EDITORIAL: Bibb system trying to dig out of the hole of low expectations

April 20, 2014 

There is good news and bad news in the Georgia Assessment of Performance on School Standards report given Thursday to the Bibb County Board of Education. The good news is that the administration asked for the review. That’s where the good news ends.

The assessment team looked at 10 schools, Brookdale, Bruce, Burdell-Hunt, Morgan, Rice, Riley and Williams elementary schools, and Ballard-Hudson, Rutland and Weaver middle schools.

The state team visited classrooms, interviewed school personnel, parents and students. It reviewed school documents, lesson plans, CRCT data and other information. Now the bad news.

On the College and Career Ready Performance Index, the elementary school average score was 68.2. The state average is 83.4. However, four of the seven schools had a score of less than 50. Burdell-Hunt had the highest score at 74. The three middle schools had an average score of 65.7. The state average is 81.4.

What is most troubling about the assessment is that the state team found low leadership expectations, ineffective school improvement plans and lack of appropriate rigor in the classrooms. Bobby Smith, with the school improvement division of the state education department, said the standards used in many classrooms were “the right standards for about two grades below where the kids were.”

Bibb youngsters have just undergone three days of high-stakes Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests with more on the way. How can they be held accountable when the instructional standards of the teachers and administrators don’t match up with students’ grade levels?

The scoring rubric has four categories: exemplary, operational, emerging and not evident. The 10 schools received a “not evident” in two crucial instructional areas: academically challenging environment/higher-order thinking skills and students set learning targets.

The report is a reaffirmation of two basic educational tenants that should be well-known: Hire good principals who know what “effective instruction looks like and how to lead all staff to increase student achievement,” and make sure “every classroom has an effective teacher.”

That obviously has not happened in at least 10 schools in the Bibb system.

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