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Teachers at two schools face reassignments

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Teachers at two middle schools where students are not meeting Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) standards face reassignments, but administrators face no such actions.

AYP is part of the educational reforms included in the Federal No Child Left Behind Act, and educators at Forest Park and Pointe South Middle schools could be snared by its requirements mandating continuous progress.

The schools were put in the federal Needs Improvement (NI) category, and must show academic progress this school year, and a restructuring plan must be in place by the next school year to demonstrate how the progress will continue.

Neither school has ever made AYP.

Less experienced teachers at two Clayton County middle schools are the targets of possible reassignments, or dismissals, for the failure to meet AYP standards, according to the school system's assistant superintendent of human resources, Jackie Hubbert.

Both the administrator at Forest Park, who was hired last spring, and the principal at Pointe South, who has been on the job for two years, will be allowed to remain in their posts.

"Planning for restructuring is the responsibility of the district, and not the individual school," said Sharon Brown, the school system's executive director of federal programs. "A district team directs the development of the restructuring plan. The plan must be implemented by the first day of the next school year, if the school fails to make AYP and moves to Needs Improvement (NI) Level 5."

Schools are placed on NI Level 1 status after failing to make AYP for two consecutive years. The school goes up a level for each consecutive year it continues to not make AYP. Forest Park and Pointe South middle schools are currently at NI Level 4 status, according to the Georgia Department of Education. The state mandates restructuring plans must be drafted once a school reaches that level.

Forest Park is struggling in the area of writing, and is focusing on that area this year. Meanwhile, Pointe South officials are focusing on showing improvement in math.

The school board is expected to decide on recommendations for restructuring at its Feb. 4 business meeting. Some board members offered opinions why both schools are struggling.

"There are a large number of Hispanic children in special education courses [at Pointe South Middle School], who should not be in those classes," said board member, Lois Baines-Hunter.

Other board members raised concerns about the teachers, cleanliness of the schools, quality of equipment, remediation programs available to students, and issues related to Hispanic students.

They learned the average amount of experience for a teacher at Forest Park Middle School is 10.4 years. The average at Pointe South Middle Schools is 8.7 years, compared with the district average of 9.5 years.

Baines-Hunter also asked Hubbert, if Teacher Alternative Preparation Program (TAPP) teachers are included in the group of teachers who would be relieved of their duties at either school. TAPP is a two-year, fast-track program which helps put new teachers in a classroom by providing practicum experiences, mentoring support and having the potential educators take a carefully designed sequence of courses. Baines-Hunter said several Pointe South parents have complained about TAPP teachers educating their children.

Hubbert said officials in her department, as well as officials from the Teaching and Learning Department, have not decided how many teachers would be removed from Forest Park and Pointe South, or which ones would need to go.

"We need to not have excessive numbers of inexperienced teachers, so that would include some of the TAPP teachers," Hubbert said.

She said these teachers removed from Forest Park and Pointe South would be "absorbed" in to the school system, and reassigned to other duties.

Brown, and Assistant Superintendent for Middle Schools Kay Sledge, said there have been attempts, such as afternoon and Saturday remediation programs, to help the students improve their academic performances. More than half of the 585 students at Pointe South Middle participate in the remediation programs, while only 35 percent of the 534 students at Forest Park Middle School participate in similar programs.

Brown said part of the problem has been getting support from teachers, though.

"There have been indications that the schools were having trouble getting teachers to buy into some of the programs, such as the Saturday Academy [remediation program]," Brown said.

Board member, Norreese Haynes, countered that the blame should be put elsewhere. Haynes said restructuring should be aimed at a school's administrators, not its teachers. He believes the principals and assistant principals, are not doing enough to enforce discipline at the schools.

Haynes is the Chief Executive Officer of the Metro Association of Classroom Educators (MACE), which only extends it's membership to teachers. If a teacher, who is a member of MACE, becomes an administrator, he or she loses membership in the organization.

"Just because they've [administrators] only been there for two years doesn't mean they aren't the problem," Haynes said. "We have some very intelligent teachers. I'd put our teachers up against the teachers from any other district in the area."