Speedway High School, AYP and No Child Left Behind

So Speedway High School is no longer a four star school because they did not meet Adequate Yearly Progress under No Child Left Behind. See this link for details. To me, that is very surprising considered what weíve experienced in our conversations with the high school administration, the superintendent, and the Speedway school board. I firmly believe the teachers, staff, and administrators do their best to ensure those in real need get the right attention. In fact, Speedway schools are quite focused on not leaving any child behind. Why am I surprised about the high school not meeting AYP? Because they focus so much on not leaving children behind it is to the detriment of those students who strive to excel. I speak from experience here.

My child excels in the classroom and was selected to participate in a college level summer program after their sophomore year. They raised a majority of the funds by spending spring break writing letters to local individuals and businesses for sponsorship. Upon returning to school in the fall with a new proficiency and direction from the school administration, my child enrolled in a senior honor level course. After the start of school, the principal informed us the parent of another student complained their childís class rank would be affected by my child taking that class. Our child was given the option to move down to a lower level course where they wouldnít be challenged or stay at the senior level and not receive honor credit until their senior year. Not exactly timely recognition there. The administration indicated this was an issue because it affected class rank at the top of the class and that it would not be an issue if the affected students were not at the top of the class. It sounds like those not at the top arenít as important, or that the complaining parent was more important.

The administration also stated the summer program was not an opportunity open to other students. However the other student could have gone through the rigorous application process, raised funds as my child did, and could have received a needs based scholarship to attend the same program. That studentís family chose not to take that opportunity. The administration pointed out in the future they would not allow any other students to bypass a class or take honor classes in advance. Stated another way, advanced students are being held back for the sake of not upsetting the class rank. While no child should be left behind, no child should be held back from reaching their potential either.

Faced with no-win options for our child to receive timely proper credit for their work, we appealed the principalís decision to the superintendent, who basically sided with the principal and the complaining parent. We proposed solutions such as awarding half the credit this year and half the next, and revising the school handbook to determine final class rank at the end of the school year instead of in the middle of the year. This second solution would help keep students more engaged through the whole school year. These fell on deaf ears so we appealed to the school board and presented our case. They seemed to focus on giving the honor credit for a senior level class in the senior year and that credit should not be awarded any earlier. If that is the case then why would they give my child regular credit for taking the class but not the honor credit? There must be something more to this. Perhaps the complaining parent has some kind of influence over the administration and the board?

What kind of messages are our school officials sending to our children and community? This is not how the real world works. Freshman college students routinely take upper level college courses and get timely credit. When adults put forth the effort, they expect to be justly and timely rewarded for those efforts. Donít our children deserve the same? Speedway seems to have a double standard for this as it will not allow an underclassman who is skilled enough to take a senior level honor class to receive proper credit but allows freshmen to play varsity sports and receive a varsity letter even when there are enough upperclassmen to fill the team. We want our children to have the best opportunities to be challenged and to succeed in this world. Isnít that one of the reasons for all day kindergarten, why we pay for our kids to take SAT prep tests, and why we pay for private sports lessons, and travel teams?

Also, keep in mind the Speedway Redevelopment Commission is in full motion. We need to send a message to those professionals and companies we are trying to attract that the town will strive to create great schools and produce great learners. While the SRC can do its part, it is also betting Speedway schools will be prepared to educate our children for the future. The current actions of the school administration seem to counteract that. Would professionals want to move to or stay in Speedway if the schools are unwilling to properly and timely reward students, are unable to provide challenges for their children, and hold them back from reaching their potential?

Tim Adams