What Are Charter Schools? Choices in Education

Choices in EducationParents want the best of everything for his or her kids, but when it comes to education, sometimes it is hard to know how to make that happen. Private school? Public school? Charter school? What is the difference and which can provide the most effective chance for our individual children, as well as for the strength of our economy and our country.Public SchoolThough it appears a given that a sturdy public education system is part of the American way, it wasn’t until 1918 that all American kids were required to attend at least elementary school.

They’re public schools that operate under the same testing requirements, are funded publicly, and have open and equal, tuition-free enrollment, just like a neighborhood public school

Prior to that, and despite the fact that Thomas Jefferson had argued that the newly independent nation required an academic system, suggesting that tax dollars be used to fund it, the thought for a public school system wasn’t realized for nearly a century.As public schooling, and of course taxation for education, proliferated, obvious questions arose. What IS the government’s role in educating the populace? Who is to receive the education funded by the public? How is quality to be measured and ensured?Private SchoolEven in its early stages, public schooling was only available to those that could afford it. A sort of hybrid of public and private, schools were open solely to landowners who could pay for their kids to attend. Considered public faculties because they were government run, not religious establishments, they still excluded those that were too poor.Private school applies to anything from a personal instructor employed to teach youngsters in their house, to a variety of institutions with their own curriculums. The common thread is that parents opt for the school, pay tuition, and abide by its rules and regulations. Often those rules include school uniforms and compliance to other codes of conduct. Students may be expelled for violations.

Grant promised that “Encourage free schools and resolve that not one dollar of the cash appropriated to their support shall be appropriated to the support of any sectarian school; that neither the state or nation, not both combined, shall support institutions of learning other than those sufficient to afford to each child within the land the chance of a good common-school education, unmixed with sectarian, pagan, or atheistic dogma

Since problems of social inequality arise with Private schools and education of only the rich, a solution of vouchers, paid by the government to assist poorer families to pay private tuition, has been offered. Some may find it surprising that some of the concepts debated today have extremely early foundations. School choice, or the concept of vouchers to assist in obtaining private school attendance, was introduced as early as 1778, by Adam Smith, who proposed that the government give parents money to get teachers for their kids, as a result of parents are in the most effective position to judge their own children’s needs. In 1798, Thomas Paine agreed with Smith, advocating money for poor families to educate their kids. These founders might not have known it, but they were the genesis of the voucher movement.But, there are a number of objections to the voucher program.

What once was few and far between, can now be an overwhelming choice

The primary complaint is the very fact that several private schools are also religious establishments, and by an interpretation of the separation of church and state, government vouchers to attend those religious schools would be tantamount to the government funding that faith. As early as 1875, President Ulysses S. Grant promised that “Encourage free schools and resolve that not one dollar of the cash appropriated to their support shall be appropriated to the support of any sectarian school; that neither the state or nation, not both combined, shall support institutions of learning other than those sufficient to afford to each child within the land the chance of a good common-school education, unmixed with sectarian, pagan, or atheistic dogma.” In 1970 1971, respectively, vouchers were both approved and ruled by the Supreme Court to be unconstitutional if used for religious schools. Several states currently have voucher programs, whereas as early as 2000, voters in California and Michigan rejected voucher initiatives at the polls. Mired in controversy, vouchers are clearly not THE answer parents are trying for.Charter SchoolWhile several individuals think that Charters are Private schools, they are, after all Public Schools. Throughout the 70’s, innovative district schools were founded in Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Minneapolis and St. Paul. These faculties rejected the notion that “one size fits all” and sought to form distinctive schools that give choices to parents and students. In the Nineteen Eighties, Minnesota allowed public funds and looser administrative requirements for brand new schools, laying groundwork for the first official Charter School legislation in 1991.”Charter Schools are distinct legal entities. They’re public schools that are financed by public funds but are governed by their own specific charter and not by the regular public school rules. State Legislatures enact charter school enabling legislation and determine the framework for charter approval. New schools may be created or converted from existing public schools under the direction of educators, parents, community members or private concerns.”Charter schools are, thus, not an indictment on public schools, but really a natural outgrowth of the public school system. It’s not a question of charter school vs. public school – they are two sides of the same coin. Charter schools supply parents options and choice among the framework of the system. They’re public schools that operate under the same testing requirements, are funded publicly, and have open and equal, tuition-free enrollment, just like a neighborhood public school.The distinction is that every charter school has its own mission, or “charter” within the community it serves. This charter, approved by the government, is custom fit to fulfill the requirements of a specific student population or offer a unique academic philosophy, approach, or curriculum not obtainable elsewhere. So, for a child who is not succeeding in the classroom because she or he has an unconventional learning style, there is likely a charter school option. Or alternately, a child that is succeeding, but is not being challenged enough might find a charter school better suits her needs. These are some of the charter school benefits – choice, customization, parent involvement, smaller class sizes, innovation, accountability based on performance and market forces. Many parents who might have had a bad experience with an educator at a public school openly embrace the charter school’s ability to hire and fire without Union ramifications and District regulations, but based on performance alone. However, the flip side of that coin ends up in insecurity for teachers, potential for favoritism, and with loose administrative requirements to encourage innovation, it can sometimes mean lack of educational background informing decision making. Other criticisms include waiting lists that limit the claim of “choice” to attend, the push towards innovation leads instead to creation of laboratories for curriculum that risks kids in its testing, and lack of oversight for quality – relying instead on market forces to determine quality, i.e. ‘if the school is not great, they won’t be able to maintain attendance.’ Finally, the diversion of public funds from public schools has many teachers unions angry as the charter movement gains momentum. The funds determined for a child move with that child to their charter. If, however, the child decides part way through the year, to return to public school, the funds do not travel back. The public school must carry the burden of the student.

Charter School InformationMany communities invested in the well-being of its children, has, not-surprisingly, latched on enthusiastically to the charter movement. Schools appear to be springing up on every corner sometimes. What once was few and far between, can now be an overwhelming choice. How do parents even begin to search out information? Especially when there is no centralized source for information. That is what Charter School Authority hopes to offer – ONE place to get your charter school [http://www.charterschoolauthority.com] questions answered. For parents, they provide Utah charter school names, locations, easy access to school websites, and answers to commonly asked charter school definitions and queries.For charter schools and educators, they supply charter school job listings, current information and news, and a great place for the general public to find out about your school.Everyone curious about charter schools will find something of interest in the Charter School Authority blog, which will offer updated information about and of interest to the charter school community.Charter School Authority’s purpose is to partner with parents and educators by providing a comprehensive informational site to help negotiate your educational optionsGet all of your charter school questions answered at [http://www.charterschoolauthority.com]

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Protecting Our Schools on a Budget: Are SRO’s the Only Answer?

If you are the Chief, a patrolman, detective, a school resource officer, or a parent there is a good chance you have found yourself in conversations with friends, colleagues, or citizens about school violence in the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary. Whether these conversations take place in the squad room, a City Council meeting, or over dinner, it becomes obvious that there is no clear answer to the prevention of school violence. The depravity of the Sandy Hook shooting has shed a very public spot light on the dark reality of how vulnerable our youngest citizens can be at school.School violence is unfortunately part of our American history dating back to the 18th Century.

Unfortunately, as time has marched on, school shootings in the United States have only increased

The Pontiac’s Rebellion school massacre of 1764 was regrettably our first introduction to this type of violence. On July 26th, 1764, four American Indian attackers shot and killed over eight school children along with their schoolmaster outside of what is now Greencastle, Pennsylvania. As our history progressed, school shootings did as well. Many believe the increased incidents of school shootings are a product of modern times. However, it has been deemed newsworthy as early as 1874.After a Los Angeles high school student was shot and killed, the September 11th, 1874 edition of the Los Angeles Herald declared “This boy lost his life through the too common habit among boys of carrying deadly weapons. We do not know that this habit can be broken up. We do not know that school teachers have the right, or would exercise it if they had, of searching the pockets of their pupils, but it seems almost a necessity that some such rule be enforced.

Acting as counselors and role models for youth is certainly important, however the elementary school SRO would find themselves very far removed from actual police work, and in the context of school safety, acting as little more than highly trained deterrents of external criminal activity

.. Nearly every school-boy carries a pistol, and the power of these pistols range from the harmless six-bit auction concern to the deadly Colt’s six-shooter.”Colorado has the unfortunate distinction of being home to two of the worst school shootings in history. Columbine (1999) and Platte Canyon (2006) have not only changed the landscape of how law enforcement responds to such incidents, but they have been permanently imprinted into the national consciousness of school violence. With the infamy of these incidents, it is easy to forget that Colorado school shootings can be traced back almost 4 decades prior.

