Advertisement

Pennsy educators face a difficult task

July 16, 2002|by BOB MAGINNIS

If you enjoy working in a high-pressure environment, it's a good time to be an educator in one of Pennsylvania's school districts. Already under pressure from state officials to improve performance, schools must now deal with a new set of regulations coming down as a result of President Bush's new educational initiative.

As confusing as it will be to negotiate the maze of new regulations, it would be a mistake not to make the best possible effort to comply. The federal officials monitoring compliance will be more sympathetic to school districts that make a good-faith effort than to those that don't.

How difficult will it be to comply? In Pennsylvania, there are 260 schools identified as low-performing under the new federal law. Under the federal Elementary and Secondary School Act signed in January, students in those schools must be given the opportunity to attend better schools in the same district.

Advertisement

In Philadelphia, where 178 of the city's schools are on the federal list, the city doesn't have enough space in the so-called satisfactory schools to accommodate all the students who are eligible to transfer. That could force the system to provide other options, like tutors, in an effort to improve students' performance.

The fact that regulations to implement the federal law haven't been completed yet will make compliance difficult, since educators must plan now for what will happen in the upcoming school year.

The same uncertainty led to problems in Maryland where officials who thought they could phase out the controversial Maryland School Performance Assessment Program tests found that federal officials wanted it kept in place until something was developed to replace it.

Pennsylvania's own assessment tests were a factor in designating some state schools as low-performing. Some argue that the test ignores other factors, like lack of parental involvement, affect performance as well.

But whatever the causes of low performance, it's clear that schools will be held responsible. That may be unfair, but focusing on the injustice of it all will waste time and energy that could be spent figuring out how to improve schools.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|