Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Odyssey Academy Ranks #106

YNN reports that Odyssey Academy is ranked #106 by Newsweek Magazine on its list of America's best high schools. According to Newsweek, only 6% of schools make the list. That's just over 1600 schools total.

SCATS ~~ Why don't any of Greece's other high schools ever make it onto this list of the 1600 top schools?


Anonymous said...

In the sad but true category, one reason Odyssey may outperform the other high schools is that, as a school of choice, each applicant is more likely to come from a family where parents value educational achievement and are involved daily i their child's education. Parental involvement and expectation is a major predictor of school success.

That said, I recognize that there are parents involved with their child's academic life at each pf the other schools as well. I do not mean to imply that only the Odyssey parents are concerned and involved. I am only suggesting that the percentage of involved parents is much higher at Odyssey.

One challenge for our highly paid administrators is to finds ways of motivating the parents across the district. Perhaps requiring face to face routine (monthly?)meetings between teachers and parents for the students who select the "school of choice" option and attend a non-neighborhood school might be a way to enlist parents and reap some benefit from the high cost of this option.

SCATS said...

To 10:13AM ~~ While I don't dismiss or discount the impact of parental involvement, I do think it's very interesting that NO ONE IN GREECE talks about the impact of teacher expectations. Teachers are THERE IN THE CLASSROOM, parents are not!

There was a study done long ago
(1950's maybe) where two teachers were each given a class of students and told what "to expect" of their abilities at the beginning of a school year. One teacher was told her class was filled with the best and brightest pupils, "the gifted". The other teacher was told her class was filled with the most difficult and poorest performers. At the end of the school year, can you guess what the results were?

Anonymous said...

As a recently retired Greece high school academic teacher, I can tell you that 10:13 is absolutely correct about the effects of involved parents.

As for Scats' 11:21 comments about teacher expectations, there is merit to what you say. Teachers'expectations are crucial to student success. But those expectations are not enough. The "system" and the family must be on the same page as the teacher. As soon as one of those identities weakens, the expectations of the teacher carry very little weight.

What happens when a teacher sets high expectations, and students begin to complain or, worse, skip class? Sadly, the answer is that the teacher is called on the carpet and told to fix the situation. Hello grade inflation and low expectations!

Strong families (regardless of the number of parents)with high expectations, and strong administrative backing of teachers prevent these issues from arising in the first place.

Why don't we always have these two essential elements? First, our society no longer values the RESPECT that was once prevalent throughout it. A teacher, a cop, and most employers will be quick to acknowledge that the healthy RESPECT and accompanying decorum that existed twenty years ago is no longer present. I can remember discussing my expectations with a parent not too long ago, and the parent told me what my expectations should be of her child. She asserted "You work for me!" She was upset because I refused to give a grade of C or better simply because her child attended class (and usually slept).

Another time, when I was performing hall supervision, a student called me a M______ F___er. I demanded that the student be suspended or severely disciplined. An administrator admonished me, "Calm down. They are only words."

Why don't teachers have strong administrative backing? It's simple. Parents don't back the administrators, and DO doesn't back the administrators. They are criticized for high suspension rates. They are forced to make decisions based on PR, not on what is in the students' best interest.

And it doesn't stop at DO. DO answers to the state and to publicized demographics. DO, like the rest of the system, does not want to look bad.

Society never moves backward. Remember when Johnny wouldn't tell his parents he got into trouble in school? There is very little chance that students will once again be in twice the trouble at home that their indescretions in school might cause.

What is the answer? I wish I knew! I believe that the diminishing role of RESPECT in our society is a major factor.

SCATS said...

To 1:43PM ~~ Regarding the statement in your third paragraph ~~ Called on the carpet by whom?

Anonymous said...

To SCATS at 2:18 from 1:43 --

Building administration in the form of an Assistant Principal.

SCATS said...

To 2:31PM ~~ Thank you for responding. I agree that respect (or lack of it) is an issue within society as a whole. I also believe that a person can not command or demand respect. Respect is earned, usually by being respectful.

Teachers are in a special situation where they can influence a young person's attitude more than most anyone else aside from the child's parents (and peers). This comes from the amount of time they spend with their students. Being a role model is important, in my mind.

I'm just curious to know, do you think that teachers who wear union T-shirts into the classroom are dressing in a way that is respectful towards their students, the students' parents and others they interact with on the job? I happen to believe that such actions negatively impact the way teachers are viewed by all who must deal with them as they show their "solidarity, unity" ... etc. The same is true for other attire that is less than professional in appearance.

