Monday, December 27, 2010

Students Who Move

This is a long direct quote from pages 5 and 6 of the New Student Assignment Transition Plan for 2011-2012, which the Board will vote on in January:
E. Students Who Move
When students move, they may have the option or be required to get a new school assignment, depending on when and where they move.

In general, students must change to their new attendance area schools if:
• They are assigned to their attendance area school, are not grandfathered, and they move to a new attendance area. If they move before the school year starts, they must change schools immediately. If they move during the school year, they may finish the year at their current school,
but they must change schools the next year.

In general, students may change to their new attendance area school if:
• They have a grandfathered or choice assignment, are in grades K‐8, and they move outside of their assigned school’s service area.
• They have a grandfathered or choice assignment, are in grades 9‐12, and they move outside of their assigned school’s attendance area.

In all cases, reassignments are subject to any ELL/special education services a student may require, and are subject to standard transportation rules. Detailed rules are available in the Superintendent’s Procedures for School Assignment.
In short, the District essentially requires students who move from one attendance area to another to change schools.

Contrast this with the direction given to the superintendent when designing the new student assignment plan (from the New Student Assignment Plan Framework):
5. Clusters that combine several reference areas would be modified to:
• Continue to give families choice with transportation, but within a smaller geographic area (fewer elementary schools in most clusters).
• Add the flexibility of staggered school opening and closing times as an additional choice element for families, with transportation provided within the cluster. This has an additional benefit of saving on transportation costs.
• Address varying needs around the district. For instance, clusters in high poverty areas might be larger than other clusters to enhance the likelihood of school continuity, with transportation, despite family mobility.
Setting aside, for the moment, the thinking then that we could reduce transportation costs by staggering school start times (compared to the thinking just two years later that we could save transportation costs by standardizing school start times), note the sensitivity to allowing for school continuity, particularly for highly mobile low-income families. None of that sensitivity can be found in the current Student Assignment Plan and it is particularly absent in this Transition Plan.

I'm aware of the concern. If we allow students who move to retain their seat at their school, then we might see families rent an apartment in Wallingford for the critical months to qualify as residents in the JSIS attendance area and then move back into their real home (outside the area) after enrollment has been secured. The solution to this problem, of course, is to make JSIS an option school, not to have students from low-income households change schools from Emerson to Dunlap to Rainier View and back again as their family hop-scotches from apartment to apartment around southeast Seattle.


anonymous said...
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anonymous said...
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anonymous said...

"The solution to this problem, of course, is to make JSIS an option school,"


But it wouldn't just be JSIS. Families would temporarily move to get into Roosevelt, Ballard and Garfield. And Laurelhurst, View Ridge, Wedgewood and Bryant. And North Beach, Montlake and McGilvra. And Eckstein and Washington. And TOPS, Salmon Bay and Thornton Creek. And any other high performing, popular, schools that I may be forgetting.

So how do you assure stability to children from transient homes, while making sure that families with the means don't cheat the system by renting houses to get into the schools they want?

Maybe there could be a "low income" clause in the policy? IE Students eligible for free and reduced rate lunch would be able to remain at their current school if their family changed residence? After all, low income families wouldn't be a cheating threat as they can't afford to rent bogus apartments to get their kids into a school they like.

And BTW what happened to our homeless policy? We used to allow homeless students to remain at one school and provide taxi service to/from wherever they were on any given day. Do we still do that?

Dorothy Neville said...

"And BTW what happened to our homeless policy? We used to allow homeless students to remain at one school and provide taxi service to/from wherever they were on any given day. Do we still do that?"

Federal law. I want to say McKinney Act, but I could be way off. Anyway, federal law, so nothing altruistic about our district doing this.

Patrick said...

JSIS is just one school. What about all the other "desirable" schools? What stops families from renting a room in a flophouse in the U District for a couple of months one summer and using it to enrole in Roosevelt for the next four years? Summer rents in the U district would be within reach of all but the very poorest families, and they only have to collect mail there once a week or so.

I'd like to give stability to students who move. Is there some way to do that that wouldn't invite fraud?

Ideally, all the schools would be equally desirable, so it wouldn't be a problem. I expect that will happen shortly after mideast peace.

Melissa Westbrook said...

And, by or before 2018, there will be a large number of apartments directly across from Roosevelt. Roosevelt/Ravenna are largely single family neighborhoods but there are some apartments and, with the new light rail stop that will be built a block and a half away from Roosevelt, more apartments will be going up.

That could really change who goes to Roosevelt.

Charlie Mas said...

When I wrote JSIS I meant any popular school. Yes, people could rent apartments near Garfield, Roosevelt, Ballard, McGilvra, Montlake, South Shore, Salmon Bay, or whatever school strikes their fancy in an effort to gain access to that school for their children.

The solution? In the case of JSIS it is to make it an option school. For Garfield, Roosevelt and Ballard, the solution is to improve the academic opportunity at other high schools.

The challenge is greatest when there is great disparity among schools within a single middle school service area - as there is in the Washington Service Area - since the District will provide transportation within the middle school service area.

There is less risk of people living in the southeast seeking access to schools in the north because student transportation becomes rather daunting. Moreover, the Framework didn't presume to allow grandfathering when the student left the cluster.

Jan said...

I think it is highly unfair to tell a family that moves from, say, Franklin's area to a home in West Seattle that their child can't remain at Franklin, but must transfer to Sealth or WSHS -- when a FL/RL child next door gets to stay. This is insanity.

The ONLY long term solution are the ones that needed to have been implemented BEFORE NSAP -- (1) the material improvement of the desirability of RBHS and other undersubscribed schools; and (2) the intelligent siting and definition of option schools (to include LI and Montessori programs).

