special ed kids are doing poorly on the standardized tests, maybe it is not just their failure, but also the failure of the education they are receiving. These tests are one method of accountability for our kids. If done properly special ed kids can learn in the regular classroom with their peers without slowing down the rest of the class. My experience tells me that the administration is not yet on board with PJ’s settlement and total inclusion, teachers are not trained to handle a special needs child in the classroom and don’t know how to modify the curriculum for the individual child.

    Maybe KP’s failure is the result of years of failing the special ed students and ignoring the law requiring access to the regular education curriculum with their peers.

    I am not a progressive liberal by any means, but I do demand equal access to education for my daughter. I am well aware of her limitations, but I expect the school to constantly challange her.

  13. Gary Reger

    St. Gianna — thank you for your comments.

    I did not intend to blame the special ed kids — rather the mindless application of “one-size-fits-all” tests. Whether a school counts as “failing” or not as a result of scores for special ed kids stems not I think so much from the scores themselves, as from whether the school, because of its size and the number of kids in question, is allowed to set aside their scores or must include them in the whole. But my memory on the details of these matters is not the best, and I will try to find out the details.

  14. Elmwoodian

    I know! I know! Let’s cut more education money from the budget!

    But seriously folks (Bada boom! I’m here all night!), how to handle Spec Ed is one of the most vexing problems that schools face today. I don’t want to resurrect another budget debate, but the facts on the ground are that Spec Ed is expensive. Mainstreaming is partly born from the theory that it will better help Spec Ed kids on the cusp, but it is also cheaper than having a fully-staffed parallel program. But yes, the “distraction” that Spec Ed kids can create in regular classrooms does, to various degrees, often take time away from the teacher’s attention to the remainder of the class.

    But NCLB is so fixated on getting Spec Ed kids up to “normal” levels (a laudable goal, to be sure), that it often throws the baby out with the bathwater, especially considering how woefully underfunded it is. Taxpayers don’t like to hear it, but Ed is expensive (especially Spec Ed). Straight up, plain and simple. Will “throwing money” at the problem help? Yeah, it will. Should it be done responsibly? Of course!

  15. Elmwoodian

    As for Teddy K, we can’t really lay this at the feet of TK, as we all know that the only way TK was going to get a bill of his passed in a Republican Congress, was to bend to the will of the majority at the time. The version of NCLB that Ted put together and the one that ultimately gained passage and is now the working Act are very very different.

    The Reps and GWB took the NCLB ball and ran with it, but in a very different way than TK intended when he originally introduced the legislation. It’s a shame. There were laudable goals in there, but the implementation has been shameful.

  16. 2 middle schools are on a list — not “the list.” Even if you accept the nonesense of NCLB, this is old news: Overall performance is very good. Some “subgroup” (probably special education again) is not. Remember, the problem with lists is what they do not tell you — like last time when KP made the subgroup list because it missed by one special ed student! Actually, for a school system like ours, the results are really impressive. Just take a look at peer districts — and I don’t mean the false ERG that still unfairly compares us to small, non-diverse and wealthy school districts. Room for improvement? Sure. Room to be proud of what our kids accomplish and then go on to do in college and life? You bet!

  17. TWC

    The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) is an example of the kind of bad legislation you end up with when country club Democrats (Kennedy) team up with union-hating Republicans (Bush) to impose rules that don’t apply to them. While they trot their kids off to private schools, those of us who can’t afford such luxuries have to deal with ridiculous results like KP and Hall being classified as “failing schools.”

    The special education kids at KP and Hall aren’t failing because West Hartford isn’t trying. Unless your children are gifted kids in the Quest Program, this Town is showering your family with money to address your children’s special needs. The reason these kids are failing is because many of them have no hope—no matter how much money is spent by this Town, or how much mainstreaming takes place—to fail.

    For example, I have neighbors with a child whose biggest accomplishment during the day is not slobbering on himself. Yet West Harford kids who are this mentally challenged are forced to take these standardized exams just like every other child. And if kids this severely disabled are getting a single question right on these exams, I’d be surprised.

    So once again, this Town gets penalized for doing the right thing. We bust our budget to address the special needs of kids like these and then get kicked in the face by having to send our kids to schools labeled as failing. Isn’t it long past time that the NCLB be amended to remedy absurd results like these?

