The Ida B. Wells Community Academy
1180 Slosson Street
Akron, Ohio 44320-2370
COUNTY: Summit IRN: 133553
Annual Report for 2003-2004
October 20, 2004
Mrs. Angela M. Neeley, MBA
Chief Administrative and Fiscal Officer
Dr. Edward W. Crosby, PhD
Founder and Program Management Advisor
Academic Strengths and Areas of Improvement
One of the most significant academic strengths is the decision to maintain an average class size of 15 students per teacher and to extend its academic year to 210 class days. It was our belief, and still is that given the nature of the students we are enrolling -- low and middle income youngsters, who are primarily African American and have previously had deficient learning experiences in Ohio's public elementary schools. Perforce we had to develop an educational structure that would deliver educational services designed specifically to meet the needs of these students. Taking into consideration that the United States has become a very complex post-industrial, technological society, the Academy's leadership also implemented an educational process that would work toward answering these challenges and changes in American society by striving to create an educationally sound response.
In spite of these obstacles, the Academy has met the educational goals addressed in its mission statement, remained true to its contractual obligations from 1999 to the present, successfully met the challenge of educating a student body comprised of an “at risk” population of low and middle income African American young people beset by several educational obstructions -- low expectations; special behavioral problems; a paucity of appropri-ate role models; and a social environment not conducive to high aspirations. Those enrollees not impacted by these negatives are nonetheless impacted by having to learn with those students who are deserving of a quality education but are not yet equipped to take advantage of the opportunity. By lengthening the academic year, we gained the learning time needed to attempt bringing these students up to grade level using the six-week summer to provide intervention services and instruction in other subjects not adequately learned. The success of these strategies will be demonstrated below.
Student Academic Performance
The Academy has during the past year met with considerable academic success; we are, however, absolutely dissatisfied with student performance in Mathematics. We were able to show a modicum of academic progress as demonstrated by the following statements extracted from the Academy’s 2003-2004 Report Card: “Met AYP in Reading,” “Met AYP in Attendance,” but filed to meet AYP in Mathematics (see Appendix II). Even though we met AYP in reading and attendance, we were, nevertheless, placed in “Academic Emergency” for deficiencies in other important performance areas. Acknowledging that we have not knocked down any performance doors, the Academy has been able to display progressive indices of academic success. On the March 2004 Third Grade Reading Achievement Test*, ODE posted the following preliminary Academy reading results in comparison with three other community schools in Akron (Summit County)
These numbers admittedly are not earth shaking; they do, nevertheless, demonstrate that the Academy is holding its own among other community schools in the county at least in the elementary grades. The bar graph above, on p. 9, and in Appendix III show how individual students in all grades – K to 6 – performed on the Achievement, OPT and Terra Nova tests administered in Fall 2003 and Spring 2004.
The performance data documented in these graphs and those presented in Appendix II give a relatively true picture of how our students have progressed academically. They do not, however, reflect the inconsistency experienced in the Academy’s student cohort. That is, our student population tends to change year to year. Therefore, we have had some difficulty tracking students longitudinally. Some of the reasons for this are (1) students' parents have moved not only to other parts of the city and / or to other cities within the state; (2) some parents have simply exercised their right to choose and have enrolled their children in other public or private schools; (3) students transfer into the Academy after having been retained multiple times elsewhere, and when they are threatened with being retained again, are withdrawn; (4) parents and students, particularly recent enrollees, have not bought the Academy’s year-round academic year and consequently refuse to attend during the summer and are asked to withdraw; and finally (5) parents of previously enrolled students attempt to re-register their children only after all available spaces have been filled.
The data presented on these graphs do, however, indicate that, although not dramatic, intellectual value has been added to a considerable number of our students.
It is the job of every teacher at the Academy to help the students we teach find the connection and make it relevant to their community, their neighborhood, and most importantly to themselves. There are many ways that we promote achievement for our students. The Title I - Reading and Math program is one such method successfully making a difference. The students who qualify for Title I services are fortunate to have three teachers (we have included here the time the Special Ed Teacher devotes to reading and math) with more than 25 years of teaching experience provide them with daily small group instruction. This service has been a real support and success factor for the students served. In addition, we have applied for and received a small amount of money ($2,000) to develop an Ohio Reads
Program. With the assignment of an additional Title I - Math and Reading instructor, we have been able to assure all of our students can read by the end of the third grade. Our Special Education program has been helpful in these same areas. Typically, the students who have IEPs will see the Special Education Specialist for small group instruction, one-on-one sessions, and for inclusive services in the regular classrooms.
