By Julie Ann Madden
The Akron-Westfield School District has a few “noncompliance” issues with state education requirements.
These were found during a state officials’ accreditation site visit to the district in March.
The school board received the official report at their May 15 meeting.
State officials found 15 areas of noncompliance — several regarded the district’s School Improvement Advisory Committee (SIAC).
For instance, the Site Visit Team found the school board had not officially appointed people to SIAC and this committee’s current membership didn’t include representation from all of these groups: parents, students, teachers, administrators and community members.
SIAC also does not make annual recommendations to the school board. SIAC is to make recommendations regarding the district’s progress toward annual improvement goals, progress toward local indicators and annual improvement goals for the next school year.
In addition, they were to make recommendations about the district’s major educational needs; student learning goals; long range goals, including the state indicators that address reading, mathematics and science achievement; and harassment or bullying prevention goals, programs, training and other initiatives.
There were two instructional noncompliance problems. One was a teacher who did not have a reading endorsement was teaching reading. The district had to either have the teacher immediately get a conditional state teaching license for reading and complete this training or work with a teacher who has the reading endorsement while teaching reading to students. Administration chose the latter method.
The other instructional noncompliance was the district’s junior high, Grades 7-8 program, does not include each curricular area. It didn’t contain curriculum content for 1) contributions and perspectives of persons with disabilities, both men and women, and persons from diverse racial and ethnic groups, and shall be designed to eliminate career and employment stereotypes; 2) relationships with peers and family members in the home, school and community, including men, women, minorities and persons with disabilities; and 3) textiles and clothing.
Two of the noncompliance issues related to board policies were no Multi Cultural Gender Fair policy, of which Policy 603.4 was missing required “word” elements; and the district’s Special Education and Related Services policy with provision of a free appropriate public education was out of date.
The district receives federal Title I funding but there was no evidence showing annual notification of parents’ “right to know” about teacher qualifications and none that the district provides a statement of assurance to parents that notification will occur should their child be taught for four or more consecutive weeks by a teacher who is not highly qualified. However, the district was in compliance with other applicable federal programs: Title IIA, Title IID, Title III and Title XC.
Another issue was the district did not have a nondiscrimination notification statement published annually in a newspaper or newsletter that goes to all community folks within the district and the statement didn’t include protected classes, title, address and email address of the district’s equity coordinator.
Furthermore, there was no summary of activities coordinated by the equity coordinator and nothing existed showing the district provides equal opportunity to participate in programs by gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, socioeconomic status, disability, race, national origin, color, religion and creed.
The district also didn’t have a plan addressing equal employment opportunity and affirmative action in employment.
And finally, the district had no evidence it worked with publishers to address Accessible Instructional Materials requirements.
None of the noncompliance issues were considered “major” by school administration.
“Most (of the noncompliance issues) have already been addressed,” Shared Superintendent Randy Collins told the school board. “By the end of the week (of May 15) we will have our plan (of correction) completed.”
“We have assigned each (noncompliance) to someone and we will address each noncompliance issue,” he explained. “Eventually, we will have a letter from the Department of Education confirming we’ve dealt with each noncompliance.”
Grades Preschool-6 Principal Cathy Bobier said there were “only about three” noncompliance issues to fix yet.
“We can’t be a school unless we address these noncompliance issues,” said Collins. “It deals with accreditation so we take it very seriously.”
The noncompliance issues are only one part of the nearly 50-page Site Visit report.
Specific areas were addressed as A-W is “an improving district/school.” For each area, the Site Visit Team reported strengths and areas needing improvement. These areas included district’s vision, mission and goals; leadership; collaborative relationships; learning environment; curriculum and instruction; professional development; and monitoring and accountability.
Appendix A of the report included many graphs of A-W’s status in Educator Quality, Standards & Curriculum, and Customized Instruction.
Appendix A showed A-W has a declining enrollment trend since the 2005-2006 school year.
The state’s average number of minutes districts offer instruction throughout the school year is 71,405. At the elementary level, A-W exceeded that with 71,830 minutes of instruction but fell below the state average at the middle school and high school levels, which each had 68,480 minutes.
The number of Carnegie Units offered at A-W’s high school met or exceeded the number required except for the Physical Education area. In comparison with the state’s number of Carnegie Units offered, A-W was below the state’s number of offerings in several areas: Foreign Language, Math, Science, Social Studies and Physical Education. It only met the state’s offering numbers in English Language Arts, Fine Arts and Health.
A-W’s average daily attendance is at 96 percent — slowly increasing between the 2008-2009 and 2010-2011 school years — from 96.10 percent to 96.33
The District does not have any schools in the “In Need of Assistance” status.
Districts are required to assess all Kindergarten students using a literacy assessment and data are reported to the state on each Kindergarten student’s score. There was no score data reported because the district does not report DIBELS data for its Kindergarten Literacy Assessment. According to Bobier, the district uses Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessments instead.
The Appendix ends with more than 30 graphs of student academic achievements in reading, mathematics and science. See adjacent chart.
The Class of 2011 had a 100 percent graduation rate.
The percent of students who gave positive responses were as follows:
• Bullying: 48.70 percent, up from 25 percent in 2005-2006.
• School Safety: 90.76, up from 80.85 in 2005-2006; and
• School Support: 47.86, down from 51.47 in 2008-2009.