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MTSU Offers Partnership with Central

Ohanian Comment:

MTSU staff members can provide Central Middle with the latest research in instructional strategies that can help students with disabilities and other subgroups meet the federal standards, McPhee said.

Does anybody believe that what the subgroups need to meet NCLB standards is 'the leatest research?' Pardon me if I suddenly sound anti-pedagogical, but how much hogwash can one stomach?

Everyone scrambles to get near the money.

Some enterprising reporter should ask what the foreign language angle is here.

MTSU proposes to provide Central Middle with teacher training, tutoring and foreign language instruction to help the school meet federal No Child Left Behind standards.

"We're excited about the possibilities of collaborating with the (Rutherford) County school system," MTSU President Sidney McPhee said during a Monday phone interview. "Our goals are very simple: to use the resources and expertise of the university and our faculty."

Rutherford County School Board members will view the proposal at their work session today to prepare them for Thursday's meeting. Both events begin at 5 p.m. at the district's central office at 2240 Southpark Blvd. near the South Church Street exit off Interstate 24.

Central Middle mother Lee Anne Carmack said immediate assistance provided to Central Middle is good.

"If a relationship with MTSU could do for Central Middle School what it has done for Campus School on the elementary education level, that is create a waiting list for admittance, that would be absolutely positive," Carmack said. "Central has the teachers and the administrators to fulfill the higher standards acknowledged by a waiting list."

Board member Gary Patton expects the partnership to be successful.

"It's something we can apply to other middle school curriculums," said Patton, recalling how the district has a long-standing arrangement to provide staffing at the MTSU-owned Homer Pittard Campus School for grades K-6. He sent his four children there. "If (the arrangement with Central Middle) is anything like Campus School, it's a win-win situation because they provide training for their student teachers, but our children get an excellent opportunity to learn academics because they get one-on-one instruction sometimes."

The proposed contract will focus only on Central Middle, which the state identified last summer as a "High Priority" school for not meeting all No Child Left Behind Act standards for two consecutive years. The federal law calls for schools to work toward a long-term goal of 100 percent proficiency by 2014 for each of eight subgroups: white, black, Hispanic, American Indian, Asian/Pacific Islander, economically disadvantaged, students with disabilities and limited English proficient. Central Middle did not have enough students with disabilities scoring proficient on math and reading/language/writing tests in 2004.

MTSU staff members can provide Central Middle with the latest research in instructional strategies that can help students with disabilities and other subgroups meet the federal standards, McPhee said.

"We believe we can make a difference in helping that school come off the list regarding No Child Left Behind," added McPhee, whose campus is within a mile of Central Middle on East Main Street in Murfreesboro.

MTSU education professors are knowledgeable about the federal law, said McPhee, adding the university department offers expertise in helping students from low-income families.

Central Middle, for example, has 53.7 percent of its students eligible for federal free or reduced-price lunch assistance to top the district at that level, according to November records. That more than triples the 15.2 percent at Siegel Middle, which has the lowest proportion in the economically disadvantaged subgroup.

Attempts were made to reach district Director Harry Gill Jr. Monday, but he was out of the office, spokesman James Evans explained.

The MTSU and Rutherford County Schools arrangement proposed in the board's agenda identifies 10 objectives:

1. The university will provide assistance in implementing instruction using a variety of teaching strategies, stimulating environments and multisensory approach.

2. Central Middle School faculty will receive support in demonstrating instructional and social skills that assist students in developing a positive self-image.

3. The university will provide support in teaching functional activities employing classroom simulations, natural cues and resources.

4. The university will provide conversational foreign language for students as identified by the faculty.

5. The university and County Schools will provide creative mentoring programs for both students and teachers of Central Middle.

6. The university will provide innovative assistance in establishing tutorial programs designed to meet students' needs.

7. The university will support outreach programs designed to strengthen parental involvement.

8. Classroom teachers will be able to supplement their instruction with research-based practices and knowledge provided by an academy for Central Middle School teachers.

9. The university will provide teacher training, technical support and innovative resources either at the school site or university campus.

10. The university will assist Central Middle School faculty in providing an integrated curriculum that will lead to meeting all No Child Left Behind standards.

— Scott Broden
The Daily News Journal (Mufreesboro, TN)


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