The ‘good idea fairy’ has unfortunately been making the rounds

On October 17th, 1961, a Morey Junior High student in Denver was shot and killed by a fellow student. Unfortunately, as time has marched on, school shootings in the United States have only increased. Any one even casually paying attention already knows that it’s not a matter of if it will happen, but when. For those of us in law enforcement, we must honestly ask ourselves not if it will happen, but will it happen on our watch in our jurisdiction.As the tragedy of Sandy Hook was broadcast into the nations’ family rooms on December 14th, 2012, there has been a renewed outcry for increased protection of our school children to shield them from such evil. Before the crime scene was even cleared, the politicians and special interest groups were climbing over each other grabbing headlines to assign blame and offer irrational ‘solutions’ that fit their political views above that of our own children’s safety. On one side of the political aisle are politicians who would have the public believe gun bans, whistles, and call boxes are the only solutions. Politicians on the other side of the aisle want the public to believe armed teachers are the best answer. Members of academia have advocated scraping the Constitution and have told their students to vomit or urinate on potential attackers. Not to be outdone by the stories they cover, even journalists were jumping into the political absurdity by defending ‘Gun Free Zones’ and advocating for the development of bunker-like environments for schools while publicizing businesses who are pushing Kevlar backpacks to alleviate parents’ fears. The ‘good idea fairy’ has unfortunately been making the rounds.As local and national politicians continue to play the blame game and fail to offer relevant, common sense approaches, communities are naturally turning to their local Police Departments and Sheriffs Offices for reassurance that their children are protected in their schools. On the national level and the local level, the only proposal that seems to have a wide base of support from all political sides is having an increased police presence in our schools.A December 18th, 2012 (post Sandy Hook) national Gallop poll showed a whopping 87 percent of adults feel ‘Increasing the police presence at schools’ would be either a “very effective” or “somewhat effective” approach to “preventing mass shootings”. A closer examination of the poll results indicated the consensus crosses political affiliation showing 55 percent of Republicans, 52 percent of Democrats, and 53 percent of Independents feel “Increasing the police presence in schools” would be “very effective” in “preventing mass shootings”. Other proposed solutions included the banning of assault and semi-automatic firearms, arming teachers, and increased government spending on mental health yet none of these enjoyed a consensus and each showed considerable political bias towards one party or another.The concept of Police Officers in our schools is not a new one. The National School Resource Officer Association credits Flint, Michigan with the first deployment of a School Resource Officer in 1959. Over the years, the popularity and successes of the SRO program have grown and made it widely accepted among the general public as well as the Law Enforcement community. A 2006 study by Hickman and Reeves published in Western Criminology Review showed nationally “SRO programs were operational in an estimated 43 percent of local police departments and 47 percent of sheriff’s departments.” Given the current political scrum over various ‘answers’ to school shootings, the SRO program has been under a microscope and has still managed to be widely adopted and come out of the debate relatively clean from partisan politics.The public has clearly decided that they overwhelming favor an increased police presence in our schools; however, does that necessarily mean that the expansion of SROs into every school is the best solution for school safety? Law Enforcement agencies know that it is not as easy as waving a magic wand to create not only hundreds of new SROs to be placed in every school, but the millions of dollars of funding it will take to hire, train, equip and retain these SROs. Politicians on both the local and federal level like to talk about additional funding for these programs, but there is little hope, with or without additional grant dollars, of increasing the SRO ranks without considering the massive amount of money that would be needed to fund such an expansion.Presently there are no bills in front of the Colorado Legislature requesting funding specifically for SROs despite public support from numerous legislators. Colorado State Senator Steven King (R-Grand Junction) recently submitted the “School Resource Officer Programs in Public Schools” bill, SB13-138. A close examination of the bill reveals that it does not request any funding for anything. Rather than adding School Resource Officers to our schools, it only adds an SRO to the School Safety Resource Center’s Advisory Board and requires them to hire a full-time grant writer to help school districts apply for grants to be used for unspecified school safety uses.If a legislator wanted to author a bill that would fund a SRO in every Colorado school, what would it look like? The most recent data from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment listed the average Colorado Police Officer salary at $59,791. According to the Colorado Department of Education there are 1,780 public schools, which if an SRO was placed in each of them, would cost a staggering annual total of $106,427,980. This astronomical amount does not include the $23,796,818 it would cost to provide the same protection to the 398 Colorado private schools would also benefit from an increased police presence. While placing an SRO in every school would significantly address the public’s plea of escalated police presence in educational institutions it is clearly not economically feasible.Even if the money were available to fund such a project, it is still unlikely that an effective expansion of SROs would be possible. The SRO position is a unique and specialized assignment requiring a unique and special individual to fill it competently. Not every Police Officer can or even wants to be a SRO just as not every Police Officer can or wants to join K9 Units, SWAT Units, Motor Divisions or any other highly specialized unit. Even if an expansion of SROs to every school in Colorado were completely funded, there simply are not enough officers with the special skills that an SRO assignment would require.During a January 13th, 2013 Wyoming Tribune Eagle interview when asked about expanding the Cheyenne Police Departments SRO program to elementary schools, former Avon (CO) Police Chief Brian Kozak (Currently Cheyenne, WY Police Chief) correctly noted “An added complication is that there wouldn’t be much traditional police work that an officer could do in an elementary school”. Even if criminal activity occurred amongst the students, beyond an armed response, there is little an SRO can do that a school administrator could not given the fact Colorado Revised Statute 18-1-801-Insufficient Age clearly states “No child under ten years of age shall be found guilty of any offense.” While an assigned SRO would still be able to quickly respond to violence, their daily police oriented work load would be minimal. “I believe that it is just as important to assign SROs to elementary schools, however their role would be vastly different than those in middle and high schools. The elementary school SRO would be more of an informal counselor and teacher. Of course they would take reports of child neglect and abuse and other crimes where children are the victims” says Sergeant Damon Vaz of the Aurora Police Department, who supervises their SRO Program. Acting as counselors and role models for youth is certainly important, however the elementary school SRO would find themselves very far removed from actual police work, and in the context of school safety, acting as little more than highly trained deterrents of external criminal activity. This begs the question, is this the best way to spend our limited resources? Likely, the answer is no.If law enforcement agencies have decided to answer the public demand for increased police presence in the schools, but we have determined that the wisdom and funding needed to put an SRO in every school is unsustainable, what are we to do? How can we increase the time an officer spends on a school campus without affecting the budget or taking regular officers away from their regular duties during school visits?
Enter the substation. Thousands of agencies nationwide already employ substations. Despite their widespread use, the function of a substation varies widely from agency to agency. Some larger substations include detention cells, intox machines, interview rooms, and AFIS terminals. Others are slightly larger than a broom closet with a few computers to write reports. The locations of substations are as varied as their functions being placed anywhere from shopping malls to convenience stores.Line level officers across the nation spend a considerable part of their day writing reports and filling out paperwork. Currently this takes place at either the police station, a substation, or in their patrol vehicles. From my experience working with numerous law enforcement agencies in Colorado, at least 30% to 40% of an Officer’s shift is spent completing reports, warrants, warrantless affidavits, citations, accident diagrams and returning phone calls and emails. Often times after a high call load day, an Officer may spend his/her entire shift completing paperwork.That time could be better much better spent if it was completed at a substation on school grounds. A limited focus substation placed on school campuses that do not already have a dedicated SRO would maximize police presence in schools with little to no additional budget consequences. The amount of time Officers would be spending at the school substation would be the same amount of time they would already spend at a non-school substation, the Police Department, or parked in a quiet parking lot. That time would have the additional effect of placing a visible deterrent with parked police vehicles outside the school and it would drastically improve the chances that a Police Officer is on campus if an attack where to take place.The school substation would have a limited but useful focus on paperwork and the clerical duties of police officers rather than suspect processing or equipment storage historically used in more traditional substations. This focus would keep potential costs low, as they would only require a small amount of space and a few computers, and it would reassure school districts that the police are not introducing criminal suspects or dangerous items to the school environment.School districts are no less immune to limited budgets than Law Enforcement agencies. With many Colorado school districts already financially strapped, asking them to help fund a vast expansion of the SRO program to every school would likely be given the cold shoulder. However, a law enforcement agency willing to provide hours of officer presence for only the cost of a desk or two in the school office would undoubtedly get a much warmer response.Budget sensitive law enforcement agencies will find that the school substations’ need for only limited equipment ensures low costs. The already low costs may be further reduced by relocating existing substations currently requiring commercial rent payments. Many departments could find additional savings by utilizing existing MDT’s for report writing thereby only needing a quiet place for the officer to sit down. I am confident the addition of a good coffee maker could entice officers to utilize these areas but in my experience officers need little motivation to make good use of a properly equipped substation. Over my law enforcement career it was clear the rank and file viewed substations as a sanctuary from excessive supervision endured at headquarters and preferred to complete their paperwork at the substation if given the opportunity.The public mandate to prevent future Sandy Hook, Columbine, and Platte Canyon tragedies is loud and clear. Law enforcement agencies also have to meet the limited budgets provided by their county commissioners and city councils. Every agency, every school district, and every community has different needs, circumstances and fiscal environments. The school substation is not the magic wand solution for every agency and should not be used as a replacement for qualified School Resource Officers if funding is available. It should, however, be explored further as a viable option in light of current financial realities and the unlikelihood of them changing in the foreseeable future. School substations not only have little to no budgetary expenditures, but they squarely address what the public, with bipartisan support, has overwhelmingly expressed would be the most effective preventative measure. Before the ‘good idea fairy’ makes a visit to your agency, please consider the idea of school substations in your jurisdiction.

About the author: Ryan Millbern is an 11 year veteran of law enforcement and public safety serving as a Patrol Officer, Detective, Sergeant, and K9 Officer with the Vail Police Department. Since 2011 Ryan has been an Explosives Detection K9 Handler on the United States Department of State Embassy Security Force in Baghdad, Iraq. More about the author can be found at http://www.ryanmillbern.com.http://www.RyanMillbern.com

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The Jury Is Out On Independent Public Schools… You Be The Judge!