What about a teacher who is waiting tables while moonlighting with a second job? How does it impact a student's ability to "respect" someone they can send to refill their soda?

If I am out at the mall on a weekday when school is in session and see my child's teacher (or another teacher I know) shopping when they should be in the classroom, do you think this might negatively impact respect?

Before someone tries to jump down my throat, I want to state that all of the above have happened to me and/or my family members in the past. I know the teacher's contract affords teachers many opportunities to engage in activities like those stated above. However, just because a teacher is "allowed" to do them may not make them desirable due to how it impact's their personal image within the greater school community.

I'd really like to have a teacher respond to my questions. Have any of you given thought to any of your own behaviors that might be producing undesired results?

Anonymous said...

Maybe the Greece schools would all perform better if those kids from the city go to the district where they belong. Also - how about only having kids go to their home school for high school. I am sure Athena would have better results if that were the case. Too many kids there from Olympia district. Send them back where they belong and oh wouldn't that cut some of the transportation budget. I guess this is all rocket science or rather smoke and mirrors in Greece for the budget. How many kids out of the Greece district are Greece taxpayers paying for?

Anonymous said...

Is it a surprise to anyone that our best performing high school is the one with the lowest percentage of minority students? How about the fact that it's the one with the lowest percentage of students using either the free or reduced lunch program? I realize that it's not supposed to be discussed (out it the open), but can we ever just admit that a correlation exists between such statistics. As I’ve mentioned on this site many times, it’s quite interesting, if not alarming, that our three “schools of choice” aka “lottery schools” are not only the best performing in the district for their respective students, but they are also the top schools (in the district) in the category of percentage of Caucasian students. Conversely, these same three schools have the lowest percentage of students using the free or reduced lunch program.

My question to GCSD is: How can you call yourself a district who values diversity, and yet allow a “closed door” policy to these schools in regard to minority students? Simply saying, “Their number didn’t get drawn” isn’t good enough! I for one feel that this whole lottery system is a pile of corrupt garbage that only fuels an elitist system, at a cost we are never truly given. But if we are going to keep it in place, let’s start spreading some of the wealth to all.

Charlie Hubbard said...

1:43 (anonymous) I applaud your contribution and your candor.
Please accept my cynicism in a contructive way.
Where in the he## is your union talking about this stuff - WHERE?
When your union is given time (by contract) at every business meeting and none (NONE) of this stuff is ever brought up. WHY?
I have heard stories like yours over and over and have always answered the same way - where is your union? or with all the job protection you have why are you not speaking out publicly?
But most of all WHERE IS YOUR UNION?
Sorry to say it but I think we all know the answer.

You speak of 'respect' and the lack of it. How do you think the taxpayers feel? And that comes right from the top.

Anonymous said...

When my children come home and either both their Mother or I have issue with their grades, we usually contact the teacher by email or by phone to see what it is that our children are lacking. Sometimes we even meet to discuss but the out come is always the same, we are on the same page and we begin to work with our children together and keep in contact on the progress.

As for the respect level now a days, well that is all about parenting and standards that are set for our children. We demand nothing less than our children respecting their teachers and elders. My parents put the fear of God in us if we were dis-respectable. We personally constantly talk to our children what our expectations and standards and they know they will loose something that means a great deal to them if they are not respectful. They can be what ever they want to be after they leave our home but they will be respectful until that day, (well hopefully they will be teaching their children the same).

Kudos to Odyssey, they should be very proud and everyone in Greece should be as well. Even one school in our district being named is outstanding!! By the way, my children attend Athena and Craig Hill, they both have outstanding teachers.

Chuck Male

Anonymous said...

How can a school with 2 urban developements (White Swan and English Village Apts.) have a chance to even be compared to a "school of choice"? Come on people, think!

george hubbard said...


1. Many excellent points posted above.

May I ask: Where is BOE in this mix of variables?

2. Did Odyssey exceed BOE District goals?

3. Did other schools fail to meet BOE District goals?

4. Will a reorganized Longridge School fail, meet, or exceed BOE District goals?

5. To cite a recent quote, “The school board doesn’t need to know every single detail about how this is going to work... leave it to the professionals.”

6. Perhaps BOE doesn’t need to know HOW things work, but do they need to know HOW WELL... things are EXPECTED to work?


8. High noon on THE POLICY CLOCK is long overdue at GCSD!

________________boe authority_____________
_______________supt. authority____________

9. Multi-year goals and objectives from GBOE would communicate expectations... not only to Supt. and everyone inside GCSD (staff, students etc), but also to parents and community members on the outside.

