As a parent, how would you react if your child received a "D" or an "F" on their report card? In the first half of this school year, half of students in Buffalo Public Schools received one of those two grades.
"Half that are getting in the A, B, C range and it's half in the D and F range, and that's too much," said Superintendent Kriner Cash. "When you have half the district failing at the end of the first quarter and when you have some children in some classes and some teachers in whole classes for all the subjects they teach, and I don't want to make it seem like it's across the district, but everyone failed. That is never going to be a good picture for children."
Cash reported the results to a Buffalo School Board committee meeting Wednesday night. He said major changes are in the works.
"This affects children on all kind of levels and messes with their motivation, their effort," said East District Board Member and Vice President of Student Achievement Theresa Harris-Tigg. "But they don't even sometimes understand how they failed and, if you look at the data on the first parking period, I'm looking at the East District, the attendance wasn't that bad. The kids were there. They were there."
Attendance was noted because it has been a problem for years. New financial data noted teacher attendance also is not doing well, promoting increased need for substitute teachers.
Chief Academic Officer Anne Botticelli said she has been visiting the buildings to watch what is going on in the classrooms and is not happy about a lack of consistency in teaching and in grading. Botticelli said principals are also being asked if they have the support needed for teachers.
"How do we support teachers? Because the reality is we have to be looking at what's happening instructionally," Botticelli said. "We're never going to have improvement in grading practices if instructional procedures aren't also in place. So we are going on learning walks. We are going on site visits, identifying areas of need and working with principals to make sure they have the support for those particular teachers or if it's a trend in the building: How can they address that?"
Cash said he wants to cut down on the wide array of different educational material being used, varying building by building. The district is pushing even harder on professional development for teachers and is also starting a larger array of alternatives for students who do not do well in traditional classrooms, since students who don't learn to read well in the early grades are unlikely to do well in later grades.