"A child's learning is the funtion more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Sunday, March 21, 2010

DC Charter Report Takes Shots at KIPP, Imagine?

From the 2009 School Performance Reports (published March 2010):

...KIPP AIM's vision and philosophy is compromised when the ideas of “Work hard, be Nice” are not modeled by the adults in the building.

Hmmm...was someone not working hard, or not being nice? Maybe it was the strict learning environment and penal pedagogy...

According to the report, Imagine Southeast PCS boasts a 30% truancy rate. There's also a bit about assessment that makes me wonder if this is just a test-prep factory. Keep in mind this is a PK-3rd grade school - and they're using Scantrons. I guess DC kids need lots of practice in filling in the bubbles for later success in Rhee's testing dungeons. You'll notice the mention of not using ILPs appropriately and the failure to use formative assessments (which can be useful for teachers when used appropriately, but also used as simply another test-prep tool). Like many Imagine Schools, Imagine Southeast utilizes the Core Knowledge curriculum:

Assessment: There is an emerging data-driven culture at Imagine southeast built on the implementation and analysis of diagnostic and benchmark assessments such as CKPAT, Dibels, SAT 10 and Scantron Performance Series. Core Knowledge includes unit tests that teachers use in combination with teacher-developed assessments as part of a broader assessment strategy. Teachers meet weekly for ‘data talks’ and participate in quarterly professional development targeting data analysis, though school-wide, coherent approaches to data-driven instruction have yet to materialize. The inclusion of the ILP in data conversations has the potential to individualize teachers’ use of data for every student, but this practice is currently in nascent stage and teachers do not use the ILP consistently. Furthermore, the review team observed few examples of formative assessment to guide instruction.

...and a governance issue (we're talking about Imagine - are you surprised?):

Governance and Management: the board of trustees (BOT) at Imagine Southeast is deeply committed to the school, its mission and community it serves. The BOT has contracted with Imagine for instructional support, start-up funding and assistance in securing a permanent facility. The relationship is transparent to all stakeholders and conveys a sense of organizational purpose and structure. Though BOT members are highly specialized in law and finance, there’s a need for more education membership, representation from the community and inclusion of two parent representatives. The principal is viewed as a visionary leader and is respected by teachers, students and their families for her commitment to the school and diligence in communication. While the principal articulates an instructional philosophy, it is unclear how school and Imagine regional leaders work cooperatively to implement it.

Financial management review:

The school has long term financial planning goals that will enhance the longevity and the going concern of the school. [What concerns?]

The full report is available here.

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