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Mixed signals for our school

By Susan Reeves

Many parenting books talk about how consistency in raising children is critical. Consistency is also key when training personnel and even in training a pet. It should be the same in dealings between the government and school districts.
It has been a roller coaster ride for district administrators at Mount Vernon schools. They are getting mixed signals from the State and Federal government. There are several different reports and ratings that are based on the results from TAKS testing. Some praise the district for doing a great job, and others threaten sanctions against the district unless they come into compliance.
At the district level, Mount Vernon Schools have been a Recognized district for the past three years. For 2009-2010, the passing rate for reading, writing, social studies, and math tests were all at 90 percent or above and science was 85 percent. The district scores improved in 2010-2011, with all five areas coming in at 90 percent or above. The district would have been Exemplary if the rules had not been changed to require 20 percent of students attain a commended rating to reach that level.
A few weeks ago, the district received news that they had not met Adequate Yearly Progress for the third year. This was based on TAKS testing for the 2010-2011 school year. District administrators are not sure what the repercussions are for this, but have been threatened with a range of punishments from financial penalties to the Federal government taking over the school district. In 2013, AYP will require that 100 percent of students must pass standard testing whether they are on a modified lesson plan or a main streamed student. Many educators realize it is quite an accomplishment for every child in every classroom to pass every test.
“The teachers are all working hard to educate our kids, but there comes a point when a goal is not attainable and it starts to take away from providing a good education,” school board member Steve Asay said during the September board meeting.
In this week’s edition of the Optic-Herald, it is reported that MVISD was given a Five Star rating by the Texas Comptroller’s office for excellence in education while keeping their cost per student low. This is based on the 2009-2010 school year and TAKS testing. This is the best rating given in the FAST rating system. Last year, MVISD received 4.5 Stars. This is a great compliment to the staff at the school for a great job and doing it on a tight budget.
The No Child Left Behind policy started out as a noble challenge, but all the guidelines and restrictions have muddied the educational waters instead of helping schools teach our children. Too much time and energy has been spent in the classroom  preparing students for the TAKS and will be for the STAAR, the new test that will replace TAKS for this school year. Too great an emphasis is being placed on learning testing strategies than on knowledge and skills students will need for a productive life. Let’s get back to providing a good education for our students.


#1 CreepyAnonymous 2011-11-28 20:21
"Federal government taking over the school district"
What a creepy phrase! Can anyone say "unconstitution al?"
#2 RE: Mixed signals for our schoolanonymous 2011-12-06 12:33
Standardized testing is what has been wrong with our education system for years. Test taking strategies have replaced true education. An interesting side note: homeschooled children aren't required to take any of these tests. And we wonder why our public schools are losing more and more students to that option!