Recently, our new Liberal Government’s Minister for Education, Christopher Pyne MP, planned to introduce a new modus operandi in our education system, namely public schools being phased out in favour of ‘independent’ public schools. According to the Coalition’s “Policy for Schools” dated August 2013, Christopher Pyne stated, “A programme to implement independent public schools will lead to higher productivity and better quality education outcomes for students.” This may sound good in theory, but many questions need to be asked regarding the details of this proposed new system, and just as importantly, the concerns of private citizens and anxious parents, need to be addressed.We have not been fully or accurately briefed as to the details of how our proposed independent public school will work, for example, giving greater autonomy to Principals to determine how school funding is spent as well as giving Principals greater power to hire and fire staff, may well be positive measures.

Personal biases and prejudices would most certainly arise in such circumstances

As long as all schools have to adhere to the Australian Curriculum such change in the modus operandi of schools may well be beneficial. Alternatively, however, if independent schools in Australia are required to mimic those Charter Schools in America, we should all have grave concerns.Many people are under the impression that ‘independent’ really means ‘private’. This is not true, although these schools will be governed by methods which very closely mirror private schools. Theoretically, advantages do appear to be part and parcel of this educational system. These schools would have greater autonomy and a development programme would be put into place by Principals. The main focus of this programme would entail an in-school “preparation plan” concentrating on an individual school’s circumstances.

As long as all schools have to adhere to the Australian Curriculum such change in the modus operandi of schools may well be beneficial

Some independent public schools would join clusters, which may translate into shared resources and perhaps brainstorming of ideas that could be implemented across the cluster. School Curriculums would be decided on the premise of what would work in the best interest of the children. These independent schools would still remain an integral part of the public school system; nevertheless, the school’s curriculum would be determined by the Principal and parents involved with the running of the school. Personal biases and prejudices would most certainly arise in such circumstances.Already Western Australia accommodates this type of schooling. It was first introduced in 2009, and to date there are two hundred and fifty-five independent public schools.

Surely we owe it to the school children of today, and future leaders of tomorrow, to make sure that we get it right and not rush into this new form of education, when comparisons with other countries with similar educational institutions, have been proven to be less than effective? Australia’s students deserve the best start in education they can possibly have, and our government must ensure that equality is within each and every student’s grasp, not beyond their reach, and not just benefiting a select group of students

Supposedly, the advantages to this system were to promote greater control, improved operational efficiency and reduction in bureaucracy. A core difference between traditional public schools and independent public schools is the fact that Principals are appointed centrally by the Education Department in public schools, whereas School Boards play a pivotal role in the decision making appointments of Principals, in independent public schools. The makeup of School Boards represents interested parents, members of the community, as well as business representatives. The direction that the school would be heading towards would be primarily decided by this group of people known as the ‘School Board’.This is where the dilemma lies. Is too much power being handed to the School Board, which would wield extraordinary influence and power over the Principal, members of staff and students? This form of education is a reflection of the Charter Schools in America. The Centre for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University, declared that on a national level, performance by students at Charter Schools were substantially worse than that of traditional public schools in the subjects of mathematics and reading. ‘Proceed with caution’ should be the adage if the Coalition government is determined to borrow other countries policies. As yet, there is no solid evidence to suggest that they would improve student outcomes.Disadvantages of this form of education are many. Strict admission requirements may deter certain children from being accepted into this school. Facilities and resources may be less than optimal in some schools compared with others. More importantly, it may not be compulsory to follow some government regulations pertaining to curriculum etc. Teaching standards and perhaps teacher certification may be jeopardised in these scenarios, especially schools unable to attract sufficient funding.To help make the transition to independent public schools, the government would provide grants. Already in the schools operating under this system in Western Australia, the Education Department is not responsible for choosing staff, the schools have that power. Finances are governed by the schools and changes to the Curriculum can be made “in school”. For example, a Principal and interested parents may prefer Creationism to be taught in lieu of say, Science. This change in Curriculum may proceed if the majority voted for it. Such a change may well have significant impact on the development of critical and analytical skills normally an adjunct to the teaching of Science. The same could apply if the topic of global warming is debunked in favour of the climate change sceptics’ views regarding our planet’s future. Such is the ambiguity of changing school Curriculums when members of the public are involved.It is estimated that almost a third of Western Australia’s eight hundred and twenty-nine public schools will become independent by the end of 2013. Eventually all public schools state-wide will become independent. On the agenda as well is the establishment of a ministerial advisory board. Schools will be given more autonomy over school budgets and staff requirements, as well as the power to waive compulsory fees, as they remain publicly funded. Of course the School Board will hold enormous influence in the overall operation of these schools.Underpinning the concept of this type of education is the threat of a two-tiered government system. This system could be deeply flawed as Principals are normally appointed for their educational skills, not their administrative business expertise. As already mentioned previously, concerns have been raised about the correlation between independent public schools and the Charter Schools in the United States, given that the United States performed poorly on rankings carried out by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.In contrast, Finland has proven to be the world benchmark in educational excellence. They have neither Charter Schools, Independent Schools, private schools nor selective segregated schools, preferring to opt for a complete public school structure. Equitable educational outcomes are commonplace in this country. Our government’s determination to establish independent public schools Australia wide, would promote a two-tiered system which would potentially widen the gap between schools in the distribution of resources and the like.All educational policies should demonstrate improved outcomes for all students, not just a select group. Research on independent schools approach has been performed in other countries, and it has been demonstrated that it does not improve educational outcomes, and in fact it could well exacerbate inequality. The risk of Principals becoming business managers is very real, as raising money for the schools through sponsorship and parents would be high on the Principal’s job list. This correlates to the government handing over more responsibilities to schools, for schools to be run more as a business rather than an educational institution, ultimately with it being a cost saving measure for the government. Is this the path which we want our educational system to go down? Creating a greater divide of ‘the haves’ and ‘the have nots’ is not the answer. More competitiveness would also result when schools are pitted against other schools, in an effort to attract students and by implication Government funding. This could very well happen if all public schools within Australia become ‘independent’, under an Abbott led Coalition government.I am reminded of Nelson Mandela’s famous quote… “Education is the most powerful weapon, which you can use to change the world”. Surely we owe it to the school children of today, and future leaders of tomorrow, to make sure that we get it right and not rush into this new form of education, when comparisons with other countries with similar educational institutions, have been proven to be less than effective? Australia’s students deserve the best start in education they can possibly have, and our government must ensure that equality is within each and every student’s grasp, not beyond their reach, and not just benefiting a select group of students. They deserve to not be let down by the system and eventually succumb to a second rate education.

rootmaster

Promoting Literacy in School Libraries in Sierra Leone

INTRODUCTIONThe heart of information literacy is contained within definitions used to describe it. Traditionally librarians have given ‘library induction’ or ‘library skills training’ in a limited role. Library users need to know where the catalogue is, what the services are, and most importantly where the enquiry desk is.

London: Library Association Publishing

This is not to reduce the value of traditional library induction, but libraries and information are also changing. The provision of information through a library in a traditional form has gone through radical alterations. Already in most library and information organisations staffs are adjusting their services with the provision of new media and access to information provision within these organisations. Thus librarians are talking about social inclusion, opportunity, life-long learning, information society and self development.A plethora of definitions for information literacy abound in books, journal papers and the web. Some of these definitions centre on the activities of information literacy i.e. identifying the skills needed for successful literate functioning. Other definitions are based on the perspective of an information literate person i.e.

(1996)

trying to outline the concept of information literacy. Deriving therefore a single definition is a complex process of collecting together a set of ideas as to what might be, should be, or may be considered a part of information literacy. For example Weber and Johnson (2002) defined information literacy as the adoption of appropriate information behaviour to obtain, through whatever channel or medium, information well fitted to information needs, together with critical awareness of the importance of wise and ethical use of information in society. The American Library Association (2003) defined information literacy as a set of skills needed to find, retrieve, analyze, and use information. While CLIP (2004) defined information literacy as knowing when and why one needs information, where to find it, and how to evaluate, use and communicate it in an ethical manner.

