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Adequate Yearly Progress

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  1. 1. Running head: RETENTION AND RECRUITMENT OF TEACHERS No Child Left Behind Report Card on Adequate Yearly Progress And Recommendations On Retention and Recruitment of Teachers By Jim Burnett
  2. 2. Abstract The retention and recruitment of teachers is becoming an increasingly serious problem in many states across our nation. This paper examines data from No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) reports as being unrealistic. My evidence shown in the paper contends with Career and Technical Education as a recommended cornerstone of NCLB and recommendations restructured professional development workshops equipping professionals in the classrooms with the rigor and relevance to make AYP.
  3. 3. INTRODUCTION The education of our nation’s youths has and will always be a never-ending saga of dilemmas, outcomes, consequences, and ―hot spot‖ topics of how to successfully educate, train and pass federal mandates of acceptability. A big-ticket item is the recruitment and retention of highly qualified educators. More recently, shortages in schools have reached alarming highs across the state and in national policy discussing how recruitment and retention of highly qualified educators are addressed. The fact that schools are experiencing shortages in classrooms is due in part of accountability standards of Adequately Yearly Progress (AYP) reports. AYP is at best restrictive, at worst controversial. Since the passage of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), teachers have resorted to teaching the state assessments in fear of losing jobs whereas administrators seem only concerned about test scores (report cards), which has shifted educational responsibility from parents to the teacher. According to a report submitted by National Education Association (2006), on emerging trends under the Law's Annual Rating System, schools failed AYP this year compared to last year. Schools found in need of improvement this year is slightly larger as compared to last year, proportionately more school districts are failing to meet AYP, with many schools receiving top ratings on state accountability systems that failed to make AYP. Moreover, school districts will fail to meet AYP in the future and there will be virtually no funds available in the following years to support turn around schools in need of improvement. Unfortunately, a major byproduct of these trends incorporate classrooms filled with unmanageable disruptive, defiant and disrespectful students. However, the biggest downfall of NCLB is the standardized
  4. 4. comprehensive test that utilized to assess basic core subject knowledge. AYP is guided by regulations that monitor school’s process. The goal of 100 percent proficiency by 2014 certainly takes a giant leap forward from our past expectations for minimal competency of basic skills of being the front-runner on a global platform that compares student achievements. Indeed, NCLB’s goal of 100 percent proficiency is an unprecedented event. Not even the highest-scoring nations that have participated in international tests of reading, math, and science are even close to attaining it; can 100 percent proficiency be accomplished (Linn, 2000) ? We must ask why AYP exists. According to U.S. Department of Education, Sec. 1111 (b) (F), each state shall establish a timeline for adequate yearly progress. The timeline shall ensure that not later than 12 years after the inception of NCLB, 2001-2002 school year, all students in each group described in subparagraph (C)(v) will meet or exceed the State's proficient level of academic achievement on the State's assessments (U.S Dept. ED., 2005). In other words, the goal of the NCLB is to have 100 percent of America’s public school students ―proficient‖ by the year 2014. Proficiency is measured through annual state-level tests in reading and math in grades 3-8 and at least once in high school. By 2007-08, states are required to test in science at least once in grades 3-5, 6-9, and 10-12, respectively. Safe Harbor - Non-Proficiency Targets The State, school districts, schools, and each subgroup of 30 or more students for two consecutive years must reach the performance targets for increasing proficiency in reading and math to make AYP. However, there is an exception to that requirement. The State, school districts and schools may still make AYP if each group that fails to reach its proficiency performance targets reduces its percentage of non-proficient students by 10% of the previous year's percentage (Colorado Department of Education, 2005)
  5. 5. In order to understand safe harbor parameters, schools systems need to calculate the percentage of non-proficient students in question, multiply that percentage by (10), subtract the result from the percentage giving the target proficiency for year two. Identify the percentage of non-proficient students for the group in question for year one. As shown in the chart on the next page, reducing the non-proficient students by 10 % would provide a school with safe harbor (Colorado Department of Education, 2005). See chart below. Native Native Free and English Asian/ Students w/ Year School White Hispanic Black American/ Reduced Language Pacific Disabilities Alaskan Lunch Learner Islander 2002 Nonproficient 41.0% 38.0% 36.0% 40.0% 49.0% 39.0% N/A* 55.0% 52.0% Results 10% Reduction 4.1% 3.8% 3.6% 4.0% NA** NA** N/A* NA** 5.2% 2003 Nonproficient 36.9% 34.2% 32.4% 36.0% NA** NA** N/A* NA** 46.8% Targets 2003 "n"* Size 216 72 66 50 9 19 N/A* 17 31 Number scoring in 71 21 20 18 NA** NA** N/A* NA** 15 unsatisfactory range % Nonproficient*** 32.8% 29.2% 30.3% 36.0% NA** NA** N/A* NA** 48.4% Made Safe Harbor? YES YES YES YES NA** NA** N/A* NA** NO Source: Colorado Department of Education In order for a district or school to make AYP, the following requirements must be met: Achieve a 95% participation rate in state reading and math assessments. Reach targets for either proficiency or decrease non-proficiency in reading and math. Reach targets for one other indicator - advanced level of performance for elementary and middle schools in reading and math and graduation rate for high schools (New Mexico, Public Education Department, 2004)
  6. 6. Colorado Department of Education, office of special services devised a chart illustrating steps in states desiring to make AYP. See flow chart below. Source:
  7. 7. According to the Texas Education Agency (2006), public school campuses, school districts, and the state are evaluated for AYP. Districts, campuses, and the state are required to meet AYP criteria on three specific measures: Reading/Language Arts, Mathematics, and either Graduation Rate (for high schools and districts) or Attendance Rate (for elementary and middle/junior high schools). If a school should fail to meet AYP after the first year the school initiates a school improvement plan (SIP) and must perform a data analysis to determine the cause(s) of not making AYP and amend the plan for success and implement strategies for improving student achievement. After the second consecutive year of not making AYP, provided the school is receiving Title I, Part A funding, that campus, district, or state is subject to sanctions, such as offering supplemental education services, offering school choices, and/or taking corrective actions (The White House, 2008). After three consecutive years the school must provide supplemental services, including after school programs, tutoring and summer classes. The school must also continue school choices as well as provide transportation for students that transfer/enroll in a school not reported as unacceptable. Disadvantaged students within the school may use Title I funds to transfer to a higher performing public or private school, or receive supplemental services from a provider of choice. After four years of continued failure of making AYP, the school and district must also implement one or more of the following (The White House, 2008). Replace staff as allowed by law Implement a new curriculum Decrease management authority of the public school Appoint an outside expert to advise the public school
