WakeEd

The WakeEd blog is devoted to discussing and answering questions about the major issues facing the Wake County school system. How will the new student assignment plan balance diversity, stability, proximity and stability? How will Jim Merrill replace Tony Tata as the new superintendent of the state's largest district? How will voters react to a $810 million school construction bond referendum on Oct. 8 ballot? How will this fall's school board elections impact the future of the district?

WakeEd is maintained by The News & Observer's Wake schools reporter, T. Keung Hui. While Keung posts information and analysis on the issues, keep us posted on your suggestions, questions, tips and what you're doing to cope with the changes in Wake's schools.

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Accrediting group to review Wake's change in student assignment policy

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The original somewhat general state NAACP complaint against the Wake County school system has now turned into a wide-ranging review of all the major decisions made since December.

A "special review team" from AdvancED, the parent organization of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, will be coming to Raleigh soon to review the complaint filed by the NAACP. They've asked for a wide range of documents.

For instance, AdvancED want to know who developed the new community based assignment initiative and what studies and info was used to justify the move from the socioeconomic diversity policy.

The group wants any information used to determine the financial impact of ending mandatory year-round schools.

They want all information used to abandon the Forest Ridge High site.

Among the many other things, the group wants the contracts with attorney Thomas Farr and the Civitas Institute.

Click here to read the letter showing all the information requested.

Wake could have a problem if AdvancED removes accreditation from the high schools.

UPDATE

I'm putting the documents in chronological order.

Click here for the original NAACP complaint filed in March that started the investigation.

Click here for the amended NAACP complaint filed with SACS.

Click here for Wake's April response to the complaint. (I've reposted the link.)

Click here for the AdvancED letter asking for more information from Wake after not being satisfied with the district's response.

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Who is Mark Elgart from the

Dr. Elgart, CEO of AdvancED, lives in Alpharetta, GA in Fulton County. Below is the student assignment plan for the school system there (please note the absence of any mention of assignemnt by "diversity"):

An attendance zone shall be established for each school, based primarily on geographic proximity, as measured by distance traveled along available routes of transportation and taking into account the instructional capacity of the school. Other criteria may be considered only when proximity provides more than one boundary option. Allowable criteria in such circumstances shall be limited to traffic patterns as they affect travel time and safety, placement of special instructional programs, history of prior rezonings affecting the area, and school feeder alignment.

Students in grades 5, 8, 10, 11 and 12 who are affected by rezoning to another school will be given the option of remaining at their present school provided their parents agree to be responsible for their transportation. All other students must attend the school serving the geographic zone in which the student resides, except when otherwise provided by policy or by the Student Hardship Committee.

Zone lines shall be revised as needed to reduce overcrowding at existing schools and to set attendance zones for new schools.

The Superintendent shall develop procedures for establishing and revising attendance zones. Such procedures shall utilize staff expertise, available technology, and parental input.

http://www.fultonschools.org/

http://www.fultonschools.org/media-bin/documents/04-05mapofschools.pdf

There's a map of FCS' area.  The city of Atlanta is not included in their system, so they basically have two sections separated by Atlanta.  Busing kids through Atlanta for diversity isn't really an option.

Plus, their assignment zone for each school doesn't seem to allow for parental choice, either.

This is much bigger than

This is much bigger than just Wake County. It appears that AdvanceEd could ask similar questions of just about any school system's policies if someone complains.  And that's rather scary--to think that this group has the power to swoop in and remove accredidation if they don't like the policies being used by a local elected school board.  If they get away with this in Wake, doesn't that put every system in the state on notice that they'd better check with AdvanceED (and perhaps the NAACP) before they make any policy decisions (or school placement decisions, for that matter).  So much for local control of schools.

Bring on the voter nullification!

You make a very important point.

I think that the board nay-sayers who are cheering this action, and also the move by the state legislature to go in and examine school policies on diversity are being very short-sighted.  Yes, you may disagree vociferously with the policies of the current board ---- but do you REALLY want to give up the power over controlling your own local school system to some some private organization that appears to make up its own rules as it goes along, or to the state legislature?  Yes, you may be so adamantly against the policies of the current board that you'd do almost anything to thwart them, but in my  opinion this is getting to the level of selling your soul.  I don't believe in giving up the autonomy of following the wishes of the local electorate for the short term gain of changing one decision you don't like.

Question?

Keung: today's article, "a powerful accreditation group is threatening to strip its credentials . . ."  Isn't that a little inflammatory?  The letter doesn't say anything about stripping credentials.  I suggest that omission is purposeful.

Review teams are far from

Review teams are far from the norm. They could have easily decided to add Wake  to the lists of districts theat they get complaints about and do nothing with them. But they're coming in for a full-blown investigation. Regardless of whether you think the review is warranted, the implications of their review warranted the wording.

That is a pretty weak

That is a pretty weak defense of the overblown rhetoric you chose to use.

Keung - does CMS have this

Keung - does CMS have this same accreditation?  Was a review done when CMS dropped busing?

Unlike Wake where only

Unlike Wake where only individual schools are accredited, Charlotte is accredited as a district. SACS only began accrediting school districts in 2004. CMS paid $150,000 for a review that got it district accredtiation in 2005. I don't know how much, if at all, the district's assignment policy was reviewed then.
 

Ehh...

Has nothing to do with whether I think the review is warranted.  The fact is that they didn't say "We may pull Wake's accreditation" -- Advance-Ed made no threat.  I agree that it's possible that Advance-Ed will pull the accreditation; they just haven't made the threat to do so.

