published Friday, December 2nd, 2011

Howard School of Academics and Technology gets clarity on goals


by Andrew Pantazi
Chris Barbic, the superintendent of the Achievement School District, speaks to students, faculty and Hamilton County commissioners including Hamilton County Superintendent Rick Smith, background, concerning the state of Howard School of Academics and Technology as a school in the bottom 5 percent statewide Thursday evening.  Barbic outlined goals to help improve Howard's performance, stating he felt optimistic about Howard's future.
Chris Barbic, the superintendent of the Achievement School District, speaks to students, faculty and Hamilton County commissioners including Hamilton County Superintendent Rick Smith, background, concerning the state of Howard School of Academics and Technology as a school in the bottom 5 percent statewide Thursday evening. Barbic outlined goals to help improve Howard's performance, stating he felt optimistic about Howard's future.
Photo by Jenna Walker.

Howard School of Academics and Technology will not be shut down, turned into a charter school or taken over by the state. And if the school improves its test scores enough, it won’t get money either.

Chris Barbic, superintendent of Tennessee’s Achievement School District, announced that in the immediate future, Howard will remain much as it is.

“There’s no scenario where the school gets closed,” he said.

Barbic, who started his job in August, has been making his rounds at the five worst-performing schools in Tennessee. Thursday night was his first time addressing the parents and teachers at Howard.

He came to address rumors and clarify goals.

Barbic has submitted an application to allow schools to be waived from No Child Left Behind standards. The application also aims to target money to the lowest-performing schools.

Howard is the closest of all of those low-performing schools to improving enough to get off the list, he said.

Barbic said that improvement is a goal, but it’s not enough. He urged everyone to aim higher than just making it off the worst-performing schools list.

“I don’t think anyone will call that a victory, getting out of the bottom 5 percent,” he said.

If the school does get off the list of worst-performing schools, then Barbic said the school will not be eligible for extra state funding.

“It’s one of those things where if I was king, I’d change things,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense. When schools get better, we take resources away.”

Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Rick Smith also spoke to the group about improving Howard.

“I’ve been teaching an awful long time, and I think the solution is simpler than we make it out to be,” he said.

Smith pointed out the importance Howard plays in the local community. He said the biggest issues are keeping the best and brightest students from transferring to other schools and maintaining consistency from elementary school to high school.

Faye Ison, an administrative coach at the school, said that Hamilton County needs to focus on more equitable school funding, as opposed to equal funding. She said that because Howard faces more problems, the school needs more resources to deal with those problems.

“The only concern I have as an educator is that when progress is being made, the school no longer receives the funds to sustain improvement,” she said.

about Andrew Pantazi...

Andrew Pantazi is an intern at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who says that when he was 7 he knew what he wanted to do for the rest of his life: play hockey for the Colorado Avalanche. Unfortunately, he says he wasn't any good at hockey, so he became a journalist instead. He writes about the lives we hide, like the man who suffered a stroke but smiled, or the football walk-on who endured 5 ...

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