The SDS was asked by the board to make sure that the SAP didn't present an undue hardship to highly mobile families. The SDS then crafted an assignment policy that "guarantees" assignments to highly unequal schools -- based on where a family maintains a residence. This problem is manufactured by District management's failure to improve schools to the point where family migration in and out of assignment areas would be a minimal, tolerable issue. They now want to fix it by blatantly ignoring the Board's instructions.

The research on the deleterious effects of moving middle and high school aged kids from one school to another is out there -- and is not (to my knowledge) contradicted by much research on the other side. While there are certainly kids who may thrive anywhere, it is not good for many kids(especially older ones)to be uprooted even once (much less over and over) from their schools. And it is true without regard to income levels. The Board should reject this proposal -- and demand accountability from the staff. The undesirable school situation must be fixed, and must be fixed now.

Jan said...

Oh-- and schools that should be option schools by virtue of their differences in pedagogy (Montessori) or curriculum (LI schools), should be converted to options schools. The Board should refuse to permit District staff to continue to perpetuate the inequities of the current system, and should demand accountability for the problems (overenrollment at JSIS for example) that are the direct, forseeable result of bad planning and bad policies of a year ago.

dan dempsey said...

This is such total bs. .... The NSAP was to make every school a quality school by spending the transportation savings at schools that needed increased qualiy.

TWO BIG BIG PROBLEMS with that line.

#1.. Greatly increased spending over the three years of the Southeast Education Initiative did nothing. So where is the fuctional plan to increase quality?

#2.. A big first step in the NSAP was to investigate making Cleveland an option school that would draw students from attendance area schools; like 82 students from Ballard going to CHS by 2015.

The problem occurred when in the rush to make all this happen, the Board ignored the part about secured funding being needed to move forward.

Instead the plan became loot the carryover funds from 31 low-income schools and divert it to Cleveland.

So how does that fit with making every school a quality school?

The NSAP increases ethnic imbalance and income imbalance between schools.

The NSAP in its current configuration produces more separate and increasingly unequal schools.

Until the SPS abandons this insane push for centralization and standardization of schools via JSCEE directives, there is little hope for improvement.

Once again we see a decision made that ignored evidence and disregarded the fact that the original requirements to move forward with CHS STEM option were not fulfilled.

As Peter Maier said on 2/3/10: "It's about Project Based Learning and that is enough for my vote."

Equally bizarre thinking came from the other three rubber-stampers. Then on 4/7/10 the same four voted yes but without explanation.

CHS needed restructuring in the state's view because of crappy test score over the three years prior to last school year. The three years of ultra crappy experimental professionally developed "IMP" math courtesy of UW and NSF.

Yes the Problem Based Learning inquiry program made Cleveland one of the 47 failing schools.

Hattie rated PBL with a "0.15" effect size, which is pathetic. SPS then buys an extreme underperforming program to be a member of the underperforming NTN network for $800,000.
Yup... it requires "Problem Based Learning" variant "Project Based Learning" in all classes.

What a Superintendent!! The Directors elected in 2007 strike again. :-(

zb said...

". . . not to have students from low-income households change schools from Emerson to Dunlap to Rainier View and back again as their family hop-scotches from apartment to apartment around southeast Seattle."

But, wouldn't you be able to use the "choice" option to remain in Emerson, Dunlap, or Ranier View if you moved? And once you did, you'd be able to stay. This NSAP rule only affects people who are moving away from schools that have no remaining choice spots and it prevents families from gaming living location in order to gain access to the popular/over-enrolled schools.

I don't consider it unfair to manipulate opportunity based on the economic status of a child's family (i.e. FRL being changing one's ability to stay in a school). I do think, though, that adding the criterion would be a complication to the NSAP plan. Adding an FRL tie breaker to remaining in a school could be like adding a FRL tie breaker to access to choice/option spots, and that wasn't included. The exclusion might have been partly political (a concession to those who would consider it unfair), but I suspect that it is also pure logistics/simplicity. Requiring FRL information before school assignment would make the plan less simple.

But, another possibility would be to allow previous attendance in the school to be a tie-breaker. This wouldn't allow one to gain access to a school that is already filled with reference area children, but it would allow one to remain in a school that had space.

This couldn't work for high schools in the same way (since there are set aside choice seats, and people could game moving to gain access to them).

For the commenter who mentioned the high-performing option schools -- you would still be able to stay in those if you moved, even under this rule.

I find this rule to be a reasonable balance, and think that a lot could be done to help low-income students maintain consistency by merely telling them of their choice possibilities. I'd also like to see the demographics on which students this effects, and how the rule will effect them.

dj said...

Of course, a lot of parents now are not moving to get desirable schools, but are just lying about their addresses (using businesses, relatives' addresses, etc.) I personally know of several people who, once they found out that they were guaranteed access to particular schools with particular addresses, simply lied about their addresses (I am not saying this didn't happen under the old plan, but you didn't have the guarantee of assignment so the risk/reward was lower).

Jan said...

dj: I don't doubt you, but how can people do that? Doesn't that mean all their school mail (grades, etc.) goes to the fake address? And it would screw up transportation too -- but maybe these are all people who get their kids to school by private transportation. I am just baffled at how this can possibly work!

dj said...

Jan, I get very little mail from my oldest chilld's school. Report cards rare given at parent/teacher conferences, and almost everything else comes home in my child's backpack. Her transportation was mailed, but I think you can get that by calling the district, and besides, if you are not going to the school in your neighborhood it is not going to help you much to drive to the stop for your fake address. It is qui a bit easier to drive your kid than to move in is economy or pay private school tuition. Really, the only thing that is an impediment is that other parents might turn you in.