  18. TWC

    Sorry–I wasn’t the beneficiary of the type of quality education offered in this Town.

    At the end of the second paragraph in the above comment, I meant to say “…but to fail.”

  19. Gary Reger

    I have now talked with a good friend who is well informed about the situation with respect to the “failure” of KP and Hall. Here is my understanding:

    Schools are required to show “adequate yearly progress” (AYP) as measured by CAPT or CMT scores. A school whose scores do not meet the standard set by the state is declared to have “failed to achieve AYP.” This is the case with KP and Hall.

    For all schools, schools are looked at as a whole, and determined to have met or not the AYP standard. However, in some schools, up to three sub-groups of students are also looked at separately: students on free or reduced lunch programs; English Language Learning students; and special education students. In schools where these groups are evaluated separately, a school will be designated as “failing” if any one subgroup fails. In the case of KP and Hall, the special education subgroup and only the special education subgroup failed, and so the schools were designated as “failing.”

    Why was the special education subgroup looked at separately at KP and Hall? Because the subgroup contains more than 40 students. If the subgroup contains fewer than 40, it is not looked at separately, and the scores of students in the subgroup are irrelevant to the determination of meeting or failing to meet standards.

    Conard and Sedgwich have fewer than 40 students in their special education subgroups, and so the subgroups were not looked at separately. Had KP and Hall’s subgroups been lumped in with the whole school in the same way, both schools would have met the standard.

    I must also correct what I said about mainstreaming, which was wrong. The way that special education students are assigned classes is complicated. A team assesses each student’s individual needs and abilities. On that basis, and for each subject, a decision is made whether that student will do okay in a regular class, or needs to be assigned to a co-taught class (staffed by a subject teacher and a special education teacher), or needs to “double-take” a given subject (by having, for example, two periods of math), or cannot operate in any of these environments. So it is not as simple as mainstream or not; everything depends on plans developed around each individual child.

    I apologize to St. Gianna for my earlier inaccurate characterization of Town policy.

    I hope this explanation clarifies for people on the list the reasons that KP and Hall received this designation.

  20. SAW

    What’s amazing in most of the above comments is the number of inaccuracies and lack of knowledge about NCLB. How many subgroups are there? Which subgroup did not make AYP at KP and Hall?

    What is the PJ decision? How did it come about? Why?

    Do we have Educational Reference Groups or District Reference Groups? How were DRGs determined? Did West Hartford have a say in the process?

  21. Joe Visconti

    Kevin
    Nice spin, but this is not “Old News” as you stated, if someone gets arrested for a crime and then the next year or year after gets arrested for the same crime should we consider that “Old News” or wouldn’t we consider them a repeat offender?

    Let’s not cry foul because the results collide with West Hartford Educational Myths.

    We’re number 56 on a list and proud of it!

  22. EJ

    Joe, here’s an idea.

    With the mastery tests Kevin and crew claimed we had to look at the number of minorities & free meals.

    Now with the CAPT thy’re telling us it’s special ed.

    The next problem I guess they’ll blame on ESOL

    Why not put all the minorities, special ed, and esol in 1 school thereby minimizing the effects of the system failure, we can relocate the school to the Hartford District and all problems are solved, or at least excuses are eliminated.

    How about getting the kids writting and reading again. Getr the classics back and get rid of the modern PC Claptrap. Get the kids writing book reports instead of allowing them to do posters about the book. You don’t get writting experience with posters

  23. Elmwoodian

    How about getting the kids writting and reading again. Getr the classics back and get rid of the modern PC Claptrap. Get the kids writing book reports instead of allowing them to do posters about the book. You don’t get writting experience with posters

    1000 education experts around the state just slapped their foreheads and said, “Dang, EJ has a point there! Why didn’t we think of that!”

    I always get a kick out of how people who, since they went to school now think that that somehow makes them an expert on education and think it is so easy to “fix” education issues with a snap of a finger. (And this from someone who can’t seem to correctly spell the word “writing”!)

  24. Rick Liftig

    Amen –

    If there was a magic bullet, everyone would have discovered it. The success of our schools and our children always boils down to the parents. There are rare cases where a child will succeed without this support, but by and large, the parents imbue the child with far more (drive and ambition) than the public school system can ever hope to. And we should not expect the public school system to be the surrogate parent either.

  25. Gary Reger

    I tried to post the following yesterday, but I suspect the spam blocker stopped it.

