AYP Follow-Up: Statement from Education Commissioner Donna Frett-Gregory

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Looking at the released data, it is clear that there have been some gains overall – particularly in the area of our elementary schools – but we continued to be challenged with our high schools in both the areas of reading and math. To address these challenges, the Department, on the state level, has been supporting the Districts and schools by providing our educators with the job embedded professional development they need to really succeed in the classroom.

On the District level, our Superintendents and their teams have also been implementing a number of intervention programs – such as online comprehension programs in reading and math -- for students in need of extra academic help, while also working to identify which of those programs work, which ones don’t, and which ones can be maximized to reach as many students as possible. Consultants have also been working with our State and District Offices of Curriculum and Instruction to provide support to those schools in restructuring.

And now, as we prepare to switch to a new online assessment system, which is aligned to the Common Core State Standards, our mission has also been to substantially ramp up professional development efforts for our teachers to ensure that they are trained, as much as possible, to prepare our students in the classroom.

We realize that the integration of Common Core has been a major paradigm shift for the Department and our educators, who have also now become learners themselves, as they continue to study and develop the most effective strategies for teaching to the new standards. Candidly, it is going to take time for our scores to jump more than what we’re seeing now – but, our Department is committed to providing as much support as needed, and is also looking at how to align our federal and local dollars in an effort to boost professional development and training, along with our student intervention programs.

We’ve also brought in consultants to work with our team on the development of a new teacher/leader evaluation system that is not designed to be punitive, but rather to identify our stronger teachers and provide those that are in need of more support with the professional development they need in order to be prepared.

Facing these realities, it is clear that all hands must be on deck in order for our students to succeed. We continue to encourage our educators to take advantage of the resources that we, and other organizations, have been offering, and we further ask our community – particularly, our parents – to become part of our efforts by continuing to work with our students outside the classroom, because it is only with everyone’s participation that we can, as is the goal with Common Core, ensure that we are producing learners that are college and career ready.