The official age for primary school pupils is between six and eleven years

Succinctly these definitions imply that information literacy requires not only knowledge but also skills in:• recognising when information is needed;
• resources available
• locating information;
• evaluating information;
• using information;
• ethics and responsibility of use of information;
• how to communicate or share information;
• how to manage informationGiven therefore the variety of definitions and implied explanation information literacy is a cluster of abilities that an individual can employ to cope with, and to take advantage of the unprecedented amount of information which surrounds us in our daily life and work.STRUCTURE OF THE EDUCATION SYSTEMSierra Leone’s current educational system is composed of six years of formal primary education, three years of Junior Secondary School (JSS), three years Senior Secondary School (SSS) and four years of tertiary education-6-3-3-4. (The Professor Gbamanja Commission’s Report of 2010 recommended an additional year for SSS to become 6-3-4-4). The official age for primary school pupils is between six and eleven years. All pupils at the end of class six are required to take and pass the National Primary School Examinations designed by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) to enable them proceed to the secondary school divided into Junior Secondary School(JSS) and Senior Secondary School (SSS). Each part has a final examination: the Basic Education Certificate Examinations (BECE) for the JSS, and the West African Senior Secondary School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE) for SSS, both conducted by WAEC. Successful candidates of WASSCE are admitted to tertiary institutions based on a number of subjects passed (GoSL,1995)The curriculum of primary schools emphasizes communication competence and the ability to understand and manipulate numbers. At the JSS level, the curriculum is general and comprehensive, encompassing the whole range of knowledge, attitudes and skills in cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains. The core subjects of English, Mathematics, Science and Social studies are compulsory for all pupils. At the SSS level, the curriculum is determined by its nature (general or specialist), or its particular objectives. Pupils are offered a set of core (compulsory) subjects with optional subjects based on their specialization. Teaching is guided by the teaching syllabuses and influenced by the external examinations that pupils are required to take at the 3/ 4-year course. English is the language of instruction (GoSL,1995).The countries two universities, three polytechnics, and two teacher training colleges are responsible for the training of teachers in Sierra Leone. The Universities Act of 2004 provides for private universities so that these institutions too could help in the training of teachers. Programs range from the Teacher Certificate offered by the teacher training colleges to the Masters in Education offered by universities. Pre-service certification of teachers is the responsibility of the National Council for Technical, Vocational and Other Academic Awards (NCTVA). There is also an In-service Teacher Training program (Distance Education Program) conducted for teachers in part to reduce the number of untrained and unqualified teachers especially in the rural areas.LITERACY IN SIERRA LEONEIn Sierra Leone as it is in most parts of the developing world literacy involves one’s ability to read, write and numeracy. It is the ability to function effectively in life contexts. A literate person is associated with the possession of skills and knowledge and how these could be applied within his local environment. For instance a literate person is believed to be able to apply chemical fertilizer to his crops, fill in a loans form, determine proper dosage of medicine, calculate cash cropping cost and profits, glean information from a newspaper, make out a bank deposit slip and understanding instructions and basic human rights.Literacy is at the heart of the country’s development goals and human rights (World Bank, 2007). Wherever practised literacy activities are part of national and international strategies for improved education, human development and well-being. According to the 2013 United Nations Human Development Index Sierra Leone has a literacy rate of 34 %.Implicitly Sierra Leone is an oral society. And oral societies rely heavily on memory to transmit their values, laws, history, music, and culture whereas the written word allows infinite possibilities for transmission and therefore of active participation in communication. These possibilities are what make the goal of literacy crucial in society.In academic parlance literacy hinges on the printed word. Most pupils are formally introduced to print when they encounter schoolbook. School teachers in Sierra Leone continue to use textbooks in their teaching activities to convey content area information to pupils. It is no gainsaying that pupils neither maximise their learning potential nor read at levels necessary for understanding the type of materials teachers would like them to use. Thus the performance of pupils at internal and public examinations is disappointing. Further pupils’ continued queries in the library demonstrate that they do not only lack basic awareness of resources available in their different school libraries but also do not understand basic rudiments of how to source information and materials from these institutions. What is more worrisome is that pupils do not use appropriate reading skills and study strategies in learning. There is a dearth of reading culture in schools and this situation cuts across the fabric of society. In view of the current support the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) to establish literacy standards in school this situation has proved frustrating as teachers do not know how to better help pupils to achieve this goal. Thus they look up to the school librarians to play a more proactive role.LITERACY DEMANDS ON SECONDARY SCHOOL PUPILSIn everyday situations school pupils are expected to be able to identify and seek information they need. Providing a variety of reading and writing experiences using varied materials in the school library can help develop pupils’ literacy ability (Roe, Stoodt-Hill and Burns, 2004). The mode of assessment in schools in Sierra Leone includes class exercises, tests, written and practical assignments, as well as written examinations to see pupils through to their next levels. These pupils, for example, need to read content books and supplementary materials in school for homework. Pupils have even more literacy needs in their activities outside school. They need to read signs found in their communities, job applications, road maps and signs, labels on food and medicine, newspapers, public notices, bank statements, bills and many other functional materials. Failure to read and understand these materials can result in their committing traffic violations, having unpleasant reactions to food or medicine, becoming lost, losing employment opportunities and missing desirable programs. Equally so pupils need to write to their relatives and loved ones, instructions to people who are doing things for them, notes to themselves about tasks to be completed, phone messages for colleagues and many other items. Mistakes in these activities can have negative effects on them. Good literacy skills are especially important to pupils who plan to pursue higher education studies. The job market in the country calls for pupils to be literate. For instance most jobs advertised these days require people who have completed their JSS. The fact is that workers need to be able to understand graphic aids, categorized information and skim and scan to locate information. Also the nature of reading in the workplace generally involves locating information for immediate use and inferring information for problem solving. The reading and writing of a variety of documents like memos, manuals, letters, reports and instructions are necessary literacy skills in the workplace.SCHOOL LIBRARIES IN SIERRA LEONESchool libraries in Sierra Leone are perceived as integral aspect of the county’s educational system. These institutions bring together four major components of the school community: the materials, pupils, teacher and library staff. The main purpose for the establishment of these institutions in schools is to complement the teaching/learning process, if not to support the curriculum. This purpose is achieved in two ways: by providing pupils with the means of finding whatever information they need; and by developing in pupils the habit of using books both for information and for pleasure. Pupils need information to help them with the subjects they learn in school. The textbooks they use and the notes they take in class can be an excellent foundation. They may also be sufficient for revision purposes. But these could not be enough to enable pupils to write good essays of their own or to carry out group projects. School libraries then are expected to complement this effort and therefore are perceived as learning centres.Pupils need information on subjects not taught in school. School libraries are looked upon as places pupils find information to help them in their school studies and personal development. Through these institutions pupils’ habit of using libraries for life-long education is not only developed but also school libraries could be used to improve pupils’ reading skills. In the school community both pupils and teachers use school libraries for leisure and recreational purpose and for career advancement. The culture of society is also transmitted through use of school libraries. Because of the important role school libraries play in the country’s educational system they are organised in such way that pupils as well as teachers can rely upon them for support in the teaching/learning process. Most of these institutions are managed by either a full-time staff often supervised by a senior teacher. Staffs use varied methods to promote their use including user education.JUSTIFYING THE LIBRARIAN’S INVOLVEMENT IN PROMOTING LITERACY IN SCHOOLA pre-requisite for the development of autonomous pupils through flexible resource-based learning approaches is that pupils master a set of skills which gradually enable them to take control of their own learning. Current emphasis in teaching in schools in Sierra Leone has shifted from “teacher-centred” to “pupil-centred” approach thereby making pupils to “learn how to learn” for themselves so that the integration of process skills into the design of the school curriculum becomes crucial (GoSL,1995). It is in this area of “learning” or “information literacy” skills that one can most clearly see the inter-relationship between the school curriculum and the school library. For pupils to become independent users of information and for this to occur it is vital that they are given the skills to learn how to find information, how to select what is relevant, and how to use it in the best way possible for their own particular needs and take responsibility for their own learning. As information literate, pupils will be able to manage information skilfully and efficiently in a variety of contexts. They will be capable of weighing information carefully and wisely to determine its quality (Marcum2002). Pupils do recognise that having good information is central to meeting the opportunity and challenges of day-to-day living. They are also aware of the importance of how researching across a variety of sources and formats to locate the best information to meet particular needs.Literacy activities in schools in Sierra Leone are the responsibility of content area teachers, reading consultants and school librarians. Of these the role of the school librarian is paramount. As specialist the school librarian is expected to provide assistance to pupils and teachers alike by locating materials in different subjects, and at different reading levels by making available materials that can be used for motivation and background reading. The school librarian is also expected to provide pupils with instructions in locating strategies related to the library such as doing online searches and skimming through printed reference materials. The librarian is expected to display printed materials within his purview, write specialised bibliographies and lists of addresses on specific subjects at the request of teachers. He should be able to provide pupils with direct assistance in finding and using appropriate materials; recreational reading can be fostered by the librarian’s book talks or attractive book displays on high-interest topics like HIV/AIDS, child abuse, child rights, human rights and poverty alleviation. In view of this the fundamental qualities expected of the good school librarian include knowledge of his collection and how to access it; ability to understand the needs of his users more so those of pupils; ability to communicate with pupils and adult users; and knowledge of information skills and how to use information.ROLE OF THE SCHOOL LIBRARIANPupils’ success in school depends to a large extent upon their ability to access, evaluate and use information. Providing access to information and resources is a long-standing responsibility of the school librarian. The school librarian should provide the leadership and expertise necessary to ensure that the library becomes integral in the instructional program of the school. In school the librarian is the information specialist, teacher and instructional consultant. He is the interface responsible for guiding pupils and teachers through the complex information resources housed in his library (Lenox and Walker, 1993). He is looked up to assist and guide numerous users in seeking to use and understand the resources and services of the library. In this respect the school librarian should inculcate in these users such skills as manual and online searching of information; use of equipment; developing critical skills for the organization, evaluation and use of information and ideas as integral part of the curriculum (Lonsdale, 2003). The school librarian should be aware of the range of available information retrieval systems, identify that most suitable to the needs of pupils and provide expertise in helping them become knowledgeable, if not comfortable, in their use. Since no library is self-sufficient the school librarian can network with information agencies, lending/renting materials and/or using electronic devises to transmit information (Tilke, 1998; 2002).As information specialist the school librarian should be able to share his expertise with those who may wish to know what information sources and/or learning materials are available to support a program of work. Such consultation should be offered to the whole school through the curriculum development committee or to individual subject teachers. The school librarian should take the lead in developing pupils’ information literacy skills by being involved with the school curriculum planning and providing a base of resources to meet its needs. He should be aware of key educational initiatives and their impact in teaching and learning; he should be familiar with teaching methods and learning styles in school; over all he should maintain an overview of information literacy programmes within the school (Herring, 1996; Kuhlthau, 2004).Kuhlthau (2004) opined that information seeking is a primary activity of life and that pupils seek information to deepen and broaden their understanding of the world around them. When therefore, information in school libraries is placed in a larger context of learning, pupils’ perspective becomes an essential component in information provision. The school librarian should ensure that skills, knowledge and attitude concerning information access, use and communication, are integral part of the school curriculum. Information skills are crucial in the life-long learning process of pupils. As short term objective the school librarian should provide a means of achieving learning objectives within the curriculum; as long term information skills have a direct impact on individual pupils’ ability to deal effectively with a changing environment. Therefore the school librarian should work in concert with teachers and administrators to define the scope and sequence of the information relevant to the school curriculum and ensure its integration throughout the instructional programs (Tilke, 2002; Birks and Hunt, 2003). Pupils should be encouraged to realise their potential as informed citizens who critically think and solve problems. In view of the relationship between the curriculum and school library, the librarian should serve on the curriculum committee ensuring that information access skills are incorporated into subject areas. The school librarian’s involvement in the curriculum development will permit him to provide advice on the use of a variety of instructional strategies such as learning centres and problem-solving software, effective in communicating content to pupils (Herring, 1996; Birks and Hunt, 2003).Literacy could be actively developed as pupils need access to specific resources, demonstrate understanding of their functionality and effective searching skills. In this regard pupils should be given basic instruction to the library, its facilities and services and subsequent use. Interactive teaching methods aimed at information literacy education should be conducted for the benefit of pupils. Teaching methods could include an outline of a variety of aides like quizzes and worksheets of differing complexity level to actively engage pupils in learning library skills and improving their information literacy. Classes should be divided into small groups so that pupils could have hands-on-experience using library resources. Where Internet services are available in the library online tutorials should be provided. Post session follow-up action will ensure that pupils receive hands-on-experience using library resources. Teaching methods should be constantly evaluated to identify flaws and improve on them.Further the school librarian should demonstrate willingness to support and value pupils in their use of the library through: provision of readers’ guides; brochures; book marks; library handbooks/guides; computerization of collection; helpful guiding throughout the library; and regular holding of book exhibitions and book fairs. Since there are community radio stations in the country the school librarian could buy air time to report library activities, resources and services. He can also communicate to pupils through update newspapers. Pupils could be encouraged to contribute articles on library development, book reviews and information about opening times and services. The school librarian could help pupils to form book and reading clubs, organize book weeks and book talks using visiting speakers and renowned writers to address pupils. Classes could also be allowed to visit the library to facilitate use. More importantly the school librarian should provide assistance to pupils in the use of technology to access information outside the library. He should offer pupils opportunities related to new technology, use and production of varied media formats, and laws and polices regarding information. In order to build a relevant resource base for the school community the librarian should constantly carry out needs assessment, comparing changing demands to available resources.The Internet is a vital source for promoting literacy in the school library. The school librarian should ensure that the library has a website that will serve as guide to relevant and authoritative sources and as a tool for learning whereby pupils and teachers are given opportunity to share ideas and solutions (Herring, 2003). Through the Internet pupils can browse the library website to learn how to search and develop information literacy skills. In order for pupils to tap up-to-date sources from the Net the school librarian should constantly update the home page, say on a daily basis, if necessary. Simultaneously the school librarian should avail to pupils and teachers sheets/guides to assist them in carrying out their own independent researches. He should give hands-on-experience training to users to share ideas with others through the formation of “lunch time” or “after school support groups”. Such activities could help pupils to develop ideas and searching information for a class topic and assignment.Even the location of the library has an impact in promoting literacy in school. The library should be centrally located, close to the maximum number of teaching areas. It should be able to seat at least ten per cent of school pupils at any given time, having a wide range of resources vital for teaching and learning programs offered in school. The library should be characterised by good signage for the benefit of pupil and teacher users with up-to-date displays to enhance the literacy skills of pupils and stimulating their intellectual curiosity.CONCLUSIONIndeed the promotion of literacy should be integral in the school curriculum and that the librarian should be able to play a leading role to ensure that the skills, knowledge and attitudes related to information access are inculcated in pupils and teachers alike as paramount users of the school library. But the attainment of this goal is dependent on a supportive school administration, always willing and ready to assist the library and its programs financially. To make the librarian more effective he should be given capacity building to meeting the challenges of changing times.REFERENCESAmerican Library Association (2003). ‘Introduction to information literacy.’
Birks, J. Hunt, F. (2003). Hands-on information literacy activities. London: Neal-Schumann.
CLIP (2004).’Information Literacy: definition.’
GoSL (2010). Report of the Professor Gbamanja Commission of Inquiry into the Poor Performance of Pupils in the 2008 BECE and WASSCE Examinations (Unpublished).
___________(1995). New Education policy for Sierra Leone. Freetown: Department of Education.
Herring, James E. (1996). Teaching information skills in schools. London: Library Association Publishing.
__________________ (2003).The Internet and information skills: a guide for teachers and librarians. London: Facet Publishing.
Kahlthau, C. C. (2004). Seeking meaning: a process approach to library and information services. 2nd. ed. London: Libraries Unlimited.
Lenox, M. F. Walker, M. L.(1993). ‘Information Literacy in the education process.’ The Educational Forum, 52 (2): 312-324.
Lonsdale, Michael (2003). Impact of school libraries on student achievement: a review of research. Camberwell: Australian Council of Educational Research.
Marcum, J. W. (2002). ‘ Rethinking Information Literacy,’ Library Quarterly, 72:1-26.
Roe, Betty D., Stoodt-Hill Burns, Paul C. (2004).Secondary School Literacy instruction: the content areas. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
Tilke, A. (1998). On-the-job sourcebook for school librarians. London: Library Association.
_________ (2002). Managing your school library and information service: a practical handbook. London: Facet Publishing.
Weber, S. Johnston, B. ( 2002). ‘Assessment in the Information Literate University.’ Conference: Workshop 1st International Conference on IT and Information Literacy, 20th- 22nd. \March 2002, Glasgow, Scotland. Parallel Session 3, Thursday 21st March,2002.
World Bank (2007). Education in Sierra Leone; present challenges, future opportunities. Washington,DC: World Bank.

