Reformer, test-score booster coming to Summit Schools |

Reformer, test-score booster coming to Summit Schools

One of the most important jobs in Summit County, superintendent of schools, is being filled by a reformist who once quit as principal of a Denver elementary school in protest over Colorado’s mandated Colorado Student Assessment Program tests – themselves called a reform by Gov. Bill Owens and the state Legislature.

Dr. Lynn Spampinato may not like high-stakes testing, but she’s making peace to become full superintendent of a school system. Nevertheless, the big feather in her hat is she leaves a job in Philadelphia where she has won acclaim for raising test scores in five inner-city schools.

Spampinato’s most publicized reform was separating the sexes in a North Philadelphia middle school. Proponents of separation believe it allows educators to cater to the different ways boys and girls learn, and it rids the classroom of adolescent sexual tension.

It will be interesting how that philosophy is applied over time to the Summit School District. School board President Bill Pelham says Spampinato’s hiring does not mean gender separation is around the corner, however.

“We have no interest in that,” he said, indicating the philosophy was more applicable to circumstances in inner-city schools.

Spampinato also split the sexes when she was principal at Mitchell Elementary School in Denver. She quit that post in 2000. Her quote at the time was, “As a true believer in public education, I cannot be a participant over its demise.”

She did not put Gov. Bill Owens as a reference on her application form.

Spampinato is not alone in her dim view of high-stakes testing. Current Summit Schools Superintendent Wes Smith has often intoned that education is a bigger job than testing, and educators cannot lose sight of that while still trying to raise test scores.

In any event, CSAP testing is here to stay and it is now bolstered by President Bush’s No Child Left Behind education bill, which essentially creates CSAP-style accountability across the nation.

Pelham said Spampinato is being offered a three-year contract because board members believe she can raise the local school system to the next level academically.

He also said she knew the most out of other superintendent candidates about the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, the accelerated curriculum started in the middle school two years ago. The first IB kids hit Summit High School this coming school year.

Spampinato’s knowledge of middle school students and IB will come in handy at a school still trying to sort out how the curriculum works along with honors programs, regular coursework, English learners and special education.

Spampinato is keen on middle school, if her record bears her out. In her view, students who drop out of high school really dropped out mentally in middle school. The act of leaving school is a matter of time delay.

Spampinato comes to Summit County from private enterprise.

The state of Pennsylvania took over Philadelphia public schools because of chronic academic and budget problems.

A special reform commission hired the company Victory Schools to effect change.

Her experience with the business side of education will be useful, with current and looming cuts in state education funding.

We welcome Spampinato to Summit County and laud the choice of a reform-minding professional to work with our children.

Opinions published in this space are formulated by members of the Summit Daily News editorial board: Michael Bennett, Jim Pokrandt, Abigail Eagye, Rachel Toth, Reid Williams, Aidan Leonard, Shauna Farnell and Martha Lunsky.

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