Re: Still grinning...
- Subject: Re: Still grinning...
- From: Karen Canty <kscanty@PACBELL.NET>
- Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2000 10:12:58 -0700
- In-reply-to: <394787AD.1D99@airmail.net>
- Reply-to: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
- Sender: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
HoustonChronicle.comSee, we school board members are always the "last" to
know. I don't think that this would ever happen in my community (we're much
much smaller than Houston and I would hear about it in the grocery store so
our supt. knows that she has to come to the board with something this
important!) but I have heard from friends on large boards that it is much
more difficult to stay in the loop. Course, then you end up on the front
page of a major newspaper and doesn't everyone look ridiculous then???!!!
Keep grinning, Carol!
From: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List
Behalf Of kceh
Sent: Wednesday, June 14, 2000 6:25 AM
Subject: Still grinning...
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Current stories in this section:
a.. Marshall: One voice speaks for parole changes
b.. Cornyn defends death row appeals system
c.. HISD grade policy change catches board by surprise
d.. Landry's to make splash with aquarium, eateries
e.. Edmonds pick for top Port job
f.. Sanchez proposes $7 million for Fire Department
g.. Bill could clear Metro track for U.S. funds
h.. Sarofim Lowe's former attorney sues her estate
i.. Man using officer's stolen gun is convicted of capital
a.. Different scams, same destination: prison house
b.. Man kills 1, wounds 3 after fight with wife
c.. Store clerk kills would-be robber
d.. Testimony to begin over slaying of coed
e.. Gambler testifies to role in slaying
j.. 70 people evacuated from Ben Taub in bomb scare
k.. Group seeks to teach black women about AIDS
l.. Another guard attacked at prison
m.. Man set to die wins stay, but reprieve may be lifted
n.. Investors say bank neglected to warn them of Ponzi
o.. Houston gets set to host Texas GOP convention
p.. Airport planning meetings not posted, commissioner says
q.. Gun owners to send used targets to legislators
r.. Jeff Davis Hospital site's fate to be decided next month
s.. Mailings create squabble over GOP congressional
t.. Brays Bayou flood-prevention plan gets approval
u.. Businesses' 'instrumental' program brings music to local
v.. Area briefs
w.. State briefs
June 13, 2000, 10:09PM
HISD grade policy change catches board by surprise
By MELANIE MARKLEY
Copyright 2000 Houston Chronicle
School administrators quietly changed the rules on HISD's
student promotion standards this year, surprising school board members whose
approval was never sought.
With the change, thousands of parents got report cards saying
their children would have to repeat a grade if they failed just one
standardized test. The board had previously voted to hold back children if
they failed two promotion criteria.
"This is a pivotal policy in our district that the board
members took a great interest in, researched for months and had a lot of
meetings about what we wanted it to say," said trustee Jeff Shadwick. "What
we voted on should be the way it is."
Board members said they were worried about the unilateral
rules change and said they would discuss it at Thursday's HISD board
The vote taken in spring 1998 required Houston Independent
School District students failing one of three promotion standards to attend
summer school, while students failing two had to attend summer school and
repeat a grade.
The standards include passing grades, passing scores on the
Texas Assessment of Academic Skills test and acceptable scores on the
Stanford Achievement Test. State law requires students to get passing
grades, but the district can set additional requirements.
School officials said they changed the rules -- without
seeking approval from the elected board that designed the policy -- because
many parents last year refused to send their children to summer school once
they were told the children were promoted.
"Our schools told us that didn't work," said Susan Sclafani,
HISD's chief of staff for educational programs, who changed the rules. "What
we needed to do was to come back with something that made clear to parents
that kids had to be in summer school, that they had not met all the
promotion standards and needed to be in summer school."
But the rule was anything but clear.
Elementary school parents received a letter signed by
Superintendent Rod Paige in March that said students failing either one of
two criteria for advancement would have to attend summer school and "may be
retained for the next year in a program that provides intensive
The middle school parents of children failing one test were
told that summer school was required for promotion.
Final report cards then told students failing at least one of
the tests that they were being retained and had to attend summer school.
At least one school sent a letter to parents that said the
students had to meet all three criteria before they could go to the next
Nearly 30,000 students -- roughly 23 percent of those in
grades one through eight -- are in summer school this year because of the
promotion standards, though officials say they don't know how many are there
because of the newly switched rules.
Ronnie Carabajal received a letter from Red Elementary School
in southwest Houston saying that his daughter had to repeat a grade because
she had failed the reading portion of the TAAS. The student, a fifth-grader,
had gotten passing grades, a passing score on the math portion of the TAAS
and acceptable scores on both the reading and the math portions of the
Carabajal said his daughter was sent to another room while her
classmates took part in the school's promotional activities this spring.
Angela Elemeuwa , whose fifth-grade daughter failed the
reading section of the Stanford, complained to school officials after
receiving a report card that said her daughter was being held back. She
appeared before the HISD board in May. Her daughter's report card was
changed to say that she was being advanced to the sixth grade, she said.
"It's deceitful is what it is," Elemeuwa said. "The issue
wasn't summer school. The issue was I wanted that out of her file that she
was retained. I don't mind sending my daughter to summer school. But I don't
want her file saying she was retained."
Iris Perkins, past president of the Houston Council of PTAs,
said she believes parents were misled by the change in guidelines.
"When it comes to passing and failing children, we need to be
very clear on this," she said, "because parents get very upset."
Paige said the district did not intend to deceive or confuse,
only to impress upon parents the importance of sending their children to
School officials said the final decision to advance or hold
back a student is made at the end of summer school by grade-placement
committees set up at every school.
"We don't want students to be penalized in any way they
shouldn't be," Paige said. "To the extent we need to straighten things out,
we will. What we have here is a new policy none of us had before, and the
implementation is not flawless. We will try to straighten this out so the
people are clear."
Surprisingly, school trustees say they have gotten few calls,
if any, from parents complaining about the rule change. But several are
questioning the administration's right to do it.
Shadwick said if schools were having trouble making parents
send their children to summer school, the board should have been asked to
consider changing the rules, "but that change shouldn't have been made
without the board knowing it."
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