John Abdul Kargbo is Senior Lecturer, Institute of Library, Information and Communication Studies at Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone. Mail can be sent to him on kargbojohnabdul@yahoo.com

rootmaster

A Brief Guide to Choosing a School in Australia

One of the most asked questions by migrants moving to Australia is “How do I choose a school for my children?”. Not an easy task when you’re 10,000 miles away so let’s look at some of the things you need to consider.Private or Public school This comes down to personal preference and what you can afford.

Most states operate similar programs with primary school running from kindergarten through to year six or seven

Both my children went through public schools in Western Australia and onto University so for me public schools have been good. Public schools are often very diverse and most draw their main body of students from the local community.If you go private just beware that some are faith based and follow a religious curriculum with some very old fashioned values, often all girls all boys schools. They do pride themselves on sport and many operate excellent sport programs. They are generally well funded which is something you would expect considering they also receive funding from the government at the expense of public schools. A top private school can command a $30,000 fee per year so make sure you understand the impact the school fees will have on your living expenses.Not all can afford to send their children to a top private school but don’t despair some public schools regularly beat top private schools in the school ranking tables despite the poor funding. You will need to keep in mind though that even public schools are not totally free and top public schools can command fees as much a $2,000 per year for a student in year 12. They may say voluntary contributions but if your child is to participate fully you will be expected to pay so you will need to budget for this.Cost is one factor that will determine where we send our children to school the other factor is where we live.

Make sure you draw up an itinerary and a plan of where you are going to visit to ensure you give yourself enough time to have a holiday as well

Most parents have to live near where they work and so this will often dictate what schools are available to you. Just remember though the quality of education is not just about results. According to the ACER (Australian Council for Educational research) chief executive Geoff Masters “The quality of education provided by a school is best judged not by its final results but by the difference it makes, taking into account students’ starting points. A school making a large difference ‘value adding’ to students’ levels of achievement and life chances may deliver ‘better education’, despite its lower Year 12 results.” So something to consider rather than just results.

That doesn’t always hold true as I have seen children go through private education only to drop out due to the pressure of the strict regime and work ethic, it doesn’t suit everyone

