(Charlie, Leslie, anyone else that was there; help me if I get anything wrong.)
I don't have a lot to say about the math adoption except that a recommendation has been made to use the Key Curriculum Press' Discovery books. The Math Manager, Anna Maria de la Fuente, did note that one study had said it was not a good series but that other math experts had said it was fine. I asked and she said it was used in the Lake Washington and Everett School districts. There is a Board work session on it March 25th, with introduction at the Board meeting on april 8th and approval/or not by the Board on April 22nd.
I do have quite a bit to say about the new Assignment Plan. Here is a link to the outline given to the Board. In reading through these recommendations/issues that start the outline, keep this quote in mind:
"These recommendations will not be fully in place when assignment plan changes are made. However, neither needs to delay progress on the other."
(Charlie calls this kind of thing "aspirational goals" that the district would like to, in good faith get done, but won't.)
I'll start with some quotes from Tracy Libros, the head of the Enrollment Office that everyone should keep in mind.
- "Nothing is a done deal." There is quite a bit to get frothy at the mouth about and we need to keep watch over this plan as the process goes on but I believe Tracy on this one.
- "Everyone will start out with an assignment." This is a key piece of the new plan. There will be assignment areas with feeder patterns from those areas and every single person, based on their address, will know where they will be assigned. (Naturally, you can go and enroll at another school if you don't want your assignment but that's how it starts off.)
- "Some K-8s will be part of assignments for elementary." I didn't get to ask but I would assume this means regular ed K-8s and not alternatives.
- As above, everyone will have an assignment. The clusters go away and are replaced by middle school attendance areas. This is because all the middle schools will have a feeder pattern from elementaries assigned to them. So this is a KEY point: your elementary assignment will flow from what middle school your address assigns you to. And, in turn, your high school assignment comes from what middle schools flow into it as well. Your predictibility/guarantee is based on the address you use (and I suspect they will really enforce these address rules to prevent cheating).
- Every middle school attendance area will also be a service area, meaning, services will be available in all these services areas. The idea is to not send kids into regions far from home just for services. Not every school can support every special need but there will be one school in your service area that will fill special needs.
- There will be three kinds of schools: Attendance area, Optional and Safety Net. The first is your regular neighborhood school, the second covers alt/non-traditional and Safety Net are those schools/programs that are for at-risk students. (Enrollment did make a big - and good - point about how hard it had been for at-risk students to access these programs and the idea now is earlier intervention with case management for each student.)
- The tiebreakers will be simplified (and not as listed in the outline). For elementary and middle they would be sibling and lottery. You don't need distance because of the Attendance Area - you are either in that area or not. However, it does get tricky in high school because they throw in a yet-undefined "socio-economic" tiebreaker for diversity right after sib and attendance area tiebreakers. Important point here: that means they will draw the attendance areas around high schools SMALLER than the capacity of the high school to allow these outside assignments. It also means that when they draw the lines, if they could include, for example, more diversity by drawing the line to the east rather than the west, the line will likely go east. So when we eventually get to a map with lines and you are wondering how they picked some of them for high school, it might be for economic diversity. (We wondered aloud why this tiebreaker would only be for high school.)
- under this plan, APP middle school students get directed to Garfield OR they can choose the high school in their assignment area. This also applies to middle school students with an IEP. You could look at this and say, "Wait a minute. That means they get two choices where others get only one." The answer was that the district could ask those families to declare a school before they enroll so that the district knows how many seats they are looking at for students not in these programs.
- I didn't get to ask but currently, students in Special Ed/bilingual get assigned separately from the General Ed population. I don't know if that would hold true for this plan but it's a question mark.
- The plan says that "all" elementaries would have ALOs available which made me (and Charlie) laugh because we wonder how that would be enforced. The outline also says that the district, when using K-8s as assignment area schools, will decide which of those may have Spectrum in them so that each assignment area has a Spectrum program.
- There had been previous discussion of "Open Choice" seats to allow students to access any high school they wanted (for any reason; program, safety, friends, whatever). There had been discussion that these would be "set-aside" seats of some unknown number. Now, it seems there would be these seats but they would come AFTER the tiebreakers of sib, assignment area and economic. How many seats that would be is really an unknown.
And, of course, there is the question of whether there is equity at the high schools (or will be) by the time this assignment plan begins. The Latina mom I referenced said her worry was violence at school and that her son just plain didn't want to be there because of that and, as Charlie put it, anti-academic peer pressure. I absolutely agree that if you don't have a large and solid core of kids who are working hard academically, it drains the school and makes it harder for those who do want to succeed academically.
So, your homework:
- nomenclature - what would you call some of these things?
- tiebreakers - what do you think?
- what is missing or needed?
- Draft policy by April 8th
- Board approval by April 22nd
- High School maps by April 29th
- more public meetings May 5, 7,9