  8. 8. Extend the school day or year Change the public school’s internal organizational structure (New Mexico, Public Education Department: September 8, 2004, Working Draft). After five consecutive years of not making AYP, in addition to sanctions listed for the fourth year of not making AYP, the school district must develop a plan not limited to one or more the following choices of: Re-opening the public school as a charter school Replacing all or most of the staff, as allowed by law Turn over the management of the public school to the State’s Education Department Make other governance changes (New Mexico, Public Education Department: September 8, 2004, Working Draft). For schools failing to make adequate yearly progress more than five consecutive years schools must implement a plan of restructuring. After six consecutive years of not making AYP, they must implement their restructuring plans. In this last consequence for failure to make AYP, schools and districts must choose from a menu of options designed to completely revamp the school. By federal law, these options include the following: (The White House, 2008). Entering into a contract to have an outside organization with a record of effectiveness operate the school Reopening the school as a charter school Replacing all or most of the school staff who are relevant to the failure to make AYP Turning operation of the school over to the state, if the state agrees
  9. 9. Undertaking any other major restructuring of the school’s governance that produces fundamental reform Every student must reach proficiency levels, as determined by the state in which they live, by the 2013-2014 school year (No Child Left Behind, Education Reform, but Not Without Controversy, n.d). The federal government has left states a great deal of discretion in overseeing turnaround efforts at schools facing restructuring. Federal guidance issued by the U.S. Department of Education in the summer of 2006 emphasized the need for schools to make large changes in response to restructuring but left much of the details of decision-making and implementation to districts and schools. States must provide assistance to districts and schools in improvement, including schools in restructuring, but states have the latitude to determine the content and intensity of this assistance. Approaches have varied in funding to assist schools in any stage of NCLB improvement, including restructuring. Simply put, NCLB is saying, ―Language arts and math (and eventually science) are so important that the state must determine what students at specific grade levels must know and be able to do and how well in those areas‖ (Resnick, 2003). ―One of the many controversial and vexing elements of the law, especially among teachers, teacher unions, and other school officials is the "highly qualified teacher" provision, which uses the lever of federal education dollars to force states to raise teacher standards‖ (EJ707116, 2004). NCLB is noteworthy for both its advocates and detractors. To its proponents, NCLB will propel the country’s efforts to provide equal educational opportunity for low-income students (The Center for Public Education, 2006). According to the Texas Report Card between the years of 2003 and 2005, fourth grade proficiency increased a marginal 3 percentage points, fourth grade mathematics increased an eleven percentage points, while black and white fourth graders achievement gap narrowed by four percentage points in reading and five percentage points in
  10. 10. mathematics and Hispanic-white fourth graders achievement gap narrowed by four percentage points in reading and seven in mathematics. Many critics question its implementation or charge that it fails to acknowledge complex factors influencing student learning. Some caution that a strong focus on test scores distort teaching and learning in unsuccessful ways. Still others cite the lack of funding that implementation of the law requires. Although Texas has shown improvements during the 2003 to 2005 school years; From the Capital to the Classroom: Year 4 of the No Child Left Behind Act contains results from a survey of 299 school districts in all 50 states, as well as case studies of 42 schools, 38 of which are considered geographically diverse. While the report says that a large majority (78 percent) of the districts surveyed reported an increase in student achievement on state tests used by NCLB from 2003-04 to 2004-05 only 71 percent of districts also said that they have reduced instructional time in at least one other subject to make more time for reading and mathematics. In fact, in some districts, struggling students receive double periods of reading or math or both — sometimes missing certain [other] subjects altogether (Meserve, 2006). According to a recent news release, Virginia is considering leaving the Federal Education NCLB Act behind. Several teachers cited saying: First, this program is an utopian ideal at best. It is a total failure at worst. The government dangles the carrot ($$$) over the state head. The state, always hungry for more cash flow, agrees to unobtainable goals. Political agendas aside, this program never worked. The theory often fails for those children not properly provided for at home. Even in the ideal setting, some kids are not going to aspire to more than being a low paid laborer. Others will become the leaders of their future. In my day, they stuck the non-performers and advanced students together. The hope was the non-achievers would be inspired and lifted by the acheivers. It never happened. It pulled the better students down as they waited for the slow learners to catch up. Today, my child is in all advanced classes with like students. The learning progression is much stronger and unimpeded. This ability and desire to learn is a reflection of both strong parenting and natural talent, not NCLB or SOL. The biggest hurdle is trying to undo the damage inflicted by the liberal front. The brainwashing is substantia‖ (The Virginia Post, markg69046, 2008). I know many teachers in several states, and they all agree that naive and arrogant political appointees who -- regardless of a PhD in Education, had never actually
  11. 11. worked as public school teachers and were CLUELESS about how a classroom needs to be run implemented NCLB. Some have even gone so far as to state that it was deliberately designed to fail, artificially creating stress and crisis to serve some nefarious hidden agenda. Mandating that Special Ed students (all "mainstreamed" into regular classrooms now) be included in the testing is one indication of this, as are the ridiculous piles of bureacratic paperwork that EVERY teacher must now WASTE hours of time on EVERY DAY (SOLs, lesson plans, student evaluations, etc). Because of the BOGUS threat of "lazy teachers", ALL teachers are penalized, overwhelmed, and demoralized . . . and the students suffer. Tell Bush he can keep those funds! (The Virginia Post, ericab24359, 2008). Like so many things in Washington, NCLB was a good idea on paper but a complete failure in real world workings. Teaching to the test as well as other problems are not only damaging to teachers and their ability to teach, but damaging to our students. As a parent who has come head on with NCLB guidelines, I will be THRILLED to see this go! Special Education students suffer, children with chronic or undiagnosed illnesses suffer, and teachers certainly suffer. Let the teachers take back control of their classrooms and the parents take back control of their children! I FULLY support those hoping to eliminate NCLB in the state. I hope that Virginia can set the trend for something so many other states would like to do but don't yet have the support or guts to do! If enough states start pulling out of this program, it will soon be an easily forgotten part of the past. Let Virginia lead that charge! This is the best news I've read in months (The Virginia Post, blue_rylie, 2008). Having taught special education to severely disabled students in VA public schools, I can say, without a doubt, that NCLB has major fundamental flaws… if your child is not an average student, it WILL leave you behind. Gifted students and students with special needs are not receiving the services they should. Why should I be required to teach students who can not feed themselves and accomplish basic self-care needs (bathroom, hand-washing, toothbrushing, etc) by themselves the scientific method and algebra. Shouldn't we make sure they have skills that they need to survive in the world? Isn't that what we want for all students, to make sure that they can leave school and SURVIVE? Instead, I am supposed to take children who can't adequately communicate and teach them different forms of literature and the history of VA when they don't know that they live in VA and can't count past 3 or recognize the letters in their own name? (The Virginia Post, Reynne, 2008).