Australia, like the UK, uses a league table system to compare schools. When you use it keep in mind the words of ACER Chief Executive above regarding how schools add value to student education. You can find more information on league tables and compare schools in the area you wish to move to on the myschool.edu.au website. It covers the entire education systems across Australia.The Myschool website contains quite a large range of information on schools, covering the profile of population of each school of which there is approximately 9,500. The site also lists outcomes of NAPLAN testing performance data, student attendance and school financial figures including capital expenditure and sources of funding. It’s a good source of information and you are able to compare literacy and numeracy standards of local schools to state averages. Whilst this may give an indication of current standards it is important to consider achievements in Years 11 and 12. For example: years 7 and 9 NAPLAN tests may show the majority of students in the lower brackets of the test results. The school however has an excellent achievement rate for both ATAR (university students, more on that later) and vocational studies (non ATAR). This would suggest that the school may have an excellent system to bring those struggling students up to speed by the time they leave. A very important point to consider.For those who are curious NAPLAN stands with the National Assessment Program – literacy and numeracy (NAPLAN) and is an annual assessment of students in years 3, 5, 7 and 9. NAPLAN has been an everyday part of the school calendar since 2008. Assessments are undertaken nationwide every year in the second full week in May. Tests are made up of four areas or domains covering:• Reading• Writing• Language conventions (spelling grammar and punctuation)• NumeracyNow to try and explain this ATAR business which is not an easy task I might add. In short an ATAR score is a percentile score given between “less than 30” up to a maximum of 99.95 (in a minimum increment of 0.05). Clear as mud so far I guess. In layman terms it is a score which denotes a student’s ranking relative to his or her peers upon completion of their secondary education. This score is used by university and tertiary education programs to rank and select prospective students. In short the higher your ATAR score is the more university courses you have to choose from. Most universities will display minimum ATAR scores for entry to all their courses.The School system in briefAustralia is made up of a collection of states and territories each has its own government which is responsible for its own education. Because of this there are some differences between states in the way schools operate. There is a national framework however which all schools have to follow to try and ensure some standardisation across the nation. Most states operate similar programs with primary school running from kindergarten through to year six or seven. High schools tend to run from year 7 to 10 and then senior high school runs from year 11 to year 12. The majority of schools cater for the full range from year 7 through to year 12, although there are a few specialist schools that operate just years 7 to 10 or years 11 and 12 in all states. In some states schools that operate for just year 11 and 12 are able to specialise in certain areas becoming Regional Training Organisations (RTO’s) allowing students to get involved in pre-apprenticeships.All states offer their own certification, for example in Western Australia students achieve the Western Australian Certificate of Education at the end of year 12 (WACE). In the Eastern states the Australian Capital Territory students are awarded the ACT Certificate. In New South Wales they offer the Higher School Certificate, in Queensland it’s the Queensland Certificate of Education. In Victoria (yes, you’ve guessed it) it’s the Victorian Certificate of Education or the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning. Moving west to South Australia they have the South Australian Certificate of Education and up in the Northern Territory its known as the Northern Territory Certificate Education.If you are worried you may have to move states as I did rest assured that all Australian schools follow the Australian Qualifications framework (AQF) which has 10 levels and links school, vocational and university education qualifications into one national system. This does allow for some standardisation across the states and allows students to move easily from one level of study to the next, and from one institution to another. For early years there will be some differences but these will be more operational than subject content. For years 11 and 12 it may be more significant especially for university bound students as specialist areas will vary from school to school and state to state. This is also affected by availability of specialist teachers in your chosen subject area.In my experience I have found UK school children to be slightly in front in terms of their level of education and maturity. This is certainly true in the early years however years 11 and 12 can be extremely intense especially if they have University ambitions.Consider their in opinions?Now many will make the assumption that when choosing a high school you should look for the best. That doesn’t always hold true as I have seen children go through private education only to drop out due to the pressure of the strict regime and work ethic, it doesn’t suit everyone. In our quest to find the best we often forget the feelings of the little guys and girls who will have to attend that institution every day. In short your children’s opinions should count as well. Some children are naturally confident and enjoy tough challenges. Others may like a more relaxed less pressured environment.Find out what your children’s preferences are, what special talents do they have, musical, mathematical, science, sport and then find a school nearby that fits their needs. Look for the school that best fits your values and children’s needs, not just plum for the best in the areas because that is what other parents are doing. Step back assess what the school has to offer and try to figure out what’s best for your children. By doing this your child is likely to be far happier at school and so will you.School lifeThe school year across Australia runs from the beginning of February through to the latter part of December. The school year is normally split into two semesters. Each semester consists of two terms each 10 week long (4 in total). At the end of each term students have a two week holiday. Summer holidays start in December and last until the beginning of February. As states look after their own education holidays can sometimes vary from state to state. You can get a full list of the holidays across Australia from http://www.australia.comDaily school normally starts around about 8.40 am and finishes at 3.00 pm. The day is split into five periods each lasting around 60 minutes with two 20 to 25 minute breaks in between period 2 and 3 and then period 4 and 5. Extracurricular activities normally run from 3 to 4pm. Again school days will vary from state to state and in some schools they operate the split system where lower school students start at around 7am through to about 1pm. Upper school students attend later in the day and finish around about 5pm. This is only a guide and it does vary from school to school and state to state.Just arrived There are some who believe that children should start school as soon as you arrive to help them integrate quicker. I think that is a fair comment as it’s important to get your children integrated into Australian life as soon as possible. Having said that I feel it’s important to give children a little time to recover from their travels and get used to their new surroundings.Some schools may allow you to preliminarily book your child into the their school before you arrive. Whilst it’s nice to know you have a school lined up in my opinion it may be in your best interests to just wait a little longer until you arrive. We gave our children a couple weeks to integrate and take in a little of the enormous change they had experienced in their lives at that point in time. It also gave us chance to visit the schools with the children in a more relaxed manner. I personally would not book my children into school before I had actually visited and checked out what it was like. Furthermore competition for places in the better schools is often tight so they can afford to be a bit choosy about who they pick especially if you live outside the catchment area. They will probably want to interview you and your children before they allow them to enrol.Researching schoolsIf you can afford to come out on a reconnaissance visit before you migrate it helps. It’s a lovely way to assess areas to live in and schools as you are in a far more relaxed mood. Make sure you draw up an itinerary and a plan of where you are going to visit to ensure you give yourself enough time to have a holiday as well.Contact the school prior to your arrival and make an appointment with the Principle to discuss your child’s proposed enrolment. Yes principles are busy people but they will appreciate that you have taken the time to make an appointment after all you want to make a good impression.Local knowledge is often the best so get out and about, talk to the locals and get their views on the best school in the area. Visit a few schools and watch the students coming and going. Are they happy? How are they dressed? Are they all in uniform? If any of these are negative then you might to try and discuss this with locals. Yes you will need to mingle with parents and introduce yourself but be brave and ask what they think of the school you may be surprised as to what you find outCheck out the schools social media profile. Most schools have a Facebook page Twitter account or an app to download for your phone. Take a look at these as this will give you an indication as to how the school communicates with the local community. look at how parents discuss the school, do they use positive or negative tones? How does the school communicate back to the parents do they answer all the questions politely and positively.Most schools have their own website which often contain details of the curriculum they offer to students including a plan of the year. Schools that have this facility are, in my opinion, often very organised and efficient which is good sign. Have a look and see what extracurricular activities they offer outside of school hours. Do they cater for disabilities or gifted and talented students? Remember the article above about adding value to a child’s education. If they have a newsletter sign up for it and get regular updates on what’s happening at the school.Opinions from message boardsLast but not least the expat message boards. They are useful especially when you have honest opinions from expats that have done it. These people can often be absolute gold mines of information. That said there are those that simply use these message boards to vent off their frustration and anger which is not really what you want. However, if used carefully they can be a rich source of information.Lastly keep in mind that students do well in schools that are well organised, with teachers that are well-prepared and supported by parents.

Nick JayMigration CoachRemember Australia is not better or worse just different, different values, different beliefs, different cultures and a different way of life, enjoy that difference!Offering migrants coaching, information, advice, assistance with their move and a Perth Meet and Greet service[http://www.migrationcoach.com]

rootmaster

School Library Provision and Services in Sierra Leone

IntroductionHarrod’s (2000), defined school library as an organized collection of books placed in a school for the use of teachers and pupils, but usually for pupils. It may comprise books of reference and or books for home reading and in the care of a professional librarian, or teacher-librarian. It is variously call “Instructional Materials Centre”, “Learning Centre or Media centre.

The separation of the Internet facilities from the library services has posed a serious threat to the library provision and services

“The School library serves as a service agency which supports the schools’ objectives and provides materials for all subjects and all interest of pupils and teachers. The school library is a supportive resource of the school curriculum, its provisions, services, and development is directed at aiding school programmes (Kinnel, 1994).Libraries generally have as their main purpose acquiring, processing, storing and disseminating information to which school library is not an exception. The school library has a vital role to play in the information service. They provide materials relevant to the curricular needs of everybody with the school community. The importance of providing such resources cannot be overemphasized if the school library is to be an instigator of and support for resource based learning in the school.Also, in relation to information skills, the library and its librarian, make available materials and services in different varieties to allow both pupils and the school community to use these skills in finding the information they need.The purpose and philosophy of school library service are rapidly being understood and accepted by school administrators and teachers.

Therefore, they see the need for central stock of materials which can be borrowed for differing lengths of time (lending service) and also for reading and consultation services

The fact necessitates that the school librarian be thoroughly familiar with those purposes such as guidance, the reading programme and the enrichment programme for pupils and teachers. However, Albert Academy library has no trained and qualified librarian, who understands and performs those purposes in order to ensure that the service provision is fully attained.Albert Academy School LibraryThe Albert Academy was inaugurated on the 4th October 1904. It was until 1975 when the Albert Academy Alumni Association in their meeting thought it wise that such a reputable institution must not go without a library as the development of school libraries was at its highest peak at that time. An idea to erect a library building was born with the collaboration of the alumni association and the owners of the school that is the United Methodist Church. The library was established with the aim of having a place where pupils could go and explore new ideas to further strengthen their school curriculum activities and leisure as well.The library was officially opened to the entire school community by His Excellency the late Dr.

