Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Dorchester Elementary On 'Underachievement List'; Friend, Crete Schools Face Big Penalties

The Omaha newspaper is reporting that nearly 25% of Nebraska's public schools face penalties for underachievement in the classroom.  Unfortunately, Dorchester Elementary is one of 265 Title I Nebraska schools on the underachievement list.

But Dorchester Elementary isn't in nearly as bad of shape as schools in neighboring communities, which have been on the underachievement list for consecutive years -- and face much stiffer penalties.

Under the federal "No Child Left Behind" law, the Nebraska Department of Education must identify schools as in need of improvement when they miss the state’s goals for adequate yearly progress on state tests in the same subject and grade span for two or more consecutive years.  Schools that receive federal dollars for educating students in poverty — Title I schools — face consequences under the law.  Each year a school stays on the list, additional consequences are imposed.  

Dorchester's elementary school is one of 136 Nebraska schools that has been placed on the "Year 1" underachievement penalty list.  Schools on this list must notify parents in writing of the school’s status and give parents the opportunity to move their child to another school not on the needs-improvement list. The district must pay for transportation.  The school must also develop a two-year improvement plan and pay for extra teacher training.  Several area schools are on this "year 1" list, including Exeter-Milligan Public Schools, Meridian Public Schools and Shelby-Rising City Public Schools.

Meanwhile, 50 more Nebraska schools have been on the "underachievement list" for two consecutive years.  In addition to the year 1 requirements, year 2 schools must offer free tutoring to children who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.  You read that correctly -- free tutoring!  Among the area school districts on this list is Friend Public Schools.

More than 40 Nebraska schools have been on the underachievement list for three consecutive years.  In addition to the year 1 and year 2 requirements, schools in year 3 must develop a corrective action plan and take at least one of the following actions:

-- Replace staff who were responsible for failing to make adequate yearly progress;
-- Implement a new curriculum and train teachers in ways to help low-achieving students;
-- Significantly decrease management authority at the school level;
-- Appoint an outside expert to advise the school;
-- Extend the school year or day;
-- Restructure the internal organizational structure of the school.

Among area schools, Crete Public Middle Schools has been placed on this particular list.

And more than 30 Nebraska schools have been on the underachievement list for four consecutive years.  In addition to the year 1-3 requirements, school districts in year 4 must begin to develop a restructuring plan with input from parents and teachers. The plan must include one of the following options:

-- Replacing all or most of the school staff, including the principal, who were responsible for the failure to make adequate yearly progress;
-- Entering into a contract with an entity, such as a proven, private management company to operate the school;
-- Making major changes to the school’s governance structure, such as significant staffing changes.

Sadly, Crete Elementary School is on this list.

EDITOR'S NOTE:  While we hate seeing Dorchester Elementary and other area schools on this list, and it's easy to point the finger of blame at school faculty, we know the challenges that teachers today face.  Teachers, in addition to educating, must also play the role of social worker, financial instructor, and even parent.  Let's not forget who is mostly to blame for underachieving youth today -- that is, their parents.


  1. I don't feel all the blame can come back on the school. Reinforcement in the home is crucial to the outcome of how a child progresses.

  2. "No Child Left Behind"...George W. Bush just keeps on giving and giving....

    1. Nearly 7 years into Barack Obummer's presidency and David the Leftwing Bohunk blames Bush. Go smoke some Ebola tainted Colorado pot grown by ISIS terrorists, Dave.

    2. My goodness! We're certainly in a snit, aren't we?

      (PS-I know many public school teachers and I stand by my comment.)

    3. David is right.

      Its definitely the republicans fault, but why stop at bush, reagan and eisenhauer were evil and i know our childeren are failing because of them evil presidents

  3. The legislation was proposed by President George W. Bush on January 23, 2001. It was coauthored by Representatives John Boehner (R-OH), George Miller (D-CA), and Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Judd Gregg (R-NH). The United States House of Representatives passed the bill on May 23, 2001 (voting 384–45),[6] and the United States Senate passed it on June 14, 2001 (voting 91–8).[7] President Bush signed it into law on January 8, 2002. Both parties bear the blame for this travesty and it is up to both parties to end it. For those of you who had not seen my reply to this post in Facebook, here it is.
    I saw this article and read some of the comments, lamenting how poorly the schools are doing. Folks remembered days past, when the schools were well respected and the students did not have these "problems". You are all missing the main point. The problem does not lie with the schools. The problem is the intrusive Federal government and the badly crafted No Child Left Behind law, along with the endless series of diagnostic tests. Problems in the educational process cannot be solved by the application of a "formula" that is several hundred pages long.
    The education of any child, at any level, is an on-going dynamic process. It involves well trained, caring teachers who can nurture the spark of learning in the students. It involves parents who will take more than a passing glance at the work their children are doing (or not doing) and make themselves part of the educational process. It involves an active Board of Education, who will take responsibility to provide guidance to the District they serve. It involves participation by members of the community, even if they have no children in school, for the community cannot flourish without quality education for its young people.
    It is a natural part of the growth process for a child to want to learn. They are inquisitive by nature and usually take delight in discovering new things. We have quality teachers and administrators at Dorchester Public School and at Crete Public Schools. I had two sons graduate from Friend High School, who both went on to graduate from Doane College. These teachers are more than capable of giving their students the quality education they deserve. The administrative staff at these schools are more than able to identify problem areas such as the influx of ESL students, Special Education students, and others. There are local solutions to these problems that do not involve participation by the Federal government. Public education in this great nation has historically been under local control, for good reason. We cannot afford to take the "cookie cutter" approach and say that every single student in the country is the same as every other student and if they all don't score well on the same tests that the School District is a failure.
    As a side note to "Anonymous", certainly a prolific contributor to the Times (in this case the comment on 10/29 @ 6:12 PM); it is apparent by your spelling, lack of punctuation, and sentence structure, that you did not pay attention in English class.

  4. There is a solution for all of this, for every school on this so-called underachievement list ... don't take the federal money.

    Here's the deal: only about 8% of the average K-12 school's funding comes from federal sources. The bulk of the money comes from local property taxes while much of the rest comes from state aid.

    If you don't like the standards the federal law is requiring, don't accept the feds' cash ... simple enough, no?

  5. Another solution

    Make the students responsible to work harder to get better grades

    Enough excuses

    Pass or do it again

  6. I agree that the problem starts at home. Spend some time with your kids. Put down your phones & ipads for a minute. You might just learn something from each other.

    That being said, I would like to know just how many of these failing schools staff continue to get raises year after year. Not just teachers, but from the top down. I know if I don't perform or work as hard, I make less money. It's simple. Maybe the same should hold true here. Work harder for your own success and the results will follow.

    Entitlement and complacency. A big problem in my eyes for the world we live in today. Unfortunately, too many believe this is the way of the world.

    1. Exactly! Good points.

  7. Forgot to mention...Bush also allowed for tax dollar grants to "faith based" charities. Again, he just keeps on giving.

  8. Poor, David. He's going to have a very long, sobering Election Day evening.

    Senator Jeff Session said it well: "Every single Senate Democrat voted for the Obama-backed plan to provide immediate work permits to 12 million illegal immigrants – allowing them to compete for any job in America. Their plan is championed by open borders billionaires like Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg – global CEOs who don’t think you’re entitled to the same protections their gates and fences provide them. With your vote, you have the power to prove them wrong. You have the power to deliver a message they won’t forget."


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