When my children were young, we made a decision to move from Hampton to Newport News because of the schools. Today we would make the opposite choice as all of their schools are accredited and they are Nationally known for their Academies. What can we in Newport News to achieve that status?
1. We don't need to re-invent the wheel. There is a book written on how Hampton accomplished their status. Get a copy of the book and implement their model. Their Superintendent used to work for Newport News!
2. Start implementing RESEARCH BASED PRACTICES. I can guarantee much of what Hampton did was based on research. For example, start times for High Schools has been documented for years but we Newport News ignores it.
3. There is no learning without DISCIPLINE! When I speak with teachers, the students are in control and they are discouraged to refer students for misbehavior. When they do, they are not supported. One behavior problem can keep the whole class from learning. BEHAVIOR HAD CONSEQUENCES!
4. The Teacher Is The Key! This little book was required reading in my undergraduate and graduate courses. Most of the teachers in our schools can tell you what needs to be done and it would be right. BUT Supervisors and Administrators don't ask.
5. Stop hiring more supervisors and administrative personnel and hire aides. You can usually hire two to three aides for one of their salaries.
6. Stop Busing except for Magnet Schools. We are under a Court Approved Plan and have met the criteria years ago to have it lifted just as Norfolk did. Students waste an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon on transportation when they could have tutoring and enrichment activities.
7. Consider differential pay raises. Five percent of $50,000 is a lot different from five percent of $150,000. When I was on the school board for example, we gave teacher/support personnel four percent and supervisors/administrators two percent.
8. Every child should be greeted and interacted with by one other person (other than the teacher) each day.. bus drivers, janitors, cafeteria workers, etc. This changes the culture of a school and makes it a CARING one.
9 Expectations are crucial! There was an experiment in the 50's that would not be allowed today but it tells us so much. The teacher wrote to the next grade teacher the top students in her class were academically behind... low grades academically and low intellectual ability. She wrote up the lowest preforming students as high achieving and intellectually superior to the others. Guess what happened in the next grade. I have another example but it is too long.
10 .Money spent per child is not the factor in school achievement. Walter Williams (journalist and economist) reports if that were true then Washington, DC and Baltimore, Maryland would be the systems that produced high achieving students! We know that is not true!