"High Achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation." - Charles Kettering

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

This and that

Holy smokes, it's been a busy spring. School activities take on a life of their own in spring, and I am very relieved to see summer arrive. The Tommy Awards for the EHS spring Musical "Guys and Dolls" were such an honor for so many. Collin Rehfeldt and John Robinson won Outstanding Supporting Awards, Bob Mentele won for Outstanding Lighting, Anna Bisch and Wolly Wollinger won Honorable Mention for their Lead Roles and, not surprising to anybody involved in an EHS production, the cast won for Outstanding Musical. I went to the ceremony and saw such fabulous talent, it took my breath away. I would not be surprised at all to see some of those kids make it in show business.

Every Wednesday since May 1st has been a veritable smorgasbord of awards for excellence. This is the first Wednesday I have been home in a month. My daughter had to miss getting her award for excellence in English because, ironically, she was buried in homework (not English, btw).

Graduation is upon us this Saturday, right after the ACT test at EHS. Sarah will go directly from the test to performing at graduation as she sings in her last graduation (since she will be walking down that revered aisle next year). Where did my little girl go?

As we seem to have the popular 3 years between all of our kids, I once again attended Holly's 8th grade graduation, or "recognition" on Monday. Tuesday was 5th grade graduation for our baby, Mr. Will. Last time I was in this situation, I vaguely recall that both of the ceremonies were on the same day. Thank goodness they changed that. I was a bit verklempt with all of this honoring of passages going on. One will be a Senior next year, one enters high school and one enters middle school all at the same time. My babies grew up in a blink of an eye. Hello young ladies and young man. Welcome, fasten you seat belts and enjoy the ride!

There are still several years for my younger kids to be in public school. I hope the big changes coming in education will be positive for them but I'm not going to hold my breath. The challenges will be myriad unless something is done about NCLB. Did you see this morning's Wisconsin State Journal article about Madison facing sanctions? Six districts in the state failed to meet adequate yearly progress (AYP). 228 individual schools failed to meet AYP as defined in the law. Nearly double the 140 that failed last year. I predicted this from the get go. It does not make me feel good that my prediction came to pass. But one test score in time comparing one 4th grade class to the one the year before does not tell you how much those kids learned.

On the upside, completely against calculations, JC McKenna met AYP. With the WKCE scores they posted, this was simply not feasible using the straight numbers provided on the WINSS system. Which begs the question as to what the heck kind of magic schools do with the numbers to "meet" AYP. There is supposed to be some 2% of students that can be excluded from "counting," yet an alternate assessment is given in the calculations for various demographics. As with the infamous "Safe Harbor" calculation, there is another factor of which I am unaware and frankly, don't even care about anymore. It seems that in their fury about the ^&&)* NCLB, the bean counters for schools have developed any number of shell games to show "progress." Meanwhile, education goes to hell in a hand basket trying to meet all these stupid testing protocols. So, when all those schools show 100% proficient or advanced students in 2014, just remember some wizadry is involved and we're just as stupid as we were in 2001. Probably more so. But we have numbers to debunk it, so we must be brilliant. Another case of dangerous use of statistics. Blinking bureaucrats.

My rant is done. I am glad JC McKenna met AYP. I fear it is on a house of cards and when the goals increase by 9 and 12.5% again next year, it will all come tumbling down. But I am confident that some bean counter will come up with a formula that will prove all is well. Kudos to Evansville and once again, I must apologize for my premature predictions of AYP failure. Ah, well, for that you must turn in your calculator, missy!

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