Specialist named to state school panel

Tonya Ford, curriculum and Title I specialist for the Kingman Unified School District, will serve with a state Department of Education committee about school accountability.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jaime Molera recently named her to the Committee of Practitioners.

It is an advisory committee comprised of district administrators, federal program directors and teachers that presently is addressing the federal No Child Left Behind law passed last year.

Ford received a letter of her appointment to the committee on Aug.

8.

She said the committee has 28 members but can expand to as many as 48.

"I've been appointed to a three-year term," Ford said.

"One-third of the committee members leave every year and new people come in.

"A federal law in 1988 led to the development of the Committee of Practitioners.

It addresses different education issues, and our focus now is No Child Left Behind."

Ford attended her first committee meeting Aug.

23 in Phoenix and learned what her role will be.

She is on a six-member subcommittee concerned with implementation of the No Child Left Behind law in districts.

"Part of (Ford's) work will be focusing on Arizona LEARNS (Leading Education through the Accountability and Results Notification System) because that's the state counterpart to No Child Left Behind," said Tara Teichgraeber, press secretary for the state Department of Education.

"The committee of practitioners also is concerned with labeling of schools in one of four categories – under performing, improving, maintaining and excelling.

Like No Child Left Behind, a school that is under performing for two straight years is labeled as failing."

Ford said other subcommittees will deal with assessment and accountability, recognizing successes, and school improvement programs.

Her subcommittee has set four goals to reach during the present school year, Ford said.

They include: ensuring highly qualified teachers and paraprofessionals are in all classrooms as state law now requires all assistants have at least an associate of arts degree; working on a form letter to send to parents on the qualifications of teachers; and addressing implications for English language learners, who must meet proficiency standards on Arizona's Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS) tests.

Ford said her subcommittee would tackle one goal at a time.

Recommendations are to be made to the state Department of Education by the end of fiscal 2002-2003 so the department can write new rules and regulations and get them out to districts before the 2003-2004 school year begins.

The next committee meeting is scheduled for Sept.

20.

In July, Ford served for one week on a standards articulation committee for the state.

"No Child Left Behind says you must test every child at every level each year," Ford said.

"But AIMS presently only tests grades 3, 5, 8 and high school.

"We broke down the standards by grade so the state can write its own AIMS test for all levels.

That will take effect in 2006 when a science test also will be added."

Ford said she is impressed with how quickly the state Department of Education has moved on implementation of No Child Left Behind.

"Being on the Committee of Practitioners means we're going to get the word first so we can attack any possible problems and be on board quickly following implementation," she said.