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Jspr Vol 26-N2

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The Journal of School Public Relations is a quarterly publication providing research, analysis, case studies and descriptions of best practices in six critical areas of school administration: public relations, school and community relations, community education, communication, conflict management/resolution, and human resources management. Practitioners, policymakers, consultants and professors rely on the Journal for cutting-edge ideas and current knowledge. Articles are a blend of research and practice addressing contemporary issues ranging from passing bond referenda to building support for school programs to integrating modern information.

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Notes From the Guest Editors

ePub

PAMELA S. SALAZAR

MIMI WOLVERTON

SCHOOL PUBLIC RELATIONS AND NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND

In 2001, the federal government put into place the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation. During the 10 years preceding this legislation, school districts experienced heightened attention focused on student achievement, accountability, standards, and testing. Increased scrutiny from an aggressive media and relentless bashing from dissatisfied stakeholders led, in many cases, to the dissemination of disruptive misinformation and conflict that further exacerbated such misunderstandings.

Since the inception of NCLB, public scrutiny has intensified. If the number of published articles in U.S. newspapers and wire services listed in the Nexis database is any indication, references to “adequate yearly progress”—the key benchmark for school performance under NCLB—nearly quadrupled between December 2002 and December 2003. Indeed, state and local news outlets have devoted significant space to announcements of schools making the “needs improvement” list and their “failure” to make adequate yearly progress. The following headlines illustrate the extent to which public examination of schools has increased and point to the dilemmas that districts now face as they attempt to defend their actions:

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Notes From the Guest Editors

ePub

PAMELA S. SALAZAR

MIMI WOLVERTON

SCHOOL PUBLIC RELATIONS AND NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND

In 2001, the federal government put into place the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation. During the 10 years preceding this legislation, school districts experienced heightened attention focused on student achievement, accountability, standards, and testing. Increased scrutiny from an aggressive media and relentless bashing from dissatisfied stakeholders led, in many cases, to the dissemination of disruptive misinformation and conflict that further exacerbated such misunderstandings.

Since the inception of NCLB, public scrutiny has intensified. If the number of published articles in U.S. newspapers and wire services listed in the Nexis database is any indication, references to “adequate yearly progress”—the key benchmark for school performance under NCLB—nearly quadrupled between December 2002 and December 2003. Indeed, state and local news outlets have devoted significant space to announcements of schools making the “needs improvement” list and their “failure” to make adequate yearly progress. The following headlines illustrate the extent to which public examination of schools has increased and point to the dilemmas that districts now face as they attempt to defend their actions:

See All Chapters

No Child Left Behind and the Need for Good Public Relations

ePub

WILLIAM J. GROBE

KERMIT G. BUCKNER

ABSTRACT: The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation of 2001 has brought great public and professional pressure upon U.S. public schools. Perhaps trying to explain its requirements and possible consequences is the most daunting task for school leaders. This article provides an overview of its legal context followed by thoughts about effective public relations and how they relate to reporting NCLB outcomes.

Public schools are all about relationships. How teachers, administrators, and support staff interact with and respond to parents, citizens, civic leaders, and public servants makes a significant impact on the way the school is perceived. Positive perceptions result when a good public relations program allows the school to address issues in a direct, cogent manner. This happens easily when school and public concerns are the same. Everyone wants safe schools, good discipline, a rigorous curriculum, and effective teaching. At other times, educators and the public they serve find themselves in opposing corners. How will schools be funded? Who determines the “common good”? Which customs and traditions need to be continued? Which ones stopped? Contentious issues can cause schools and the public they serve to become entangled in misunderstanding, miscommunication, and distrust. These situations can destroy relation-ships and the chaos that results can reign over good people with good intentions. That is why it is important to cultivate and nurture all relationships, both in good times and bad. The key is to keep all partners apprised of what is happening to the school and what the school is doing to address the issues it faces. This is the essence of public relations in our schools.

See All Chapters

No Child Left Behind and the Need for Good Public Relations

ePub

WILLIAM J. GROBE

KERMIT G. BUCKNER

ABSTRACT: The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation of 2001 has brought great public and professional pressure upon U.S. public schools. Perhaps trying to explain its requirements and possible consequences is the most daunting task for school leaders. This article provides an overview of its legal context followed by thoughts about effective public relations and how they relate to reporting NCLB outcomes.

Public schools are all about relationships. How teachers, administrators, and support staff interact with and respond to parents, citizens, civic leaders, and public servants makes a significant impact on the way the school is perceived. Positive perceptions result when a good public relations program allows the school to address issues in a direct, cogent manner. This happens easily when school and public concerns are the same. Everyone wants safe schools, good discipline, a rigorous curriculum, and effective teaching. At other times, educators and the public they serve find themselves in opposing corners. How will schools be funded? Who determines the “common good”? Which customs and traditions need to be continued? Which ones stopped? Contentious issues can cause schools and the public they serve to become entangled in misunderstanding, miscommunication, and distrust. These situations can destroy relation-ships and the chaos that results can reign over good people with good intentions. That is why it is important to cultivate and nurture all relationships, both in good times and bad. The key is to keep all partners apprised of what is happening to the school and what the school is doing to address the issues it faces. This is the essence of public relations in our schools.

