Monday, June 25, 2007

I would like to know

how much money has been spent on the APS PD in the last tens years.

And I have asked for the truth.


Anonymous said...

FYI In the Trib today...
Nelida Venegas... hasn't she left yet?


Why principal moved from Polk

An article in the June 13 Tribune ("Shuffled Polk principal not allowed to execute change") takes the position that Polk Middle School Principal Theresa Baca was reassigned from the school based on a plan she submitted as a way to improve student achievement.

I wish to clarify that the decision to move Baca, as well as other principals last month, was based on state-level competencies, in addition to the corrective-action status of schools for improving student achievement.

The competencies outline how well a principal: focuses on teaching and learning; communicates to parents, students and staff; utilizes resources and implements professional development; runs his or her school in day-to-day operations; and provides a high quality of community leadership.

It is the responsibility of Albuquerque Public Schools to be responsive to students' educational needs. Student achievement is based on criteria determined by the N.M. Public Education Department, through the Educational Plan for Student Success.

Several elementary and middle schools, including Polk Middle School, have not been able to rise out of corrective action and now face alternative governance plans. These plans can reconstitute or replace all leadership and teaching staff at a school where student performance is not reaching certain levels. The principal and teachers then move to other schools.

Schools facing this alternative have been working since the beginning of the year with an independent contractor hired by the N.M. Public Education Department to set academic goals and improve student achievement through high-quality instruction.

Baca's plan for improving student achievement singles out individual teachers based on subjective criteria, or characteristics, of perceived teacher behavior. A principal cannot arbitrarily unload teachers - otherwise known as the "march of the lemons" - if he or she is unhappy with the teaching staff without having appropriate documentation in place that addresses teacher performance.

Just as corrective-action processes exist to improve student achievement, human-resources processes exist to help teachers improve their performance. In concert with the APS Human Resources Department and teacher-union representation, principals can place teachers on improvement plans that have time lines and goals clearly stating the principal's expectations of what the teacher must do to meet the goals.

Baca provided no human resources documentation to support the removal of teachers from her school in the context of student achievement, and teachers were under no obligation to sign a letter of commitment to her plan.

Change can be difficult to accept. To assist with change directed toward improving student achievement, APS provides: support for new principals and continued professional development for all principals; mentoring for first-year teachers by teaming them with more experienced teachers; and a new partnership with the teachers union to ensure all teachers are treated equally within the system.

The underlying factor and focus for APS is that providing a high-quality education to all students across the district is our No. 1 priority.

Nelida Venegas

Associate superintendent

for the cluster system

Albuquerque Public Schools


Anonymous said...

FYI Editorial in Trib today...

Editorial: What good are schools without accountability?

What should have been a simple administrative decision - confirming a warranted F grade and denying a high school senior the unearned privilege of walking with his classmates for graduation - has turned into a mountain of bad publicity for Albuquerque Public Schools.

The district has a long way to go to restore public confidence.

It should begin by stopping the finger-pointing and the buck-passing. The district needs to bypass its reflexive "we didn't have enough information" dodge and acknowledge that, once this problem got to the bureaucracy, it was bungled and bungled badly.

The sad truth is that this story - a mandated grade change for the son of Bernalillo County Commissioner Teresa Cordova and former school board member Miguel Acosta - is full of questionable actors, starting with the student and his parents.

Come on. What kind of effort does it take, really, to get a D in an English class in any public high school?

If there are heroes here, they are Rio Grande High School teacher Anita Forte and her principal, Al Sanchez. Their "heroism," if one must call it that, is that they simply did their jobs. The evidence is compelling that they were reasonable, considerate, compassionate and generous - perhaps to a fault.

But, in the end, they followed the academic book in giving and sustaining an F grade to a senior who deserved nothing more.

Unfortunately, many other protagonists did not acquit themselves nearly as well. They include:

The student's parents. Notwithstanding all of the explanations and excuses they offered in pressing school officials and the system to change their son's grade, they did no one any favors - including their son, whose diploma is hollow.

Elsy Fierro, the district administrator who overruled Forte and Sanchez and changed the grade to passing in time for the senior's graduation walk. She made a bad call and has been referred to the state Educator's Ethics Bureau for review.

The administration, led by Superintendent Beth Everitt. She and her staff may or may not have been blindsided by this controversy, but only the most insulated of administrators could have failed to suspect that this kind of problem - if handled poorly - would tarnish the district.

They should have gotten up to speed quickly and concluded exactly what the state investigators did: This student and his parents had been afforded more, much more, than the system required to turn that F into a D.

An impartial state investigation, issued this week by Education Secretary Veronica Garcia, concluded these points:

The student's parents got at least five warnings that he was failing, including two that warned he might not graduate.

Forte actually exceeded school policy requirements by allowing the student more than four weeks to turn in make-up work and an additional final exam to improve his grade.

The student had all the questions and the answers to study for that second final exam and "only needed to memorize the answers."

Fierro exerted undue influence in changing the grade.

The highest levels of the administration, including Everitt, obtained incomplete and inaccurate information in the effort to get support and confirmation for the grade change.

While this last point is mitigating, the entire scenario should have set off alarms for seasoned educators and administrators such as Everitt and associate superintendent Nelinda Venegas.

If she doesn't know it already, Everitt owns this decision. To her credit, she has said that it was made in error and will not happen again. She'll have to do that a lot in the coming weeks and months.

Why? The reason is simple. Long ago this ceased to be just about a student, his parents or a system that could be gamed.

It is about personal responsibility and accountability. If APS fails to teach and abide by that, it might as well close its school doors.