  12. 12. Special Education Texas Education Agency will implement the US Department of Education (USDE) required limits on the number of scores from alternate assessments counted as proficient in the 2008 (AYP) calculations. NCLB Act of 2001 requires proficient results from the TAKS- Alternate (TAKS-Alt) assessment to be limited to a 1% cap and proficient results from the TAKS-Modified (TAKS-M) limited to a 2% cap. With this said, schools in Texas as well as other states will be forced to re-evaluate special education processes of qualifying students (Texas Education Agency, 2008). Clearly, there are reasons that teachers may be dissatisfied with recent changes and considerable stress of special education meeting AYP. Interviews conducted and survey research suggests that teachers feel pressure to deliver high student test scores (Barksdale-Ladd & Thomas, 2000; Hoffman, Assaf, & Paris, 2001). Texas Accountability There is widespread consensus, Texas school funding system is in crisis and will need to be reformed. School finance reform has been a major topic of public discourse in Texas since 1993. The legislature's Joint Select Committee on Public School Finance issued a final report in which they recommended a number of major changes to the school finance system. In 2004, 300 school districts in Texas challenging the constitutionality of the Texas system of school finance. The plaintiffs argued that because most school districts were at or near a state-imposed property tax rate ceiling and because the share of state education funding was declining, most school districts had inadequate funds to satisfy the student performance standards mandated by the Texas Educational Accountability system (EJ695544, 2005)
  13. 13. Texas middle schools during the 2001-02 school year, reported fifty percent of mathematics teachers taught out-of-field in middle schools where more than 75 percent of students were economically disadvantaged. At middle schools with more than 75 percent minority students, percentages of out-of-field math teachers were 53 percent. This pattern repeated for middle school science teachers in those schools (Fuller 2002b). Texas high schools during that same year, only 31 percent of Algebra I teachers were teaching out-of-field in high schools where the percentage of economically disadvantaged students was more than 75 percent. For schools having more than 75 percent minority students, the percentage of out-of-field math teachers was 30 percent. This pattern again repeated throughout math, science and the remainder of the core curriculum. In 2004, 63 percent of core subject teachers in low-performing Texas high schools were assigned to teach outside their field. In contrast, only 18 percent of core course teachers at high schools rated exemplary were teaching out of field (Fuller 2004). The question of whether school districts have insufficient resources to meet the state’s accountability standards, two cost function analyses was conducted. One study, entered into evidence by the state of Texas, reached the conclusion that in aggregate, the level of education funding in Texas is more than sufficient to meet performance goals consistent with the state's accountability system. The other study, entered into evidence by the plaintiff school districts, concluded that, in aggregate, Texas school districts would need at least $2 billion in additional revenue to satisfy the requirements of the accountability system. The school finance system in Texas was shaped by legislative response to a long series of court challenges to the Texas educational finance system. The current system established in 1993 was designed to satisfy a series of previous court rulings that declared the system of education finance unconstitutional. In
  14. 14. January 1995, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the school funding system established in 1993 satisfied constitutional muster (EJ695544, 2005) Although there have been some small revisions to the school funding formulas since then, the basic system of state aid remains in place today. Provisions have resulted in the school finance system frequently described as the so-called Robin Hood system of education finance. Given that Texas is characterized by a tremendous diversity in both student and school district characteristics, Baker (2004) concluded that conducting a cost function analysis is the most obvious fit to the challenges of educational cost analysis in Texas. The cost of education is steadily rising over time due to the increase in the number of students that the public education system in Texas must educate. Although enrollments in many parts of the country are projected to decline over the next decade, projections by the National Center for Education Statistics (2003) indicate that Texas will experience an average growth in public school enrollment of about 1% per year over the next decade. According to the Texas state demographer, if current demographic trends continue, the student body in Texas will continue to become more Hispanic and lower income (Murdock et al., 2003). School districts must increase spending to be able to meet the state's accountability standards and satisfy the constitutionally mandated requirement that they provide an adequate education. James Smith and Richard Seder (2004) argued that the school finance system is unconstitutional because it fails to provide school districts with access to sufficient resources to enable to them to provide an adequate education. It is very difficult to determine whether any given school district is operating efficiently. At a conceptual level, a school or school district is operating efficiently if it meets its stated educational goals while spending as little money as possible. Although the concept of cost
  15. 15. minimization is straightforward, the actual measurement of efficiency is complicated because it is exceedingly difficult to identify and quantify both the goals of each school district and all the factors that influence the achievement of those goals and contribute to school district spending. Despite these difficulties, it is important to note that any attempt to measure the costs of meeting student performance goals deducts from costs any spending that is inefficient, namely, spending that does not contribute to achieving those goals. An authentic state finance system accepts the responsibility of their actions as well as accountability. With the complexity of NCLB/AYP, merit pay incentives, highly qualified teachers, teacher turnovers and shortages, Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) vs. end of course exams, and the effects of high stake testing; Texas Educational Finance System leaves much to deliberate; should our youth be considered expendable due to our State mirroring inauthenticity? NCLB History Initially, NCLB initiatives introduced in the Elementary and Secondary School Act designed by Commissioner of Education Francis Keppel and passed on April 9, 1965. President Lyndon B. Johnson launched the 'War on Poverty' this being the most important educational component of the war (Schugurensky, 2002). Through special funding, this act allowed underprivileged and impoverished children a chance to receive education that met up to national standards. The NCLB Act is built on four pillars, accountability for results, emphasis on doing what works, expanded parental options and expanded local controls and flexibility (Toolkit, 2003)
  16. 16. Accountability for results The first pillar of NCLB provided funds to states and school districts to provide a wide variety of activities aimed at improving teacher quality through annual report cards issued to states reporting teacher’s qualifications (Toolkit, 2003). Terms such as: 1. Highly Qualified Teachers must have: a bachelor's degree full state certification or licensure prove that they know each subject they teach. 2. State Requirements: NCLB requires states to: measure the extent to which all students have highly qualified teachers, particularly minority and disadvantaged students adopt goals and plans to ensure all teachers are highly qualified and publicly report plans and progress in meeting teacher quality goals. 3. Demonstration of Competency: Teachers (in middle and high school) must prove knowledge/competency in subject taught: a major in the subject they teach credits equivalent to a major in the subject passage of a state-developed test HOUSSE (for current teachers only, see below, no. 4 an advanced certification from the state a graduate degree. 4. High, Objective, Uniform State Standard of Evaluation (HOUSSE): NCLB allows states to develop an additional way for current teachers to demonstrate subject-matter competency and meet highly qualified teacher requirements. Proof may consist of a combination of teaching experience, professional development, and knowledge in the subject garnered over time in the profession (U.S. Department of Education, 2008).
  17. 17. Emphasis on doing what works The second pillar of the NCLB emphasizes on doing what works. Students can succeed if they are using the best materials, proven lesson plans and textbooks aligned with state standards (U.S. Department of Education, 2004). For decades doctors have researched techniques thoroughly for effectiveness and usefulness before using them on patients. The NCLB Act is trying to apply the same theory to teaching, using well-researched effective techniques in the classroom (Toolkit, 2003). The current emphasis on ensuring that all students and schools meet high standards has increased the demand for evidence of "what works" in education. As a decision-making tool, the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) helps the education community locate and recognize credible and reliable evidence to make informed decisions. The What Works Clearinghouse was established in 2002 by the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences to provide educators, policymakers, researchers, and the public with a source of evidence of what works in education (What Works Clearinghouse, 2004). An example of what works is the Reading First program in which the national government has funneled millions of dollars. The Reading First program helps teachers in early grades strengthen old skills and gain new techniques as well. The President’s landmark bipartisan education reform enacted in January 2002, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) reports achieving results. The most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) shows an across-the-board improvement in fourth and eighth grade reading and math scores, with minority students posting all-time highs in a number of categories. Low-income second-grader’s reading scores increased 11 percentage points from 2004 to 2006, as the number of students demonstrating reading fluency rose from 33 percent to 44 percent (National Assessment of Educational Progress, 2008).
