One of the original LYS readers submits the following:

“Well, I have heard of situations like this, but until now had never been introduced to one (even in a dysfunctional system and I have seen a couple of those). I am really torn.

What is the situation? I sat in a meeting today where the discussion was on how best to address our accountability situation (AU) with our TAKS-M students in mind. I understand the pressure to do what is needed to make sure we get as many students as possible on the pass list (AA was just a few students away.) But, how do you resolve an accountability crisis of conscience when the PBMAS shows that in the area of SPED you are stage 2 and have a 3 in several areas, including too many TAKS-M students and too few TAKS/TAKS-Acc students?

With the change in the law as to who is qualified to take TAKS-M to include both modifications and accommodations and TAKS-M is an indicator of a student who is more than one year from grade level mastery, should TAKS-M students remain in that category even if they have a greater than needed mastery level?

Should a student who has the credits and ability to take TAKS-Acc (and earn a recommended diploma) be relegated to TAKS-M and the minimal plan? What does it really mean to see the “big” picture in this case? Where is the defining line?”

SC Response:
CL, call me if this doesn’t help. There are two dimensions to your dilemma, the macro-answer and the micro-answer. I’m going to respond to both. But I defer to the LYS Nation on the specifics, regarding coding requirements. First, the micro-response

There are two major considerations to your dilemma at the micro level. The first is student centered. The primary goal at the High School level must be graduation, especially for schools that are in crisis. Course work and testing decisions must be made to put the student in the best possible position to earn the most rigorous diploma that is realistically feasible. If I’m going to gamble with a student’s future, I’m looking for the low risk, high reward option. But I’m not going to sell a student short just to hedge my personal bet.

The second micro consideration is accountability related. In the short run, you have to play the game in order to stay in the game long enough to fix the system. That means that if you have to choose between fixing state accountability or federal accountability, fix the one that is most critical (i.e. the one that will shut you down the quickest). Buy some time and live to fight tomorrow.

At the macro-level, fix the system at full speed. When a campus goes AU (or has a significant ratings drop), that is the final symptom of system failure. Everything is on the table at this point. The key is to quit focusing on the symptom (student performance) and attack the problem (the instructional delivery machine). And fixing the machine is a leadership responsibility.

That is my quick take on an all too common problem. However, you and I need to hear more from the LYS Nation. Specifically, E. Don, John, Mike, Lynn and Pam, what would you add?

Think. Work. Achieve.

Your turn…