Areas Of and For Improvement
The Board of Governors, as has been its custom, insisted to the administrative staff and faculty that it is essential they institute methodologies that strengthen the Academy's delivery of its stated mission. The first thing the Board stressed was the employment of a fully state certified teaching cadre -- competent, creative and innovative. The Academy was without question secure in this regard and, with the hiring of new faculty for its sixth year, the CAO is convinced we have amplified our ability to deliver quality instruction to our students in the future. Secondly, the CAO has admonished her faculty to establish rigid educational quality standards and therewith assure our students, their parents, the community and the Lucas County Educational Service Center that the Academy has a quality and academically rigorous educational program in place.
The Board's chairperson listed five areas she wanted the faculty and staff to respond positively to . . .
1. Appreciate the significance of the Academy’s motto “Building Young Scholars for Their Future”;
2. Maintain the Academy's operational imperatives: (a) rigorous quality standards based on ODE's compe-tency-based curricular standards;3. Holistically infuse into the curriculum African and African American history and culture;
4. Prepare themselves professionally to teach a student population they were not trained to teach. This was considered critical since most, if not all of our teachers were ill-prepared to teach African and African American culture and history; and
5. Become conscious of the Academy’s need to track and document student performance in several categories: academics, social environment, behavioral methodologies, and hygienics.
The Academy's administration posted on the Academy's Web site a comprehensive bibliography of books and articles related to African, African American and World studies. This bibliography also contains a lengthy listing of relevant links to online curricular resources to support the Academy's emphasis on infusing African and African American history and culture into the curriculum. As mentioned earlier on, some difficulty was experienced getting faculty to infuse African American history and culture into the curriculum. That problem is being gradually eliminated.
In addition to having the state requirements in place that allow the faculty to meet these academic objectives, the faculty have also been trained on how to deliver the Academy's curriculum to our diverse student population. They have participated in several workshops this year pertaining to African American history and cultural awareness topics. Mrs. Gail Dudley of Highly Recommended (Oberlin, Ohio) conducted cultural awareness interviews with faculty, staff and Board members to ascertain their perspectives on cultural and curricular diversity workshops. They have attended workshops sponsored by The University of Akron, Lighthouse Community School, and Summit County Children Services. With these activities we have continued to work to expand the knowledge base regarding the infusion of African American culture into the daily curriculum.
The Academy communicates information to its students, parents, staff, Governors and the community as a whole through a variety of methods.
The Academy's faculty and staff and individual members of the Board of Governors, are aware of and fully understand what their obligations are to their students, their students' parents, and to the Academy's stakeholders in general. To assure this awareness and understanding, the Board has resolved to reaffirm the Academy's adherence to its "Standards for Academic Governance and Leadership" as stipulated in ORC 3301-35-04 -- Student and Other Stakeholder Focus (see Appendix IV). The opening sentence in this document reads as follows:
"Leaders, i.e., Governors, Chief Administrative Officer, Faculty and Staff set and communicate direction throughout the
Academy . . . consistent with the Academy's Bylaws, the Academy's educational philosophy and mission, the needs
and expectations of all stakeholders, and local, state, and federal mandates to improve classroom instruction and higher
academic achievement for all students.'"
As indicated in the Academy's accountability plan, we center our attention on student assessment and related academic services. These include regular teacher driven testing regimes, in-house student achievement conferences, student portfolios, presentations, demonstrations, and the related provision of extra-classroom educational services to our students. Three outside service agencies used are Psychological Services Institute (PSI) (Speech, Hearing, Language and Psychological Therapy), MEO/SERRC (which provides the Academy with technical support, workshops, and presentations) and Neonet which provides electronic access to Ohio’s financial and EMIS data resources and other computer-based services. We are currently served by the American Red Cross and the Portage County Educational Service Center with which we have contracted to provide the Academy with general special education, personnel acquisition, and other academic support services.
Each Fall, continuing students are required to re-register. New students have file folders made for their medical records, emergency contact phone numbers, IEP records, attendance records, free or reduced price meal applications, etc. During the first week of classes, we administer the Terra Nova and other diagnostic achievement tools to assess the current level of performance for students in grades K - 6. These instruments provide baseline indications of where each student is academically so that, in combination with other information provided by his or her medical or school records, a determination of the best educational course of action can be planned. For example, it is determined whether students should be referred to the Title I reading and math instructors or to the Special Education Specialist. The Terra Nova is administered again in the Spring or earlier to determine if there has been any measurable improvement over the course of time or if the learning path needs to be revised upward or downward. The Title I instructors are examining a number of other instruments to use in their assessment regime.
