Doubling Down on Failure

The Times-Dispatch reports the election of the Chairman of Petersburg’s School Board: for a tenth time.

The paper further reveals that our State education bureaucracy calls this Chairman an “indispensible and tireless partner.”  They brag on an improved graduation rate and the recent accreditation of two of the six Petersburg schools.

Indeed, Petersburg’s cohort graduation rate has increased in recent years (as the cohort size his withered).

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Test performance is another matter.  On the reading tests, the elementary school scores have improved but the high school scores continue to slide and the middle school scores have reached even lower lows after being clobbered by the new tests in 2013.

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(“EOC” is “End of Course”).  Given that an increasing fraction of Petersburg’s high school students are flunking the End of Course reading tests, we have to wonder where the improved graduation rates are coming from.

As to the math pass rates, the elementary schools again have improved; this year they are within sight of the state average.  The middle schools, however, continue to marinate in failure while the high schools this year climbed half way out from an eighteen point drop in 2015.

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Hmmm.  You can see that drop in the graduation rate but the 2016 recovery in the graduation rate is contradicted by the only partial recovery of the math pass rate and the continuing decline in the reading rate.  There is something fishy here.

As to the accredited schools, both are elementary schools (no surprise there).

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The poster child for the problems in the Petersburg system is Peabody Middle School.  (Accreditation level is the red line).

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Petersburg has compiled this record of failure while operating under Memoranda of Understanding with VBOE since at least 2004 (video of 9/21/16 at 1:48:30) .

In this context, our Secretary of Education says “we have successfully engaged with local leaders to tackle a variety of serious issues.” 

Notice he can’t say they’ve fixed Petersburg, just that they’ve “successfully engaged.”  Indeed, Board of Education members admit (Sept. 21, 2016 video starting at 1:48) that they don’t know how to fix bad schools.

In sum: Happy talk; lousy schools; educrats who don’t know how to fix those schools.

Your tax dollars at “work.”