Wednesday, September 08, 2010

2010 RIDE Commissioner's Review of Providence Central Office

ProJo, August 19:

Democratic congressional candidate Anthony P. Gemma on Wednesday attacked Mayor David N. Cicilline, one of his Democratic opponents, blaming the mayor for low student performance and high administrator costs in the city public schools.

Gemma’s criticism focused on a report issued in late February by the state commissioner of education’s office reviewing the school district’s central office, which said that the school district demonstrates little to no evidence of compliance with some state standards for course alignment, student proficiency, and graduation requirements.

I couldn't find a copy of this report on the RIDE website, so I contacted the Gemma campaign, and they sent me a copy of the Commissioner's Review Executive Summary - 2010 criteria, Central Office 02-22-2010. It is just a pdf of a scan, so it isn't searchable. 11 pages.

It is a deeply, deeply depressing document on every level.

I guess we'll just start at the beginning and go until I get tired of this.

a. Complete alignment of all courses and assessments to the reading, writing, oral communication and math GSE's and subsequent gap analysis

Basically, despite a singleminded focus on curriculum alignment and consistency throughout the district to the exclusion of all other considerations since the beginning of the Brady administration, the state still gave the PPSD low marks in this area. RIDE's paperwork requirements here are a bit extreme ("Evidence of cross-curricular alignment should be provided if available in all content areas."), based on alignment to standards the state is going to drop in favor of the Common Core at the earliest possible moment, and, in the end, of dubious value in actually improving outcomes.

There's lots of complicated data analysis of dubious value that PPSD hasn't provided:

b. Analysis of disaggregated course taking patterns to ensure that all students, regardless of their pathway or high school, have access and opportunity to achieve proficiency.

I don't understand what their fishing for in what would be a rather complicated data analysis. Schools or "pathways" that on paper don't provide even access or opportunity for proficiency? What would that school even look like?

c. Full implementation of personalization structures across the district

Yes, you must be completely aligned, cross-aligned, and standardized, and fully personalized. Look, running a school district is inherently about balancing these issues; simply demanding that the district be totally standard and totally personalized is magical thinking.

d. Common planning time for all teachers in the district

If this is so blasted important, why has RIDE still not ruled on the Hope student's appeal to retain the common planning time in their schedule, in the second week of the new school year? Also, a reform trap, "A variety of achievement data in addition to NECAP must be used to plan CPT." Yet, only NECAP is used to evaluate the school.

You get the idea...

I'm afraid at this point anyone trying to run the PPSD will be hopelessly hamstrung by RIDE, whose lack of experience successfully running an urban school district is showing in this document. I'm almost feeling sympathetic to the PPSD central office.

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