"TITLE I: LOCAL EFFORTS TO BOOST STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT"
SUBCOMMITTEE ON EARLY CHILDHOOD,
YOUTH AND FAMILIES
COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED SIXTH CONGRESS
HEARING HELD IN WATERFORD, MICHIGAN, JUNE 21, 1999
Serial No. 106-53
Printed for the use of the Committee on Education
and the Workforce
TABLE OF CONTENTS *
OPENING STATEMENT OF CHAIRMAN MICHAEL CASTLE, SUBCOMMITTEE ON EARLY CHILDHOOD, YOUTH AND FAMILIES, COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND THE WORKFORCE, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, WASHINGTON, DC *
OPENING STATEMENT OF RANKING MEMBER DALE KILDEE, SUBCOMMITTEE ON EARLY CHILDHOOD, YOUTH AND FAMILIES, COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND THE WORKFORCE, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, WASHINGTON, DC *
WRITTEN OPENING STATEMENT OF REPRESENTATIVE FRED UPTON, SUBCOMMITTEE ON EARLY CHILDHOOD, YOUTH AND FAMILIES, COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND THE WORKFORCE, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, WASHINGTON, DC *
STATEMENT OF DR. JAMES G. REDMOND, SUPERINTENDENT, OAKLAND SCHOOLS INTERMEDIATE DISTRICT, WATERFORD, MICHIGAN *
STATEMENT OF DR. CAROL L. DOWSETT, DEPUTY SUPERINTENDENT, DIRECTOR OF K-8 EDUCATION, WATERFORD SCHOOL DISTRICT, WATERFORD, MICHIGAN *
STATEMENT OF DR. WILLIAM D. SHAW, ASSOCIATE SUPERINTENDENT FOR INSTRUCTION AT THE GENESEE COUNTY INTERMEDIATE SCHOOL DISTRICT, FLINT, MICHIGAN *
STATEMENT OF MR. DONALD MACQUARRIE, PRINCIPAL OF WHITMER HUMAN RESOURCES CENTER, PONTIAC, MICHIGAN *
STATEMENT OF MS. NANCY ROCIER, TEACHER, MARTIN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, FLINT, MICHIGAN *
APPENDIX A - WRITTEN STATEMENT OF DR. CAROL L. DOWSETT, DEPUTY SUPERINTENDENT, DIRECTOR OF K-8 EDUCATION, WATERFORD SCHOOL DISTRICT, WATERFORD, MICHIGAN *
APPENDIX B - STATEMENT OF DR. WILLIAM D. SHAW, ASSOCIATE SUPERINTENDENT FOR INSTRUCTION AT THE GENESEE COUNTY INTERMEDIATE SCHOOL DISTRICT, FLINT, MICHIGAN *
APPENDIX C - WRITTEN STATEMENT OF MR. DONALD MACQUARRIE, PRINCIPAL OF WHITMER HUMAN RESOURCES CENTER, PONTIAC, MICHIGAN *
"TITLE I: LOCAL EFFORTS TO BOOST STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT"
ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION ACT
MONDAY, JUNE 21, 1999
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
SUBCOMMITTEE ON EARLY CHILDHOOD, YOUTH AND FAMILIES,
COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND THE WORKFORCE,
The Subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 10:05 a.m., at the Oakland School Kiva, 2100 Pontiac Lake Road, Waterford, Michigan, Hon. Michael N. Castle [Chairman of the Subcommittee] Presiding.
Present: Representatives Castle, Upton, and Kildee.
Staff Present: Krisann Pearce, Professional Staff Member; Alex Nock, Legislative Associate/Education.
OPENING STATEMENT OF CHAIRMAN MICHAEL CASTLE, SUBCOMMITTEE ON EARLY CHILDHOOD, YOUTH AND FAMILIES, COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND THE WORKFORCE, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, WASHINGTON, DC
Chairman Castle. Good morning. My name is Mike Castle. I'm the at-large Congressman from Delaware. What does at-large mean? It means Delaware is so small we only have one Congressman. And I'm it. There are seven states, by the way, in that category.
I chair the Subcommittee of the Early Childhood, Youth and Families of the Committee on Education and Workforce in Washington D.C. Mr. Kildee has in the past chaired the same Committee. He is now the minority Ranking Member and I'm sure it would work just as easily if it was the other way around. It is my privilege to welcome all of you to this hearing this morning on Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Congressman Kildee has put together an interesting panel of witnesses, and I look forward to hearing your recommendations on how best to improve Title I.
At $8 billion, Title I is the largest K-12 program of the federal government, and it is designed to help educationally disadvantaged students to reach the same high standards as their more advantaged peers. In my state of Delaware, most school districts use their Title I funds for salaries of teachers -- usually reading or math instruction specialists -- but some also use their funds for computer purchases and professional development. For over 30 years the program has been with us in one form or another. Most recently, as part of the 1994 amendments, there was a shift towards the standards and assessments for Title I. In other words, disadvantaged schools and students would be held accountable for academic performance in the same way as all other students, and if yearly progress was not being made, then corrective action would be taken. Yet, for all those changes, reports have shown that little or no progress has been made in closing the achievement gap of our nation's students.
While there are many unanswered questions surrounding the effectiveness of the Title I program, one thing is for sure: 58 percent of students in poverty score below basic in fourth grade reading, and 71 percent score below basic in eighth grade math. These statistics are simply unacceptable.
This year we're taking a hard look at what's working, what's not working, not only in Title I, but other K-12 programs as well. Using the recommendations gathered from fact-finding efforts like this hearing, I hope that we can work together to raise the performance of all students and restore our nation's elementary and secondary schools to their rightful place at the head of the class. I wish to thank each of our witnesses who are here today for taking the time to be with us. I know some of the preparation time that it takes to get ready for this, and we appreciate that too.
At this time I will yield -- as we say in Congress -- to Congressman Kildee, who is and has been for many, many years a real leader on Title I, for any opening statement that he wishes to make.
OPENING STATEMENT OF RANKING MEMBER DALE KILDEE, SUBCOMMITTEE ON EARLY CHILDHOOD, YOUTH AND FAMILIES, COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND THE WORKFORCE, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, WASHINGTON, DC
Mr. Kildee. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am really pleased to have Governor Mike Castle from Delaware with us today and my colleague from the 6th Congressional District in Michigan, Fred Upton. Delaware is indeed not a large state, but it's the first state in the union, and if you look at the quarters that are floating around here now, you'll see Delaware is the very first one that has been issued. Michigan’s quarters will be in two years.
Governor Castle has been a great friend to education. He has always brought a bipartisan view to it, as has Fred Upton. They're both very dedicated to education and have provided leadership in Congress.
Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act is really the cornerstone of the federal commitment to equity and excellence. Here in Michigan and throughout the nation, Title I programs are funding high academic achievement through innovative school reform that seeks to close the achievement gap between disadvantaged students and their nondisadvantaged peers.
Title I funding here in the 9th Congressional District funds high quality teachers -- and we have one here today -- teacher aides, additional computers and other technology in the classroom, and other very innovative instructional approaches. In 1994, when I was Chairman -- before that famous election in 1994 -- of the Subcommittee, we authorized Title I and gave more flexibility. I want to examine that flexibility and see how it's working. In 1994 we tied the flexibility of Title I with accountability. We're expanding that flexibility here in Michigan with Ed-Flex. Now we've passed a bill where all 50 states can participate in the flexibility. But with that increased flexibility we demand accountability to make sure that students are receiving their services. We also focused Title I on supporting the standards and assessment system that Michigan and many other states have implemented.
Recently, the first comprehensive evaluation of the 1994 amendments to Title I was released by the U.S. Department, and there are some positive results. We find that states and school districts that are implementing their standards and assessments have begun to show increases in student achievement, especially among at-risk student populations. The key to these developments have been a real push for accountability and disaggregation of data aimed at producing better educated students.
We are stressing the disaggregation of data. It's a fancy term. Very often we say this is what the students are doing as a whole, but we want to know is how minority students and disabled students are doing. Even though he may be running for president, I have to give credit to Texas's Governor George Bush, who has probably done the best in the country at the implementation of the disaggregation of data. We can really find out how the different at-risk students populations are doing, and that is very, very important.
So we look forward to hearing your testimony this morning. We have some of the finest educators in the state testifying here today, and we depend upon your expertise. We in Washington are not the founders of all wisdom. The longer I'm in Washington the more I realize that the wisdom is out here, and that's why we've come here to listen to you.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Castle. Thank you very much, Dale.
