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My Turn, Karen Lilly-Bowyer: Schools are losing ground

Writer

Karen Lilly-Bowyer

Editor’s note: This is an updated version of Ms. Lilly-Bowyer’s column. The Post published the wrong version in Wednesday’s paper. 

When Superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody addressed the Rowan Salisbury Schools state testing results, she said the schools should be held accountable for their results. I could not agree more.

Dr. Moody pointed out that test scores are not the only important measure of a school’s effectiveness, and in fact, our schools tend to show a slow growth. What she didn’t point out is the widening gap between our school scores and the average state scores.

We hear about the poverty in our schools and how it effects testing results. Yes, that is true, but poverty exists all over the state; therefore, it is not a factor when comparing our scores to the state averages.

The bottom line, the situation where accountability needs to be addressed, is why are our students performing so far below the state average? Dr. Moody never seems to address that fact.

In her first year as superintendent, she told us she was just watching and evaluating. In her second year, we heard about an implementation curve. Teachers had to get used to using the computers.

Last year, we heard that things were getting better even though there was no statistical change in our students’ performance. It was “Wait until next year.” Well next year is here, and our schools are further behind the state average than they were when Dr. Moody took the helm.

The statistics don’t lie.

Reading scores

Grade

State Average

RSS Average

3

57.8

51.0

4

57.7

49.8

5

56.7

47.0

6

61.0

50.0

7

58.2

45.4

8

53.7

38.6

 

Math scores

Grade

State Average

RSS Average

3

63.6

52.7

4

58.6

42.4

5

60.3

45.2

6

53.1

31.0

7

49.8

29.5

8

45.8

26.1

One very disturbing fact about the RSS performance is that the older our student become, the poorer they perform. At grade 3, our students are only 6.8 points behind the state average, but by grade 8, the gap is 14.9. At the state level the averages are relatively consistent.

The low performance trend is even more stark in math. Our students are not maintaining; in fact, they are losing ground. The decrease in performance as our children advance from one grade to the next is frightening.

When composite EOG scores are examined, (all grades, all EOG tests) the state average is 58.8 percentage of students at grade level. The RSS average is 44.9, which is 13.9 points below the state average. That is a significant number.

In summary, it is obvious that Dr. Moody’s digital conversion of our school system has not been successful. The Rowan County tax payers have spent millions of dollars on her scheme and the results have been dismal. Dr. Moody has received some nice awards from the Apple Corporation for spending so much money, and she has fattened up her resume, but our students have suffered.

Three years ago, the teachers and others who said the digital conversion was not a good idea, were called old fogies and naysayers. We did the research and discovered that school systems across the country have not found full digital conversions to be successful. Well, once again, the old fogies and naysayers were right, but being right is not what is important. What is important is finding a way to resolve the problem.

 

Karen Lilly-Bowyer is a retired teacher.

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