Monday, August 29, 2011

Farm Hill and Bielfied Elementary Schools Categorized As "In Need Of Improvement," Must Offer Choice; Students to Be Shifted To Wesley

In a public email exchange acquired by the Middletown Eye, Barbara Senges associate school superintendent, recently revealed that Bielfield Elementary and Farm Hill Elementary have been designated "in need of improvement," under federal No Child Left Behind regulations.  Both schools failed to meet federal standards for Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) two years in a row, and as such, must offer choice to parents of students attending the school.

Last week, Superintendent Michael Frechette indicated that these results were "under embargo" by the Connecticut Department of Education, and as such, he was not allowed to comment on them.

However, Senges' email, distributed to the entire Board of Education, school administrators, some school principals, and some residents, gives specific information on the designation, and the school administrations' response:

"A little over a week ago, we were notified by the State Department of Education that as Farm Hill and Bielefield (both Title I schools under NCLB) are now identified under NCLB (No Child Left Behind) as “In Need of Improvement”, that we were required to offer school choice to a school that made AYP and had available space. Wesley fit the bill. The State also indicated that as we had only a limited number of spaces available at Wesley, that we should offer the seats to those students at Farm Hill and Bielefield designated as Title I (Free or Reduced Lunch Students achieving below grade level). Students at Bielefield and Farm Hill in grades 3 and 4 who fit this profile were called and offered a few available seats."

At least one Board of Education member was incensed enough about receiving the information three days after the most recent BOE meeting.  In a response to Senges, Sheila Daniels wrote:

"Why was the issue mentioned below not brought to the attention of the Board at Tuesday night's meeting? Waiting until after the fact to inform the Board or having the Board be informed by a member of the public is not good practice."

While the district is required to offer choice to parents whose children attend a school labeled "in need of improvement," Senges explained that the school administration decided to arbitrarily offer choice to a set of parents and students, some of whom were late kindergarten registrants, others of whom are low-performing "Title 1" students, which Senges describes as "(Free or Reduced Lunch Students achieving below grade level)." The late kindergarten registrants were informed that they could chose a different school because of potential overcrowding in classrooms.

In her email, Senges indicates that the state gave the district the latitude to offer choice to a limited number of parents and students.

Last year's elementary school redistricting was expected to create achievement issues in some elementary schools, and other elementary schools in Middletown are reported to have failed to reach AYP last academic year.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for redistricting BOE...once again you did an awesome job (sarcastic)! I guess the parents that posed this concern prior to the 2010/2011 school year were correct. Maybe you should have listened to them instead of the redistricting committee!

Anonymous said...

How can you blame this on redistricting? The district needs better leadership. It needs people starting at the top who can figure out how to teach all kids in our district instead of just moving them around. Don't give bad leadership excuses for not doing their job.

Anonymous said...

We, the parents, knew this was going to happen...the BOE did not listen. We're not giving them an excuse as you put it. If you read the comment you see that the full blame is going on the BOE...leadership as you put it. Redistricting was a contributor to failure for these schools to meet AYP as well as the poor leadership for the past 6 years!

Anonymous said...

Redistricting had nothing to do with this problem. It was very important for many of our families to attend schools near their homes and not have to bus across town to attend school. And besides, there was overcrowding and shifting classes before the redistricting as no one can predict the number of families w/ kids moving in and out of different school zones.

I think the real issue here is the administration making huge decisions without letting the BOE know and the BOE not asking and demanding to be part of the decision. It is designed to be a check and balance system yet the administration seems to be just doing whatever they please regardless of policy and rules. Low income families should not be targeted to be the ones who have to move and being separated from their neighborhood schools.

Anonymous said...

There is absolutely no reason Bielefield should have 2 kindergarten teachers...they knew they were going to get late registrations and now you are sending them to Wesley and their siblings too...Something majorly wrong with this...Bielefield has never been without 3 kindergarten teachers...something smells fishy here..r they using taxpayer money to bus them over there...put the teacher back makes more sense...again Frechette/Senges make stupid decisions that just make no sense...this had nothing to do with school choice!!! they ended up sending a Bielefield teacher to Wesley to cover the students they are moving over there
What is the real reason here????? I'm not buying there explanation

Anonymous said...

BOE Administration is the same thing (they are not separate)...consisting of poor leadership from the top down.

Anonymous said...

my daughter won prizes in a CMT League year before last and then the news was about how Middletownhad good scores and last year I didnt hear about prizes and she wasnt plying the games onlines and now the news is all about how bad the socres were. seems like they dumped something that was working - and i heard it was like $10 bucks a kid something, so i'm tied of hearing the excuse that theyve got no money

joseph getter said...

Middletown Press is reporting today, "Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, 91 percent of students were expected to score as “proficient” on the CMTs, up from a goal of 82 percent in the previous three years. Had the target remained at 82 percent, Superintendent of Schools Michael Frechette said, the district would have met that goal." See