It's a pleasure to be here, and the other Member of Congress who is with us, of course also from Michigan, although a different section of Michigan a little to the west, is Fred Upton, and we are delighted to have him here with us.
WRITTEN OPENING STATEMENT OF REPRESENTATIVE FRED UPTON, SUBCOMMITTEE ON EARLY CHILDHOOD, YOUTH AND FAMILIES, COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND THE WORKFORCE, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, WASHINGTON, DC
Mr. Upton. Thank you. I'm Fred Upton from St. Joe/Benton Harbor/Kalamazoo area, and I'm a relative newcomer to the Education Committee. And I look forward, as a strong supporter of education, particularly public education, to listening. I've participated in a number of hearings on this Subcommittee. It's a real delight to be over with my friends and supporters of education, Dale Kildee as well as Mike Castle, the Chairman of our Subcommittee.
It's very important that we proceed in passing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and that we look at hearings like this in terms of how we can strengthen Title I, provide more flexibility, and work with our schools in both certainly the ISDs and all of our local public schools. I look forward to both this hearing this morning on the east side of the state and our hearing this afternoon in Kalamazoo as well, as we really hear from experts in the education field.
As we go back to Washington and as we work to put together a strong ESEA bill, it's hearings like these in Michigan and other parts of the country that I hope will allow us to continue the strong bipartisanship that you certainly see this morning in Waterford. But across the country as well as we try to make this program work even better. This is a very important role for us to serve today, and we've had a number of hearings, but as we move towards strengthening this program, it's the testimony and the interaction that takes place that we'll know for sure will make it a better program.
Chairman Castle. Thank you, Fred. I'm going to turn this back over to Congressman Kildee for the introductions, and to control the time of witnesses.
The basic rule is theoretically five minutes on your statements and then we each take turns for five minutes. I don't think anyone is going to hold you to exact time today, but it does give you some sense of trying to move along so everybody has a fair opportunity.
So let us turn this over to our master educator, Mr. Kildee.
Mr. Kildee. You're very kind, Governor. I appreciate that. It's very rare that a member of one party turns anything over to a member of another party. That's why Mike Castle is so well liked.
I'd like to introduce our first witness, Dr. James Redmond. Jim Redmond is the superintendent of Oakland Schools and a personal friend of mine. He came to Michigan in 1995 after 17 years in Oregon, where he served as a teacher, school psychologist, superintendent, and chairman of a Regional Vocational Education Consortium. Dr. Redmond has a bachelor of science and master of science in psychology and a Ph.D. in educational administration. He is also the author of a number of writings on education issues.Thank you for being here, Jim, and making these arrangements this morning. Please proceed with your testimony.
STATEMENT OF DR. JAMES G. REDMOND, SUPERINTENDENT, OAKLAND SCHOOLS INTERMEDIATE DISTRICT, WATERFORD, MICHIGAN
Mr. Redmond. Thank you, and first of all, I'd like to give you a warm Oakland Schools welcome. We're honored and privileged to have you here. Oakland Schools is the ISD that also has as its founding principles and mission statement two words that Congressman Kildee mentioned, equity and excellence. We are committed to that; equity of resources, efforts and results.
We represent 28 school districts, the charter schools, the private schools that educate almost a quarter of a million students here in Oakland County. Of course, the topic that you've asked us to discuss is very important in the future of many of those students that we represent.
First of all, I'd like to congratulate you on taking the time to find out from the field what is going on that works and other possible things that might work to increase that improvement. We support generally the draft of legislation that you propose in Title I. We support it because we feel it continues to try and raise the academic achievement of all students and the closing of the gap between poor children and minorities and limited English-speaking children. We also support the increased accountability where the public is informed of the progress of their schools. We also will support and continue to be supportive of the most specific proposals such as expanding integration of technology in the program. Curriculum development, curriculum implementation and technology are today becoming more and more interwoven and you can't really say this is technology and this is curriculum, this is good instruction. All of those things become more and more_more into one process in modern education. Examples of that in our county can be seen in the Walled Lake School District where laptops are going to be given to every student. We see that as just the beginning of a trend. We see this same trend in fiberoptic network activities where school districts in our county will be linked with each other, so that our dream is that every classroom will be linked in real-time, full motion video, voice, so that good teaching in one classroom can be shared across the entire county.
We also strongly support the increase of parental involvement that is manifested in your bill. We think that it is one main factor in seeing test results go up. We see that where there is an increase in parental involvement. And that one factor probably obviates any other factors of poverty or social class. An example of that is the Longfellow School in Pontiac, which by many standard measures would be a problem school that should have low test scores, and yet, because of their strong parental volunteer program and other kinds of programs, their test scores traditionally remain in the top ten percent in our county; a county that is routinely above the state in national averages.
We also support the initiatives in early childhood, believing that the best dollars spent are those that prevent the problems rather than to wait for problems to exist and measure the failures before we do implementation.
The increase in local district flexibility I think is another strong point involving the partnership between the federal government and the state and the local education agency. We see this partnership, especially as changes in education are taking place today, as more and more the key. We also support the importance of teacher preparation and paraprofessional credentialing. At Oakland Schools we have a nationally renowned model for paraprofessional training. We've been asked to use that model in school districts even outside of the county and the state.
The key ingredient for developing good success, whether it's Title I or other programs, is well qualified people dealing with curriculum and the implementation issues. We think that this is an important issue, not only in our county but throughout the state and the country.
I'd like to take a little bit of time just to tell you about another role that I play, and that is the chair of the state's reading plan for Michigan. I know everything that Texas does, we can do better, but one of the things that we're very proud of here is our reading plan for Michigan, which is a program that the governor has played a key role in, and supports fully, as well as the state's superintendent. It asks for the kinds of involvement in reading that will make every student able to read at grade level as they reach third grade. As we approach this issue we have a reading kit that goes to parents and family with newborns, which will be a model for the country. We also have specific recommendations for legislators in the state for teacher preparation programs in the universities as well for districts, counties, and the state Board of Education as well. We look at this commitment as one example of how reading, Title I, and the changes in technology and education in general, are coming together to really address the issue of starting Title I, that is, to close the gap and to and ensure the success for every child in every school across the country.
Thank you very much.
Mr. Kildee. Thank you very much. We appreciate your testimony. Our next witness is Dr. Carol Dowsett, Deputy Superintendent of Waterford School District and director of K-8 Education. In addition to these positions, she teaches graduate level classes at Wayne State University. Previously, she was a teacher and a principal in the Detroit and Brighton Area School Systems. Dr. Dowsett's credentials include a doctorate in education from Wayne State. She is really a true master educator, and we look forward to her testimony.
STATEMENT OF DR. CAROL L. DOWSETT, DEPUTY SUPERINTENDENT, DIRECTOR OF K-8 EDUCATION, WATERFORD SCHOOL DISTRICT, WATERFORD, MICHIGAN
Ms. Dowsett. Thank you very much. It is an honor and a privilege to be here today. I come with a varied background because I have been a Title I coordinator, teacher, a principal of several Title I schools in my past experience -- my past life I say -- before I came to Waterford. So I've had some really good hands-on experience with the Title I program. My personal experience has been that it has been very successful in a variety of ways.
One of the key ways that may not come out when you disaggregate data would be the relationships that you build with families and students. As we look at research about students who are the most successful, we know that we have to take care of that affective domain. Until students feel they have a relationship, they're not going to be able to really engage cognitively. And that's something that we find in educational research and other research, and I think that is one of the key elements of the Title I program, because students do develop relationships with people they may not have had that opportunity to develop without mentoring programs; one-to-one tutorials, and other inclusionary programs.
The Title I funding in Waterford Schools provides programming that really supports our mission statement, and our mission statement in Waterford is that we guarantee to all students the knowledge, skills and attitudes to be effective citizens of the world. That's a pretty powerful mission statement. We try to live up to it, and Title I certainly provides us more opportunity to do that.
Title I is at the core of our efforts to give disadvantaged students special support that will enable them to be successful learners. Our model is collaborative and it also attempts to integrate all of the available resources into the development of appropriate programming for students. This would include staff and other resources from general education, special education, substance abuse prevention staff, and parent involvement, as Dr. Redmond stated, is a key, key role in this whole approach.