Although these are not materials in the traditional sense, they still constitute resources for use by pupils and teachers

Siaka P. Stevens on 4th October 1976, then President of the Republic of Sierra Leone and also a member of the Albert Academy Alumni Association class of 1922. The library was named after him following the immense contribution he made towards establishing the library for the school community. The Albert Academy Library has a mission to “Support school curriculum activities by providing materials of relevance in the school process and to introduce new and improved information sources to help make the school to be in line with modern standards of education.”The objectives of the Albert Academy school library are as follows:I. To provide pupils with library materials and services most appropriate and most meaningful in their growth and development;ii. To participate fully in school programmes as it strikes to meet the needs of pupils, teachers, parents and others community members;iii. to stimulate and guide pupils in all phases of their reading that they may find increasing enjoyment and satisfaction and may grow in critical judgment and appreciation;iv. To make available new development and keep pupils abreast of modern trends in education recognize reader’s needs and keeping them well informed in order to create a well dynamic educational environment;v. To work with the teacher in the selection and production of educational materials that meet the aims of the curriculum, offer guidance in the use of collection, evaluation of education programmes and materials, facilitates the location, organisation and maintenance of materials efficiently; andvi. To help pupils to become skilled users of libraries and of printed and audio-visual materials.Library Provision at Albert Academy School LibraryA major role in the information service provided by modern school library is in the provision of materials relevant to the curricular needs of pupils and teachers. In recent years, the curriculum activities have moved to another level, where the school being supportive resource of this movement, must endeavor to house a variety of print and non-print materials and have access where possible to electronic sources of information which are also part of the information resources in the library.Given the demands of the modern school curriculum, the school library must now house a wide variety of print and non-print materials and have access, where possible, to electronic sources of information. The Albert Academy School provides printed materials, book, fiction and non-fiction as well as pamphlets, newspapers, chart, pictures, monographs, manuals, handbooks, textbooks and other reference books the library also provides non-books materials which include audio and audio-visual materials, slides, tape-slides, video cassettes, and CD ROM’s. Although these are not materials in the traditional sense, they still constitute resources for use by pupils and teachers. Use of electronic sources help school libraries to present pupils and teachers with a concept of a School Information Centre which is not continued to the school but is a link to an unending supply of information (Herring, 1988).Albert Academy School Library ServicesThe purpose of establishing Albert Academy School Library is to provide services for both pupils and teachers in a bid to fulfill one of its major purposes, which is to aid curriculum goals by providing services that are indispensably linked to the fulfillment of this purpose.One of the principal services of the Albert Academy School library is to act as back-up to the under resourced school programme. Even advanced countries cannot easily stock materials ranging from five thousand (5,000) to twenty thousand (20,000) in a small room to provide help to school programmes. Therefore, they see the need for central stock of materials which can be borrowed for differing lengths of time (lending service) and also for reading and consultation services. This is done in order to augment the school curriculum at the Albert Academy which is inclusive of the Basic Sciences and Technology, Social Sciences, Humanities and the Fine Arts.Albert Academy School library also provides inter-library loan services requests. This is particularly valuable to senior pupils studying topics across subjects offered in depth. Pupils who cannot afford to purchase or access such expensive materials benefit from this type of library service. Through inter-library loan services, materials are sourced from other schools libraries for the benefit of both pupils and teachers.A reference service is also provided at Albert Academy School library. The School Librarians spend a sizeable proportion of their time providing what in other libraries term would be termed as reference service. In providing a reference service, school Librarians perform a similar role to that of other librarians. In a reference interview in school, each pupil is treated as important as the other and given the Librarian’s full attention. This is achieved by personal assistance given to the pupils and teachers in finding specific information whether direct or indirect. Some of the reference materials at the Albert Academy School Library are dictionaries, encyclopedias, directories, yearbooks, biographies newspapers, maps and charts, and the academic and administrative calendar of events or the operation of the school.One of the most valuable services provided by Albert Academy School library is that of information provision. The Albert Academy School library keeps the teachers and pupils informed about new educational resources and development in the fields of interest to them by displaying the jackets of books that just arrived. The Albert Academy School library uses Current Awareness Services (CAS) to achieve this goal. This is done by identifying the information needs of both teachers and pupils and meeting these needs. Linked to the CAS is the Selective Dissemination of Information (SDI) and this is more particular with teachers. This ranges from keeping individual teachers informed about new resources in the library or about newly published materials, to alerting teachers to meetings and course demands or event linked to their curricular interest.Challenges of Library Provision and Services at the Albert Academy School LibraryNo matter what an organisation has to count as success, is bound to face certain difficulties that stand before it as challenges to its success. School Libraries in Sierra Leone, especially Albert Academy School Library are not without challenges.To start with the library and its resources have been ignored by the pupils and teachers. Despite their all-important nature of service provision in support to them they do not see it as a valuable part of their activities. This is because most teachers and pupils do not get adequate supply of textbooks and other materials directly linked to the curriculum programme and most teachers prepare pamphlets for sale to pupils from which there teaching is based. This has caused most of the pupils to heavily depend on those sources instead of the library resources.The School Library has a staffing challenge. For example the Albert Academy School Library has no professional library staff to handle an information service for over two thousand pupils and teachers.Furthermore, the library has a challenge with space. The space provided for the library from inception is now not enough for the school. The school population in terms of teachers and pupils has grown relatively high to over two thousand (2000) pupils and staff as compared to the space provided for a little over Five hundred (500) pupils and staff about 40 years ago. It has become difficult to access the library and its resources.In addition, there is a funding problem. The Albert Academy School Library is faced with the difficultly of securing funds from the schools authorities for an effective collection development. The library depends heavily on donations and gifts to stock its collection and most of these materials given in this guise are not reflective of the courses offered in the school curriculum. Often, the school administration has to spread meager financial resources across a wide spectrum of school needs.The establishment of the computer laboratory with slight internet facilities independent of the school library has also created a problem for the Albert Academy School Library. The teachers and pupils would prefer to visit the Computer centre for Internet services much more that visiting the library. The separation of the Internet facilities from the library services has posed a serious threat to the library provision and services.Also, it is quite proven that the Albert Academy School Library lacks the capacity to provide for the visually impaired or handicapped. The absence of school library materials in the Braille format prevents blind and the partially sighted pupils to utilize the available library resources in their schools libraries.Final, the issue of preservation of library materials is not a common practice for the Albert Academy School. This preservation is supposed to ensure that the materials last long because of their frequent use. It has become difficult to access funds to preserve materials that are under threat of wearing out through continuous use.Despite some gloomy predictions on the future funding of education and possible restrictions on the availability of resources at the Albert Academy School Library, the future of the school library seems assured. It can be argued that because of current educational and technological trends, there has never been a greater need for well-resourced and professionally staffed school library than it is now. The emphasis on the individual’s-the child’s and the adult’s-ability to find and use information effectively is likely to continue in schools, at work and for leisure pursuits. A future society dependent on electronic information for its prosperity will need an information curriculum in its schools. Hence the availability of good school library provision and services in the school curriculum cannot be overemphasised (Kargbo, 2000).

Harrod, L. M. (2000). Harrod’s Librarians’ glossary… and Reference Book. 9th ed. Aldershot: Gower.Herring, J. E. (1988). School Librarianship 2nd ed. London: Clive Bingley.Kargbo, John Abdul (2000). “The history and development of school libraries in Sierra Leone,” School Libraries Worldwide, 6 (1), p.88-94.Kinnel, M. (1994). Managing library resources in Schools. Oxford: Library Association.

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Excelling Arizona Schools Named for 2004-2005 School Year

As with many school systems across the United States, Arizona Schools have several measurement and accountability programs in place to improve student scholastic achievement. One accountability program for the Arizona schools is the AZ LEARNS achievement program. AZ LEARNS holds all Arizona schools accountable for the performance of their students and teachers, measuring performance over several years versus a snapshot one-year measurement.

SchoolWinifred Harelson Elementary SchoolArizona schools’ Arizona School for the Arts Arizona School for the Arts — bothelementary high schoolArizona schools’ BASIS School, Inc

The AZ LEARNS evaluation is based upon four established measurements already required by the Arizona schools. They are:o AIMS Scores — Measures reading, language arts and mathematics for elementary schools; and reading, writing and mathematics for high schools.o MAP — Measure of Academic Progress for schools, where students scores for AIMS and SATs are compared to the state average.o Graduation/Dropout Rates — Used for the high schools.o AYP — Adequate Yearly Progress measures student proficiency in the state’s academic standards of reading and mathematics over time.The AZ LEARNS program for the Arizona schools categorizes schools on a graded scale as either:o Failing to meet academic standards,o Underperforming,o Performing,o Highly Performing, oro Excelling.The Arizona schools for the 2004-2005 school year that were named Excelling are (listed by district/charter and school):Arizona schools’ Academy of Tucson, Inc. Academy of Tucson Middle SchoolArizona schools’ Alhambra Elementary District Alhambra Traditional SchoolArizona schools’ Allen-Cochran Enterprises, Inc. Center for Educational ExcellenceArizona schools’ Amphitheater Unified District Canyon Del Oro High SchoolRichard B.

Andersen Elementary SchoolRobert and Danell TarwaterElementarySanborn Elementary SchoolSantan K-8Shumway Elementary SchoolArizona schools’ Crane Elementary District Ronald Reagan Fundamental SchoolArizona schools’ D

Wilson Jr. SchoolWinifred Harelson Elementary SchoolArizona schools’ Arizona School for the Arts Arizona School for the Arts — bothelementary high schoolArizona schools’ BASIS School, Inc. BASIS Tucson — both elementary high schoolArizona schools’ Basis School, Inc. — Scottsdale Basis ScottsdaleArizona schools’ Benchmark School, Inc. Benchmark SchoolArizona schools’ Benjamin Franklin Charter School Benjamin Franklin Charter School inboth Gilbert and MesaArizona schools’ Bright Beginnings School, Inc.