    I had promised to do some research into the “failure” of KP and Hall. I talked with a good friend who knows the situation well. Here is my best shot at summarizing the situation:

    Schools are judged annually on whether they have achieved “Adequate Yearly Progress” (AYP), based on standards set with respect to the CMT and CAPT exams. A school that does not meet the AYP is said to have “failed to achieve adequate yearly progress.”

    All schools are judged as a whole, on the basis of the average score of all students. However, in some schools three subgroups are also judged separately: students on free or reduced lunch programs; English Language Learning students (ELL); and special education students. When subgroups are considered, a school is regarded as failing if any one subgroup fails to achieve AYP, no matter what the situation with the school as a whole or the other subgroups.

    KP and Hall were judged both as a whole and by subgroup. This is because the subgroups are looked at separately if and only if they contain more than 40 students. This is true at KP and Hall, but not at Sedgwick and Conard, where the subgroups contain fewer than 40.

    At KP and Hall the special education subgroup did not achieve AYP (though I understand the scores were better than last year’s). Hence the designation for these schools, even though the schools as a whole did achieve AYP.

    On the question of mainstreaming — I owe the list a correction, since my earlier remarks on this matter were wrong. For each individual special education student, a team reviews his/her situation and develops a plan, by class. Depending on the student’s abilities, the student may be

    (1) placed in a regular class;
    (2) placed in a co-taught class, consisting of up to 1/3 special education students and staffed by a subject teacher and a special education teacher;
    (3) doubled-scheduled — that is, registered for two identical class periods (two math classes, for example)
    (4) or educated separately.

    I apologize especially to St. Gianna for misrepresenting what is in fact a very thorough and individually oriented approach.

  26. Elmwoodian

    Rick –

    Amen to your amen. As the spouse of a teacher I can say from (close second-hand) experience: the parents make all the difference in the world.

  27. Gary Reger

    Rick and Elmwoodian —

    I’ll join the chorus. At the Hall new student/parent orientation, the principal Don Slater told us parents that students whose parents attend school functions — orientation, curriculum night, conferences — average a whole letter grade higher than students whose parents do not!

  28. St. Gianna

    Apology accepted M. Reger. The IEP document is a well thought out plan by each child’s teachers, therapists, counselors and parents/guardians for the school year. It is re-written every year and can be amended at any time during the school year.

    TWC, I feel sorry for your neighbors that they have to live next door to you. Your sentiments about their child is despicable. Every child deserves an education and no child should ever have limitations placed on him. Just because this child may never accomplish things you may consider worthwhile or successful, this child’s life, I have no doubt, gives untold joy and meaning to the family. I would even assert that this child’s presence in the neighborhood, the school and the community at-large is providing more value to society than most people who go onto higher education and lucrative careers. My daughter will never graduate from college, probably never live on her own or have a career, but her life has more value than I ever thought possible the day she was born and she continues to amaze me and her teachers with her ever evolving abilities.

    If people like you had their way, my daughter may never have been born, or would have ended up institutionalized shortly after birth. Reconsider your feelings about these kids, at least for the sake of your neighborhood.

  29. Special Ed

    What gets to me is that we spend so much and try so hard to help children with special needs — an endeavor I completely agree with — but we do so little for the kids who have the potential to soar. It’s disheartening that we’re scaling back on programs like Quest instead of devoting more resources to our best and brightest.
    I don’t understand why our penny-pinching has to pit the needs of children against each other. We need to fund our schools enough to do what’s necessary for every child. I just don’t believe that money spent on education is wasted. It’s the best investment we can make.

  30. EJ

    Why not ask the BOE why they cut Quest and then started creating more administrative jobs, at the expense of the kids and programs, as well as giving controversial raises to the Nurses and Sklarz (with more to come I’m sure)

  31. Joe Visconti

    The Education Cartel creates more administrative jobs EJ “because they can”, who’s watching to stop them, Sklarz, Captain,Putterman, Darcy?
    The State Department of Education needs a looking into very soon.