Being site-based and developed, each Title I school designs a program as part of the School Improvement Process. We see it, again, as integrated into the whole process: Not a separate program, not a separate plan, but part of looking at what do we need to do in this particular school or a particular school to improve life for students and to make sure that all students are successful. It's expected that this programming will address the unique needs of the students in that learning community, build teams using a data-driven model to identify specific needs for specific students that qualify. After the data have been analyzed, the teams create what we call a "Starfish Plan." This plan incorporates all of the resources of that learning community to support each individual learner. Some examples of things we do through our Title I programming -- and, again, totally attached and a part of school improvement as a whole -- would be one-to-one tutoring and mentoring; we have a program called Leaders and Readers, which basically models after the Beacon program; HUGS Program, which is modeled after the HOSTS Program, which is a one-to-one mentoring program for second graders; we have a program called literacy labs; we have inclusion model, which provides a lot of classroom support with many well-trained teacher assistants, formerly known as paraprofessionals; we have small group instruction; we have before and after school instruction; and we also provide parent education classes, which, again, we think are key to the total success of each child.
Under the supervision and leadership of professional staff, well-trained teacher assistants, we also provide direct instruction to students in small groups. That accomplishes two things. It improves the student's level of achievement and gives the interpersonal support that is needed. Again I point out that we really strive to develop relationships with students and parents.
As a district we have focused on both ends of the developmental spectrum. Our goal is to ensure that all children read at or above grade level by the time that they reach second grade. This requires a deep commitment to early childhood programs as well as a high level of rigor in classroom instruction in Grades K, 1 and 2. This has been accomplished in several of our schools and we are confident that we will able to achieve this goal district-wide within two years.
In addition, we have also made great strides in improving literacy levels in our high-risk adolescents. This is a group that traditionally, historically has gone unnoticed, as if there is an assumption that by the time a student reaches middle school they ought to be able to read. Our commitment is to make certain that all students have not just learned to read by the time that they reach middle school, but that they are reading to learn. Reading classes and tutorials are two methods by which we address these needs. Our expectation is that with the emphasis on early intervention, our need to provide remediation at this later level will no longer be necessary.
In addition to teaching supplementary skills to individual students, we have initiated a program that trains all middle school and high school teachers in the teaching of reading. The exciting thing about this part of our program is that the teachers are excited. We have teachers who have taught many, many years who are so excited with this model that they finally feel they have some tools to use in content areas to teach reading to students who are struggling. We're using a program called Project CRISS. This model trains teachers to use basic reading instruction and methodology in all content areas, enabling the students to become skilled in terms of reading, understanding and recalling nonfictioned text. This project is a good example of Title I funds benefitting students on a school-wide basis.
Finally, using this model we have served many more students than we were able to reach in the past. In addition, we are seeing dramatic improvements in students' levels of achievement as well as their classroom behaviors. Because of the implementation of Project CRISS, many needs are being addressed and many goals are being achieved that were previously unreachable.
WRITTEN STATEMENT OF DR. CAROL L. DOWSETT, DEPUTY SUPERINTENDENT, DIRECTOR OF K-8 EDUCATION, WATERFORD SCHOOL DISTRICT, WATERFORD, MICHIGAN – SEE APPENDIX A
Mr. Kildee. Thank you very much for your testimony.
Our next witness is Dr. William Shaw. Dr. Shaw is an original advocate of the ADA. I've been assured by Dr. Redmond here that the rest of the building is all in compliance with the ADA, and if they make additional changes, this room is next. So they are complying with the law. If they spend a certain amount of dollars in this section, they will bring this into compliance too. I've been assured by Dr. Redmond that that will happen.
Dr. Shaw is the Associate Superintendent for Instruction at Genesee Intermediate School District. He was previously a high school and middle school principal, and an assistant superintendent in Swartz Creek, Michigan. His past experience includes teaching at the elementary and university levels. Dr. Shaw has a Ph.D. in curriculum instruction and supervision, a master's degree in teaching, and a bachelor's of science in economics. He has been working in the education field for over 30 years. It just occurred to me that I left the education field about 35 years ago, rather the classroom. I'm still involved in education in this capacity. Dr. Shaw, we look forward to your testimony.
STATEMENT OF DR. WILLIAM D. SHAW, ASSOCIATE SUPERINTENDENT FOR INSTRUCTION AT THE GENESEE COUNTY INTERMEDIATE SCHOOL DISTRICT, FLINT, MICHIGAN
Mr. Shaw. Thank you very much.
It's truly an honor. I'm very excited to have the opportunity from the field to speak to the successes that have been and continue to occur at our Genesee Intermediate School District, which in fact serves 18 townships. It is in the east central part of Michigan's lower peninsula. We have over 9,000 educators and we look to serve over 85,000 young people. We have 21 constituent districts that we serve and provide leadership to. Given that, I would like to take exception to your earlier statement regarding research having proven little or no impact. Throughout the districts in Genesee County we have made incremental improvement since, as a matter of fact, 1994. And to accelerate my excitement, I want to speak to the fact that if we target Flint itself, we had over 20 buildings that were in fact unaccredited just three years ago. Last year we had eight buildings that were unaccredited, and with the MEAP results that are forthcoming to the districts, we are now clean and we have no buildings that are unaccredited in the Flint area.
Now, the vehicle to approach that is hard work on the part of staff. In my document I have over 25 different innovative programs that the buildings are implementing to help children, to help staff, to help parents, to help administrators, and to help the community at-large focus their attention on the gaps that demographics that are being calculated and the disaggregation of that material per building are attending to.
I would like to, as in my document, speak to the MEAP. We use that very diligently. School improvement teams in each building, as was stated earlier, are site-based with students, with parents, with community, with teachers and with administration in the central office working collectively to bring about change, which is in the proof of the scores that are coming out of the Genesee Intermediate School District.
I would like to conclude with two items. One, the outcomes, and as I did a random sampling of the districts throughout Genesee County, they provided these outcomes that I'd like to share with you. First of all, the streamlined staff energy. Given the Title I purpose and direction that brought them together with a focus. They focused attention on what was most in need first. They transferred direction from cosmetic to purposeful improvements. Title I, motivating force for honest reform. It's assisted, without doubt, with curriculum alignment, and staff connected to staff development. Most all of our buildings are using the Lezotte Model where they do a continuous subassessment, not only of student achievement but of themselves.
Some of the recommendations that came forth are maintain the educational flex concept, but establish Title I guidelines of intent and purpose so that they don't get washed to shore without the purpose that we're there, and that's to help the children.
Secondly, the funding formula should be based on -- and this is a controversy, I know, but we spoke to free and reduced lunches, not the Census. Census is easier for you. The specific to free and reduced, those are the parents and the kids that are in front of us. Those numbers often are higher than what comes through the Census.
The third thing, maintain consistency of allocation between the regular and concentrated grants rather than bouncing back and forth and back and forth. That provides disruption to programming.
Revisit the reduced classroom incentive. That classroom incentive in Flint per se is doing well. We want to look at the long-range effects and impacts of the reduction of class size. When the money dries up, what happens to the staff, what happens to the kids. Are there enough rooms to provide for those children, et cetera.
Maintain the assessment using the NCA standards. Those are very positive, along with MEAP, along with achievement tests.
Increase allocations by Cost of Living so that we don't get into the layoff mode.
Lastly, a request that came from the constituents that we serve is to propose the proposed legislation to be mailed to LEA contacts for review and provide feedback prior to the vote.
It's been a pleasure and a real excitement to bring you such positive news. Please keep the funding coming, and it is really helping kids. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF DR. WILLIAM D. SHAW, ASSOCIATE SUPERINTENDENT FOR INSTRUCTION AT THE GENESEE COUNTY INTERMEDIATE SCHOOL DISTRICT, FLINT, MICHIGAN – SEE APPENDIX B
Mr. Kildee. Thank you, Dr. Shaw, for that positive reinforcement. We'll go back to Washington and make sure we write legislation so you who administer the programs in the classroom can see that it works.
Our next witness is Mr. Donald MacQuarrie. Donald MacQuarrie is the principal of an elementary school in Pontiac, Michigan. He previously served as principal of elementary schools elsewhere in Pontiac and taught kindergarten, elementary school and junior high school for 20 years. Mr. MacQuarrie received a master's degree in reading instruction and a bachelor's degree in education. He is committed to working with children and promoting excellence in public education. Thank you for joining us, please proceed with your testimony.
