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Sept-Oct Principal Magazine Cover - Juggling ActPrincipal, September/October 2010

My Two Cents

What’s been the impact of state budget cuts on your school?

The impact has been on instruction and supplies. We’ve cut the math, reading, and science coaches and didn’t purchase any workbooks. We revised the fifth-grade program to allow one teacher to teach all the science classes. We designed a reading tutoring program using a part-time Title I teacher and two aides, and we purchased software to provide additional math assistance. In addition, each teacher teaches two groups of math and two groups of reading each day. One is basic instruction and one is remedial.
Patricia Patterson, Principal, Nob Hill Elementary School, Sunrise, Florida

Despite cuts in funding by the state, the Carlynton School District continues to think creatively so that we are able to maintain a quality education for our students. We have applied for and received various grants and local awards to support our educational programs. Teams of teachers and administrators work together to research free programs and other ways to enhance instruction.
Jacie Maslyk, Principal, Crafton Elementary School, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Read more responses—and submit your own—by visiting the Principals’ Office. Click on “My Two Cents.”

Research Digest

2010 Child and Youth Well-Being Index
In today’s America, the rate of poverty for children under 18 is the highest for any single age group and, according to a new report by the Foundation for Child Development, the 2008-2009 economic downturn, commonly referred to as the Great Recession, will force more children into poverty over the next year, thus jeopardizing their chances of achieving future academic success.

The 2010 Child and Youth Well-Being Index (CWI) annual report finds that the percentage of children living below the poverty line, the rate of children living in extreme poverty, and the number of children with two unemployed parents will all increase within the next year, following a pattern of steady decline in the CWI that started in 2009.

While families will bear the initial brunt of these trying times, schools are bound to feel the aftershocks for years to come, the study reveals. Higher poverty rates mean fewer children will enroll in high-quality pre-kindergarten programs, increasing the likelihood that they will lag behind their peers on read­ing and math assessments by the time they enter fourth grade. Reductions in early academic abilities can lead to higher high school dropout rates. Read the full report at www.fcd-us.org.

Measuring the Effectiveness of Head Start
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ 2010 Head Start Impact Study analyzes the effects the program has on children’s school readiness and on parental practices that support children’s development. Enacted in 1965 as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty, Head Start strives to increase the school readiness of low-income children by providing a compre­hensive range of services, including preschool education, health care, and other efforts to help parents fos­ter child development. Today, the program serves approximately 1 million children and has a $7 billion annual budget.

Researchers randomly assigned nearly 5,000 eligible 3- and 4-year-old children to either a group with access to Head Start services or to a control group where children could enroll in other early childhood programs or non-Head Start services. They followed the two groups’ progress through the spring of first grade.

The study’s findings paint a mixed picture of Head Start’s effectiveness. Researchers conclude that Head Start positively impacts every measure of children’s preschool experiences, including improving vocabulary, letter naming, and parent-reported emer­gent literacy. But those early benefits do not translate into later success, as the Head Start children showed few statistically significant differences from their peers by the end of first grade. The study concludes that Head Start benefits 3- and 4-year-olds in the cognitive, health, and parenting domains, and that further research is needed to determine whether Head Start affects children’s later contribu­tions to their schools and communi­ties. The report has not attracted much media coverage despite the fact that President Barack Obama’s proposed budget—released in February 2010—called for an increase in funding for the program. The full report can be downloaded at www.acf.hhs.gov.

Members in the Spotlight

Congratulations to principal Lynda G. Finley whose school, Westlawn Elementary School in Mobile, Alabama, was selected to receive thousands of dollars worth of classroom supplies in a contest sponsored by Woman’s Day magazine in collaboration with NAESP.

Among the items Westlawn will receive are five desktop and eight laptop computers; more than $1,000 worth of art supplies; writing materials such as pens, pencils, and notebooks; 500 backpacks; and much more. Westlawn Elementary School will also be featured in the September 2010 issue of Woman’s Day magazine.

If you would like to nominate a member who is making local or national news, or has received a unique award or recogni­tion, please submit his or her name to publications@naesp.org.

What’s Your Story?

NAESP members have expressed their views and shared their perspectives on the overall school improvement debate that is currently taking place in Washington, D.C. Here’s one example.

The turnaround models proposed by the federal government have caused disruption and harm to our Navajo Nation public schools. I have worked very hard to improve Canyon De Chelly Elementary School in Chinle Unified School District, Chinle, Arizona. We have high and positive expectations for all students. We have seen state test scores in reading, mathematics,

and writing increase. The school’s label has gone from “underperforming” to “performing.” We are focused on raising student achievement, but we haven’t ... [made] AYP. One principal lost his position and three of us (myself included) have been told we are transferring to new schools as of July 1, 2010. Three years of hard work and dedication seems to have been thrown out in

favor of a model that is largely unproven. We are told that we must do it so we can apply for a school improvement grant and Race to the Top funding. Now, I will need to establish new, strong, positive relationships with staff, students, parents, and community members. I will need to understand the programs and culture of the new school. I will need to start over. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and great schools with outstanding student achievement aren’t created in a day. It takes very deliberate and thoughtful action over several years. When we are babies we start by crawling, then walking, and finally running. I am up and running with Canyon De Chelly Elementary School, but I will need to crawl again when I start over with a new school.

Moses Marc Aruguete, Principal, Arizona

How have you been affected by the school-improvement debate? The four turnaround models that result in the dismissal of principals? The movement to adopt common core standards? The proposal to connect Title I funds to the adoption of common core standards and other measures? Send us your story, and read others, at www.naesp.org/advocacy.aspx.

 

Copyright © National Association of Elementary School Principals. No part of the articles in NAESP magazines, newsletters, or Web site may be reproduced in any medium without the permission of the National Association of Elementary School Principals. For more information, view NAESP's reprint policy.

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