  18. 18. Expanded parental options The third pillar of the NCLB Act is expanding parental options. Through the use of testing technology parents can receive reports on their child’s individual progress. The testing also informs the parents of the schools progress. These reports are comprehensive and include achievement data broken down by race, gender, and students with disabilities. Furthermore, included in the reports are the professional qualifications of the teachers within the schools. Parents who have children attending schools who are in need of improvement are presented with a few options. Instead of parents having their children stuck in poor performing schools they are presented with the option of transferring their child to a school that has better performance levels (Toolkit, 2003). On the second year of the school needing improvement the parents are again presented with the option to transfer and now the low-income families are also presented with the option of free tutoring for their child. Transportation is provided for children who decide to transfer schools. The children who are from the lowest income homes receive first priority. Children are eligible for school choice when that child has been a victim of a violent crime on the grounds of their current school. The NCLB also promotes the use of charter schools. Charter schools have greater freedom from burdensome regulations in exchange for being held to high standards of accountability (U.S. Department of Education, 2004). Charter schools are designed to meet student’s unique interests (e.g., vocational training, arts) and special talents or needs. Charter schools are a vital alternative in districts where schools are having difficulty meeting the standards set by the state (Toolkit, 2003). Expand Local Control and Flexibility The fourth pillar of the NCLB Act is to expand local control and flexibility. The NCLB
  19. 19. allows federal funds to be distributed to school districts and those districts may use those funds in ways they deem necessary to fulfill the standards of that state. The NCLB encourages federal money to be used to solve problems; this encourages local solutions for local problems. It provides states and local communities the option of combining federal resources to pursue their own strategies for raising student achievement (Toolkit, 2003). The Act gives states and districts the flexibility to find original ways to improve teacher quality, including alternative certification, merit pay and bonuses for people who teach in high- need subject areas like math and science. With this flexibility rural communities can develop programs that are different from urban programs thereby enabling each of them to target the special needs for that particular community. Eight Misconceptions of AYP 1. AYP measures the performance of a whole school based on assessment results in only academic subjects, not Career and Technical Education, in most cases, only from students in a few grades. Currently, only 20 states test students in both math and English/language arts in grades 3-8 and once in high school.1 In the remaining states, AYP determinations for an entire school are made based only on the performance of the grade or grades tested, which may amount to only one or two grades per school (American Federation of Teachers Union, 2008). 2. AYP measures the progress of students but does not track the same group of students over time from one grade to the next or at the beginning and then at the end of the school year; therefore, it is not a true measurement of progress or growth. Instead, AYP determines progress by comparing different groups of children from year-to-year, for example, by comparing today’s 4th graders to last year’s 4th graders. It’s akin to requiring that track and field record broken every alternating year. But as testing continues, just like in track, there will be strong cohorts of students in some years, which will set levels that following classes cannot surpass despite their best efforts (American Federation of Teachers Union, 2008). 3. Making AYP means that students in the school are progressing at a rate you’d expect and desire—that is, that their progress is ―adequate.” First, the AYP formula doesn’t track the same group of students over time, let alone an individual student over time. Second, it requires schools to hit predetermined achievement targets regardless of whether a school is starting far above or far below these targets. With neither the ability to track student progress over time nor consideration of a school’s initial starting point,
  20. 20. the AYP formula can say little about school, and nothing about individual progress, over time. Instead, this formula provides a snapshot of annual school-wide averages compared to pre-set achievement targets. The ―adequacy‖ of school progress is about hitting or missing predetermined targets. It reveals nothing about the rate at which individual students are advancing throughout their years in school (American Federation of Teachers Union, 2008). 4. Making AYP and achieving at grade level mean the same thing. The AYP formula and performing at grade level aren’t necessarily linked. They are two different types of measurements. Grade level is a band of acceptable performance, whereas AYP is a specific target that may be set above, below, or within that range. Therefore, if all students in a school were at grade level, the school could still fail to make AYP. Likewise, a school with most of its students not achieving at grade level could still make AYP (American Federation of Teachers Union, 2008). 5. Failing to make AYP means that the school isn’t making progress and is ineffective. The word ―progress‖ in ―adequate yearly progress‖ is as much a misnomer as the word ―adequate.‖ AYP is about meeting fixed achievement targets, not judging whether a school has made progress with its students. Schools that may have started far behind, but that have made great gains, will not be given credit for this improvement unless they hit statistically predetermined targets Experts have identified schools that didn’t make AYP but have made more progress than schools that achieved AYP. Conversely, they’ve found schools where student achievement is declining, yet they’ve still made AYP. So, it’s inaccurate to say that a school not making AYP isn’t progressing and is ineffective with its students. Like School A in Figure 1, a school may make great progress in a year let’s say student achievement rises by 6 points—but if the predetermined target is 7 points, the school won’t get credit because it still falls short of the state target line. Instead, it will be named a school in need of improvement and subject to sanctions. And even if a school starts above the target, as in School B, its performance can still go down and the school will still be judged to have made AYP (American Federation of Teachers Union, 2008).