STATEMENT OF MR. DONALD MACQUARRIE, PRINCIPAL OF WHITMER HUMAN RESOURCES CENTER, PONTIAC, MICHIGAN
Mr. MacQuarrie. Thank you, Representative Kildee.
I saw it as my purpose to speak from the building perspective rather than a district perspective. So many of the comments we have heard here I could put the tag on definitely we agree with that.
But to go on, at the building level that I'm currently administering, we have a thousand-plus students along with 360 four-year-old students who are in the Michigan School Readiness Program. There are also probably between 80 and 100, depending on the month, students in special ed center programs. There are challenges in the area that are important to understand in developing both the School Improvement Plan and then a district plan. We have transients in our specific attendance area that approaches 35 percent. They are migrant families that come in, some from both Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Florida, to work in the landscape businesses. As we plan for students who also come in to various rescue missions, various shelters in the area, we're challenged to work in a longevity period of time to see results that are based on the efforts that are taken.
I'd like to emphasize two points. Title I, as we look at students who are in the building and in programs for a period of time, does work. I say that on several bases. One, qualitative. In seeing students who are Title I students, who have competed in competitions such as Invent America, Olympics of the Mind, which is a goal of ours -- we don't have that, but, for example, in the Michigan History competition where we had four state winners from our school. These were children who were young. They were bilingual students who made a contact and developed a relationship with a Title I person who assisted them in developing their potential.
Looking at children, they're all different. Every child has different capabilities. I relate one very brief story. In teaching a number of years ago we had a challenge class and a regular class. This is at the sixth grade level. We taught in team teaching both classes the same way. And what a surprise at the end of the year, when the students who were in the regular classroom began performing and acting like the students in the challenged class. Because one of the messages that I would deliver, that Title I, in its focus, cannot just focus on the old type of remedial programs, and in the legislation that is current, schools and districts are encouraged to work to the upper level of skills and to higher level thinking skills and challenging curriculum. I would reinforce that. Students that are coming from, for example, the attendance area that I currently represent, many of whom we consider at-risk, don't have the opportunities to play, to understand rules, to have discussions based on facts that their parents relate to them. Their parents are out working and, yet, in our school many of the parents are not bringing children into latchkey programs.
And the second message I would have is to encourage the continuance of Title I supporting community efforts and networking efforts, with Title I funds being the glue that brings in the agencies, the volunteers, the churches, the various programs that influence students. As we look at a partnership that we have in Birmingham Unitarian Church, we have trained 27 volunteers who will work with first grade students. We have developed a lending library of 3600 books that are now catalogued that go to homes with materials for parents, materials for children and siblings which they can keep in their home for a month. The PTA at our school is focusing all of its efforts on parent and family evenings during the year so that PTA and Title I, along with other agencies in the community, are provided the support to families, not just students, but to families in bringing them into the schools.
Thank you for allowing us this opportunity.
WRITTEN STATEMENT OF MR. DONALD MACQUARRIE, PRINCIPAL OF WHITMER HUMAN RESOURCES CENTER, PONTIAC, MICHIGAN – SEE APPENDIX C
Mr. Kildee. Thank you very much.
I very often say that in real life I was a school teacher. Today we have a real live school teacher here with us. Ms. Nancy Rocier is a teacher at Martin Elementary School in Flint where she specializes in teaching children how to read. Her ground level perspective is extremely important, and I'm pleased to have her testify today. Please proceed with your testimony.
STATEMENT OF MS. NANCY ROCIER, TEACHER, MARTIN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, FLINT, MICHIGAN
Ms. Rocier. Thank you kindly.
I bring you greetings from Flint Community School. I am a Title I reading and math teacher there. I've spent 29 years in urban education. The first school that I worked in I stayed there for 27 years.
I do want to thank Title I for allowing us to have school-wide reform in the form of Success For All with Dr. Slavin, along with that we were able to achieve accreditation_Dr. Shaw. I know in Martin School -- I have been there for the past two years -- we, too, have received accreditation at Martin School. Hopefully this fall we will be implementing a Success For All Reading Forum there at Martin School.
I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you, kudos and congratulations to you for coming here and allowing us to speak on the issue.
For 21 years I taught grades K-6. The last eight years I have been in Title I. Title I is very near and dear to my heart because I truly believe that we do make a difference. In Flint we believe in helping disadvantaged students meet higher standards. Title I has brought us thus far. There is still a long way to go. There is no time to lose, and we cannot afford to lose Title I. I personally plan to continue to bring expanded opportunities to my young people, who may not have had them because of family background and other barriers that hinder them from being all that they can be. So I vigorously, I beg, I beseech, I implore, I insist that Title I reform be funded. We regard it as our No. 1 priority.
I would like to share two documents with you. I have to apologize. My printer died on me. The first one is "If we believe, all children can learn. What part of all don't we understand?" when we say all, are we talking about the boys and girls that have two parents, live with a house with a picket fence around it, have the dog and the dad that drives the station wagon? Our task here in Title I is to provide an education for the kinds of kids that we have in our classrooms in the real world today, not the kinds of kids that we used to have when I was growing up, when you were growing up. Not the kind of kids we want to have or the kind of kids that exist in our dreams, but the kind of kids that we see in the real world, in the real schools today.
I feel like I am in the trenches sometimes. I feel that you are the generals and now you're talking to a foot solider. I see these young people every day. I know they come with a multitude of barriers. Sometimes no food, no heat, perhaps mom isn't in the home, many times dad is not in the home. But I say to them it's not where you are from, it's where you are going that counts. They don't always have a level playing field. Title I helps them to reach that level playing field. We realize that successful adults and children are perseverers. Our students know that if it doesn't work the first time, they can come back and back and back again, because Title I affords them that expanded opportunity to learn. We have ideas, materials and we bury our methods. We know about multiple intelligences. We are the bridge. We are the gap. We are the caulk that prevents them from falling between the cracks. America cannot afford to lose one single child. If we are to continue to be the type of nation that we have been in the past, all of our children must have an opportunity to be all that they can be.
Title I offers meaningful collaboration with the teacher. We are no longer in isolation. School-wide reform allows us to service all children in the building. Greater school successes lead to greater success in life, and in adulthood. We have less delinquency, less dropout rates. The welfare decreases, and in some instances teen-age pregnancy decreases. Our social service field workers who work with the parent involvement section have been known to just because of their contacts to cause parents to go back and complete their education in the form of returning to traditional high school or getting their G.E.D. Many of them have said to us "I don't want to not be able to help my child with his or her homework," and we, of course, encourage them to go back. Many of these parents are young, single mothers that will continue to have other children. So if we can impact in their lives and they realize the importance of reading to their children, the importance of getting a good education, of being an asset to society instead of a liability, then the succeeding children, the children that will come after that child who has been in Title I, will benefit greatly from that.
I would like to say thank you for the opportunity to share my ideas with you, and please believe when I say from my heart we need you to continue to support public education. Our boys and girls are our future. America's gift are the children. We give America that gift. Now, what we do with it, depends on us.
School-wide reform, Success For All. Title I addresses the learning needs of all children. We establish and support high academic standards. What more can I say? We need you.
Mr. Kildee. Thank you very much. I think we have a really have a nice cross-section, with the attendance of large intermediate school districts, an individual school building, and one right from the classroom. We really appreciate your testimony.
Now I'm going to ask this questions. I'll address the first one primarily to Dr. Redmond and Dr. Shaw, but any of you can answer. Back in 1994 the administration proposed a rather substantial change in the formula for Title I, and it would have had some adverse effect upon school districts like Waterford and Lake Orion. We did not go along with the administration's proposals. Let me ask you this question: Do you see any need to substantially change the present Title I formula particularly with regard to the basic formula, concentration grants, and school-wide programs?
Dr. Redmond. Thank you. Congressman Kildee, I don't believe at this point the high priority would be change the funding formula. I think it's working rather well. I think the increased flexibility as we move on to the future is something to be constantly looking at, but, again, the kinds of things that hurt one district at the expense of another district are not in anybody's best interest. In our county especially, we understand that all students in southeast Michigan are our responsibility. I think the school-wide kinds of eligibilities, increased flexibility, I believe support that.
Mr. Kildee. Dr. Shaw?
