Few parents attend event at TMHS on sunny summer evening



At a lightly attended “school summit” Thursday evening, the superintendent of the Juneau School District, school principals and other district staff discussed data for Juneau schools.

The data delved into was, in large part, drawn from Standards Based Assessment testing for the 2011-12 school year, which is used to measure schools against statewide standards in order to assess Adequate Yearly Progress, a requirement of the federal No Child Left Behind program.

In the 2011-12 school year, only three out of 14 Juneau schools met AYP in all categories.

Superintendent Glenn Gelbrich has made no secret of his dislike of the AYP metric, which requires schools to meet statewide standards in all 40 categories in order to meet overall, and his presentation to the staff and parents assembled in Thunder Mountain High School’s auditorium Thursday reflected it.

“We are required to tell you about AYP,” Gelbrich said. “We are required to tell you. What we really care about is how many of our students are performing at a very high level nationally.”

Gelbrich pointed to data showing Juneau students outperforming the state average in SBA testing last year and generally performing well on Measures of Academic Progress testing.

But the superintendent also acknowledged that while, he said, schools are making progress in improving student performance and readiness for their post-high school lives, the JSD has not met its credo of “Helping students succeed – each one, every one!”

“Our number one challenge in trying to meet ‘each one, every one’ is fiscal,” Gelbrich said. “We simply are constricted by what it is we can offer to children by the resources that are available to us.”

Gelbrich also discussed a recent survey of parent attitudes toward their children’s schools conducted by the McDowell Group.

“Almost 80 percent of our families have confidence in the school system,” said Gelbrich. “That means one in five don’t. If ‘each one, every one’ applies to students being successful, our interim goal is 90 percent. … Our next target for this is 90 percent on the way to ‘each and every’ family having confidence in … the work that’s happening in our school district.”

But not many of those families were present to hear Gelbrich’s presentation, or to participate in the breakout sessions for individual schools at which principals discussed their schools’ achievement reports.

“The sun was not our friend tonight,” observed JSD communications manager Kristin Bartlett. She acknowledged that when the weather is nice, attendance for events like the annual summit tends to be underwhelming.

Dave Stoltenburg, principal of Harborview Elementary School, said that the one parent attending his breakout session was about par for the course, in his experience, for attendance.

“Same as last year, same as the year before that,” Stoltenburg laughed ruefully. “It’s low.”


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