See All Chapters

Playing Up—Playing Down Adequate Yearly Progress Data: Lessons From a Large School District

ePub

R. KARLENE MCCORMICK-LEE

ABSTRACT: In Nevada, school districts are countywide, giving the state 17 districts, the largest of which is Clark County School District (CCSD). Nearly 70% of the entire state’s population resides in this county. For the past 10 years, population growth in this county has been the fastest in the nation. Such growth brings challenges especially with NCLB, which greatly expands the federal role in public education. Strict accountability is a key piece of NCLB, and Clark County, like all districts, has begun working toward these mandated goals. However, size and growth challenge large urban school districts in terms of communicating to the public with both accuracy and understandability.

In Nevada, there are 17 countywide school districts, and Clark County School District (CCSD) is the largest. Clark County, with a population of 1.8 million people, encompasses 7,910 square miles. Nearly 70% of the entire state’s population resides here. For the past 10 years, population growth in this county has been the fastest in the nation.

See All Chapters

Playing Up—Playing Down Adequate Yearly Progress Data: Lessons From a Large School District

ePub

R. KARLENE MCCORMICK-LEE

ABSTRACT: In Nevada, school districts are countywide, giving the state 17 districts, the largest of which is Clark County School District (CCSD). Nearly 70% of the entire state’s population resides in this county. For the past 10 years, population growth in this county has been the fastest in the nation. Such growth brings challenges especially with NCLB, which greatly expands the federal role in public education. Strict accountability is a key piece of NCLB, and Clark County, like all districts, has begun working toward these mandated goals. However, size and growth challenge large urban school districts in terms of communicating to the public with both accuracy and understandability.

In Nevada, there are 17 countywide school districts, and Clark County School District (CCSD) is the largest. Clark County, with a population of 1.8 million people, encompasses 7,910 square miles. Nearly 70% of the entire state’s population resides here. For the past 10 years, population growth in this county has been the fastest in the nation.

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Educational Accountability in Cyberspace: Analyzing Website Differences Between High- and Low-Performing Washington State School Districts

ePub

GORDON GATES

ERIC ANCTIL

ABSTRACT: Researchers in this study analyze the websites of 30 Washington state school districts to explore differences and similarities between high- and low-performing districts. The study offers evidence about ways educators use accountability data on district websites to communicate with parents, community members, and business representatives about student academic performance. Specifically, the study explores the association between student achievement and communication via the Internet about student academic performance, as well as strategies to improve teaching and learning for student success on accountability standards.

Current political rhetoric and educational discourse draw attention to an evolving and expanding accountability policy for public schools (Linn, Baker, & Betebenner, 2002; Loveless, 2005). To be accountable, as noted by Leithwood, Edge, and Jantzi (1999), is to be obligated “to give a report, description, explanation, justifying analysis, or some form of exposition of reasons, causes, grounds, ormotives for what we have observed” (p. 13). The recent federal legislation, No Child Left Behind (NCLB), stipulates that educators publicly report the academic outcomes for students enrolled in the nation’s public schools. Specifically, the act authorizes the annual assessment of students in grades 3 through 8 using standardized tests aligned with state-mandated curriculum. Furthermore, these reports on student performance at the school and district levels are to be disaggregated by student demographics (e.g., socioeconomic status, ethnicity, language, and ability) to ensure educational equity and excellence. NCLB also specifies that educators establish annual student performance goals such that by 2014 all students will score proficient on the adopted standardized tests. Educators are to determine and report to the public adequate yearly progress (AYP) for reaching these goals.

See All Chapters

Educational Accountability in Cyberspace: Analyzing Website Differences Between High- and Low-Performing Washington State School Districts

ePub

GORDON GATES

ERIC ANCTIL

ABSTRACT: Researchers in this study analyze the websites of 30 Washington state school districts to explore differences and similarities between high- and low-performing districts. The study offers evidence about ways educators use accountability data on district websites to communicate with parents, community members, and business representatives about student academic performance. Specifically, the study explores the association between student achievement and communication via the Internet about student academic performance, as well as strategies to improve teaching and learning for student success on accountability standards.

Current political rhetoric and educational discourse draw attention to an evolving and expanding accountability policy for public schools (Linn, Baker, & Betebenner, 2002; Loveless, 2005). To be accountable, as noted by Leithwood, Edge, and Jantzi (1999), is to be obligated “to give a report, description, explanation, justifying analysis, or some form of exposition of reasons, causes, grounds, ormotives for what we have observed” (p. 13). The recent federal legislation, No Child Left Behind (NCLB), stipulates that educators publicly report the academic outcomes for students enrolled in the nation’s public schools. Specifically, the act authorizes the annual assessment of students in grades 3 through 8 using standardized tests aligned with state-mandated curriculum. Furthermore, these reports on student performance at the school and district levels are to be disaggregated by student demographics (e.g., socioeconomic status, ethnicity, language, and ability) to ensure educational equity and excellence. NCLB also specifies that educators establish annual student performance goals such that by 2014 all students will score proficient on the adopted standardized tests. Educators are to determine and report to the public adequate yearly progress (AYP) for reaching these goals.

