You got used to hearing about schools labeled “in need of improvement” or “in restructuring” or “in corrective action”.
Well, forget about those labels.
Soon, you’ll hear about schools that have been labeled “reward”, “focus” and “priority”.
New Hannibal Superintendent of Schools Donna Fountain heard the label applied to her district for the first time this week. A state official told her that when the list of schools comes out later this summer, Hannibal will be listed as a “focus” district.
“Focus” is the second lowest of what she says will be six levels of labeling for schools. “Priority” is the lowest. “Reward” signifies the top-performing schools.
She doesn’t know yet how each school building will rank on this new scale.
Fountain knows that the pressure to show improvement will be the same, and that the district will have to continue to push hardest at Kenney Middle School.
One large change is that the old system provided extra money for schools buried deep on the needs-improvement list. There’s no extra money for those schools in this new system, she said.
The change is happening because the federal government changed its requirements under No Child Left Behind. States can now opt out of No Child Left Behind and its requirements of how federal aid must be spent.
New York has won a waiver from those requirements.
Schools can use much more of the federal money in ways that they think best improves education.
But, like the state’s new teacher and administrator performance assessment system, schools are forced to start working under the new system before all of the rules have been put in place.
Fountain has already watched a web-based presentation on the new system and plans to meet with the Oswego County BOCES Superintendent to get more information.
However it turns out, she knows one thing will remain the same: “I think we’ll be watched very closely,” Fountain said.