India School passed its first milestone Wednesday in the Quality Performance Accreditation program. The school had its first site visit by a QPA team from the State Department of Education.
While that visit went off without a hitch, another Lawrence elementary school is concerned about the amount of time and resources it will need to jump aboard the QPA program.
QPA is the state's new method of accrediting schools, and Lawrence is one of 50 districts that began participating in QPA when it started in 1991. About 200 other districts have joined the program since then.
India School is one of 12 Lawrence schools presently involved in QPA. India Principal Vicki Weseman said the school's first two years in QPA were devoted largely to developing a profile of the school.
India's profile includes student scores on the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills, data on student discipline and student scores on state assessments in math, reading and writing.
Based on such data, the school has decided to focus on student discipline, improving students' math skills and, if additional data indicate a need, improving student study skills. The school has yet to develop more specific goals in those areas.
Weseman said the five-member QPA seemed to be impressed by India's progress to date.
"One of the team members said she was impressed with some of the things we've done to give teachers time to plan together during the work day. We've done some creative scheduling," Weseman said. "They were impressed that we were using our data to make decisions."
The same QPA team will decide in 1995 whether India should be accredited, basing their decision on the school's progress in achieving its stated goals.
Meanwhile, some people at Hillcrest School are concerned about the time and resources needed to join QPA. Denny Chadwick, a Hillcrest parent, is among 13 Hillcrest parents and staff members who are undergoing management training partly to prepare for QPA.
"I have personally talked to teachers and administrators from other districts," Chadwick said. "Some said that the paperwork load was so huge that it was discouraging. While there might be gains in individualizing education for the students, there were losses on the energy end because of the huge amount of paperwork."
But Weseman said there are steps schools can take to make data collection easier.
To collect information on student discipline problems, the school created a special form listing five different types of discipline problems and different kinds of teacher intervention. To record a discipline incident, a teacher writes the student's name and grade and checks the appropriate boxes.
"That's what you have to try to do when you're collecting data because if you make it too cumbersome, nobody will do it," Weseman said.