Redway School on List of "Failing" Schools

 

First, the bad news.  Redway Elementary School is on a list of failing schools that parents can choose to opt their students out of.  But the good news is that Redway School exceeds the State’s standards for education which are measured as needing to be 800 on the API (Academic Performance Index.)  Redway has 810 which is okay.  However, it has been placed on the Open Enrollment List (generally lower performing schools) which was created to make it easier for parents of students in low preforming schools to transfer them to higher preforming schools.  The idea behind the Open Enrollment List was that it would put pressure on the designated schools to shape up or they would lose money as students transferred.  So why did Redway end up on this list of the 1,000 lowest performing schools?  According to EdSource (hat tip to Donna Tam of the Times Standard,)

Schools with high API scores can end up on the list partly because no single district can have more than 10% of its schools designated as a “low-achieving” school. So some schools with low API scores escape the designation because they are in a district with schools with even lower ones — typically districts like Los Angeles Unified or San Diego Unified.

Kevin Monsma, superintendent for Pollack Pines Elementary district in El Dorado County, which has 700 students, is not pleased with this approach, saying that the law in effect protects large school districts and penalizes small ones. His district has two schools, including Pinewood Elementary, which is on the list with an API score of 811.

“You get to the point where you’re not identifying low-performing schools,” he said. “It’s kind of an odd message.”

Higher-scoring elementary schools, in particular, are more likely to be on the list because by law elementary schools must make up more than two-thirds of the schools on it. In fact, nearly 400 schools with the highest scores on the list of 1,000 are elementary schools, with API scores of 737 or higher. Many are schools in small districts.

One of the ways to make a decision about how a school is doing is compare their API between years.  Are they improving?  By this measure, Redway is doing okay also.  In 2010, Redway had an API of 789.  In 2011, it has an API of 810. For more on its API, go here and other measures of its academic program go here.

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3 comments

  • The largest indicators of student performance are a family’s income level and the education level of the parents. The good news in that factoid is that if your family has its act together, your kids will get a good education from even a seeming mediocre school. As a whole, public education is healthy, regardless of what rightwing reformers would have you believe.

    Reading the text of the law, I’m surprised it was passed by Democrats. Charter schools are explicitly exempted from the list, even though they are public schools. Nationally, charter schools don’t perform any better or worse than traditional public schools. To repeat, a charter school could be failing colossally, but it will never appear on the failing list. I say I’m surprised Democrats supported the law because, nationally, there is an effort on to declare schools as failing in a gambit to privatize public schools and destroy teacher’s unions. Privately run charter schools are part of that effort. Schools are “failing” by design.

  • I second WJ’s comments. Very frustrating for educators and school boards when their schools are making progress, but bureaucrats and politicians pass laws that indicate the opposite. Republicans and Democrats tout “No Child Left Behind” as an example of bipartisan legislation. That just indicates that neither party knows what the hell they’re talking about when it comes to actually improving the educational system in this country. We need a new “pragmatist” party to get something done. It is’t rocket science. Ask the teachers in the trenches.

  • I second WJ’s comments. Very frustrating for educators and school boards when their schools are making progress, but bureaucrats and politicians pass laws that indicate the opposite. Republicans and Democrats tout “No Child Left Behind” as an example of bipartisan legislation. That just indicates that neither party knows what the hell they’re talking about when it comes to actually improving the educational system in this country. We need a new “pragmatist” party to get something done. It is’t rocket science. Ask the teachers in the trenches.

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