Archive for Friday, January 31, 1992


January 31, 1992


While Lawrence school board members like the idea of increasing the district's accountability for student achievement, some are concerned the extra effort could be costly and put a heavy burden on teachers.

The school board Thursday night held a study session on the board's goals for the 1992-93 school year. The board's present goals, which were developed in late 1990, are in effect through June 30.

The board's goals are expected to correlate with a set of "student outcomes" that a local school panel proposed Jan. 14. The goals also are expected to align with Quality Performance Accreditation, the state's new school accreditation program.

Lawrence School Supt. Dan Neuenswander said QPA takes the same approach of the local goals by focusing on exit outcomes, or "what we want our kids to know, to be like and to be able to do when they exit Lawrence public schools."

"It (QPA) does focus on the accountability for student performance at the building level," said Sandra Chapman, the district's director for student outcomes.

PRESENTLY, Lawrence is one of 50 pilot districts participating in QPA. Quail Run School, India School and Central Junior High School are the three schools directly involved at this point.

P. Kay Duncan, the district's director for curriculum, presented a three-year time line for the development of curriculum and assessment procedures. Duncan's proposal called for major assessments of student performance for sixth-graders, ninth-graders and high school seniors.

Neuenswander said all students should be expected to meet district standards at every grade level, even if that means keeping students in school through part of the summer.

Board member Tom Murray said he was concerned that, with the possibility of extending school into the summer for some students, average students and high achievers might be neglected because teachers would feel pressured to devote a large part of their time to the slower learners.

"IF THEY haven't mastered it in May, you know you're gonna be there in July with them," Murray said. "From the teacher's perspective, I think this is a major league problem."

Chapman said the teacher who worked with the students throughout the traditional school year might not be the one to work with the students in the summer.

Murray said he also was concerned that such things as developing new student assessment procedures and extending the school year could have a big impact on the budget.

"We just don't want to get into this without knowing how much this is going to cost, to the extent you can know," Murray said.

But School Board Vice President Barbara Ballard said, "We can't get so driven by what it's going to cost that we lose sight of what it's going to do. If we're creative and innovative, it may not cost money."

BOARD President Mary Loveland said a main reason the board is planning its 1992-93 goals several months in advance is to get "a clear idea of whether or not the goals we select will have an impact on the budget. Some goals are done with the resources you have at the time."

For example, she said, the district's staff development program could be used to educate teachers on ways to achieve the new student outcomes.

"You've already got staff development. You've already got a budget committed to it," Loveland said. "A lot of our goals in the past haven't cost us money. They represent a commitment."

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