That fabulous DeKalb Parent has once again crunched some interesting numbers. We have all been wondering if perhaps we have not been utilizing the over $31 million in annual Title 1 funds in the best way for student success. Our discussion revealed that we seem to have literally thrown everything but the kitchen sink at the problem of 'making AYP', yet we continue to miss the mark. Mull over the following report from DeKalb Parent --
I agree that DCSS is spending "tons of Title 1 dollars". Click here to read the parent letter sent home by Cross Keys, one of the many Title 1 schools that did not make AYP. Similar letters went home from all of these schools. The letter is very illuminating as to how Title 1 dollars ARE NOT being spent on direct and intensive math and Language Arts instruction for students.
According to the letter, below is where the Title 1 money for struggling Language Arts and Math students is going:
- Implement school wide tutorials in the areas of Language Arts and math
- Provide transportation for all students that attend tutorial sessions
- Provide targeted remediation academic sessions that take place before or after school
- Execute focused staff development training for teachers in order to address the needs of all students
- Implement collaborative planning opportunities for teachers to strategically plan research based lesson plans
- Implement the America’s Choice framework that is proven to increase academic achievement in the areas of Language Arts and Math
- Provide the placement of a fulltime Language Arts Coach at Cross Keys
- Provide the placement of a fulltime Math Coach at Cross Keys
- Provide the placement of a fulltime Graduation Coach at Cross Keys who works intensely with students, parents and faculty members
- Provide the placement of a Re-design Coach that places a special emphasis on the academic, social, and emotional needs of all freshmen
What is a Re-design coach? I've never heard of this one. The Re-design coach "places a special emphasis on the academic, social, and emotional needs of all freshmen". Well, I thought that's what Cross Key’s four counselors (average salary and benefits for each DCSS counselor is $84,000), one Intervention and Prevention specialist, one social worker, one school psychologist, and one Parent Resource Center Facilitator do ($75,000 in salary and benefits for a Parent Resource "Facilitator" - Zepora Roberts' daughter is one).
DCSS spent $8,000,000 for America's Choice, and the renewal is going to be funded by the BOE for the 90 Title 1 schools bringing the average to $90,000 for each America’s Choice school. Please show me valid and reliable studies (not done by America's Choice) that show significant improvement in Language Arts and Math for schools using America's Choice. DCSS has absolutely no proof that America's Choice or these Instructional Coaches have increased student achievement for DeKalb County students.
Cross Keys ONLY HAD forty students who were in the “Did Not Meet” category. Considering the $500,000 cost of Cross Keys Instructional Coaches and America's Choice, we spend $12,500 a year for each student who “Did Not Meet Expectations" at Cross Keys on the GHSGT. Thirty seven of those were Economically Disadvantaged. Maybe the parents of these students are better off getting the $12,500 for intensive tutoring than spending it on non-teaching personnel.
Don't believe me? Go to the Georgia DOE site for Cross Keys and see that only 40 students out of “All Students” are in the “Basic/Does Not Meet” category (and 37 are in the Economically Disadvantaged category) – click on Academic Performance
Before you protest that these numbers are an underestimation of the problem, I recognize that it's really more accurate to view 40 students per grade level (9th, 10th and 11th grades) as needing academic help since only the 11th graders taking the GHSGT are considered by NCLB. I also understand that these at risk students need intervention from when they enter high school. But even dividing that $500,000 a year among 120 students will fund hundreds of hours a year per student to receive one on one instruction by SES (Supplemental Education Services - aka tutorial services) . Tell me that won't make more of a difference than four Instructional Coaches and America's Choice.
What is Audria Berry ($145,000 in salary and benefits) who runs the Office of School Improvement and makes the Title 1 decisions thinking? Where is the cost /benefits analysis that needs to occur for Cross Keys (or each school in DCSS)? Why are we not using Title 1 funds for intensive one on one tutoring for the students who have fallen behind?