  21. 21. As illustrated in Figure 1, School A and School B will fall short of the projected AYP target date of 2014. Fig. 1 Hypothetical example of AYP and School Performance 10% 9% Percent Proficient or 8% School B’s Performance 7% above X 10 6% 5% 4% State’s AYP targets 3% 2% 1% 0% School A’s Performance 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 Year Source: Robert Linn, University of Colorado at Boulder, National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST), presentation made at the ETS 2003 Invitational Conference, New York City, Oct. 3, 2003. 6 AYP is about closing achievement gaps. The AYP formula is about 100 percent of students tested hitting or exceeding fixed targets, for the school as a whole and for each subgroup of students it serves. Data analyses have found that large achievement gaps still remain, even in schools that make AYP. In a school where every single student is performing at or above a given academic target, as shown in Figure 2, achievement gaps may still exist. The AYP formula and the NCLB legislation do nothing to address these gaps directly (American Federation of Teachers Union, 2008). 7. AYP is about getting all students in the country proficient in reading and math. Comparisons across states using AYP results are meaningless because AYP is calculated according to each state’s own standards and definitions of ―proficiency.‖ Proficiency definitions differ widely from state to state. If a student were to take a reading or math test in one state and make that state’s cut-off score for proficiency, there is no guarantee that the same student would be declared proficient by another state’s cut-off score on a different reading or math assessment. Accordingly, differences in ―percent proficient‖ among states reveal nothing about relative achievement of states. That South Dakota in 2003 identified only 4 percent of its schools as ―in need of improvement‖ using the AYP formula, and Florida identified 78 percent of its schools does not mean that the schools are worse in Florida or that the standards are lower in South Dakota. So, AYP results can’t be used to say that one state is doing a better or a worse job educating students than another. Moreover, AYP determinations don’t correlate with scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a national test of academic achievement. For instance, comparing NAEP scores with AYP determinations reveals some states with few
  22. 22. schools labeled as not making AYP have low to average NAEP scores (e.g., Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, West Virginia), while states with many schools labeled as not making AYP have higher NAEP scores (e.g., Florida, Idaho, South Carolina) (American Federation of Teachers Union, 2008). 8. AYP is about educational attainment. AYP is about statistics, not education. Rightfully so, NCLB requires states to make accurate and statistically reliable accountability decisions. Therefore, specific statistical safeguards regarding cut-scores, school size, how many subgroups get counted, grades tested, and a host of other statistical parameters play an intricate part in AYP calculations. Thus, AYP decisions are more subject to the laws of statistics than to education. The bottom line: AYP is touted and used as a measure of school effectiveness. Yet it fails to accurately measure the progress schools make. Measuring progress fairly and accurately over time is what accountability should be about. The current AYP formula is neither valid nor reliable and must be changed (American Federation of Teachers Union, 2008). Although the P in AYP stands for progress, AYP does not measure the yearly progress of the same students over time. Not surprisingly, the evidence shown that whether or not a school makes AYP does not necessarily depend on its effectiveness or the presence or absence or size of achievement gaps. Moreover, although the A in AYP stands for adequate, the evidence also shows AYP targets are not merely challenging but unrealistic. By 2014, almost all schools, very many of them high performing students will have failed AYP. Indeed, no nation has been or is close to meeting the kind of standard that has been set by NCLB. Therefore, for the sake of preserving the legitimacy of accountability and, above all, in order to achieve legitimate and realistic goals of NCLB, AYP must be overhauled into a system that sets realistic attainable student progress goals (American Federation of Teachers, 2008). Additionally, AYP must also provide progress reports showing schools achieve with the same students over time reporting accurate accountability measures without excluding certain groups of students by holding large and small schools and diverse and homogeneous schools equally accountable for their performances. There must be a planned maintenance system of reports on every student achievement by sub grouping low-income students as compared to their more advantaged peers without schools declaring failures.
  23. 23. Furthermore, enable all states to meet and ensure federal enforcement of the current NCLB requirement that state’s implementation of AYP meet professional standards for validity and reliability According to the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the adequate yearly progress (AYP) formula is a highly inaccurate and arbitrary yardstick for measuring progress. The law sets predetermined benchmarks for students' proficiency without taking into account schools' starting points. The testing of students with disabilities and English language learners is neither valid nor reliable. Despite lofty heights established by NCLB from the beginning, if public education is going to do what it should do for all kids, then the current AYP model needs to be eliminated, zapped out of the legislation. It has not worked, and it cannot work no matter how much the Federal Government bends over backwards to make the law palatable (AFT, 2008). All studies and proposals for improving NCLB that are beginning to pour out of associations, groups, and special interests show that we are spending an awful lot of time trying to fix the AYP mess, when our best efforts ought to be focused on finding ways to demonstrate accountability that are grounded in research. We are dealing with a failure of policy making. If the public was to grade the Federal Government on their success and develop an AYP report, one would only surmise the Government would be assessed as unacceptable and require sanctions on them. We need a better avenue to make sure schools are accountable; seems like a simple idea, but until realistic goals are required of public education we are captured by political bureaucracy. While NCLB calls for a single test for accountability, the task has not turned out to be simple, nor have the results provided the public with clear messages. The AYP calculations under NCLB, for example, frequently conflict with state accountability results, leading to confusion
  24. 24. and justifiable exasperation with the whole system. The AYP standard initially designed to be easily understood by parents, educators and should not be muddied by variables that let schools off the hook for poor performance in reading and math, even for just one group of students. Instead, Congress should provide funding for the additional supports and resources, research has identified as critical to academic success effective teachers empowered by rich curricula tied to high-quality assessments of student learning and target those resources to the schools that need the most help (The Education Trust, 2007). Robert Schaeffer of Fair test (2008), for example, suggested the "no child left untested act", and some academics quipped that the bill should be labeled "no psychometrician left unemployed." In other circles, where there were concerns that the emphasis on testing would narrow the curriculum and deprofessionalize teachers' work, the bill was referred to as "no teacher left standing," and many social justice advocates feared the bottom line would be "same children left behind." Underneath the wit and cynicism of these wordplays were serious concerns about the enduring impact NCLB/AYP would have on schools, teachers, students, families, and, in a larger sense, the American system of public education (National Center for Fair & Open Testing, FairTest, January 25, 2008). In testimony to the House Education and the Workforce Committee (Hearings on NCLB, 2004), Republican Chairman John Boehner announced that as a result of NCLB, the AYP test scores all across the country are rising and the achievement gap is closing. His assessment of the most recent report from the Education Commission of the States (ECS) was somewhat more modest and mixed. Although the report concluded that "the overall picture is encouraging, the ECS report found that although all 50 states are on track to meet at least half of NCLB's requirements, only five states are likely to meet all of them. Similarly, the commission
  25. 25. summarizes many states are improving student achievement, but few would be able to meet requirements concerning highly qualified teachers (ECS, 2004). Even though provisions for AYP have begun to place substantial pressure on school administrators and teachers, pressure is only likely to increase as large numbers of schools fail to meet targets. With critics believing the true goal behind NCLB/AYP is to discredit the public education (which will not meet the NCLP/AYP requirements) and thus prompt everyone to approve school privatization through a voucher system (Cochran & Smith, 2005). Since the inception of funding vouchers for students to attend private schools and or charter schools, vouchers for private schools correlates to no minimum accountability, no consequences for poor academic performance, no school accountability ratings, no financial accountability, and no cutoff of state funding for failing private schools. Private schools must administer the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) test or other nationally norm-referenced assessment instruments approved by the commissioner as well as provide aggregated test results to the public (Private School Voucher Bills, 2005) A more significant concern about the voucher system is the possibility of producing a racial/ethnic balkanization of society. This theory precludes racist parents sending their children only to schools, which are entirely of their own race; whereas under the current system parents are required to send their children to racially integrated public schools. However, most private schools even without public tax vouchers are already racially integrated. Wealthy parents seem to value having a mixture of races, and some of the wealthiest private schools go out of their way to provide scholarships/vouchers to disadvantaged minorities in order to provide a racially mixed student body desired by the wealthy parents. And aside from such voluntary ―affirmative action‖
  26. 26. programs, anti discrimination laws could certainly be made a part of any large-scale voucher programs for public education. (Private School Voucher Bills, 2005) Clearly, there are reasons that teachers may be dissatisfied with the recent changes that have occurred and are cautious about the future of public education. Interviews and survey research suggests that teachers feel pressure to deliver high student test scores (Barksdale-Ladd & Thomas, 2000; Hoffman, Assaf, & Paris, 2001). Recruitment and Retention With AYP, being the main determinant to investigate schools and their employees (teachers, and administrator) that are reported as unacceptable, teacher recruitment and retention has catapulted into oblivion. To assure a high-quality workforce more must be done to attract highly qualified teachers, such as: requiring states to develop induction systems ensuring support for new teachers during their beginning years with ongoing job specific professional development programs to maintain necessary skills award incentive grants to districts in developing mentoring programs, require state accountability indexing for all schools ensuring the appropriate level of instruction and learning conditions are met award monetary incentives to attract and retain high quality staff. Recruiting and retaining well-qualified teachers in isolated troubled schools presents difficult challenges. Improved working conditions incentives are essential to o provide qualified teachers for students. Surveys have shown teachers are more likely to come to schools and stay provided there is an effective principal, appropriate facilities, opportunities for professional development and collaboration, supportive conditions that include teachers in decision-making, and the resources supporting struggling students. Along with these improved working conditions, pay incentives attract and keep well-qualified teachers (American Federation of Teachers, 2007).