All teachers at the Academy keep portfolios for each child. The portfolios include a wide variety of items intended to provide a detailed account of the child's academic progress. Various items are placed in the portfolios: tests, stories, assignments, reports, art work, audio and / or video tapes, report cards, midterm progress reports, and other documentation. Teachers also have students make graded presentations during Kwanzaa, Black History Month, or during the Malcolm X Memorial or on Ida B. Wells' Birthday or participate in essay contests held during Black History Month and the June 'Teenth Celebration. Each month individual students are highlighted as "Student of the Month" in the corridor. Teachers include a short summary of the child's current goals and objectives and areas needing improvement. At the close of each of the five 8-week grading periods, a public academic awards ceremony is held. The instructional system in place is helping us achieve the goals we outlined in our mission, namely, having our students show competence in the five learning proficiency areas -- Reading, Writing, Mathematics, Citizenship (Social Studies), and Science. Currently faculty are preparing themselves to administer the new diagnostic achievement test regime mandated by the Federal NCLB Act and the Ohio Department of Education.
Maintaining Quality in Teaching and Administrative Cadres
The quality of teaching is evaluated by the Academy's CAO and her designee on a regular basis (see Appendix V). Teachers are observed three times per year formally, and informally weekly. All new hires -- administrative support staff and teachers -- must serve a 90-day probationary period, after which they are evaluated using a standard Academy devised evaluation form to determine whether they should be retained in their current positions or transferred to another position or terminated. This form is completed by the CAP and is then gone over with the teacher. The teacher is allowed to make comments or provide feedback on said form, sign and return it to the CAO. This form is then filed in the teacher's personnel file. Secondly, a more formal observation is then planned, where the CAO can observe a lesson being taught, and provide feedback to the teacher on components of the lesson. Teacher and CAO meet again after the lesson has been observed to go over the findings, and make some suggestions for teaching improvement. The teacher is again provided with a copy of this for his / her records, and the original goes in the teacher's personnel file. At the end of this probation evaluation, the CAO reports the results of the evaluation and a retention recommendation to the Chair of the Board’s Personnel and Benefits Committee. A letter is then sent to the faculty or staff member notifying him or her of the results of the evaluation (see Appendix VI for a copy of the Academy's “Teaching Methods and Classroom Management Evaluation Report”). If the recommendation is for termination, the Personnel Committee chair forwards it with his own pro or con recommendation for the Board’s advice and consent.
Teachers are also required to develop an in-house, ad hoc individual professional development plan (IPDP). This plan is supposed to correlate with the Academy's Mission Statement and the personal goals and objectives of the teacher. It is reviewed by the CAO and then submitted to the LCESC that has the primary control of the Academy’s professional development process. These professional development goals should include specific areas that the teacher would like to improve, e.g., classroom management or, they may be related to a specific content area, say, African American history. The chairperson of the internal ad hoc LPDC then uses the plan to help the teacher find and participate in related workshops or seminars or university course(s). The Academy's Teaching Methods and Classroom Management Evaluation Report and its"Faculty and Staff Employment and Performance Expectations Manual" (see Appendix VII). Not only is the quality of teaching evaluated on a regular basis, so, too, is the CAO's overall performance.
As observed above, the Academy will relinquish of its professional development autonomy to the LCESC. The Academy will, however, continue to evaluate its faculty and staff and monitor how its faculty and staff professionally develop their ability to deliver cultural diversity, particularly African and African American history and culture in its classrooms. The Academy will also continue to evaluate how its faculty develops its skills to deliver its competency-based curriculum to its student stakeholders. Moreover, the Academy will continue to have its faculty research those pedagogical issues that specifically attend educating and directly relate to disciplining African American youth.
The Board of Governors evaluates the Chief Administrative Officer annually through its Personnel and Benefits Committee Chair who reports to the Board his recommendations and receives their advice and consent. Furthermore, the Board's By Laws stipulate that its Chair and Vice Chair as well as the chairs of its Standing Committees must each stand for reelection when their terms expire. They may decline to be reconsidered and / or new candidates can be proposed to stand for election. On the Academy’s Website at http://members.tripod.com/~HieroGraphics/IdaBWells-Barnett/IBWCA--BylawsandGovernanceHandbook-2.htm, we have posted the Board’s Bylaws can be read.
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Ida B. Wells Community
1180 Slosson Street
Akron, Ohio 44320-2730
Phone: 330.867.1085 FAX: 330.867.1074
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