Highly influential former Bellevue superintendent, Mike Riley, died yesterday. He was 58. Here is the story from today's Times.
I bring this to your attention because Mr. Riley brought real and concrete change to the Bellevue School District. Whether you agree or not with what his vision was, he was a force for change. He had left Bellevue district to work for the College Board that administers SATs and AP tests.
When the Bellevue teachers were on strike this fall some of their grievances stemmed from his legacy of trying to laser-focus curriculum and encourage all students to aim higher. The teachers' complaint was the the curriculum was too automated and left them with little room to individualize.
Interestingly, an article in the Times during the strike had a chart that laid out his legacy. I had read it (and saved it) intending to blog about it because the results were so striking. Here is some of it:
In 1997 and 2007 (my apologies, I tried to do this in a chart format but couldn't make it work)
Number of students taking AP exams: 210/2,263
Number of AP exams taken: 297/4,794
% of all 9-12 grade students participating in AP testing 4%/40%
Low-income grads with AP/IB on transcript N/A/75%
Dropout rate 17%/10%
National Board certified teachers 1 (in 2000)/158
AP test by:
African-American students 2/70
Graduates who took (and earned a passing grade) in at least 1 AP/IB class
55%(2002) /83% (2007)
This is important because it seems Dr. Goodloe-Johnson is going in this direction. Many of you may not know because you don't have high school students but next Wednesday, all freshman, sophomore and juniors are going to take the PSAT (the preliminary SAT which normally juniors take and determines National Merit scholarships). The district received a grant from Boeing to do this. Normally, it costs about $18 to take the test. In the letter sent home:
"The purpose of the test is to give all students an opportunity to experience taking a college readiness test and to identify students who might benefit from advanced coursework. Even if your child has not yet decided to attend college, I urge you to make sure he or she participates."
I'm not sure I agree that freshman should take it but I give the superintendent credit for trying it. What is unclear is how many students will show up that day. The letter doesn't make it clear but no student has to take the test. I'm sure some will skip out on it (it will take most of the morning to give and most schools will have shortened periods in the afternoon). Seniors are to work on their senior projects.