  27. 27. Human Resource Administrators scramble to hire educators that meet highly qualified standards; which is a good thing, but now the question arises as to what kind of teachers are considered highly qualified? According to the U.S. Department of Education, any degreed, fully state certified and licensed, demonstrates competency as define by state and federal policy elementary or secondary teacher who teaches a core academic subject (U.S. Department of Education, 2003). Technology In our age of advanced technology, there is more competition than ever for students to excel in technology. Nevertheless, as technology has become so easily accessible, students can no longer be denied benefits technology offers. As educators, our goal is to provide as much of real world integration into the learning environment. Students need the armor to prepare themselves with today’s technology for tomorrow’s skills. As educators we are duty bound to maximize each student’s potential to grasp as much technology based programs in our schools. Although President Bush’s (NCLB) Act has established technology has a priority issue, in his overview, his theme is to eliminate duplicate programs and integrate them into performance base programs so schools will not submit multiple grant applications and bare administrative burdens obtaining technology funding. Furthermore, President Bush advocates no single program will facilitate comprehensive and integrated education technology strategies targeting specific needs of individual schools (White House, President George W. Bush foreword, 2008). As we develop new programs for schools to maximize proficiency, the need for professional development should grow in proportion. States need to begin implementing programs to ensure that teachers meet NCLB's "highly qualified" definitions as required. Human
  28. 28. Resource Administrators, School Board member, Principals and Superintendents are faced with filling teacher positions with highly qualified educators. Recently, new legislation in Virginia is requiring teachers pass skills assessment known as the Technology Standards for Instructional Personnel (TSIP) for re-licensure. These skills assessment was created to meet the demands needed for teacher training courses. Public Broadcast System (PBS) is a private, nonprofit media enterprise that serves the nation's noncommercial television stations. PBS TeacherLine, is a funded grant from the U.S. Department of Education, committed to helping teachers acquire the necessary skills needed to meet students needs for a successful future; PBS TeacherLine, offers 80 courses. These courses target teacher quality and addresses competency requirements under NCLB (Public Broadcast System, 2008). Effective schools have a commitment to excellence. This begins with a vision that shapes and develops plans and focuses on the implementation, assessment, and new ideas such as NCLB originally started out with. Schools all over the country are committed to transforming schools into technology based learning centers. Curriculum and technology go hand in hand today integrating basic and 21st century skills. Yet it’s often too confusing to fathom what technologies will make an impact and how to integrate them. In this, technology is crucial, yet absolute, to the success of NCLB. With technology, students gain experience in the use of the Internet. The Internet provides educational opportunities for students and teachers, for teachers, new lesson plans, and for students, interactive software that promotes learning into fun activities. Rural schools are no longer isolated and have the same access as larger city schools enjoy. The use of video conferencing to contact other schools and educators throughout the country is becoming a mainstay. Students today embraced technology in their personal lives and
  29. 29. crave interaction with technology when they enter the classroom. Using technology to support virtual collaboration and establish an online community serves as a useful tool to "keep the fire burning" among planning groups and ushers positive resolution to the task at hand. Technology does play and integral part in NCLB, resulting in tests that are easily processed, and organized. Career and Technical Education The White House unveiled its Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 budget request recently, which will eliminate funding for the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, as we know it. According to the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) and the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc), in order to meet education and workforce needs, Perkins would need$1.8 billion for FY 2009 (NASDCTEc, 2008). The Perkins Act is CTE’s mainstay of funding that supports local education programs connecting education and real-world careers. ―The Bush budget eliminates $1.1 billion in funding for vocational education state grants, cutting off a pipeline to job opportunities in emerging fields such as telecommunications and health care for millions of students‖ (Committee on Education and Labor, U.S. House of Representatives, 2008). Being a Career and Technical Education (CTE) teacher and having obtained a Master of Arts in Career and Technical Education, President Bush proposal to eliminate the budget for Career Technical Education fiscal year 2009, would mean that students would only be offered three electives, which would include band, art, and physical education. Career and Technical Education offers students employability skills directly after graduation. How can we truly say that NCLB/AYP will pose success if they are not given the necessary skills to succeed, what about inclusion students? These students are often hands on learners. If there is, no Career Technical Education offered how are students able to obtain necessary skills needed to obtain
  30. 30. gainful employment. Career and technical education is a massive enterprise in the U.S. Thousands of high schools, vocational technical high schools, area vocational centers, and community colleges offer career and technical education programs. Virtually every high school student takes at least one career and technical education course, and one in four students takes three or more courses in a single program area. One-third of college students are involved in career and technical programs, and as many as 40 million adults engage in short-term postsecondary occupational training‖(Office of Vocational Education, 2008). Additionally, as a Career Technical Education educator I see the difference our programs make with the students. Our president feels that the students can obtain training in community colleges. Although, this can be true for some students it is not true of all students. As community colleges have, higher criteria for acceptance and all students will not attend college. We must look at the big picture. Do we really want our students to have employability skills? If so, we must incorporate CTE programs and opportunities grades K-12. According to President Bush’s overview proposed budget for CTE programs fiscal year 2009, there will be an increase of funding for Adult Education but a total elimination of funding for the Career and Technical Education State Grants, Career and Technical Education Programs, Tech Prep. Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) Executive Director Janet Bray commented, We are extremely disappointed with the President’s decision to terminate Perkins funding this year. Not only does CTE play a critical role in providing the necessary skills and knowledge for students to remain competitive in today’s workforce, but also it is an important part of school reform. These programs are helping to reduce dropout rates through engaging ―hands on‖ coursework that improves student understanding and application of academic knowledge. Funding for the Perkins Act is essential, and it has already proven to be successful and should not be shortchanged (Bray, 2008).