See All Chapters

A Step Beyond No Child Left Behind: Is Florida the Future?

ePub

GEORGE E. PAWLAS

ABSTRACT: Schools face major challenges today that have been created by reform initiatives and expectations from Florida and federal legislation. This article focuses on the impact of accountability mandates on student achievement through the responses of central Florida school administrators at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. They were asked: How has increased accountability impacted your daily work? How has student achievement changed over the past 3 years in your schools? What has been done to improve student achievement? The findings have implications for principals and school public relations.

Educational reform initiatives since 2001 have focused on accountability for student performance. This was a dramatic shift in the focus of federal, state, and local policy away from the distribution of money and toward improved student test scores. No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requires that all states have in place accountability systems that provide for annual testing of all students in grades 3 through 8, the disaggregation of student test scores by groups sorted for demographics, continuous oversight, sanctions for poorly performing schools, and the option for parents of children in chronically low-performing schools to move their children to other schools (Elmore, 2004). Florida’s accountability system precedes NCLB and surpasses it in rigor.

See All Chapters

A Step Beyond No Child Left Behind: Is Florida the Future?

ePub

GEORGE E. PAWLAS

ABSTRACT: Schools face major challenges today that have been created by reform initiatives and expectations from Florida and federal legislation. This article focuses on the impact of accountability mandates on student achievement through the responses of central Florida school administrators at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. They were asked: How has increased accountability impacted your daily work? How has student achievement changed over the past 3 years in your schools? What has been done to improve student achievement? The findings have implications for principals and school public relations.

Educational reform initiatives since 2001 have focused on accountability for student performance. This was a dramatic shift in the focus of federal, state, and local policy away from the distribution of money and toward improved student test scores. No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requires that all states have in place accountability systems that provide for annual testing of all students in grades 3 through 8, the disaggregation of student test scores by groups sorted for demographics, continuous oversight, sanctions for poorly performing schools, and the option for parents of children in chronically low-performing schools to move their children to other schools (Elmore, 2004). Florida’s accountability system precedes NCLB and surpasses it in rigor.

See All Chapters

Engaging Communities Through Vision Development: A Systems Approach to Public Relations

ePub

PATTI L. CHANCE

ABSTRACT: The implementation of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) federal legislation in 2001 exemplifies extreme reaction to an escalating public unrest with educational systems over the past several decades of “educational reform.” Effective public relations and communication with stakeholders is threatened during this time of increased public scrutiny and demands for accountability, creating conditions where many educators are reacting rather than leading. Systems thinking helps education leaders see public relations as a continual, systematic process and is essential for education leaders’ understanding of public relations and the role it plays in engaging school community support for improving student learning.

The intent of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) federal legislation in 2001 was to increase public school accountability, to provide more parental choice, and to allow greater flexibility for states and school districts (U.S. Department of Education, 2001). Regulations related to accountability reporting to parents and other stakeholders require school principals and superintendents to provide a plethora of information about complex factors related to student achievement, teacher qualifications, and parental options for school choice and additional tutorial services. Such mandated reports are often fraught with statistics that are ill conceived, overly complex, or simplistic. Although accountability reports attempt topresent a simple and clear picture of student achievement, the message relayed may misdirect schools, stakeholders, and, most importantly, students, leading them away from, rather than toward, improved student learning.

See All Chapters

Engaging Communities Through Vision Development: A Systems Approach to Public Relations

ePub

PATTI L. CHANCE

ABSTRACT: The implementation of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) federal legislation in 2001 exemplifies extreme reaction to an escalating public unrest with educational systems over the past several decades of “educational reform.” Effective public relations and communication with stakeholders is threatened during this time of increased public scrutiny and demands for accountability, creating conditions where many educators are reacting rather than leading. Systems thinking helps education leaders see public relations as a continual, systematic process and is essential for education leaders’ understanding of public relations and the role it plays in engaging school community support for improving student learning.

The intent of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) federal legislation in 2001 was to increase public school accountability, to provide more parental choice, and to allow greater flexibility for states and school districts (U.S. Department of Education, 2001). Regulations related to accountability reporting to parents and other stakeholders require school principals and superintendents to provide a plethora of information about complex factors related to student achievement, teacher qualifications, and parental options for school choice and additional tutorial services. Such mandated reports are often fraught with statistics that are ill conceived, overly complex, or simplistic. Although accountability reports attempt topresent a simple and clear picture of student achievement, the message relayed may misdirect schools, stakeholders, and, most importantly, students, leading them away from, rather than toward, improved student learning.

See All Chapters

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