Dr. Shaw. I would concur using this analogy: When a child is born, it takes the nuturing of the parent with ups and downs over a period of 18 years. And with the new change since '94, I would request that we maintain. We've had some ups and we've had some downs, but we're growing in a positive fashion. I'd like to have another five years to improve upon what we've learned and to delete what doesn't work to even improve the standards of our kids. So I would support the fact to maintain the concentration grants that I've talked about earlier. The only exception that I would take is that rather than every second or third year you flip-flop the amounts, that does present some difficulties to the buildings. We look for more consistency.
Mr. Kildee. So you are looking for a little more predictability.
Dr. Shaw. More predictability. Thank you.
Mr. Kildee. What do your two intermediate districts do on disaggregating data? Can you see how minority students are doing, how are disabled students doing? Do you provide that data in a disaggregated fashion?
Dr. Shaw. Absolutely. I can't say anything more than that. Each of the buildings disaggregate male, female, and handicaped. They go so far using the Lezotte Model to look at the education of the mother, they look at the bilingual program, the English as second language, et cetera, and that helps the site-based building staff look at who their kids are, where their kids are academically, and be able to bring to bear the Title I funding of resources coupled with other resources, whether they be private donors and/or other grants, be it competitive or not, to assist the staff in targeting the specific pure need of the kids.
Mr. Kildee. You know, both the Oakland Intermediate School District or Oakland Schools and your Genesee Intermediate School District are to a great extent a microcosm of the country. In Oakland you have an older industrial city, Pontiac, which houses General Motors, and in Flint we have an older industrial city, with all the needs of older industrial cities. Both counties have some wealthy suburbs and not so wealthy suburbs. Both even have some agricultural areas. So both are kind of microcosms. If it works here, it could indeed work throughout the country.
Dr. Dowsett. Yes. I would like to make a statement to support something about consistency and continuity. I think one of the issues that we deal with on a yearly basis is buildings who do not maintain their Title I allocation for a long enough period of time to really see what kind of success can occur. I have a building right now I'm thinking about in our district that has been in and out of Title I formula for several years, and we try to assist that building with all the resources available to maintain the programming that they have developed. But on a yearly basis that lack of consistency breaks down the continuity, that is, not being able to provide as much as you provide and maintain its Title I identification.
Part two is the other piece that I see when I think of my -- I won't even tell you how many years of Title I experience I have in teacher, building principal, et cetera -- is that I find it most successful when we're developing a relationship with a family. I mentioned that earlier, but we look at the whole picture -- the child's life, not just the remediation piece, but what can we do. We talked about parent involvement, et cetera, but I really see Title I to expand into maybe even a broader range of looking at total services for the family. What can we do to help that family to change its value system, to change its priorities, to look at education in a different way. The child then comes to school with a whole different attitude about the remediation piece. And the buildings that have been able to develop programming that includes the family in every way possible -- we heard examples of sending materials home. Teaching parents how to help at home. That's become a real big issue. Sometimes we give parents materials and think, well, now the materials are in the home and the child will be helped. Some parents don't have enough confidence and, unfortunately, may not even have the basic educational background to help their child at home. We make a lot of assumptions, I think. So I think we really need to look at the whole picture. I think that's where, again, the flexibility of regulation, how we use the funding, how we are allowed to program staff, et cetera, becomes a real key element if we really want to look at total success.
Mr. Kildee. You and Dr. Shaw have raised a very interesting point about the fluxuation of Title I funds and the lack of predictability. I want to ask: Is that an effect in the federal law or is it on the state or local level where we find that lack of predictabilty? Let's start with Dr. Shaw.
Dr. Shaw. It's a tough one. Where does the difficulty rest?
Mr. Kildee. Do you think the federal law could be more directive in that or do we break off and want to give some flexibility to the state and local school districts?
Dr. Shaw. Both sides have a valid support, and I'm speaking to_I guess I would say that with the flexibility that we are now provided with the use of Title I funding, that it doesn't become so loose that we lose the focus. Thus, when the money arrives at the state level that in fact that money continues to have the intent and purpose designed by you folks in Washington. I don't want to loosen it up. I don't want to give more flexibility to the state and then have the state make decisions that the money might end up elsewhere.
Mr. Kildee. With all due respect to my friend, the Governor here, I've sometimes said, sometimes facetiously, that very often governors would like to have educational dollars from Washington be placed on a stump where they can come and take it and spin it as they want it, almost as an educational block grant.
Dr. Shaw. That's a candid answer to what I tried to say.
Dr. Redmond. Just a point that might be interesting is as we move to more technology being infused in this process in an attempt at disaggregating data; I think we're going to get more and more refinement in that process with databases starting to look for issues that we don't know are apparent when we look at the data whether it's student data or test result data.
Just to give you an example, in one of our tests in Michigan, when we looked at what's the difference between the 6th placed finish in our county as a district, and the 24th placed district in our county as a district on the MEAP; for example, on reading, on one subtest, that might mean one question. Now, as we start to get more and more sophisticated looking at issues of poverty, certification of teachers, and how long the child has been there because of migration, that is very important, as well as the kinds of tests that we are using. I think we can get much more able to say here are issues that we didn't know we had until we see this data and pinpoint responses. I think oftentimes teachers that are in the 24th place out of 28 are pretty depressed and say what can we do with this kind of problem, that kind of problem or that kind of problem student. When we can come in and say it's one question, you needed one more answer out of your kids on a test, most people can rise up to that kind of progress. So the gap itself may be redefined. I guess after 30 years of service I am less sure of the answer because I understand better the questions. There is a balance between accountability and between flexibility, between consistency and yet wanting to change. I don't know that we have to say this is the right answer anymore. I think we've had a partnership from the federal government down to the local level of keeping that balance flexible but maintained over time. I think you're going to see better results in the next ten to 15 years if we do that. So I would say let's not go for shock changes at this point, but let's start to look at research and these kinds of changes that make some sense.
Dr. Shaw. Excellent.
Ms. Rocier. I'd like to piggyback on that, please, if you'll allow me to do so. We are in the midst of a systemic change in Flint. We are a standards-driven district with data to support that, and we are using something that's called your Best Practices. We have said to our instructors that just because you did it that way 19 years ago and continued to proceed to do it the next 18, doesn't necessarily mean that it is the best practice. We also know from Flint that if you do the same old thing, you will get the same old results. So if you are looking for a different type of result, you must indeed go in with your teachers, discuss it with them, and they have to change. And many times their methodologies are the way they are going to deliver their services, because the needs of our children have indeed changed, and we will have to deliver different types of learning. And by this I'm talking about the learning styles. I really don't like to use educationese for just the people that understand where I'm coming from, but I do believe in disaggregation of data. The data analysis is necessary, the curriculum mapping is necessary, and then once you get this information, it does not go up on a shelf. It behooves Title I instructors like myself to get back with the rest of the staff, show you where we are and where we should be, and how we need to get there, and make sure that they can read the same types of data. When you send information home to the parents and they can't read it and they bring back that "Dear Parent" letter, and then you get to the teacher and the teacher is expressing it in their terms, it's like going to a doctor, and you finally say to him, "Look, Doctor. Just give me the facts. Let's skip all of this, because I haven't been to med. school, and tell me what's wrong with me." Well, that's the same approach we have to take with some parents. I agree with you wholeheartedly. We have to start with where they are to make them understand, so they'll be able to provide some type of assistance and help in reinforcement at home.
The disaggregation of data, the curriculum mapping, in many instances, GISD, you've been a godsend to us. In many of our buildings the matter of passing the MEAP was one or two questions from having that weight lifted off of your shoulders. And then we wanted to know, well, if 58 percent of our children that selected that answer, why? Where did we go wrong? We needed to look at what we were doing and to self-reflect and to find out, well, maybe we need to go back to the trenches and start to deliver our information and our services in a different manner. But I am all for and I support data. I support standards. We are a standards-driven district. But the one thing, when you're talking accountability, teachers don't fear accountability. We'll take that slice of the pie. Make sure the community and parents and administrators get their slice too. Remember, parents are the first teachers. That's why with the early childhood provision parts of Title I, it's crucial that we teach the parents that do not have the parenting skills how to nuture. By the time many of our boys and girls get to us, they come with excess baggage. Their baggage is so filled to the brim, that many times we have to remove some negative things before we can start to interact with them on an academic level. But that's what Title I does, and the need is still very much present.
Thank you for allowing me to speak.
