Sunday, March 6, 2011

Efficiency Study...Part II

Earlier in the week we took a preliminary look at the study by the Center for American Progress (CAP) that took a comprehensive look at the Return on Investment (ROI) of major school districts across the country.  The sad, sad truth is that no matter how one views the data, Alexandria is among the very worst when it comes to producing  positive results borne of its monetary investment in our children.  To the readers of this blog who sent the profanity-laden comments (deleted) after reading Part I making the point that, of course, Alexandria spends a great deal due to a 'challenging' population, I ask you to read the definition of the Adjusted ROI below:
Adjusted Return on Investment index: Measure that uses the same approach as the Basic Return on Investment index or Basic ROI (see entry below), but applies a statistical method called a state-level regression analysis to adjust each district’s spending for the different costs associated with serving larger concentrations of low-income, non-English-speaking, and special education students in its state. The adjustments or weights used in the Basic ROI are often not sensitive enough to account for spending differences within states.
Bearing this in mind, and returning to the interactive map on CAP's study, Alexandria comes in next to last in efficiency rating of the commonwealth's one hundred twenty-six school districts!   
The data compiled by the CAP shows Alexandria City Public Schools ranked 125th of 126 districts, "bested" only by Northampton County...a district with a far greater percentage of low income families and a rural population of some 1,900.
 Perhaps most shocking of all is not what the study reveals, but what it portends.  Under the Sherman regime, spending has increased at a great rate.  Forecasts are that adjusted per pupil spending of $10, 225 (at the time of the study) is now approaching $12,000 with no measurable improvement in results! Couple this nightmarish scenario with the administration's propensity to obfuscate, manipulate and spin what little data it has compiled, and the feeling of disbelief among so many teachers and parents is more than justified.

"I don’t know where I am going, but I am on my way."
— Voltaire


  1. I love going to school every day! The more days of school, the better. I love hanging out at TC before the school year with my home girl Goldie and the Sherman songsters...they the best or what? I love Mort Sherman and all of the testing, too! I love the focus on the thought provoking SOL's and Skillful Teacher and the Math and Reading coaches, too. I don't know why anyone would ever leave this school system. I love the EAA-they're so chill. I love how I don't even have to worry about entering grades anymore, they are all done for me by my administrator. Did I mention the cerebral school board? Riveting discussion while Charles Wilson tries to eat the table and Arthur Peabody waxes legal! Shout out to you, Mort...yo! This the best ever!

  2. Right on, Anonymous, right on!

  3. OK, OK we get it! Sherman has not helped our district. He has brought us down in so many ways. I agree with a lot of what has been posted by Voltaire, but here is the major thing that is missing - What are we going to do to make things better? We can post things on this blog all day every day, but it is not changing things. If you are not happy with what is happening in ACPS you can do something about it. Go to school board meetings, call/email/or write letters to school board members, don't reelect school board members, go to PTA meetings, get involved, or just go somewhere else. Let's make something happen!

  4. Considering the astounding scientific and technological advancements already happening in the 21st century, I believe our current educational system, not just in ACPS but nationwide, is woefully inadequate regardless of extra days, per pupil expenditures, and excellent teaching. More than ever, it is time to refocus our educational processes and content. Our curriculum and teaching methods are becoming more antiquated with every second that passes. Will our students be competitive in a world that can PRINT three dimensional kidneys? Unless we embed creativity, problem solving, and research in K-12 education, we fail to prepare students for the work force of the future. We can't envision the jobs they might have, so we need to provide them with a flexible skill set. Perhaps as we educate more creatively, we'll also find the key to inspiring our struggling learners, engaging them in much more applicable activities and lessons than current SOLs outline.
    I think the University of Virginia demonstrates these ideas as they overhaul their educational program in their School of Medicine (University of Virginia Magazine, Spring 2011). "About half of all medical knowledge becomes obsolete every five years. Every 15 years, the world's body of scientific literature doubles. The pace of change has only accelerated." To address this, UVA's School of Medicine is transforming their educational process, emphasizing the development of "curiosity, skepticism, compassion, and wonder," in addition to problem solving and application of content. Class time is used primarily for solving test cases, problem solving as teams, just as they will in actual medical practice. Research and reading occur outside of class (yes, I know this would be tough for some of our students, but if they're riveted by the problem to be solved, they're much more motivated to work to solve it).
    The field of gifted education has made strides in these areas (not to mention many outstanding ACPS teachers) - if their strategies were applied to education in general, we might have more potential of producing competitive citizens for the new global society.
    It's not always the money or the days, it's what is done with the time we have.

  5. So at least the challenging population is being blamed in this Study. That's a welcomed relief. Sounds like the ranking is based on the pre-Sherman Administration, which means we can take Sherman out of the equation and deal with the problem. It is a problem that will be here long after Sherman. If we're finally ready to deal with it great-but it appears the focus is on an Administration some don't like and that will not solve the problem.

  6. I agree with the first Anonymous. This is the best year I've ever had. I never have to think and my grading is done for me. My principal is so smart that she wrote my final evaluation last year without ever having set foot in my classroom. I bet she even signed my name for me!