Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Live reporting - FHS update - part 5


I have tried to be open about why decisions are made. I have an online newsletter that people can access regularly. You can find it -> http://franklinhighschool.wordpress.com/

One of the things I am experimenting with next year with Twitter.The messages can be received via cell phones (i.e text messages). We need to experiment before we try to go full bore.

Next year our avg class sizes will be 20-25 for the core academics. This is about as good as your going to see. We have also increased the instructional time for the core courses. The teachers should be able to go deeper into a topic, cover enrichment items, etc. In terms of supporting individual students, we will support them at a significantly higher level than we have done in the last several years.

We are going to look at how we do Panther Pride night. When you have a public school where 93% of the students take SAT's (here at FHS) and compare favorably to the areas privates schools, we need to advertise that better.

The 8th Grade Open House we revised this year and received positive feedback. We paid some of our teachers come in on a Saturday. The parents got a better sense of what Freshman year work would be like.

We will study the parent conference format. There are some positive elements to it but it is hard to have an honest conversation when you are in such a public forum. One of the things to cover is scheduling. A parent may not want to get up from a teacher, it affects the overall scheduling.

Those are some of the activities that we have planned for next year. Success at FHS is tied to how much income the parents have. The graduation rate of the lower income students is only 78% and that is shocking. We have to look at that and address it.

They did try some special tutoring programs with requested attendance. It was well recieved, some students thought it was the best thing that they have done for them.

The detention threat (2.5 hours) is an effect for some of the population but not for all. We are structuring an alternative, this tutoring program. There is a connection between discipline and academic performance. We need to give them more time in an academic environment to ensure that they don't fall behind and drop out.

Armenio - The parent conferences were a little like speed dating. If this is the first time yur finding out you have a problem, there is a communication problem. Maybe with Edline there will be a chance to get the information before hand.
Light - we were expecting teacher to do a lot. Teachers went from having 100-110 student to a 140-150 students and expecting the same level of information is a problem. What can we reasonably expect teachers to do? The teachers couldn't do the job in the time alloted. We need to rethink the process and provide the support.

Mullen - up until last year, I really didn't mind too much. They weren't a place to have a real conversation and you knew that. The freshman collaborative with the additional lines it was really long to get through.

Rohrbach - Not to sound like a broken record, it is amazing what you ahve accomplished in a short period of time. Do you have a sense of the freshman class?
Light - we don't have a real good number just yet. It is significant shift, possibly about 100 heading from the 8th grade to private schools. The enrollment in the other classes are steady. We should still gain overall about 60 students. We do survey those we find out are going to private school. We find that the number one concern is class size.

Rohrbach - what about helping the parents with the technology changes?
Light - we have used email primarily. The world has fundamentaly changed in terms of the speed of communication. We can fight it, or find ways to utilize technology to improve out ways.

Rohrbach - it should save on supplies
Light - moving to the digital format, we are saving big bucks avoiding printing.

Cafasso - to respond on the shed rate from 8th grade to Freshman year. The average the last several years was 8-10%. The number Peter is talking about is probably triple. Your changing that tonight and a lot of that is perception. People have been concerned about the school budget.

Light - there are some folks returning back from private school who had been there. It will be interesting to see what the numbers in and out balance out to when we do the numbers in August.

Roy - thank you for addressing the issues on a point by point basis. You are addressing the circumstances without drowning in sorrow. You have some losses yes, but there are improvements. You are so inspiring, I am going to have to ask you to come more frequently.

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