  31. 31. Fiscal year (FY) 2006 and 2007 saw Bush’s administration proposal to eliminate Carl Perkins funding, whereas Congress rejected both proposals. FY 2008 budget, Bush proposed slashing the program by 50 percent, but Congress recommended a $25 million increase to $1.3 billion; which was vetoed by President Bush. FY 2008 budget included a $20 million decrease across-the-board-budget cuts in the final bill proposal. Since 2002, Perkins funding has not received a substantial increase in funding. If CTE is to stay alive funding must be increased, not eliminating career and technical education programs continue their quest to meet the education and training needs of the global economy (National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium, 2008). The main focus targets funding for high priority programs instead of small categorical programs that have indirect or limited impact (U.S. Education Department, 2008). Those of us working with CTE students know the importance of this education. Those who do not know what we do cannot understand what it takes this country to be successful. Figure 1, next page illustrates the need for CTE programs grades K-12.
  32. 32. Fig.1 Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2004 Our government is a cobweb of fractions pulling in opposite directions with the winner being the hardest puller (usually lobbyists). Where is CTE on the tug-of-war of funding? Politicians are urged, swayed, sometimes bought by organizations, whose primary agenda is their personal gains. How do we show and influence Washington with our agenda of a better life for our children through their participation in Career and Technical Education? Maybe if CTE were labeled as a commodity, such as Pork Barrels, it would receive the support of our legislators. The Perkins program plays a critical role in providing the skills and knowledge essential for a competitive workforce; NCLB without CTE would be similar to taking a shower without water. Quality CTE programs are linked to rigorous academic instruction just as core subjects are
  33. 33. required through NCLB and are improving student engagement through "real world" application preparing our youths for successful careers. CTE teachers take on numerous roles in order to work effectively in their schools. Among their many roles they are program managers, instructional designers, facilitators of learning, and student advisors. In recent years, there has been growing criticism of traditional teacher education programs, which some critics embrace a theoretical approach that leaves graduates ill, prepared for the realities of the classroom (Hartocollis, 2005). Other critics point out that there is a lack of formal teacher training programs for in- demand content areas such as math, science, foreign language, and special education as well as a lack of graduate faculty to train teachers in these critical needs areas (Boehner, 2004). Still others note that current teacher training programs are simply not able to provide the number of teachers needed for American schools. According to Simon (2005), "In the last five years, 500,000 new teachers have taken jobs in the nation's elementary and secondary school classrooms. In the next five, a half million more will be needed as the student population swells and aging boomers accelerate their march to retirement" (Simon, 2005, p 27). NCLB Act calls for a qualified teacher in every classroom by the end of the 2005-2006 school years (No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, 107th Cong., 1st session, Public Law 107-110). Challenges such as these have led to a movement towards alternative methods of teacher certification. Currently, 47 states and the District of Columbia offer alternative routes to teacher certification with programs, such as Teach for America, that detours from the traditional and fast track prospective teachers into the classroom (Hartocollis, 2005). In some states, new methods of teacher certification allow prospective teachers to obtain certification by passing a standardized content and pedagogy test, thus sidestepping traditional teacher training programs.
  34. 34. These alternative teacher education models tend to be mentor based with learning taking place mostly at the school site and away from colleges of education (Georgia Professional Standards Commission, 2005). A report recently released by the Center on Education Policy reveals that the four-year-old No Child Left Behind Act has indeed served to shine a light on the importance of professional development of highly qualified educators grades K-12. Beyond that basic fact, though, any real broad-based impact on the training of educators remains inconclusive. While the majority of states reports that NCLB has served to ratchet up the quality of professional development, most districts say it's had "minimal" effect. Whatever the truth, concerns about NCLB are sure to remain front and center in the foreseeable future. The definition of highly qualified as it applies to educators will evolve with changing technology and the increasing emphasis on accountability and customized learning. How should districts plan for successful and sustained technology-infused with NCLB meet criterion set by this act? David Jakes of Technology & Learning contends eight steps for a highly qualified program which consists of: Think Multiples Effective programs recognize that not all educators are equal when it comes to applying technology to the learning process. A truly effective professional development program may have multiple courses occurring simultaneously, while addressing the needs of multiple types of learners. For example, Adlai Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Illinois, requires every teacher to have a core level of technology competency and demonstrate mastery on a formal assessment. To prepare teachers for this, technology training and integration manager Charlene Chausis offers a dozen 30-minute sessions a week in the school's staff development lab. Chausis
  35. 35. contends, "Knowing that our staff has achieved a core level of proficiency allows us to move ahead and focus on the topic of integration," (Jakes, 2006) Teachers can also elect to take the "Power Rangers" program, in which they make a commitment to participate in eight hours of professional development each semester in exchange for a laptop computer. This group of teachers then meets with Chausis on a monthly basis to develop integration strategies that can be extended to the entire staff. To prepare for professional development, the assessment of educator skill level and readiness is absolutely critical. eListen by Scantron provides a Web-based survey for collecting data that can be used to plan for professional development. Coupled with district goals and expectations for student achievement, survey results provide a data-driven foundation for moving forward with training (Jakes, 2006). Align with Goals It's key that schools or districts identify technology standards for students and teachers and frame those standards as learning outcomes for students. A sound procedure is for administrators to employ formal data collection strategies to evaluate teacher mastery of standards and their impact on actual instruction as required by NCLB being highly qualified. These standards should drive further professional development planning. District 99 in Downers Grove, Illinois, has developed the Learner Standards for Technological Understanding, which provides a set of expectations for student technology knowledge. The standards are composed of three domains, each with its own set of subordinate components. Domain one addresses functional literacy, what tools should students knows how to use? Domain 2 is based on the application of those tools to the problem-solving process. For example, can students use those tools to answer an essential question that has meaning to them? Finally, domain three identifies how students should use technology tools ethically. To maintain
  36. 36. a consistent and focused program, district technology professional development activities are based on the same standards (Jakes, 2006) Evaluate The purpose of any professional growth activity should produce a change in educator behavior that results in increased student learning. Districts that offer high-quality professional development employ a thorough evaluation sequence that provides multiple types of data about the strengths and weaknesses of its programs and the link between professional development and changes in student performance. In his book Evaluating Professional Development; University of Kentucky Professor of Education Thomas Guskey outlines a comprehensive five-step evaluation program. The components are: Participants' reactions. Evaluation at this level identifies the appropriateness of a program's content, process, and context. Was the content appropriate? Was the presenter knowledgeable? Was the coffee hot? Participants' learning. What are participants' beliefs toward the professional development topic, and has the event changed those attitudes and beliefs? Organizational support and change. Does the organization have the tools, services, and policies in place to support the training experience once teachers return to the classroom? Participants' use of new knowledge. Did participants implement what they learned? Did it change classroom practice? Student learning. Did the experience improve student learning? In most cases, that should be the most important question to ask (Gusky, 2006). Get Off-Site Highly qualified training programs support teachers as well as administrators attendance at technology conferences, seminars, and workshops. Mobility can be a healthy experience. Conference attendance exposes participants to cutting-edge ideas to integrate back to the school district stimulating discussion and growth. Because not everyone can get away, districts should
  37. 37. develop procedures and tools to extend the conference experience to those not attending the actual event. Most conferences now have wireless access, so a blog makes a handy tool for attendees to post notes, ideas, and resources for staff members not in attendance (Jakes, 2006). Dedicate Space Having a dedicated space for technology professional development sends a definite message: Bill Burrall, coordinator of instructional technology for the Marshall County School System in West Virginia, has made this a priority. The district's two-year-old Digital Learning Center delivers organization-wide professional development to enhance productivity and a wide range of workplace skills. Teachers can participate in a session on integrating Discovery's United Streaming content, administrative assistants can increase their spreadsheet skills, and maintenance staff can learn how to search for parts online (Jakes, 2006). The Mnemonics system enables presenters in remote locations to deliver instruction, adding to the staff expertise. Training is available during the school day, after school, and summers. Burrall stresses that though the center's tools may not all be cutting edge, they work well together, which is key. The center has 16 workstations; a presentation machine that's connected via a T-1 line to a 77-inch diagonal Mnemonics Interactive Presentation Manager; a digital projector; an Epson document camera; surround sound; and TV, DVD, and VCR feeds. The instructor/presenter has the advantage of controlling the workstations through AB Tutor Control for maximum presentation flexibility and efficiency (Jakes, 2006).
