Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A tale of two schools

Last spring, two of Edina’s nine schools did not meet “AYP,” or Adequate Yearly Progress under the No Child Left Behind Act. Here’s a description of the schools and the categories in which they failed from a press release by the district:

Two Edina schools failed to meet the AYP targets. Edina High School did not meet the mathematics proficiency target for the black students subgroup. South View Middle School did not meet the reading and mathematics proficiency targets for the students eligible for free or reduced price school lunches subgroup. For the second consecutive year, the Edina District failed to meet the AYP reading proficiency target for students eligible for free or reduced price school lunches. As a result, federal law requires the Minnesota Department of Education to designate EPS as in need of improvement. [italics are mine]

I can write without fear of contradiction that the Edina schools rack up some of, if not the best, student achievement scores in the state, year after year. (And we won the boys’ state hockey tournament this year, but we don’t need to go into that.)

Edina is more diverse than you might think. At Cornelia Elementary School, twenty-five percent of the students come from homes where English is a second language. Cornelia students go to Southview for middle school, starting in the sixth grade; there is one high school in Edina. The district also has many school choice and open enrollment students, again concentrated at Southview and the high school.

You know, there is probably a minority achievement gap in the Edina schools. If so, it’s a  case for Teach for America’s 200 hour teachers, according to the proposed statute. Perhaps the authors of the alternate teacher certification bills can call the Superintendent, Ric Dressen, see what he thinks, and ask him how many the district is going to hire. Well, maybe not.

It is absurd — of course — to think of sending teachers with their learner’s permits to Edina. But there are a lot of people, including some in the Legislature, who don’t think twice about sending them to schools with concentrations of the poor.

Personally, I think this is outrageous. It is also a dodge of the Legislature’s obligation — in the Constitution — to provide for the existence of uniform public schools across the state.

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