So far, the District has spent four million dollars just in paying lawyer fees. Some people fear what happened in Rockford with its consent decree will repeat itself here. They say there's really nothing stopping those involved to say the District is meeting guidelines, since they're getting paid to work in this case.
Although the cost of the consent decree here is nothing compared to the 258 million dollars Rockford paid, some people say they are already seeing some similarities between the two and they aren't good.
Champaign school district's response to the consent decree can be seen in the classrooms. Administrators ended specialty coursework teaching the same now to all students. Former Champaign teacher Greg Novak feels that move may not benefit all kids. "For the students in the middle that may be a good thing, and for those in the end, it may not be." Novak agrees, the consent decree is a good cause, but feels it's bringing more problems than solutions. "Our emphasis on testing gets hilarious once you leave the world of education, when are they gonna take a test?" He feels that's a problem, the focus on test scores. The state shows Champaign test scores have stayed around the same, some improving, since the consent decree started in 2002; but Novak believes, testing is not an accurate measure and only puts pressure on kids and teachers. He reasons, it burdens the staff, " it's taking away from teachers,who's job is to teach." Novak says another fall out from the consent decree is discipline. In the court order, the district must lower the number of unnecessary discipline reports involving minorities. Novak tells us teachers are under pressure to limit how many can get in trouble and kids are aware of it. He says students know how to manipulate the system to their advantage, "students are smart, they know how to push the system. "
Champaign Deputy Superintendent Dorland Norris strongly denies kids are getting away with making trouble. She says that's simply now true, "I'm appalled someone would make those allegations." She says the proof is in the district's numbers, "if you look at the data, our discipline numbers haven't gone down, so if we were trying to cook the books, then you would see dramatic drops." Norris argues student achievement is up from a few years ago based on test scores. While that's true, some students are not testing as well, some worse than before. All the results can be found on-line at Illinois Interactive Report Card. Regardless, Norris say testing is the best way to see if students are learning. She adds, "there is absolutely nothing wrong to make sure kids are mastering curriculum, it's the best practice across the nation."
Norris agrees with Novak, the cost of the consent decree is high, but feels its goal to diversify is enough to convince her to keep working.
This year is the first for the district to meet state standards all across the board. Like in Rockford, people in Champaign are using test scores as benchmarks to measure whether the consent decree is helping or hurting. WCIA three looks into whether test scores are an accurate measure of progress.One educational expert weighs in on that and the consent decree. Hear what he has to say in the third part of our investigation.
This year.. is the first for the district to meet standards all across the board..
But who is right...Can state and national test scores accurately measure progress..
One educational expert weighs in on that..and the consent decree...
I'll have more on that..tomorrow...Night at ten.