School board says perceptions flawed

YOUNGSTOWN — The city school board agrees that academic test scores need to improve, but it doesn’t agree with some of the other perceptions about the schools as outlined by the FAMILY Empowerment Student Achievement Institute.

Members of the institute formed a task force to conduct hundreds of random interviews with city residents, which were used to create a list of perceptions and recommendations for the district — all aimed at improving pupil performance.

The institute presented its findings to the board in September, along with a challenge to develop a plan to move the district from a state rating of academic watch to excellent by 2013 and a demand for a written response.

“We agree math, science and reading scores need to increase consistently in the right direction,” the board wrote in its response sent this week. The board is working on a school district strategic plan for education and would welcome community input and vision in the process of creating a more user-friendly and community-oriented plan.

The institute found a perception that there is no successful home-school-community partnership at every school.

The district is working on a list of successful home-school partnerships, the board said. Youngstown already encourages parental and community involvement through monthly parent meetings, creation of a Parent Patrol group as a community outreach and seeking parent volunteers.

The institute said its respondents believe there are underperforming teachers in the district, but the board said 98 percent of its teachers are deemed “highly qualified.”

The institute suggested that there appears to be a degrading criminalization of pupils who have no criminal intent or background, and that police officers treat pupils like “jailbirds in a prison.”

“We agree that we do not want to criminalize students,” the board wrote. “We know there is a proper way to work with children based on their social development, and we have provided professional development for all staff ... which promotes building positive relationships.”

There are pupils with no books or course syllabus to take home, the institute said.

For more on this story, see Saturday's Vindicator or

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