  38. 38. Extend Training All too often, professional development consists of one-shot experiences that last from one to several days mostly during the summer. But professional development doesn't necessarily have to be that way. District 99 in Downers Grove, Illinois employs learning teams and learning clubs. Educators in learning teams receive five two-hour releases during school days following an initial training session. The purpose is to extend the conversation and the learning beyond the session. Participation is voluntary, and educators are required to pair up and make a presentation to the group. Learning clubs are structured similarly but occur after school (Jakes, 2006). Hunterdon Central High School in Flemington, New Jersey has just completed its first year of a tablet PC initiative, which was supported by three professional development activities extended over the course of the school year. Teachers in the first cohort attended two days of professional development in the summer and then could attend drop-in days for one-on-one support with the school's information systems personnel. Additionally, participants attended monthly meetings focusing on classroom applications. By moving beyond the "one-shot" experience, schools can take advantage of their in-house expertise while building leadership, internal capacity, and professional learning communities (Jakes, 2006). Invest in Staff The development of internal capacity to lead professional development activities is crucial to the long-term success of a learning community. Nevertheless, this expertise takes time. District personnel must be given opportunities to lead professional growth activities and the administrative, clerical, and financial support to get the job done. Most important, school districts must provide mentor relationships for beginning professional developers to help them plan and evaluate professional growth activities.
  39. 39. A technology integration specialist, who is available for the planning and delivery of all training, supports professional development in Marshall County Schools. "This year the district's technology integration specialist is based at our largest school, supporting 90-plus teachers," Burrall says. We have seen an incredible increase in teacher comfort levels with technology integration and excitement about integrating it into instruction." Chausis sums it up very well . "You can invest money in hardware and software, but technology that is not easily accessed and implemented will not be used. It is critical for schools to also provide the 'peopleware' — on-site support personnel who can provide 'just in time' assistance once the technology is in place (Chausis C., 2005). Encourage Community The Internet is flooded with ways to communicate with others, blogs, wikis, podcasting, etc. make it possible for educators to define their personal learning environments. These tools allow educators connectivity with peers and obtain resources viable to technology. More importantly, developing these communication avenues allows dialogue, and reflection, which are critical to professional growth and development activities. These resources can be the raw material for rapid personal growth, because they allow educators to see what others are writing, reading, and finding on the Web. This type of customizable learning experience is attractive to Linda O'Connor, science and technology coordinator of School District 205 in Elmhurst, Illinois. She contents "I get to decide what's important and how it will help me, and I get the opportunity to learn and be proactive among other supportive professionals," (O’Connor, L. 2008) Monadnock Community Connections School (MC2) in Keene, New Hampshire, coaching and feedback are critical to professional development. Each teacher maintains an online portfolio; weekly reflections are e-mailed to Principal Kim Carter, who responds to each
  40. 40. educator. Dialogue and reflective practice is the key, as is the development of small professional learning communities (Technology & Learning, 2006). MC2 is based on the belief that all members of the educational community are continuously learning, that all practice is founded on research and best practices," Carter says. The tenets of a professional learning community are intentionally integrated throughout our community...all staff write a weekly reflection for me, and I write weekly reflections for the staff as well as for the community (students, parents, and interested stakeholders). Operating in the context of a professional learning community provides all staff members with pervasive, shared support systems while simultaneously modeling the behaviors we seek to develop in our students (Monadnock Community Connections School, 2008), Conclusion NCLB/AYP affects all aspects of school relations as notated throughout our textbook, Human Resources Administration in Education. It would be erroneous to preclude NCLB only affecting certain domains of human resource administration; this law affects all aspects of education both good and bad. Rebore (2007) contends teachers are lost to the education profession because of improper mismanagement of Professional Development. The NCLB Act will be around for at least the next decade, how we deal with it will still be controversal, but hopefully less restrictive. However the effects good or bad, we are stuck with it to make it work in our schools. This act is incredibly crucial in determining the type of education the youth of America will receive in the following years through infusing the recommendations of CTE programs with core subjects. Virtually all aspects of education are tied into the NCLB, and for our children’s sake, we hope that this act is effective in teaching our youth. AYP must fuse CTE courses into academia. Student success in all grades that is based upon on alternate years, same students, are amiss and does not tell the whole story. It is the contention of this writer, success can only be achieved when the school community buys into a program that truly demonstrates acceptable standards.
  41. 41. True reformation of education in the United States demands constant attention to schools, teachers, administrators, communities, stakeholders and success rates of the students. All reform begins with a vision, shaping infrastructure to reporting data. As a nation, we are duty bound to be cognizant of realistic goals and reforms that achieve maximum potential with students. Our focus should be on student success rather than experimentation. All reform is dependent on the quality of the people employed to promote success and reform. As this report contents, recruitment and retention of highly qualified teachers through innovative approaches in Professional Developments, infusion of technology, requiring states to develop induction systems for new teachers during there beginning years, incentive grants to districts in developing mentoring programs and provide monetary incentives to attract and retain high quality staff would be an excellent start. Obviously much more needs to be accomplished, and No Child Left Behind presents challenges as well as opportunities to enhance quality education. Let us draw our attention on building what is right, by doing so, the present focus on offering unanswered questions, criticisms without solutions, will cease. The nuts and bolts for holding schools accountable by AYP alone, does not demonstrate true assessment of student achievements across our nations from front running schools to schools furthest behind. Because AYP has been proven neither fair nor accurate, it is the opinion of this writer; the credibility of NCLB/AYP’s accountability system has been compromised.
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