Analytical Term Project


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EAD 684 Selection, Development and Supervision of Educational Personnel Dr. Alan Vaughan, Ph.D. phil413alv@cox.netCambridge College, Chesapeake VA(in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Education in the field of School Administration)

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Analytical Term Project

  1. 1. Helen Tsipliareles-PryorEAD 684 Selection, Development and Supervision of Educational PersonnelDr. Alan Vaughan, Ph.D. Cambridge College, Chesapeake VA (in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Masters ofEducation in the field of School Administration) Analytical Term ProjectIn developing curriculum and pacing guides, administrators are curriculum managers and shouldbe aware of crossing SOL strands; and in order to provide full impact of a lesson plan, alignmentguides are essential. Within my school, Ruffner Middle Academy in Norfolk, there is a documentwe use called “The Alignment of English and Reading Planning Guides for the 7th Grade Level2009-2010 Quarters 1-4 School Year,” created specifically by the Assistant Principal,Department Heads, and appointed teachers. The purpose of this document is to align 7th gradewriting teachers with the 7th grade reading teachers, therefore assuring that their lesson plansreflect the same units and SOL strands at the same time.When this guide was first created, the intent and measurable success factor was to supportteacher plans, including co-teaching and remediation; as well as provide dual support in areas ofhigher level learning and SOL readiness. This alignment guide follows the Virginia Standards ofLearning, as well as the Standards of Accreditation and Standards of Quality; and on the honorsand Young Scholars level, Paul’s Dimensions of Higher Critical Thinking are also incorporated.The guide requires that teachers demonstrate competence in their core academic subjects,reading and writing; as that they work collaboratively in order to best educate their students. Theprincipal assists with these collaborative efforts, and is essential in reducing stress and providingessential feedback.
  2. 2. The alignment guide is clear and concise, and revised as needed for changing priorities createdby data analysis. For example, in Week One all students receive diagnostic reading assessmentsin order to check their understanding from the previous school year; while at the same time thewriting teachers performing diagnostic writing assessments, as well as reviewing the rules andprocedures for effective classroom management. By the third week of instruction, both classesare working on the Short Stories unit, with the reading teachers focusing on shared inquiry andthe oral strand, while the writing teachers focus on narrative writing. While narrative writing is alonger unit due to its emphasis on the SOL, the reading teachers enhance this writing byproviding a focus on expository text, also emphasized on the SOL. To complete the quarter, thewriting teachers review Myths & Legends for proficiency in literary elements; and the readingteachers enhance this unit with a review in Poetry focusing on figurative language and vividvocabulary.The content and the alignment of these units is essential because at the 7th grade writing level,students will complete this first quarter by being able to plan, draft, revise, and edit narrativepieces with attention to composition, grammatical mechanics, and written expression; as well asbecome independent in sentence formation and understand that the conventions of language helpconvey the message from the writer to the reader. In alignment to this at the 7th grade readinglevel, students read and understand information from various sources including a variety offiction, non-fiction, and poetry; and they read for appreciation and comprehension in both classicand recent works. The alignment of these pacing guides provides students will the ability toapply critical reading and reasoning skills, and well as expressive writing skills across the
  3. 3. content areas, including history and social studies, science, foreign language, mathematics, andthe arts; thus aiding administrators in producing higher scores on state-mandated assessments.The next practice I reviewed was the increased use of technology in the classroom. It is not astunning revelation to hear that today, many students are using MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, andother social networking sites, sometimes even up to 50-100 times a day. (Conrath 3) Studies haveshown that their growth in vocabulary has been stunted because of this social networkingexplosion and many teachers end up with student papers, and even in conversation with thesestudents, where the student is using the same 100 words over and over again. It is also not ashock to hear that teacher encounter papers written using medium language such as “il c u l8r”and “thx 4 the 411.” (Dennen 817)Constant use of these social networking sites has the same effects as watching too muchtelevision – it is a major distraction with no viable benefits. Preoccupation with these sites hastaken over all free time of the student and they avoid homework, studying, as well as chores,family time and active face-to-face social interactions. Due to the ease of using this technologyas well as immediate accessibility due to laptops and notebooks, “free time is now nearly non-existent.” (Dennen 815) These students also show less involvement in extra-curricular activities,after-school programs, sports and local community programs such as scouting, 4-H andparticipation at local recreation centers. Therefore, their skills have declined in working in small-groups, preparing oral presentations and participating in shared inquiry and discussion in theclassroom. Many students have lost their ability to pick up on non-verbal cues due to their