Chairman Castle. I don't know where quite to begin. Let me tell you a little background, perhaps. As we've all suggested here, and as all of you know, we are dealing with the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Title I is a major part of that. Actually, it's going to be treated separately from the other parts of the act probably in terms of the way the full committee will mark it up. And it is obviously a substantial amount of money. It is the largest federal program of this nature. And we are very concerned about what it has been able to achieve and what it can achieve. Now, let me just say, before I ask any questions, I am very much a supporter of Title I. I think it's absolutely essential. That doesn't mean it can't be changed or improved or whatever. And this is the time to do that. So if we can take some of the things that you're saying and incorporate them into laws and regulations -- if it's going to be done, this is the time to do it. If we shouldn't do it, then we should leave it alone. But that's what I'm trying to drive at. What should we do in Washington, probably in the course of the next six months, I guess, that we will be considering this. That's the bottom line of what I am trying to determine. You've said a lot of things. Some flexibility but some degree of repetition in terms of schools staying with the system and various other things, while they don't conflict, nonetheless, I think they give us pause and make us think.
One of the things I said in my opening statement – and actually, this is little bit unfair, because I actually know what the scores are, but I did indicate that the MEAP test show us about 58 percent of students in poverty scored below basic levels in fourth grade reading, and about 71 percent of students in poverty, Title I students, scored below the basic in eighth grade math. So that would make us all have to think we're not doing as well with our educationally disadvantaged students as we would like to be. But my recollection is -- and I don't have the tests in front of me -- but my recollection is that that's true of all tests, regardless of the child's economic status, and the slant is down from fourth grade as we go to eighth grade. But one of the questions that I have is right now services are provided to students at all grade levels, kindergarten through 12th grade. Do you think it would be more prudent to focus our attention to the early grades? We're talking about K-12. I wonder sometimes in dealing with Title I that we shouldn't spend more of our efforts -- I know you here have done a good job in -- Dale was just telling me of reducing the class size in Flint Schools, for example, in the elementary school grades. I'm a believer in that, too. But should we be focusing more of our efforts in the early grades with the idea that maybe by the time the child gets to ninth or tenth grade, if we've gotten through those early years, then they are more likely to graduate or succeed or whatever may be. Or are your feelings that, yes, that's probably the fact that you really do need to continue to focus on the high schools as well. If you ignore that, it's a problem. I would be interested in the views of a couple of you on that.
Mr. MacQuarrie. Could I respond to that? I indicated that we have the Michigan School Readiness Program that does work with four-year-old students, and in September as those students walk into the building they look like marbles. They are all over the place. They are rolling everywhere. As they go through the experiences both in a classroom where learning is made and there is a language-rich environment, we see major changes in the children that then the following year come in to kindergarten as opposed to students who are not in the MSRP program. We're currently looking at a longitudinal study of those students as they pass through on in the district. If we look at weighting Title I, that could be done in the local school district now, I believe, and in the public school. We make those decisions at our school in our School Improvement Plan to provide extra services or the majority of our services as early as possible and, yet, maintain services to older students.
One of the areas that levels that playing field is looking at technology and providing technology to students who are in third, fourth, and fifth grade, especially in the area of writing, which in our our MEAP tests, impacts the writing tests of the fifth grade, social studies, science and, of course, as we know, writing is thinking -- and exploring methods of technology, and follow that up with the possibility in parenting we're looking at using Comcast in this area, or our local cable stations, to bring in information in people's living rooms. Sometimes people won't come to the home. They won't be adventuresome and go into risky places such as schools. As we look at technology possibly bringing in educational materials, parenting programs right into the living room from the local schools, that may have impact, especially working with older elementary children.
Chairman Castle. Let me ask a bottom line question, and I'm looking for a fairly sophisticated answer on this subject. Do you believe from your experience that Title I is more helpful in age categories, say, K-3 versus 4-6 than 7-9 and 10-12? Would you classify it as being more helpful in one grade more than the other? And I'm not trying to make enemies of one grade group or another, I'm just trying to find out what you people think about that.
Mr. MacQuarrie. I would place major emphasize on K-3 or preprimary.
Chairman Castle. The early grades.
Mr. MacQuarrie. Yes.
Chairman Castle. Anybody else want to take a stab at this?
Dr. Redmond. Let me say one quick comment here. I think you're doing it right, because prevention is important. In K-3 you're learning to read. After that you're reading to learn. If you're abandoning that last part of the spectrum, you do that at your peril. It's certainly a different kind of question after third or fourth, fifth grade. It really becomes almost utility versus prevention, and working with that makes sense. But I think as spelled out in the plan with everyday life, school districts are making these choices correctly and most of the activity is prevention, but it's a different question later on. So we don't want to abandon that but I do think you're doing it right.
Dr. Dowsett. I would support that. I think that is very idealistic. I realize that. I'd like to look at birth through age eight. If you look at brain research on how human beings learn, and especially the act of reading, birth through eight years old are the critical years. And I agree with Dr. Redmond that most school districts have developed programs around those early years. I wish we could be at the birthing center at the hospital and hand people a manual and say, "I'm here to help you. I'll be your mentor." I know as idealistic as that sounds, I really think that's how we're going to make a difference, during those prekindergarten years.
I know there are some initiatives. In our school district we have someone working on birth through three initiatives. And that's going to be a very important issue in supporting these students.
In terms of students in the upper grade levels, I think we still owe it to those students to, first of all, take care of students who may have slipped through the cracks, who have entered our districts at a later date, et cetera. And I think we are discovering, for example, the Project CRISS model, that is a very helpful tool for older students who are supposed to read to learn but really are still not doing that. The teachers like it. It's practical. It works. There is research to support it. But I think those early years, the prevention and intervention is the key.
Chairman Castle. I agree with you. It's funny, in federal and state government, and not just school districts to some degree -- although you began to express it differently than it used to be expressed -- you always separated everything until you got out of school and then education was a separate component. The truth of the matter is, particularly with kids in poverty, you need to deal with the public the day the woman is pregnant, right up till they enter school, quite frankly, and we've never integrated those things together in following terms of education and their future being locked together. I think in this country we need to move more along those lines. It's hard because we're breaking down walls that have existed for some period of time.
Let me ask Dr. Shaw a question -- and this is complex too -- because it's the whole subject of flexibility, which you mentioned and indicated it can't become so loose that it loses its purpose. I don't disagree with that at all. On the other hand, we just passed the Education Flexibility Act. I was the sponsor of that in the United States Congress, and now they're talking about something called Straight As, which is sort of a Super Ed Flex, and that's actually sort of underdeveloped, so it's hard for me to say exactly what's going to be in it, but there's probably going to be a little more transferring of money and things like that than there is just in the Education Flexibility. And I've heard practically all you mention, as a matter of fact, a little bit about flexibility at some time or another. So my impression is that you want to stretch it somewhat, but you don't want to have it all break by becoming too flexible. Mr. Kildee mentioned that in Texas they've done extraordinarily well with some of their Title I programs. They've gone to school-wide programs and things like that. In a district in Maryland we had a witness testify how well they've done there. And by well, we're talking about low income students, African-American, Hispanic students succeeding at levels well beyond the average Caucasian students in that same area. Which is dramatic. I mean, that's the kind of thing we're really looking for with Title I. They claim that they were given the flexibility and they were able to do things they weren't able to do otherwise. I would like to hear your specific suggestions of what we should be thinking about with respect to flexibility as we go back to Washington to deal with this act and other things in the next year.
Dr. Shaw. Let me attack it two different ways. First, in regards to flexibility, my experience has been that Title I has become the vehicle for improvement, with the standards, with the requirement of the disaggregation, accountability, et cetera, et cetera. As Title I got off the ground, districts then looked at other categorical monies and/or general budget monies to support, complement the effort that Title I had initiated within the building and/or within the district. Having that flexibility we were able to broaden the concept of Title I; example, having a reading teacher work with X amount of children to improve their reading to what you've heard this morning. Now, we have social workers, we have parent training, tutors, we have instructional tutors, we have aides K-3, we have brought the community into the building, educated the parents. The parents now are modeling for the children. The children come to school better prepared, with a better attitude, et cetera, et cetera. So that side has proven better.