  32. Another WH Teacher

    Gary – your research was fabulous. That is exactly what has been happening at KP for the past few years. When you see the disaggregated scores, by subgroups, our students and teachers are doing fabulous. The special ed or special need kids (2 different categories by the way) are supported by separate staff for the most part and are accompanied by a teacher or para when in the regular classroom, so they don’t take much time/attention at all from the other children. The fact of the matter is that WH does have a fabulous education program and parents of kids with needs want their kids here. Who can blame them? The fact that KP and Hall then “fail” is the fault of the rules set up by NCLB, not the kids, the staff, the admin, and certainly not the kids who happen to fall into those subgroups.

    If you want to know the breakdowns, call Chip Ward.

  33. TWC

    St. Gianna, I apologize if my comment about the mentally challenged state of my neighbor’s child has led you to believe something as absurd as “…if people like you had their way, my daughter may never have been born…” That’s ridiculous; my subsequently confirmed opinion of the NCLB as applied to Hall and KB hardly justifies you resorting to slanderous insults like this one.

    I’m not blaming these kids for the results at Hall and KB, nor am I advocating putting limitations on these kids so they don’t reach their full potential. Any child with special needs should have these special needs addressed so that they have a legitimate opportunity to reach their full potential in life (including the kids in the Quest Program whose educational opportunities have been diminished this year to help fund an increase in spending for the more politically-favored special needs in this Town). But the test of that key criterion on either end of the academic spectrum isn’t passing some dim-witted test drafted (or approved) by bloodless bureaucrats in Washington D.C.

    Since you are understandably very defensive about protecting the best interests of your daughter (and any similarly situated child), how do you feel about the current provisions of the NCLB which provide that children with the “…most significant cognitive disabilities (up to a 1% cap) are exempt from standard testing and thus eligible for an alternate assessment…?” Isn’t this simply a codification of the point I was trying to make in my first comment (although obviously not in the politically-correct language you would have preferred)?

    I’m assuming the reason Hall and KB exceed this 1% cap (and thus, continue to test children that probably have little hope of demonstrating “adequate yearly progress”) is that parents continue to flock to West Hartford because our Town does such a highly regarded job accommodating the special needs of children with developmental disabilities. (This would suggest that St. Gianna’s assertions that Hall and KB deserve to be on the “failing list” because of the “…failure of the education [special ed kids] are receiving…” is a misplaced criticism of the unassailable commitment this Town has made to the special needs of these children.) So isn’t the simple solution to this problem to increase the percentage of kids who are exempted from NCLB testing, while granting parents the right to override the school’s decision to exempt their child if they think it is in the best interests of their child to be tested?

    In other words, put this key decision back in the hands of those where it belongs–and should have never been taken from in the first place.

  34. St. Gianna

    TWC, you are right when you stated that I am defensive about protecting my child’s interests, as most parents should be. However when you have a special needs child this defense mechanism becomes more pronounced. I am and will be her advocate for the rest of her life which is fine, but more and more I find that I have to explain to others why she even exists. You may not be aware of the eugenics movement taking place in medicine with the advent of prenatal diagnosis and gene testing, but let me just say that people continue to ask me why I “allowed” her to be born knowing her diagnosis prenatally.
    Maybe that will help you understand my anger towards you when you spoke about your neighbor’s child.

    I strongly believe that a person’s disability should not limit his potential. As my daughter’s advocate, I have to constantly remind her teachers this. I expect them to constantly raise the bar for her. She has proven over and over again that she can achieve. The standardized tests are one measure of accountability for me and other parents with special needs kids that she is being taught what her peers are learning. I did tell her school last spring that I want her to take the Mastery tests when that time comes. I was met with roadblocks by everyone of her teachers and by the principal. They proposed an alternative measure of her progress (I guess putting her in that 1% group). I haven’t yet decided what she will do. Certainly, I don’t want to make her uncomfortable and sit for hours doing something she does not understand. However, if her teachers know that she is not going to take the tests when she is in 3rd grade, will they push her to learn her letters, to read, to understand math? My gut tells my that they won’t, at least not in the same way. The tests hold the school accountable.

    Other towns in CT let children with the same diagnosis as my daughter take the tests. West Hartford, to my knowledge never has. West Hartford also has not done well complying with PJ’s settlement. They still place too many special needs children in the resource room too many hours of the day, rather than offering the special services in the regular classroom in a co-teaching setting.

    You state that many families flock to West Hartford because of their special needs education. That may have been true in the past. I know of many families now fleeing West Hartford for that same reason and are finding better schools for their children in Simsbury, Avon and other surrounding towns.

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