Patricia has a nose for research and writes stimulating news and views on school issues

Bright Beginnings School #1Arizona schools’ CASY Country Day School CASY Country Day School #1Arizona schools’ Catalina Foothills Unified District Canyon View Elementary SchoolCatalina Foothills High SchoolEsperero Canyon Middle SchoolManzanita SchoolOrange Grove Middle SchoolSunrise Drive Elementary SchoolVentana Vista Elementary SchoolArizona schools’ Cave Creek Unified District Cactus Shadows High School/PSHDesert Arroyo Middle SchoolDesert Sun Elementary SchoolArizona schools’ Challenge School, Inc. Challenge Charter SchoolArizona schools’ Chandler Unified District Anna Marie Jacobson ElementarySchoolBasha ElementaryBasha High SchoolChandler High SchoolChandler Traditional Academy –Liberty CampusHamilton High SchoolJane D. Hull ElementaryJohn M. Andersen Elementary SchoolRobert and Danell TarwaterElementarySanborn Elementary SchoolSantan K-8Shumway Elementary SchoolArizona schools’ Crane Elementary District Ronald Reagan Fundamental SchoolArizona schools’ D.W. Higgins Institute D.W. Higgins InstituteArizona schools’ Daisy Education Corporation Sonoran Science Academy — both elementary high schoolArizona schools’ Deer Valley Unified District Arrowhead Elementary SchoolCooper Creek ElementaryDesert Sage Elementary SchoolGreenbrier Elementary SchoolHillcrest Middle SchoolLegend Springs ElementaryMountain Ridge High SchoolSierra Verde ElementaryArizona schools’ East Valley Academy East Valley AcademyArizona schools’ Edu-Prize, Inc. Edu-PrizeArizona schools’ Flagstaff Junior Academy Flagstaff Junior AcademyArizona schools’ Flagstaff Unified District Charles W. Sechrist Elementary SchoolFlagstaff Middle SchoolManuel DeMiguel Elementary SchoolThomas M. Knoles Elementary SchoolArizona schools’ Foothills Academy Foothills Academy — both elementary high schoolArizona schools’ Fort Huachuca Accommodation District Colonel Smith Middle SchoolArizona schools’ Fountain Hills Unified District McDowell Mountain Elementary SchoolArizona schools’ Franklin Phonetic Primary School, Inc. Franklin Phonetic Primary SchoolArizona schools’ Gilbert Unified District Ashland ElementaryCarol Rae Ranch ElementaryDesert Ridge HighFinley Farms ElementaryGilbert High SchoolGPS Traditional AcademyGreenfield Junior High SchoolHighland High SchoolHighland Junior High SchoolIslands Elementary SchoolPatterson Elementary SchoolPlaya del Rey Elementary SchoolSonoma Ranch Elementary SchoolSpectrum ElementaryTechnology and Leadership AcademyTowne Meadows Elementary SchoolVal Vista Lakes Elementary SchoolArizona schools’ Glendale Union High School District Sunnyslope High SchoolArizona schools’ Heritage Academy, Inc. Heritage Academy — both elementary high schoolArizona schools’ Hermosa Montessori Center Hermosa Montessori CharterArizona schools’ Horizon Community Learning Center, Inc. Horizon Community Learning CenterArizona schools’ Humanities and Sciences Academy of the US, Inc. Humanities and Sciences High SchoolArizona schools’ Ideabanc, Inc. AmeriSchools College PreparatoryAcademy — TucsonArizona schools’ James Madison Preparatory School James Madison Preparatory School –both elementary high schoolArizona schools’ Joseph City Unified District Joseph City Junior/Senior High SchoolArizona schools’ Keystone Montessori Charter School, Inc. Keystone Montessori Charter SchoolArizona schools’ Khalsa Family Services Khalsa SchoolArizona schools’ Khalsa Montessori Elementary Schools Khalsa Montessori Elementary School– PhoenixArizona schools’ Kyrene Elementary District C. I. Waggoner SchoolKyrene Akimel A-Al Middle SchoolKyrene Altadena Middle SchoolKyrene Aprende Middle SchoolKyrene Centennial Middle SchoolKyrene de la Colina SchoolKyrene de la Esperanza SchoolKyrene de la Estrella ElementarySchoolKyrene de la Mariposa SchoolKyrene de la Mirada SchoolKyrene de la Paloma SchoolKyrene de la Sierra SchoolKyrene de las Brisas SchoolKyrene de las Manitas SchoolKyrene de los Cerritos SchoolKyrene del Cielo SchoolKyrene del Pueblo Middle SchoolKyrene Middle SchoolKyrene Monte Vista SchoolArizona schools’ Lifelong Learning Research Institute, Inc. Lifelong Learning AcademyArizona schools’ Litchfield Elementary District Litchfield Elementary SchoolPalm Valley ElementaryArizona schools’ Madison Elementary District Madison Heights SchoolMadison Meadows SchoolMadison Park SchoolMadison Richard Simis SchoolArizona schools’ Marana Unified District Coyote Trail Elementary SchoolQuail Run Elementary SchoolArizona schools’ Mary Ellen Halvorson Educational Foundation Tri-City Prep High SchoolArizona schools’ Mesa Unified District Barbara Bush Elementary SchoolEntz Elementary SchoolFalcon Hill Elementary SchoolFranklin Elementary SchoolFranklin Northeast SchoolFranklin SouthFranklin West ElementaryGeorge SmithHale Elementary SchoolHermosa Vista Elementary SchoolIshikawa Elementary SchoolLas Sendas Elementary SchoolMountain View High SchoolPoston Junior High SchoolRed Mountain High SchoolSunridge Learning CenterArizona schools’ Miami Unified District Las Lomas Elementary SchoolArizona schools’ Mission Montessori Academy Mission Montessori AcademyArizona schools’ Montessori Charter School of Flagstaff, Inc. Montessori Charter School of Flagstaff– CampusArizona schools’ Montessori Schoolhouse of Tucson, Inc. Montessori SchoolhouseArizona schools’ Nogales Unified District Vasquez De Coronado FranciscoSchoolArizona schools’ Northland Preparatory Academy Northland Preparatory Academy –both elementary high schoolArizona schools’ Palominas Elementary District Coronado Elementary SchoolArizona schools’ Paradise Valley Unified District Boulder Creek Elementary SchoolCopper Canyon Elementary SchoolDesert Shadows Middle SchoolDesert Springs Elementary SchoolDesert Trails Elementary SchoolGrayhawk Elementary SchoolHorizon High SchoolLarkspur Elementary SchoolLiberty Elementary SchoolMercury Mine Elementary SchoolMountain Trail Middle SchoolNorth Ranch Elementary SchoolPinnacle High SchoolPinnacle Peak ElementaryQuail Run Elementary SchoolSandpiper Elementary SchoolSonoran Sky Elementary SchoolSunrise Middle SchoolArizona schools’ Peoria Unified School District Apache Elementary SchoolCanyon Elementary SchoolCentennial High SchoolCopperwood SchoolIronwood High SchoolOakwood Elementary SchoolPaseo Verde Elementary SchoolSunrise Mountain High SchoolArizona schools’ Prescott Unified District Abia Judd Elementary School
Pescott High SchoolArizona schools’ Queen Creek Unified District Jack Barnes Elementary SchoolArizona schools’ Scottsdale Unified District Anasazi ElementaryArcadia High SchoolAztec Elementary SchoolChaparral High SchoolCherokee Elementary SchoolCheyenne Traditional ElementarySchoolCochise Elementary SchoolCocopah Middle SchoolCopper Ridge Elementary SchoolCopper Ridge Middle SchoolDesert Canyon ElementaryDesert Canyon Middle SchoolDesert Mountain High SchoolHopi Elementary SchoolKiva Elementary SchoolLaguna Elementary SchoolMountainside Middle SchoolPima Elementary SchoolSaguaro High SchoolSequoya Elementary SchoolZuni Elementary SchoolArizona schools’ Sedona-Oak Creek Joint Unified District Big Park Community SchoolArizona schools’ Self Development Charter School Self Development Charter SchoolArizona schools’ Show Low Unified District Linden Elementary SchoolArizona schools’ Skyview School, Inc. Skyview SchoolArizona schools’ Sonoita Elementary District Elgin Elementary SchoolArizona schools’ Tanque Verde Unified District Agua Caliente SchoolEmily Gray Junior High SchoolTanque Verde Elementary SchoolArizona schools’ Tempe Elementary District Rover Elementary SchoolArizona schools’ Tempe Preparatory Academy Tempe Preparatory Academy — bothelementary high schoolArizona schools’ Tempe Union High School District Corona Del Sol High SchoolDesert Vista High SchoolMountain Pointe High SchoolArizona schools’ Tucson Unified District Fruchthendler Elementary SchoolGale Elementary SchoolIda Flood Dodge Traditional MiddleMagnet SchoolMiles-Exploratory Learning CenterSabino High SchoolSahuaro High SchoolUniversity High SchoolArizona schools’ Vail Unified District Cottonwood Elementary SchoolDesert Sky Middle SchoolDesert Willow Elementary SchoolMesquite Elementary SchoolArizona schools’ Valley Academy, Inc. Valley AcademyArizona schools’ Veritas Preparatory Academy Veritas Preparatory Academy — bothelementary high schoolArizona schools’ Washington Elementary District Abraham Lincoln Traditional SchoolLookout Mountain SchoolArizona schools’ West Gilbert Charter Elementary School, Inc. West Gilbert Charter ElementarySchoolArizona schools’ Young Elementary District Young Teaching High SchoolIn addition to the Excelling schools, Arizona schools named 255 schools across the state as Highly Performing schools.This information on Arizona schools is brought to you by www.schoolsk-12.com.

Patricia Hawke is a staff writer for Schools K-12 providing free, in-depth reports on all U.S. public and private K-12 schools. Patricia has a nose for research and writes stimulating news and views on school issues. For more on Arizona schools visit Arizona Schools

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