SCATS said...

To Geo ~~ You do realize that "goal" is a 4 letter word, especially to our BOE ;)

Anonymous said...

9:21 What is White Swan? And is there still an "english village"? Is that affinity but still in the same place? They go to athena . Is there a problem there?

Charlie Hubbard said...

This parental involvement is perfect.
It is the perfect excuss maker.
No one knows what it means. It can be mean 30 different things to 30 different people.
Most important it cannot be measured - therefore it can be used by any and all to justify failure and to justify more spending for failure.
Is parental involvement worst today than 10-20 years ago? No one knows but it sounds good.

Think about it, it's the perfect generic excuss.
Those running our buildings, administration, and the boe can use this anytime, anywhere, for anything. Perfect for the unions.

Finger pointing can continue forever.
Incompetence can continue to be covered-up. No one needs to be accountable.
It is perfect for Greece.

Anonymous said...

George: ?

Anonymous said...

You need to do some research into how the ranking is done. It is based on the percentage of students who take AP or IB exams. Two factors are at work here that make Odyssey hit this list year after year. 1. The overall school population is lower than the rest of the high schools in the district. Since AP/IB courses are typically taken only by 11th & 12th graders and a small number of accelerated 10th graders, you're talking about roughly 250 kids. 2. EVERY student is strongly encouraged to take at least 1 AP or IB course. Teachers and administrators tell the students and the parents they should challenge themselves and that they are there to help them succeed. And so, they do get a pretty good size group of kids who go for the exams.

One thing that most people don't seem to realize is that many of the initiatives that were introduced at Odyssey have been replicated in the other high schools with similar success. Smaller learning comunnities, an academic support or advisement period, block scheduling are a few of those.

My own personal opinion is No Child Left Behind is a flawed system that is a detriment to our students. While it makes strides to ensure equal education for students with disabilities, it leaves those who might be gifted out of the loop. If Teachers are required to bring every student to a certain level(which I personally think is too low), once they get there, they don't need to focus any more attention on them. They must concentrate their energies on the the kids who aren't there yet. Without someone pushing the kids to go higher and be the best they can be, there are fewer kids excelling to bring the rest of the school up. There's nothing like encouraging your kid for mediocrity.

Anonymous said...

In 2001, my oldest child was in 5th grade. We are in Arcadia's "district" for middle school and high school. We went to an information session where we were to be informed about Odyssey as well as the option, assuming there was space, to have our child bussed to another high school. We weren't interested in that, and knew nothing about Odyssey, but went to the meeting anyway. While the three main schools had an administrator discuss options that all seemed the same, Odyssey had a parent speak. The man literally cried when he talked about the experiences his kids had there.

At the time, there was a very small waiting list and Odyssey had a reputation for being quirky. As one parent who had no interest in Odyssey told me, "I want a normal high school experience for my kids."

We registered the first day we were allowed to and my child got in. I now have two other children there, the second one is graduating this year and going on to a very good college. All play sports and are involved in activities. And yes, the parents are very, very involved. The teachers are frankly good, but not any better on a whole than the ones we had at English Village and Brookside. If anything, I will remember some of those teachers more fondly. I really think it has been the parents that drive the students to excel.

Both parents and teachers expect a lot - kids are expected to be prepared for college, and about 95% of them choose that option.

I wish every school was like this, but frankly I don't think it can happen. Odyssey works because of the level of parental involvement. You have to get off your *ss and want your kid there, and then work with them to make sure they meet the expectations that the school sets.

I am not a VIP, just someone that got in early and benefited from the siblings rule. The minority ratio bothers me. The minorities I know at the school are upper-middle class. It seems like almost all of the parents I know there have college degrees themselves. Maybe that has something to do with Odyssey's success as well. These parents put a high value on education.

Anonymous said...

Is it the top 1600 high schools or the top 1600 public high schools? Even if it is the top public it is still an amazing statistic. And Odyssey is in the top 7% of that top school list itself.
Does the article rate all the high schools somewhere else and just tells about the top 1600? It would be helpful to know where they ranked the other schools in the USA.
Is there a business that runs the AP and IB franchise such as writing the curriculum and tests etc? Those courses have expenses paid by the school or student. The district has to purchase the texts. This sure is good free advertising for them.

SCATS said...

To 2:13PM ~~ Newsweek ranks the top 1600 high schools. Feel free to read the article for more info. AP courses & exams are run by the College Board, the same folks that are responsible for the SAT tests. IB courses are overseen through ibo.org, a separate program altogether.