If the Greater Egg Harbor Regional School District’s Failure Rate Analysis reflects a 15 percent or higher failure rate for a course in the district’s three high schools, the district takes a look at ways to make course revisions.
Board of Education member Robert Ross wanted to make sure the onus isn’t put strictly on the teachers. He also wants to make sure extra money isn’t being put into something that isn’t needed.
“If you look at the reports and read all the material, and it turns out that time after time, the ones who fail are the ones who are not coming to school or not doing any work, should we fork out the extra money?” to make the revisions, Ross said during the School Board meeting Monday night, Dec. 3 at Absegami. “I’m not saying you should blame the teachers, but I also don’t think you should put extra money into it.”
“The amount of interventions we implement is something we struggle with,” Greater Egg Harbor Regional School District Superintendent Dr. Steven Ciccariello said. “If you look at the graduation rate, it is very high. I don’t see it as a major problem, but it is something we have to address.”
According to Director of Curriculum and Instruction for the Greater Egg Harbor Regional School District, there are a number of factors at play in determining the failure rate, and the statistics can sometimes make the problem sound worse than the reality.
“If a class has less than 20 kids, the 15 percent failure rate can be reflective of a small number of students,” Blair said.
“There’s no information that tells me how many kids are trying to learn. There should be a way to separate that,” Ross said. “The failure rate doesn’t say anything. It just says F’s. It shouldn’t weigh heavily on the teachers. … There could be language problems, students might just not be raising their hands to say, ‘Hey, I missed that.’”
Ross also said the administration knows which teachers are doing a good job.
“You don’t need a report for that,” Ross said. “You might have someone who’s not a good teacher and they’re just passing people so their failure rate goes down."
He believes the failure rate shouldn't be the only means by which a teacher is judged.
"It's not that cut and dry," Ross said.
Blair said a 15 percent failure rate or higher is not necessarily indicative of a teacher being a bad teacher, but there are intervention programs available for teachers, just as there are with students.
“We look at what other development does that teacher need,” Blair said. “Over the summer, we had professional development programs for Math and Science, in which teachers came in from Stockton. We had a great number of teachers participate in that program.”
“We have recommendations for teachers to improve their failure rate, but it is being used to evaluate them,” Ciccariello said. “It is discussed between the teacher and a supervisor.”
The district monitors the failure rate analysis all year, and help is provided to students in need.
“We’ve implemented benchmarks at various points during the year,” Blair said Tuesday morning, Dec. 4. “Any student who is not able to meet the benchmark is given immediate mediation because we don’t want them to fall too far behind.”
Blair said the district the format for the analysis has been the same “for many years,” but that the district will also look at the format for the failure rate analysis.