The state's new method of accrediting schools might not do enough to challenge the district's highest-achieving students, a Lawrence school board member charged Monday.
"All education today is basically one fad after another," board member Tom Murray said, adding that the state's new Quality Performance Accreditation "has all the trappings" of a fad.
Traditional accreditation has looked at school "inputs," such as the number of books in the library and the equipment available in the science lab. Quality Performance Accreditation, or QPA, focuses on "outcomes," or what students are actually able to do.
The Lawrence school district was one of 50 Kansas districts to pilot the program in the 1991-92 school year. About another 90 districts have joined the program this year, and all 304 Kansas school districts are expected to be under QPA within a couple of years.
THE LAWRENCE schools that began piloting QPA in 1991-92 are Quail Run Elementary, India Elementary and Central Junior High. Joining QPA this year were four more Lawrence elementary schools: East Heights, Woodlawn, Cordley and Wakarusa Valley.
To help determine which areas of student performance need the most attention, each school develops a schoolwide profile of its students, looking at such data as attendance patterns and performance in difference subjects.
Monday's discussion of QPA came after reports from Central, India and Quail Run officials on how they developed their school profiles.
Murray said he also questioned whether QPA would do "an iota of good for, hypothetically, the upper third of the kids." He later said that during the past eight years, the district "has not been . . . concerned with excellence in the kids who are the highest achievers."
QUAIL RUN Principal Linda Herbel said she thinks QPA can challenge high achievers. She said schools can expect different outcomes from different students by tailoring curriculum to students' abilities.
"We will plan an extended set of outcomes for those students, taking them further so they're not always doing busy work," Herbel said.
Board member Alice Fowler disagreed with Murray that the district hasn't done enough for its highest achievers.
"They're going to achieve, and there are things in place to help them achieve," Fowler said.
Fowler also defended the new accreditation system.
"QPA means that we're finally putting our money where our mouth is" by examining "how the kids look when they're coming out of the school system," Fowler said.
Murray said that despite his strong reservations about QPA, he hopes it turns out to be successful.
IN OTHER business Monday, the board:
Heard from Phil Struble of LandPlan Engineering about the district's options for expanding the sewer lagoon at Wakarusa Valley School. The expansion of the sewer lagoon must accompany the expansion of the school, which is one of six projects that will be financed by a school bond issue that voters passed last week.
Held a preliminary discussion on the concept of year-round schools.
Murray said several district patrons have expressed an interest in the concept. He noted that public education is one of the few enterprises in which facilities "lie fallow three months over the summer."
He said some people have told him they would support air conditioning all schools if the buildings were used 12 months out of the year. The board asked administrators to bring some information back to the board regarding year-round schools.
Read a proclamation recognizing American Education Week, which will be from Nov. 15-21.
Approved the purchase of $6,335 worth of food and non-food items.
Held an executive session to discuss land purchase and personnel.