Wednesday, May 15, 2013

To SFA or Not to SFA...Why is that even a question?

Lorain City Schools is considering "again" changing the reading program teachers use in classrooms.  We currently use the Success For All program which has its pro's and con's just like any other reading program.

I spoke on the phone with a Board of Education member this past week and the subject came up regarding the change and the "sales pitches" that were about to come.  He made the claim based on what a "few teachers" had told him that the SFA program didn't even include "phonics".  I have in front of me the K-6 SFA Program Overview(with sample lessons), and have gone thru it.  Phonics are throughout the program.

Now he was either mislead, or he was misleading me but that is an issue for another time.  Right now I'm focusing on the "change".

I attended the regular Lorain City Schools Board of Education meeting on the 15th of May and I read this statement to Mr. Tucker and the board:

"Gentlemen, Mr Tucker,

Since 1971, the United States Department of Education National Center for Education Statistics has been tracking Reading scores as a country through the National Assessment of Educational Progress.  On a scale of 1 to 500, in 1971 we stood as a nation at 285 for 17 year olds, 255 for 13 yr olds and 208 for 9 yr olds. We are now at 286 for 17 yr olds, 260 for 13 yr olds and 220 for 9 yr olds.

Over the past 42 years, we have gone up and down in scores, never by more than 12 assessment points.  A 12 point increase in a 500 point scale is not much. An average of 6 points increase over those same 42 years indicates that not much has changed in reading no matter what reading program we use or don't use.

Our proficiency test scores have indicated for over a decade that we, just like many other urban school districts have issues with reading, no matter what reading program we use.

Gentlemen, we do not have a reading problem, we have a participation in reading problem and that problem is in the home. I hear every day in a school with 12 classrooms that only one or two classrooms have completed their Read and Respond homework every day.  Some days it is none.

Mr. Tucker, when you were being considered for the position of Superintendent, one of the things that the Morning Journal said about you was your ability to connect the parents with the schools. Please sir, lets try and focus on that connection.  Let’s try to regain the trust of the parents of these children and like you did in Sandusky, get these schools connected with the parents.

We can have the best reading program on the planet but without having support at home, it will not change a thing."

The Academic Distress Commission is going to make changes on how we need to function academically. If THEY tell us that SFA is the reason we have issues with reading then it will need to be changed. Until then, any change, survey or "vote" by teachers is a MOOT POINT and frankly a waste of time.

SFA is already in place. Our test scores haven't gone up or down much in the past decade with several different reading programs. Why change now when in a month we may be told to switch back?

We have a more pressing issue in front of us, and that's how to reconnect our schools and education with our parents.

Like I said to the BOE, without parent participation no reading program will have much effect on anything. Getting the message out that education is vital to the future of these children and they need their parent's help should be our first task.

Community leaders, NAACP, pastors, Boys and Girls clubs, Cub and Boy Scout troop leaders, make education a priority. Preach this to your parents. If you don't want them to be in the same boat they're in now, help the children get the decent education I know we're capable of giving. Teachers, reach out to your children's parents for the good things that are happening in our schools, not just the bad.  Make the education experience and the connection you have with parents not be just about the negative.

We can do this...

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