The primary thing to like about this policy is its very existence. Finally we have a policy to codify the process and set standards for allowing schools to use alternatives to the board-adopted materials as their basic instructional materials (rather than as supplemental materials).
Beyond that, there isn't much good here at all.
First, the policy sets a higher community engagement and staff engagement standard for the alternative materials used by one school than the standards set for the basic instructional materials used by the whole district.
Indicate how the school staff and community has been involved in making the recommendation to use alternative basic instructional materials, including information on how the school-based decision matrix was used in this process and evidence that staff have agreed to implement the alternative materials fully;Second, the feedback loop for alternative materials is more demanding than the one for board-adopted materials. If we set up these protections to prevent the use of sub-standard materials by 300 students, why don't we set up the same protections to prevent the use of sub-standard materials by 30,000 students?
Schools for which a waiver is granted must take all relevant district and state assessments, and must, on average over the 3-year waiver period, meet or exceed the gains demonstrated by peer schools that are using the district-adopted materials for all segments of their population in order to continue using the alternative basic instructional materials.
Approved waivers shall be granted for a 3-year period, after which the school’s data and continued interest in the waiver will be assessed. The Superintendent shall have the final decision about revoking the waiver or continuing it for another 3-year term. If a waiver is revoked the school will be required to return to district-adopted materials.Third, why three hoops? The principal submits the request to the Executive Director of Schools, who reviews it and makes a recommendation, then it is reviewed by the Assistant Superintendent of Teaching & Learning, who reviews it and makes a recommendation, then it is reviewed by the superintendent, who reviews it and makes a decision. Why not just send it directly to the superintendent for review and decision? What benefit are we expected to get from kibbitzing by the Executive Director and the Assistant Superintendent?
A waiver request must be completed by the Principal of the school and submitted to the Executive Director of Schools (EDS) or equivalent position. The EDS shall review the request and make a recommendation to the Assistant Superintendent of Teaching & Learning. The Assistant Superintendent shall review the request and the recommendation of the EDS and make a recommendation to the Superintendent. The Superintendent shall review all materials and make a decision on the request. The Superintendent’s decision is final.Fourth, the superintendent's decision is final. There is no appeal. This means that the superintendent can simply choose to reject all waiver requests out of hand. How is that a good practice? Yes, the superintendent is supposed to make a report to the Board about waiver requests and the rationale for her decision, but the superintendent is also required by policy to make a number of other annual reports to the Board and many of them are never made. Why should we think that the superintendent will make this report or make it honestly?
The Superintendent shall annually inform the School Board about the number and type of waivers requested and the disposition, including rationale, of those requests.Fifth, completely absent from this policy is any mention of how the District as a whole is supposed to benefit from this experimentation. That was supposed to be a significant feature of this type of innovation. It is simply absent. What happened to that idea? Figuring that out was supposedly why this policy took so long to develop, but now that the policy is here there is no mention of it.