  4. 4. reliance on the written text, and have been unable to form friendships outside of their onlinecommunities. (Conrath 3)Continued exposure to the social networking “black hole” translates into a young adult withoutthe ability to fill out a college or job application, let alone create a resume; and with the declinein verbal skills, will they have the ability to successfully perform in an interview or participate inadult relationships both personally and professionally? Many studies have been done on theimpact of social networking on students’ grades and many debates have been sparked aboutwhether students have be reintegrated into a more realistic social environment which requiresproper use of the English language, both written and oral; and develop the ability to receive,interpret and use non-verbal cues incorporated into our society. (Gordinier 19)As principals and curriculum managers, we must focus that the reality of the situation is whetherwe like it or not, these sites are now firmly rooted in our culture and will remain there. Studentsnot only use them regularly but many times, almost religiously. We cannot eliminate them and tomany of us, it seems almost ridiculous to even try. However, we can choose to re-evaluate thesituation and perhaps even realize that this social networking system provides us with atremendous opportunity as teachers. Successfully done, we can use them to invest in the identityof our students by leveraging their online usage and providing more direct interaction for themwithin the classroom. How can this be done? Within curriculum development and lessonplanning guidelines, provide students with timed-opportunities to write blogs by using sites todiscover and share interests, including historical and scientific references; and more importantly,have them express themselves in “full written language” by making them aware that many of
  5. 5. their readers are not as savvy as them in understanding computer slang. Additionally, have themplace their blogs into graphic organizers initially, and later in essay form, and present them orallyin exchange for additional on-line time the following week, or unit. Used smartly, as teachers wecan take advantage of this tremendous opportunity by using these social networking sites as away to show students we respect their individuality, while utilizing their online time andexperiences to further their education and improve their interpersonal skills.Top priority in all public schools systems has been the focus to ensure that K-12 students areprepared to succeed in college and in the workforce, and many states are now working topreserve jobs and reform schools by using resources from the American Recovery andReinvestment Act. Hence, the U.S. Department of Education has been focusing on fourassurances that will aid in preparing students to achieve this goal and working with states to useall their federal, state and local resources in order to create policies to implement programsfocusing on these assurances. (Duncan 36)The first step has been for each state to adopt rigorous K-12 standards within their curriculumthat prepare students for success in college and the workforce, including more real-worldexperiences, community leader and business mentorships, and cross-curriculum education.Secondly, data systems have been created to track from year to year whether students are makingthe progress needed to achieve success in their future. These data systems also provideinformation on whether the new policies, as well as teacher effectiveness in implementing thesepolicies is improving student performance. With this data, the third step taken by states has beento find effective teachers and making sure that these teachers are working in classrooms where
  6. 6. they will have the greatest impact on the students who need the most help. Finally, states areimplementing plans to turn around their lowest-performing schools.Fortunately, in three of these four areas, state leaders have already taken many significant stepsand made measurable progress towards these goals. Common standards have been set in place toensure that U.S. students are internationally competitive; and states have gradually expandedtheir data base over the past five years and acknowledged the benefits of tracking teachereffectiveness and student achievement. In addition, school districts throughout the country areworking with administrators in developing and implementing programs to recruit and rewardhighly-effective educators, particularly to work in the most challenging environments. However,in the area of turning around troubled schools, most states are still lacking the policy as well asthe drive and support to get the job done. Statistically, we are aware that at least 5,000 of ourschools (approximately 5%) are ‘seriously’ underperforming which means among the highschools alone, nearly 2,000 have been labeled as ‘dropout factories.” To delve deeper into this,nearly two out of five high school freshman will no longer be enrolled to attend by their senioryear, and aggressive action needs to be taken to fix the problems in these schools. (Duncan 36)In reviewing this practice, I implemented the statistics on a smaller, regional scale and found thatthe statistics were accurate and equally disturbing. The Title I School Improvement Program hasspecifically designated $3 billion to pay for interventions in low-performing schools. In usingthis financial resource, including the fiscal 2009 appropriation of $545 million and the $1.5billion proposed for fiscal 2010; this money must be used to make dramatic changes within theseschools and get these students off the track to failure. (Duncan 36)
  7. 7. One of the most successful intervention plans has been to replace the school leadership and staffby closing and reopening the school under new governance. Change is never easy; however, itcan be done successfully without causing disharmony within the educationally-employedcommunity and yield successful outcomes for all. Existing administrators can be recruited fromwithin the local school system to serve under the governance; and employees removed from thelow-performing schools can be shifted into the vacancies created by this recruitment. Theseturnaround schools need the best people with the capacity to take on the challenges of fixing theissues, as well as operate under the same regulations as the other schools within their district. Inaddition, new schools leaders can run intensive efforts to prepare their new teams to ensure theirsuccess, such as summer workshops in class management and extra lesson planning time.Schools having already implemented such programs have seen immediate and substantial resultsincluding higher attendance rates, lower dropout rates, and improved scores on the Standard ofLearning Tests (SOL). As stated earlier, change is not always easy; however, efforts can beginlocally and be scaled up with time and gradual success. These resources should be dedicated toless low-performing schools and with intervention plans well in place, we can hope to see all ofour U.S. students on the path to success in college and the workforce.In May of 2005, the periodical “NEA Today” published an article by Michael D. Simpson fromthe NEA Office of General Counsel, entitled “The Right to An ‘Adequate’ Education.” Thearticle addressed the issue of underfunded schools and how NEA affiliates, along with theassistance of parents and school boards, were increasingly taking their cases to court in order toget more funds through their legislatures. Various statistics were provided by both the NEA and
