Thursday, October 16, 2008

Celebrating Success and Much Hard Work!!

In a previous posting, I wrote about the difficult year that our school had last year because of not making AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) which was determined by No Child Left Behind which is from the federal government. At the same time, our school was labeled as "Highly Performing" which was determined by a law passed several years ago in Arizona. So last year our school was both "failing" and "highly performing." How on earth do you try to explain this to people who aren't familiar with education and for many people who are????????

The reasons for this are complicated and difficult to try to explain in a post that wouldn't use up all of the cyberspace allotted to me by this blog! Basically what it meant for us is that we gave accommodations to our special education students when they were tested and so they were not counted as being tested by No Child Left Behind standards. As a result, we were considered "failing" even though our test scores were quite good.

In early August, I found out that our school had made AYP and that we are considered to be Highly Performing by Arizona Standards. However, this was "embargoed" so I was not able to share it with my staff. I was fairly sure that we would make AYP because we did what was required and gave all of our special education students the AIMS test on grade level with none of the accommodations that would have caused them to not be counted. I truly believe that this is wrong to do to special ed kiddos, but we had no choice. Because all of the scores would now be counted, I was thinking that we might go down a bit on our state label. But we didn't!!!

Then came the "roller coaster ride." Due to some problems at the Arizona Department of Education, scores were not always correct on their website. When I went in to look at our information, there was a little red stop sign by our AYP designation. This meant that we didn't make AYP. I was assured by our district testing director that this was not accurate. She showed me all of the information and it truly looked like it was a mistake and the people at the Department of Education were saying there were problems. But I did not rest easy until Sept. 3 when everything was to be fixed.

September 3 came and it was fixed, but I still couldn't tell anyone. This is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do because I knew how thrilled (and relieved) our staff would be. The Highly Performing label is a true testament to the incredible teachers and staff that we have at our school!!!
I was "allowed to announce" this on the 1st of October as that was when the media would know.

Our monthly faculty meeting was that morning. I couldn't think of a better way to thank everyone than to have a celebration breakfast instead of a meeting. As everyone walked in to the song "Celebration" we had tables set up and juice and breakfast burritos for everyone. It was a great way to say thanks to everyone for their hard work. We are planning to do something for the students because they certainly did a lot of hard work and took all of this so seriously! I am hoping to do something special for them within the next month or so!!

I could not be prouder of the teachers, staff, and students at my school! I am fortunate to work at such a great school with such great teachers, staff, and students!!

I hope you enjoy the two cartoons that I found relating to testing!! You can click on this bottom one to make it bigger to read it!

3 remarks:

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Sheila and Gilbert El! We know how wonderful Gilbert El is . . . would be nice if everyone else did too!
Love & hugs,

barb said...

There is so much more to education than test scores and the moment that the federal government realizes this as Sheila does all children will be much better off!
Congrats to the Gilbert El faculty and staff who are a wonder that goes unnoticed much of the time by the outside world. We are privileged to be a family who cares about each other and the children in our care.

Michele said...

Hi Shiela. I haven't read your blog in ages. Its been so busy lately. Its nice to catch up. Well the run up to Christmas has started. This year my daughter Sharon and her husband Seamus and his daughter Ciara will come to me for the dinner. I also have two friends coming from Spain and the neighbours will be dropping in. And of course not forgetting the two rotties Tiger (more like timid kitten) and Jenny. It promises to be a fun day.
I am at work at the moment. Its 01.00am and I am supervising one of our post-graduate trainees who is anaesthetising a little girl for an appendicectomy. This kind of stuff I won't miss when I retire! Late nights have long since lost their appeal!
On a more positive note, I plan to go to Spain for a couple of weeks in the New Year and hopefully play lots of golf! I really am a golf addict.
So her is wishing you and all the extended family a very happy and peaceful Christmas and New Year!
May God bless you all.

Love from Michele.