Now, the other side, as I look at it, is my concern with the politics at the state level, watering down what they feel is important versus what educators and site-based feel is important. I think we have proven and demonstrated that since 1994 that the educational community has made wise decisions. As you've heard this morning, most every program or activity is researched driven, has been proven effective, professional staff development has been brought to bear on parent, tutor, aide, teacher, administrator, as working as a team. I hate to lose that. So I don't want to have such flexibility that if in fact the state feels that, as example, as has been implemented in Flint that K-3, 17 to 1 is the answer, everyone has to look like that, then we've lost the real sense of what's the purpose and intent of Title I, and that is to educate those economically deprived children. We would have to look at the disaggregated information, and if it was 17 to 1, we're losing what we've gained since 1994. So I've given you a good case for both sides. If I had to vote today, I would say don't be too flexible.
Chairman Castle. But be somewhat flexible?
Dr. Shaw. With the intent and purpose of Title I. Just don't give that away. I'm afraid if we give that away, then the block grant comes and the block grant is used, and as I've experienced in the past, then there is no block grant.
Chairman Castle. I think that's well stated.
I guess at this point we'll give it to Mr. Upton.
Mr. Upton. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I thank the panel of witnesses for their testimony. I look forward to looking through some of the details when I arrive at Kalamazoo later this morning as well.
A couple things I want to say. First of all, I visit a school every week, particularly when they're in session, and this week I get extra credit since they're not. I also come to this job as a Member of the Subcommittee, as a parent having a second grader and a sixth grader. I also have a brother who is a relatively new teacher. He actually left a job at IBM at age 40-something or whatever. He's a 5th grade public school teacher in California. He just got tenure for three years. He's doing very well. I also have Western Michigan University in my district, and I think there are only two other universities that actually turn out more teachers across the country than Western, so, "Go Broncos." .
As I listen to the testimony here and as I visit schools, at least of my own kids' schools, obviously one of things that I'm very concerned about is parental involvement. What can we do on that topic? That's a real crux as I talk to teachers. It's a real problem as they try to get parents in to go through some of the parental conferences, let alone special help. Dr. Redmond and Dr. Dowsett, particularly, in your testimony you talked about exciting parents and parental involvement and things that you do, particularly with Project CRISS. Can you tell me a little bit about that, how Title I interacts with that, and how that's helped it?
Dr. Dowsett. To clarify, Project CRISS is a methodology. It's a program that teaches teachers in content areas particular strategies to use in a classroom while they're teaching in content areas. So that is not the parental involvement component.
Mr. Upton. But it's actually helped the teachers get excited?
Dr. Dowsett. So what we have done is we have experienced teachers who have received training in these strategies and that they can use in their classroom on a day-to-day basis regularly. It's not a program where you stop and teach these particular strategies. We could do that, but you use them within the context of their day.
Mr. Upton. Now, we're beginning to see that. In fact, I think this week when we return back to Washington our Subcommittee is going to be taking up the Teacher Teaching Excellence Act, which works with universities and does a lot of teacher training. In fact, one of the amendments that I'm involving my Chairman to support, Dale Kildee as well, is the amendment that I'm going to be offering with George Miller. It's a bipartisan amendment with regard to teaching writing through funding the National Writing Project; again, and working with university levels as they work with their teachers - my guess is it's a lot like CRISS, although on the writing side where it encourages that classroom experience, and, in fact, I have one of my magnet schools in Kalamazoo that's going to be solely focusing on a National Writing Project. We've seen that work across the country as well.
Has there been any experience over here on this side of the state with that national writing project?
Dr. Dowsett. I personally do not have experience in that project; although the writing is a focus of what we're doing in the Waterford School District and in Oakland County. I think most school districts are very involved in improving writing schools. It's tested, as you know, through the Michigan Assessment Program, et cetera. But I think the point here is that especially a community but also school districts can often criticize teachers for not bringing students to a certain level. What we need to look at is are we providing the appropriate training and support to teachers so that can happen. I think often we, even in education, assume because I have X number of years' experience that I already have all the strategies I need. What we have heard from our teachers in Waterford, I'm very proud to say, is that they're excited to learn new strategies. They want the opportunity, and they want strategies that are practical, where they can walk into their classroom the next day, literally, and put some strategies in place, and they get back together and talk about it to see whether or not they're working and how they can refine those strategies. So I really believe that ongoing, consistent teacher education in our school districts, along with how we organize classes is a key element.
I also want to say something about the parent involvement. One of the things we've been able to do to train parents, not only in the content areas but also in terms of parenting, is to ask parents what do you really want to learn and we'll provide it. And we keep surveying and surveying. And what we have done to be very successful is to find out that parents have a lot of fears about the transition of their kid from elementary to middle school, from middle school to high school. We have been able to bring in literally hundreds of parents this year to sessions to talk about family values, parenting skills, some academic skills, but mostly how to be a parent, to support the educational system, and to have a child remain safe, I guess, at our site. Title I is connected to that because we invite all of our Title I parents to participate, make personal telephone calls, send letters, do everything possible provide child care, often get parents together to car pool, so they can have transportation to these events. And we have had hundreds of parents in the last two years. So parents are interested. We just have to offer what they're interested in.
Mr. Upton. Ms. Rocier, I see you nodding your head quite a bit. Do you have something to add to that?
Ms. Rocier. Thank you. First of all, I would like to ask that you continue to be a proponent for public education.
Mr. Upton. I don't have any choice. My mom was a teacher. My mom, my sister, and now my brother.
Ms. Rocier. Well, public education certainly works.
I have here a parent involvement plan along with some goals from one of our schools in Flint. We use the Success For All model, and the parent component plan of the Success For All model is a very vital plan. Our statistical data concludes that if you involve parents in the schools of their children, the children will reap maximum benefits and the achievement will increase. Now, the dilemma is, of course, getting the parents to want to be actively involved in this process. Many of our parents have had negative experiences in school. Consequently, they are not comfortable in that setting. We as Title I social service field workers, our task is to break down that barrier by providing parenting classes.
I have just a list of things I will share with you later. The main thing is that parents truly want to be involved in their child's learning. Many of them don't know how to go about doing it. They are somewhat insecure. We have to make that environment what we would call a parent friendly environment.
We have a room that's called the RAP room. It's Reading and Parents, where the parent can come into the building, check their child out of their regular classroom, go down, sit in the room, read to the child first, and then listen to the child read to them. It's set up like a very homey, comfortable living room. We find that when parents interact daily in the classroom or in the school building, we have less discipline problems with the children, fighting decreases, when it's time to pass a millage, we get their vote. Now, let's just deal with the real world, folks. There is less vandalism and graffiti because mom is saying to that young man and young lady "School is important. School is good for you. I don't want you to defacing school property." Our books come back in better shape. So it's really like a domino effect. We get positive things from having that parent in there. The parent's self-esteem improves because he or she has been given some tools with which to deal with their children, some strategies that perhaps they didn't have before. We have less aggressive behavior towards teachers. If you've not been a teacher lately, you might not feel that that's important, but truly it is. When a parent has a problem, they can come to you in an intelligent way and discuss the problem because they've bonded with you, and they generally feel that you're there to help their child, that you are concerned about their child's academic progress, and that you really care. There are the C words: Care and concern and commitment. That's really what the parents are looking for. If you can get any type of program such as parent volunteers into your building.
Mr. Upton. I was going to ask about that. As I visited a number of my schools, often a number of Title I parents are encouraged to actually volunteer and are paid part-time to be a teacher's aide, and I've noticed that a number of schools have encouraged parents to come, and sort of watch and participate and have a good sense of where their kids are going in terms of the whole class as well.
Ms. Rocier. That is a plus, because as the governor of this state begins to initiate more and more charter schools, sometimes when we're offering the same service, the only difference with that parent keeping his or her child in the public school is the fact that he has bonded with the teachers and he feels comfortable with that staff, and he knows that the staff is there to help his child. If the Parent -- it's called the Parent Advisory Council. It's PAC for short. Those are the parents that come in and they help control the grounds, the recess.
In my particular school we have parents that take up our attendance folders. And if your child isn't there by a certain time, we have a little office set aside for them, and then they do the calling. And they might say to you, "Well, Mr. Upton, it's nine o'clock. Can you tell me why your son isn't here?" Because we post our attendance every day in big letters. It will say 99 percent attendance today, 92 percent attendance today, 84 percent attendance today. Because attendance is a crucial part of learning. You can't teach them if they're not there. Even if they come tardy, you say to the parents, if you overslept, don't keep them at home. Bring them anyway. They might have missed reading, but they can get math or social studies.
