Parents, others question ‘low-performing’ schools label

Parents, others question ‘low-performing’ schools label
December 03
00:00 2015
Emory and Gordon

By Tevin Stinson

The Chronicle 

Educators in Forsyth County are not happy about the plan of action laid out by the Board of Education to improve the school performance grade and school growth score of the low performing schools in the area.

According to the State Board of Education’s designation, 29 schools in the area are considered “low-performing.” As a result, the WS/FCS Board of Education is required to create an improvement plan for those schools.

During a scheduled board meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 25, the public was allowed to voice their opinions on the plan. A number of parents say they were shocked when they received the news.

“I couldn’t believe it when I read the letter stating Kimberley Park was considered low-performing,” said Karlton Jones. “If you just walk through the halls you can see and hear that the children are learning, retaining the information and making progress.”

Jones has a daughter in the third grade at Kimberley Park and believes teachers and administrators already go beyond the call of duty to make sure students are learning.

“My daughter is excited to come to school everyday,” he said. “Those are the types of things that doesn’t show on the state’s grading scale.”

A number of educators mentioned the board’s plan will create more issues for teachers and administrators who are already overworked and under paid.

“I’m interested to see how this will affect me,” said Ivy Davis, a teacher assistant at Ashley Elementary. “I think all the hard work that is going on in these schools should be taken into consideration. Families need to be involved too; teachers can’t do this alone.”

Davis mentioned the improvement plan will cause current teachers grief and force future teachers like her to question whether they want to become teachers.

“I’ve spent all these years going to school and here I am about to graduate. Now I’m wondering if I even want to go any further if I know I’ll have to go through this process,” Davis said.

“I’m just speaking from the heart. I feel for the teachers and I think there should be more digging to come up with a better plan.”

The plan for improving low-performing schools is a continuation of the work started in the summer of 2014.

The plan calls for Professional Learning Teams (PLTs), which requires all schools to hold weekly PLTs meetings to support the collaborative work of schools and teachers, School Improvement Plan Review Process (SIP Review Process), a bi-annual review of SIP plans, and annual data analysis reviews.

Other items in the plan include early release days for professional development that will be guided by central office personnel, and school support meetings designed to prioritize strategies for improving student performance and growth.

President of the Forsyth County Association of Educators Ronda Gordon pointed out most of the schools deemed “low-performing” are in areas with higher poverty rates and should be taken into account when creating the plan as well.

“The amount of paperwork and documentation that has to be completed on a student receiving intervention is a big concern,” she said. “We must acknowledge the schools in our district have different needs, and the way you address those needs should be different as well.

“The magnitude of the issues and concerns that most of these schools on this list deal with on a daily basis are more than some schools deal with in an entire year.”

Following the public hearing, the Board of Education voted unanimously to approve the improvement plan.

Superintendent Dr. Beverly Emory said the improvement plan will help teachers throughout the district who are already doing an amazing job.

“It is accurate that we haven’t had a lot of support statewide, but our teachers are doing an amazing job with all kinds of resources,” she continued. “I’m incredibly proud of the work that is going on. I don’t want anyone in this district to think that what has gone on at this board table is not an amazing show of support for the commitment and dedication for those who work in this district.”

The improvement plan can be viewed on the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools’ official website, 

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