Assistant superintendent: AYP distracting

Russell Anglin

Dave Johnson has replaced State Rep. Dennis Roch as assistant superintendent of Tucumcari schools this year.

Johnson comes from Adrian, Texas where he served as superintendent of the Adrian Independent School District. Superintendent Aaron Mckinney said he and his new colleague will continue to approach academic performance goals with the same administrative strategy of previous years, which McKinney and Johnson said resulted in overall successful 2010 test scores, despite the state’s evaluation.

“They raise that goal every year, so every year we have a higher, higher, higher standard to meet,” Mckinney said.

Johnson said the ascending standard of adequate yearly progress the No Child Child Left Behind Act of 2001 establishes for each state’s standardized tests increases accountability in schools while potentially distracting student learning and distorting how the public perceives students’ achievements.

“The system is set up to where, at some point, you’re going to reach failure and I don’t agree with that. But I do agree that the accountability in all these states made instruction better, it really has. At some point that reaches a point of failing returns also. At some point all we’re doing is teaching to the test and we’re stressing kids out and teachers out and parents out for one goal, which may not be the whole goal of our society, which is to give them a well-rounded education,” Johnson said.

Johnson said quality teachers make the biggest difference between successful and unsuccessful school districts. Under the No Child Left Behind Act, schools who fail to meet AYP for three consecutive years undergo corrective action. According to the Department of Education, this process requires education agencies “to take actions likely to bring about meaningful change at the school,” including replacing faculty, turning over school administration to state agencies and extending the school year.

“What we need to do is keep a consistent approach. We do need to keep trying to improve. We need to hire the best-qualified people we can find for these jobs, and we need to keep supporting them,” Johnson said.

Johnson said standards of adequate yearly progress should be redefined to make proficiency standards attainable. AYP mandates that all students reach proficiency in standardized math and reading test scores by the 2013-2014 school year, which McKinney and Johnson consider unrealistic.

“I heard on the news the other day that 30 percent more schools didn’t make it this year than what they did five years ago,” Johnson said. “No, it’s because they raised the bar five times since then. I don’t see why it’s hard for people to understand the test is getting harder and we’re not getting any more funding. In fact, we’re getting less funding.”