If you get a strong Parent Advisory Council with just accord, it's each one reach one teach one; she'll bring in one, she'll bring in one, I'll bring in one, and pretty soon you'll have just a gigantic number of parents involved in what's going on in your child's school. When your needs arise, parents have power. Teachers don't have that much. Parents can say we need to keep the grass cut. We need to get the glass off the playground and the parking lot. We need to get new playground equipment. Parents really the best kept secret of education.
I can only offer you some suggestions that we've used in the past. It doesn't take every one. It just takes a few. It's kind of -- I hate to say like the plague, because it has negativity associated with it, but it does spread. Then you have people that are saying how good your school is, "my son is doing great," and, let's face it, as a teacher, we do not say good things about public education. We hear about the negative things, but very few people are willing to stand up and say what we've done right.
So I would like to speak with you afterwards and share some ideas and some methods that we've used to get parents actively involved in our children's education.
Mr. Upton. And maybe we can keep the record open so we can make that part of the record as well. Thank you.
Dr. Shaw. Congressman, if I may speak to that. You talked about your model of writing with the universities. An articulation with the state departments of education should be a component of that, because they have a better sense of what's happening in the buildings versus the university.
Mr. Upton. Thank you.
Mr. MacQuarrie. Could I respond, also, to that just for a moment? There is a model program now that Pontiac is involved in with Oakland University. That is the Urban Teacher Program. We utilize people who have their degree who are going through Oakland University to achieve their master's and their teaching certificate, and they are substituting in the district while they're going through the program. It's an interesting pilot in elementary this year. We've expanded it to secondary next year. We're growing our own teachers.
Mr. Upton. Thank you.
Mr. Kildee. We're talking about concentrating Title I dollars. The law requires that all schools with 75 poverty must be served. But after this threshold, a school district can serve elementary schools, the middle school, high school, or all three of those.
Dr. Redmond, if you could respond about how this is working, because you have diverse groups of school districts within both Genesee and Oakland County. Do you see some when they reach below that 75 percent poverty, do you concentrate in that one area of the school?
Dr. Redmond. Yes. Again, I think the flexibility at the local level makes those kinds of decisions make more sense, because if they can concentrate, then they can use other programs or other resources to do the things that might make more sense, especially at the high school levels that are somewhat different in focus than Title I. So that's a good example of when we talked earlier about keeping the focus in Title I there, but also being flexible enough to mix and match programs and monies to get the best kinds of programs for those kinds of efforts whether it's high school or middle school.
Mr. Kildee. In Lake Orion or Waterford when they have a school that's lower than 75 percent poverty, they could concentrate the dollars in elementary. Do they do that?
Dr. Redmond. Yes, they do.
Dr. Shaw. Same in Genesee County. When they drop below that level, the concentration is early literacy, concentration K-3.
Mr. Kildee. Thank you very much.
Chairman Castle. Thank you, Dale.
My question is regarding something I don't have as much comprehension on as I would like. Maybe somebody here is an expert, who is able to answer this. One of the things that came up when we discussed Title I programs with the education flexibility were the school-wide programs versus the targeted assistance programs and how some people felt the school-wide programs worked a lot better; that is, basically applying the money from Title I to the overall school in trying to uplift it in the rising tide theory versus the individual programs for those students who may have needs. Have any of you experienced that in terms of going from one to the other? Do you have any thoughts yourselves about which you feel works better, or is that not something you have dealt with in particular?
Dr. Redmond. I'm not sure I would want to say one works better than the other. I'm very impressed with the success we've had in total with the school-based program. We have a district in Oak Park which looked at this did for the whole district not just with Title I but everything they did. They really went after increasing test scores, and it's longer than I have time to discuss here, but when you have that sort of strategic design, you get some very dramatic results.
Chairman Castle. In your experience, is the whole business of -- and I hope I'm using the right expression when I say school-wide -- but is the whole experience of the school-wide program versus the individually targeted programs relatively new and still developing in terms of how to do it and what to do?
Dr. Redmond. Yes, I believe that's true, but I do believe the early returns on them are very dramatic and positive.
Chairman Castle. That's with the education flexibility.
Let me go on to one other question that may be a little disturbing subject, and, again, I'm just playing devil's advocate here. But there are those who suggest that Title I money should follow the student. They even go so far as to suggest that you follow the student around the school, but getting away from that, instead of being on the basis of a particular school, that is, the money would follow as student. For example, if student A transfers from one school to another and it's a child in poverty, then the second school to which the child goes, even if it's not a school that has a school-wide poverty basis, would benefit from that money received from that child. To me it's been more of a political statement than an educational statement, but I would be interested if you've ever looked at this or have any comments or thoughts about it. Right now, as I understand it, your determination is made, as Congressman Kildee said, if you have 75 percent of the students in poverty in a school, they're going to get the proceeds, and then it's formulated all down from there. But what about the concept of its following the individual student? Have any of you given any thought to that? It's something we hear about in Washington probably more than you do out here in the districts.
Mr. MacQuarrie. Very briefly, it seems that with our transient rate with students, as the economic level increases somewhat with our families, they tend to move on, either to other parts of the city or other areas, other school districts, where housing and services may be substantially in a higher economic level. They seem to be replaced continually with similar families in similar economic straits. So if in a central city area like we have, if the money follows the child, that money would probably come right back in the other door. But if the money followed the child to a private school, the consistency of the program at our level would then tend to deteriorate, would tend to decrease.
Chairman Castle. I personally would subtract the private school from that.
Dr. Redmond. I think consistent with what you heard here this morning, it would hurt consistency, it would hurt programs, and you really put yourself in a completely different mind-set when you think about the individual child with the problem with the money. It opens up a whole lot of abuse, I don't mean in a corrupt sense, although that can be, too, but in the view of how do you go about trying to fix these issues with one child if you flip-flop them? For a lot of our programs it's been the school with the challenge. I think that's a much better approach.
Chairman Castle. My final question, and I wasn't going to ask this, but I'll ask you, Dr. Redmond. It was mentioned that there are schools that are sort of on the borderline whether they qualify and might go in and out in various years or various periods of time, whatever it may be. Is that a problem in managing a school district, given a school has been qualified for Title I funds and the next year they are told they are not qualified for it? Anybody is open to answer. To me that would seemingly be a problem. If I was a principal of a school, I don't think I would like that very much.
Dr. Redmond. My discussions of that have been somewhat limited because you have the flexibility to concentrate those funds. So if you are on the borderline, you can use those kind of strategies to protect the school from the up and down.
Chairman Castle. So using proper management you can avoid that problem?
Dr. Redmond. That's been our experience. If things get more up and down, you don't have the concentration to move over, that can be a problem. We haven't experienced that, though.
Chairman Castle. Let me just say something in closing. We do have to get in cars and drive within the speed limit. But I would like to thank all of you very much for the opportunity to discuss Title I with you, being such a kind host to a stranger from Delaware, and to help us in our learning about what I consider to be extraordinarily important programs in the country. Like the others here, I've been very involved in education. I have been in every school in my state. I bet they can't say that. Every public school in my state at one time or another. And you still learn. The educators always know more, I think, than I'll ever know. I understand that. That's why it's important for us to come out and see all of you. I imagine there are people in this audience who could have taught us as well as those of you who have had a chance to testify. But I appreciate that.
It is a great pleasure to work with Congressman Kildee and the Congress of the United States. He is unfailingly polite and decent and thoughtful about what he does, and is a friend, as a matter of fact. I don't know if all of you know this, but Congressman Kildee has the longest consecutive voting record of anybody in the Congress.
Am I allowed to say that?
He's missed fewer votes than anybody. This is a record you don't want, by the way. If for some reason or other you can't be there, it's a terrible record not to protect. But anyone who does that deserves huge credit for their commitment to their job. So we're very appreciative for being in his district and, in particular, meeting all of you who are perhaps a little weary of school this time of year and perhaps could use a little break, taking your time to be here with us.
With that, I'll turn it over to you, Dale.
Mr. Kildee. Again, I want to thank Governor Castle, to travel to another district is difficult. Both Members should be commended for doing that. They are the type that make the bipartisan system work. I not only count them among my colleagues, but I consider both of them among my friends, and I'm just very happy they're both in Congress.
Chairman Castle. Thank you everybody. As we say, we stand adjourned.
WRITTEN TESTIMONY OF MS. BARBARA LEWIS, BOARD MEMBER, THE MICHIGAN ALLIANCE FOR GIFTED EDUCATION, ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN – SEE APPENDIX D
[Whereupon, at 11:44 a.m., the Subcommittee was adjourned.]