The Vanguard will be publishing the comments of each of the five school board members on the AIM program. We began with the comments of Susan Lovenburg on Sunday. Today we cover what Barbara Archer said. Below is a video clip from her comments.
I’ve talked to a lot of people in the community as well. I met with teachers, I have talked with more parents than I can count. I met with neighborhood teachers. There’s a variety of opinion in our community about the changes that we’re proposing to happen.
Three people today called me and said it’s not far enough. This is not far enough – this is not in line with your motion. Some people are saying – you know what, this is all right. This is fine. And some people are saying, no it’s too much, it’s too fast. I think we have to acknowledge all those opinions and listen to each other.
We did pass a motion. People ask where did the 98 percent come from, where did a lot of these recommendations come from? We passed a motion in June, before school ended might I add, “that the focus of the assessment we be to identify students whose needs cannot be met in classrooms which fully implement best practices of differentiated instruction.”
Yes, we have work to do in differentiation. Yes, we have some teachers, many teachers in fact, who are doing it fabulously well already, but we as a board have moved in a direction where… (we have) a needs based program – students who really would have trouble functioning in a neighborhood classroom.
I really want to enter commentary just about the tenor of the conversation – we all live in this small town together. My hope is that we don’t hurt each other so much that we can’t be allies on other issues. I mean, the rhetoric tonight has been very nasty and hurtful, and I really don’t think there’s a place for that in this conversation. We don’t need to throw each other under the bus to have a discussion about this.
There’s lots of talk about kids at the very least being disengaged in the neighborhood programs and worse being harmed in the neighborhood programs. There are comments made mostly by people who haven’t even tried the neighborhood programs.
The analogy that came to my mind was a kid who said, well I don’t like green beans. Have you ever tried green beans? Well no, I haven’t tried green beans. And so if you haven’t been in the neighborhood program, if you haven’t experienced differentiation in the neighborhood program, please don’t tell me that your kid can’t be served in that program because you really don’t know.
I think with an average of 31 percent of AIM identified students opting out of AIM, these students and students of all ability levels are being served are being served very well by teachers in the neighborhood program. I think what we uncovered when we looked at the testing data was that the AIM program – the current iteration of the AIM program – is made up of kids by all ability levels.
You have kids who scored very high on the OLSAT, you have kids who scored in every decile of the OLSAT and entered through private testing or the TONI – so obviously the AIM teachers are having to differentiate.
Then in the neighborhood program, I have colleagues, friends, they have eight AIM identified students in their neighborhood program, seven AIM identified kids in their neighborhood classroom, along with kids of all other ability levels – so really we’re kind of playing a semantics game here because what we’re looking at is a class that’s labeled AIM, a class that’s labeled neighborhood, and in fact they’re very similar populations.
I’m hoping to continue the dialogue. I think Susan’s idea about getting out there and talking to people who can’t make time to come to board meetings is a good idea. I’m all for continuing the discussion as we need to. That said, we’re on a timeline, we have kids who are taking the OLSAT in a week and we have to decide how we’re going to move forward. So that’s where I’m at.