  8. 8. the Advocacy Center for Children’s Educational Success with Standards (ACCESS) showingtheir success in the majority of these cases, their continuing involvement in dealing with legalchallenges facing school finance systems, and their expenditure of nearly $4.1 million onlitigation. (Simpson 21)Some victories addressed included an additional $5.63 billion to New York City’s public schoolsbecause the state had violated students’ fundamental right to a ‘sound basic education’ under thestate constitution; and in California, an additional $1 billion was provided to ensure cleanerschools, sufficient instructional materials, and qualified teachers. Cases in Kansas, Texas andMontana provided the state legislatures with a deadline to devise new systems that “must reflecta level of funding which meets the constitutional requirement…an adequate, suitable andefficient school system.” (Simpson 21)The case presented in Massachusetts, however, was foundthat the state’s school funding system did not violate the education clause of its constitution.This issue is significant to administrators because two major points are extremely important inregards to presenting a finance case for litigation. First and foremost, make sure that you are wellprepared with your research that constitution requirements are not being met; and be sure to havethe support of your peers, staff and parents. Overall, the victory is in receiving the funds requiredto ensure the academic success of your students. As I aspire to one day serve as a Principal,practices such as these are significant because I may be required to present such a case forlitigation, and I would like to succeed in this challenge. Through my research, the ideal instilledin me is that being prevalent in such a case is a realistic goal as long as you have the knowledge
  9. 9. and skills required to assess the situation and provide the proof needed to protect the stateconstitutional rights of the children of the community you serve.On the homefront, on Wednesday evening, March 4, 2009, The Norfolk Federation of Teachersmarched to Lake Taylor Middle School right before a public hearing on the schools budget wasabout to begin. More than 60 teachers and other school division employees were dressed in blackas mourning, and they carried a flower-decked casket with the words “Norfolk Public Schools”painted across the sides. The reason for the ‘mourning’ was that fact that the school division wasfacing the potential loss of 230 positions as well as the prospect of a pay freeze next year does tofunding cuts. As the march was ending, the mourners were met by Superintendent of NorfolkPublic Schools Stephen C. Jones, the person responsible for the proposed cuts which wouldinclude the cut of 94 teaching jobs and well as 14% of administrative positions. SuperintendentJones explained that it was never his intent to cut even one position but the issue in the forefrontwas the limited funding from the city and state, presently the proposed budget of $314.6 millionis less than $16 million from the current year’s plan. He did assure them that situation could turnfor the better once the city knew exactly how much funding they would receive from the federalstimulus plan. (Ross 4)More than 100 people showed up for the budget meeting and although they understood the stateof the present economy, the overall consensus was that Norfolk Public Schools could haveplanned better. The Education Association of Norfolk President Monte L. Mercer stated thatalthough times are hard everywhere, it is even more difficult for employees who continue to haverising costs without the rising salaries to compensate. According to Board Chairman Barry
  10. 10. Bishop, if the city receive the proposed $12 million in federal stimulus, that would then be in theposition to restore many of the proposed cuts, and even some possible pay increases. (Ross 4)As someone who aspires to serve in an administrative position in the future, resolutions insituations such as these are extremely important to me. Presently, as a teacher employed byNorfolk Public Schools, the proposed teacher cuts impacted me severely because I did not havethe seniority of many other teachers in my division. With a spouse also within the division, thiswould have impacted my financial status dually and perhaps forced a change in residence due tofinancial restraints. During this time I was not completely aware of the proposed stimulus beingoffered and if this information had presented itself earlier, the need for a public protest by theunion would not have been necessary. In an administrative position, I would have presented thisadditional information to the public earlier in order to calm their anxieties and to also buy sometime while waiting to find out exactly how much stimulus money would be received.Conrath, Kate & Zeccola, Joseph "Does Social Networking Hurt Student Grades." AmericanTeacher, The National Publication of the American Federation of Teachers Vol. 94 No. 2October/November 2009: 3Dennen, V.P. "Cognitive Apprenticeship in Educational Practice: Researching on Scaffolding,Modeling, Mentoring and Coaching as Instructional Strategies." Handbook of Research onEducational Communications and Technology 2 (2004): 815-24.Duncan, Arne "Start Over: Turnarounds Should Be The First Option for Low-PerformingSchools." Education Week, American Education’s Newspaper of Record Vol. 28 No. 35 June 17,2009: 36
  11. 11. Gordinier, Cynthia L., Moberly, Deborah A. & Conway, Kathleen D. "Scaffolding EnablesReflective Thinking To Become A Disposition." Association of Childhood Education (2004): 3-23Ross, Cheryl “Norfolk Teachers Hold ‘Wake’ on Proposed Budget Cuts” The Virginian PilotMarch 5, 2009Simpson, M. “The Right to An ‘Adequate’ Education.” NEA Today 23 (8) May 2005: 21