SCUSD Observer

Sacramento, California

Archive for the ‘API’ Category

Corporate restructuring

The news that Superintendent Jonathan Raymond is seeking permission from trustees to hire a chief accountability officer for SCUSD does not allay very real fears that Raymond is accelerating a push to develop a corporate education culture in Sacramento.

Consider these job titles: Chief Talent Officer, Chief Knowledge Officer, Chief Portfolio Officer…all with annual salary ranges between $125,000-175,000. New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, a strong proponent of privatization, devised this idea of “administrative restructuring.”

These executives (most who have never taught in a classroom or been a principal) make the rounds throughout the countries’ school systems while changing job titles and descriptions. It’s a smorgasboard of CEO’s. Raymond was a chief accountability officer before he was hired in Sacramento.

The ultimate goal is to run the school system like a corporation –SCUSD teachers will have continued pressure to “teach the test” and improve API scores — data will be relentlessly tracked and tied to performance by the chief accountability officer.

This reform leads to what education historian Diane Ravitch calls a huge mistake:

Teachers — not just union leaders — are unhappy, frustrated, and demoralized. So are parents, because they don’t like the high-stakes testing regime either. They don’t like that their children are losing time for the arts, science, history, geography, physical education, foreign languages, and everything that is not tested. They may not be well-informed, yet they know that their children are missing out on a good education.

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API scoring doesn’t tell the whole story

Recently, the API scores for SCUSD were released. I first realized this fact when I saw the front page of the current issue of Sacramento Magazine , which showcases a particularly interesting article called “Rating the High Schools.” In addition to providing the long list of scores received by area schools, the article provided 10 short interviews with students from some of the top schools. Not only did this add dimension to the “ranking,” it allowed readers to see a side of the schools that is often shadowed by the importance of API scoring. It is true that these scores can say a lot about a school – namely the quality of preparation received by the students – but what these scores don’t show is the personal side of a school. How are the sports programs? Are the teachers both personable and effective? Is the school safe, inviting, or even bearable, at the very least? These are all aspects that are often ignored by the API-centric “scoring” of our district’s schools.

As a result of this, many parents often overlook valuable schools because their scores are “inadequate.” As a tour guide at the majority of the tours for potential students at my high school, I often see parents make this mistake, the majority of their questions being based on testing. Unfortunately, this results in unhappy students — kids who either didn’t get what they expected from high school or were not pushed academically. For this reason, I advocate student choice when it comes to choosing a high school. Although sending a kid to the school with the lowest API in the entire city is not necessarily the best idea, neither is sending them to the highest-rated one, if that’s not where they want to go. Is the quality of a school’s test scores really going to affect a student’s academic drive, or will their high school experience (or lack thereof) result in the greatest individual success? Therefore, although I see the California Standards Testing as being a valuable asset to the ranking of high schools on a base level, one must truly examine a high school as a whole to see its true value.

~Jordan Feri

Written by triplejf

June 11, 2010 at 2:37 pm

Well, that’s one way to take care of staffing at the Priority Schools…

The following email went out to selected staff at SCUSD on Friday April 9, 2010:

Congratulations! On behalf of SCUSD, we are pleased to inform you that you are one of a select few outstanding teachers eligible for an exciting new district program – the Talent Transfer Initiative (TTI).
The Talent Transfer Initiative is a highly selective, federally funded initiative that recognizes current SCUSD teachers who have a track record of contributing to student achievement gains by offering them the opportunity to take on a new challenge by using their skills in high-needs schools – where they are needed most and can have the most profound impact. If you choose to transfer to a participating SCUSD school, you will be eligible to receive $20,000 over a two-year period in recognition of the adjustment that comes with taking on a new position, as well as for the potential tremendous impact you can take at your new school. This research study is funded by the U.S. Department of Education; participation requires no expenditure whatsoever of district funds.
For more information about the Talent Transfer Initiative, including an overview of the program, benefits, and frequently asked question, visit http://www.talenttransferintiative.org. To access available information about SCUSD, use this password information:
Username: xxxxxx
Password: xxxxx
Coral A. Jenrette, Program Manager for the Talent Transfer Initiative, will contact you directly to invite you to the reception being held in your honor on April 19. She will also send you the unique username and password you will need to complete the online application (deadline is April 27). Please feel free to reach out to her with any questions at coral@talenttransferinitiative.org or (800) 688-6983 ext 3.
SCUSD is looking forward to working with you to help our students succeed.
Sincerely,

Mary Shelton
Acting Chief Academic Officer
Sacramento City Unified School District

Written by scusdobserver

April 12, 2010 at 9:02 pm

Listening or lecturing?

This evening, SCUSD Superintendent Jonathan Raymond will visit the Pocket area as part of a continuing campaign of outreach to district stakeholders. Councilman Robbie Waters, Board President Ray Grimes and Raymond will partner to present the “listening and learning tour of the district” tonight at John F. Kennedy High School from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

An opinion piece in the Sacramento Bee
yesterday urged local communities to assert a “count us in” approach by informing state legislators of the “barriers that need to be removed in order to achieve dramatic turnaround of the lowest performing schools.” The feel-good ideas of reconstitution, transformation, and culture change are bandied about, yet the crux of the matter centers on a very ugly couple of words — school closures.

Today, the Bee’s editorial page is touting the “reconstitution” of Jonas Salk Middle School (San Juan Unified) as a dramatic fix to that particular school’s problems of low API scores and chronic underperformance. The editorial, in no small way, credits the miraculous and swift turnaround to performance-based pay for teachers and a corporate partnership with Apple Computer, Inc.

Do teachers really want the performance-based pay incentive?
Do parents ultimately want corporations in their public school systems?

Given the recent pressure for Race to The Top federal funding, the local competition for economic resources, and the opinion trend on the Bee’s editorial page, the question stakeholders really need to ask is:

Should we buy what you’re selling?

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