Talking Points and Q&A for Building Principals
This document is also available in PDF format
back to AYP Toolkit
Note: When speaking with parents, community leaders and the media, remember that there are no "failing schools." This is NOT official language being used by anyone at the state or federal level and every effort needs to be made to correct use of that language by other educators, members of the media, community leaders, parents, etc. The schools "on the list" are those "in need of improvement" or are "under-performing."
"It is important to note the law does not use the term ‘failing’ schools," according to Rod Paige, Secretary of Education. "In some cases, schools identified as ‘in need of improvement’ may, in fact, be succeeding in some measures," he said. "What’s important is that we know these schools are capable of getting better results for their students."
What you should know about your building results:
· Whether your school building receives Title I funding and if it’s on the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) list of schools needing improvement.
· How many years in a row your building did not make AYP.
· If your building is a Title I school, what actions, if any, are necessary under NCLB, if your school does not make AYP.
· Knowledge of the current school improvement initiatives going on in your school building.
· A list of strengths for your school building.
When the media calls:
Talk with your superintendent about who should speak to the media BEFORE your building gets media calls. If you talk with reporters, remember they are just doing their jobs. Use this as an opportunity to educate the media and your community about the opportunities and challenges NCLB presents. Keep your comments positive. Avoid making excuses, self-serving responses and comparisons to others. (Don’t brag if you make AYP.)
Be sure to note:
· NCLB calls for universal high performance on achievement tests for all students.
· As with any new legislation that is sweeping and complex, it will take a couple of years to fully understand what schools must do to comply.
· AYP is measured based on the progress of schools and districts, along with the progress of subgroups of students. If any subgroup in a school does not meet AYP target goals, the school will not make AYP.
· We are certain in future year’s adjustments will be made to NCLB to improve aspects of the law, since a lot of the details remain unclear at this time.
· We accept and acknowledge that AYP reports are one more added source of information to help schools improve.
· We’ll factor the AYP report along with other achievement information into our existing school improvement process to ensure all of our schools are providing the best possible education for our children.
· We need good state policy to help schools meet AYP. We need to seek solutions to help schools reach the students who are hardest to educate.
· We have a building plan to meet the challenges of No Child Left Behind.
· We need the state and federal government to realize that mandates without resources make reforms difficult to achieve. Schools that need improvement also need additional resources.
· We intend to make progress "not excuses" – but we need resources to overcome our challenges.
· We invite the media, our parents and the community to "come in and see" what our students are learning. And, we encourage them to work with us as we continually improve our schools.
Questions building principals may be asked:
Q: Why is your building on/off the list when (fill in school name within or outside of your district) is on/off the list? Why did your school do so much better/worse than School B?
A: I only have first-hand knowledge of my own school building and wouldn’t know about (fill in school name).
Q: What changes will you be making as a result of the AYP report?
A: Provide details of current and planned initiatives noting that improvement strategies have already been underway. Bring out strengths: "We have had a strong focus on mathematics, an area we have greatly improved upon. Now as we turn our attention to reading/language arts, we expect the same great results."
Q: Will you be making any staff changes as a result of this rating?
A: No staff changes will be made as a direct result of this report. We will continue to base our staffing decisions on student needs, budget issues and a variety of other data we have gathered.
Q: Your district just passed a large measure to pay for your new facility/facility improvements. What will you say to them now that you were found to be a school in need of improvement?
A: We recognize we are a school in need of improvement based on AYP criteria. We also know the technology improvements, better heating and ventilation systems, and new state-of-the-art classrooms will have a positive impact on student achievement. The community’s funding for this measure is a critical part of our improvement process.
Q: Why is it that your school building’s performance has received awards or received high marks under the state’s annual school and district report card system, yet the federal government has declared your school as needing improvement?
A: We’re working hard to create the proper context for student learning and we’re doing a lot of things right. That’s evident by the awards and recognition our school has received. We will continue to use proven research-based methods to improve upon our results. And, we’ll ask our staff, parents and students to help us with those improvements. Because the federal law measures school progress in a different way than our state law, there will be some discrepancy in how schools are rated. That issue is being addressed at the state level.