Fisher discusses the TPS State Report Card Results

For Immediate Release

Fisher discusses the TPS State Report Card Results

Fisher Advocates for More Attention to our Schools in Academic Watch and Emergency

Yesterday TPS Announced the State Report Card Results and based upon the data TPS will remain in Continuous Improvement. Board Member Darlene Fisher, a long time advocate for families and educational progress in our public school system congratulates the students, parents,TPS teachers and staff and the community; all have contributed to the effort.

Fisher states, the results show that when you align goals both at the school level and individual classroom level, success happens. This is also backed by the Board of Education working together with the Superintendent to provide the necessary benchmarks and leadership to our schools. However more work needs to be done in working more closely with TPS families and our entire community.

Of those schools with the highest state ranking of Excellent, Fisher is pleased to see the progress at Elmhurst, Harvard, Start High School, Early College High School and Toledo Technology Academy. Additionally, 9 schools have been identified as Effective: Arlington, Beverly, Edgewater, Grove Patterson, Navarre, Oakdale, Old West End Academy, Ottawa River, and Waite. Twenty-four schools remain in the Continuous Improvement category.

Fisher has begun to analyze the data which is made more difficult because every year the state seems to be changing the report cards and standards. This year the state added a category called the value added measure. This approach uses previous test scores and computes a growth rate that is compared to an expected value.

From a preliminary review of the data, 3 TPS elementary schools; Chase, Longfellow and McKinley, appear to have benefited from this new measure by having their designations raised one level to continuous improvement. More review is needed to determine if real progress is being made or the state in their constant changing of the report card process has found ways to improve the rankings without actual educational progress.

As a business person, Fisher understands the link between good analysis of data and
identification of consistent goals and action plans. During her tenure as a board member, the District has been able to use the data to a greater degree at the local school and classroom level. Fisher also advocates that parents look at the data school by school and work with their child’s teacher to understand their student’s progress, so that parents can remain an integral partner in the educational process.

Fisher notes that one of the Teacher Incentive Fund goals was a focus on math. Teachers were paid incentive amounts to focus and advance success in Math for all students. Fisher is concerned that the district’s reading scores have decreased and will encourage the Board and administration to develop a plan to address student reading capabilities in the earlier grade levels. Parents can also assist in this effort by encouraging students to read each day and make use of the outstanding Toledo-Lucas County library system.

“We need to look more closely at how compensation payments linked to specific goals have improved student performance,” Fisher said. Fisher believes that If it works for math, why not reading and other areas where progress is needed. “We need to start now and prepare for next year’s contract negotiations with our collective bargaining units so that we can address innovative suggestions to improve student learning and that should include linking goals to future compensation,” Fisher emphasized.

The schools that will require a detailed plan of action include: Glenwood, Pickett, Sherman, Jones and Robinson as those schools remain in the Academic Emergency category. Further attention will also be necessary for the 12 schools identified as Academic Watch: East Side Central, Lagrange, Marshall, Riverside, Rosa Parks, Westfield, DeVeaux, East Broadway Middle School, Leverette, McTigue, Scott’s Allied Health Small School and Woodward. TPS’ middle schools require real attention as 6 of 7 schools are designated in Academic Emergency and Watch. “The bridge to high school from elementary school is a key time in a student’s life and we need to have higher academic performance if we are to see improved and sustained student
success and graduation levels at the high school level,” said Fisher.

Fisher believes the current report cards show progress, however, TPS will never attain a higher district rating without immediate, sustained, and evaluated action regarding the under performing schools identified.. Fisher stated, “Today’s results set a good direction for Toledo Public Schools and I am happy to be a part of that goal setting direction. We still have difficult challenges ahead and need a sense of urgency among our Board and staff to develop plans to address those schools that remain in academic watch and emergency. With 17 schools in those categories, to really move the district forward, we need a concentrated effort to address conditions in those schools.”

As a focus of the work that Darlene Fisher will do as the community’s representative on the Toledo School Board, Fisher will bring to the Board the following recommendations:

1. Fisher will ask the district to explore incentives for teachers and staff related to specific
district, school and individual goals as jointly determined by the Board, administration and staff superficially as they relate to schools in the Academic Watch and Academic
Emergency categories. With the contract expiring in March 2010, now is the time to plan
for specific changes to support highly qualified teachers in our more challenged schools.

2. Among these schools, we need to consider creating Academic or Innovation Zones as
has been created in other Urban districts that will facilitate improvement and look for
advances and special circumstances that will address students needs. The Federal
Government is posed to provide significant stimulus dollars in the fall of 2010 and the
district should be exploring options to seek out funding which will improve schools
designated in Academic Emergency and Watch. We need to involve the staff and
community in building a strong relationship with students who need our help the most.

3.We need to create partnerships that develop a direct link or connection to social services organizations that reach families who may need additional support and help families focus on the importance of learning for their students.

4. Fisher recommends the Board hold a Success Summit for those schools in these
categories. The Board needs to involve the staff from the Effective and Excellent
Schools to discuss what items might be transferable to the schools in Academic Watch
and Emergency. Fisher stands strong on involving all teachers, administrators and
support staff in this process to come together and convene a set of actions plans that the Board approves by resolution. The Board should establish a plan to receive monthly
updates on the progress of these schools as they work to reach specific reading and
math goals. This would also help us focus and ensure the necessary resources or
funding streams are identified to create the success needed to bring these schools up in their state rankings. Improving those schools in these categories also assists with the district’s retention rates which directly impact the district’s cash flow. Having less schools falling into the Ohio Voucher category by significantly improving these schools helps to stabilize the district’s enrollment, finances and employment rates.
Darlene Fisher is completing her fourth year as a Toledo School Board Member and is up for reelection on November 3, 2009.

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