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Friday, March 27, 2009
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
CMSD's 4-year cohort rate is 79% for 2008. We are better than any of the surrounding districts. I went through the list and found just 25 districts with rates 80% and above. So, while 79% is not good enough, it is in within the range of the top 25-30 districts in the state. We can be proud of 79% and work toward being one of only a handful better than 85%.
Budget estimates continue to cause concerns in Jackson as the legislature works on the budget for next year -- fiscal year 2010 (FY10). The budget estimating committee reported on Friday to the Governor and revised State revenue estimates DOWN by $400 million for FY10.
The legislature will have to find ways to increase revenues (ie, cigarette tax) and/or reduce funding to programs. It looks like education funding will be OK because of the stimulus package and the requirement that some 80% of the "state stablization funds" help fund education at no less than current levels. Yet, as they say, the "devil is in the details" and we've yet to see the details from the federal government. We've seen how the Governor is willing to turn down federal stimulus money if it comes with too many strings -- future unfunded mandates.
So, the legislature is in a tough spot trying to fund all the State program and balance the budget in the existing economic climate.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Now, the extra funds from this part of the ARRA are different from the funds schools are likely to receive from the "state stabilization funds." These funds will flow through Jackson and our best guess is they will be used to restore full funding to MAEP in the current FY09 year and to fully fund FY10.
Dr. Phillips presented to the Board a plan for an 11-month school calendar. It seems that anything beyond the typical 180 day calendar is commonly referred to as "year round." However, the plan calls for closing the entire month of July. It adds 22 days to the calendar. We are calling these "yellow days" or "success academy days." Yellow because the calendar is color coded. "Success" because we expect the new calendar will significantly improve the success level of many children.
There is a 2-week block in the fall, 1-week in January, and 2 weeks in the spring. During those days, the students who have tested minimal or basic will received small group, individualized instruction. Those students who are proficient or advanced will participate in a variety of enhanced learning activities.
A few notable questions to answer: YES -- if a child is behind instructionally, he will be required to attend the yellow days. YES -- teachers and everyone else involved will be paid for these extra 22 days. For more information refer to CMSD web site or articles in the newspaper: Dispatch article and Dr. Phillips Editorial.
The new accountability standards proposed by MDE will certainly change the game for all districts. One significant change is that the model rewards districts for those "advanced" students and should serve as an incentive to help more students move from proficient to advanced. In running the numbers, it will be challenging for any school to reach the top 2 levels without having almost 80% of the children scoring proficient or advanced. Although the MCT2 scores from last year won't be used to determine our new rankings, it is easy to calculate the QDI based on the 2008 scores. Find the detail at the MDE site, www.mde.k12.ms.us.
A high school can't reach the top 2 levels without a graduation rate 75% or better. The bar has been moved and it is HIGH and will go up again for the next 2 years. We can expect that almost all our schools will move down a level, maybe 2, from where we were the last time we were rated. This won't be easy to accept, but it is time we raise expectations and compare ourselves to the rest of the world.