The US has been runnings war games off North Korea, with an implied threat of force, but the US has never threatened to attack North Korea.  The first is relatively subtle; the second is a shot across the bow.  Advance-Ed has not sent the shot across the bow.

Maybe we should ask the majority

if they are terrified over this?

Very questionable

This is clearly politically motivated.  Here's why:

Advance-Ed accredits both schools and district -- lots of districts only have their schools accredited, wheras the district itself isn't.   Everything they're looking at here would go to the district's accreditation, not to that of individual schools. But, they're not threatening the district's accreditation -- they're threatening the schools'.   (How do I know?  The district isn't accredited!) 

How is an individual school going to be affected by, for example, the ticketing policy at school board meetings?  How does the location of the H6 school affect the ability of any other school to teach its students?   How would it be justified to say "We don't like how you decided to change these elementary schools from year-round to traditional, so we'll just pull the acceditation from, oh, Apex High School?"

The school accreditation standards are here: http://www.advanc-ed.org/accreditation/standards/advanced_school_standards.pdf   I've looked over them.  The MOST they say about the school board is this:

In fulfillment of this standard, the school operates under the jurisdiction of a governing board that:
2.1 Establishes policies and procedures that provide for the effective operation of the school
2.2 Recognizes and preserves the executive, administrative, and leadership prerogatives of the administrative head of the school
2.3 Ensures compliance with applicable local, state, and federal laws, standards, and regulations

All of this is school-focused.  Nothing that the board has done has implicated any of this.

So why are they investigating? 

Who evaluates the

Who evaluates the evaluators?

I don't see how any objective observer would feel that it is appropriate for an educational accreditation organization to attempt to manipulate and micro-manage the operations of a school district at the level this group appears to aiming for.  How is the location of a school site (one of over 160 schools in the district) a decision in which an academic accreditation organization should be included?  This smells like a witch hunt.

I have no answer to your

I have no answer to your question.

But, as an interested observer, it seems odd that a group elected to help eliminate long bus rides also moved a school site that will ultimately increase the bus ride for a majority of the students that attend it.

Where did you get this info

Where did you get this info that the majority of the students attending H6 will have a longer bus ride?  I think that Norwalk has talked about kids from the Bedford and Wakefield areas being bused farther, but they were never going to be assigned to H6. 

Which students will have a longer bus ride?

The ones that would have

The ones that would have lived closer to the old school site.  You know....where the dense housing is located.

How much in annual fees does

How much in annual fees does the WCPSS pay the SACS on an annual basis?

Just save the money. I say let the WCPSS stand on its own. Let SACS lay off a couple of people when WCPSS drops them from the budget. If SACS slams the WCPSS and discredits the school system, then what is the point of paying them any more money?

I believe SAT scores still rule when it comes to whether colleges want you or not.

Let the students speak for themselves based on achievement.

The SACS is a bogus organization anyway!

 

 

college admissions

The SAT doesn't rule when it comes to college admissions -- in fact some schools (like Wake Forest University for instance) don't even use SAT or ACT scores any more. There are also instances where if a child has graduated from a high school they cannot be considered for a scholarship if they haven't graduated from an accredited school -- no matter what their SAT score is.

Wake's membership dues were

Wake's membership dues were $13,125 last school year. After throwing in expenses to cover the costs of the review teams that visited several high schools for reaccreditation reviews, the total cost was $24,165.

Keung, who is paying the

Keung, who is paying the cost for the review team's visit this time around?

I don't know who would pay

I don't know who would pay the cost of the review considering it's been requested by the agency and not the district.

Along with identifying what

Along with identifying what studies and information was used to move away from the diversity policy, they should be requesting what studies and information was used to implement the socioeconomic diversity policy.......and don't forget to include studies that support the success of the diversity policy.  By success, I mean the studies that measure the academic improvement of the ED students who were bused.

What are the repercussions

What are the repercussions if this group pulls accreditation?

It can make it harder for

It can make it harder for students to transfer credits between schools, get college loans, scholarships and acceptance into colleges and mlitary programs.

Thanks Keung.  I wonder if

Thanks Keung.  I wonder if Mr. Barbor knew that when he filed his complaint, and why he would want to make it more difficult for students to get loans & scholarships or to be accepted into colleges.

I wonder if Mr. Barbor knew

I wonder if Mr. Barbor knew that when he filed his complaint, and why he would want to make it more difficult for students to get loans & scholarships or to be accepted into colleges.

 

But you just said we need to be honest on how much the schools suck ...

I don't doubt that right now there are people rethinking whether to move to Wake County.  That is fine with me, because I think a lot of folks came here buying the "world-class schools" illusion, and I'd rather people know up front what they are getting into -- even if it hurts our tax base.  People have a right to know. <CaryCumudgeon>

I see you missed your ginko

I see you missed your ginko biloba again today.  We need (needed) to be honest with people about what to expect from WCPSS.  I didn't say our schools suck, but they are certainly not "world class."  We don't compare that favorably to average in our own state, and NC is not known as a pillar of education.

It may be ugly, but at least the issues with instability and inequity are now being discussed in the public forum.  Being forthcoming with people is one thing, but a vindictive complaint which could result in penalizing students is quite another.

Hey CaryC, the word is

Hey CaryC, the word is "ginkgo."  Now beyond the spelling lesson, why not consider this from a different perspective, if you are capable.  Instead of villifying Reverend Barber, why not ask a different question: Why would SACS/AdvancEd consider such actions if they did not believe that there was a very substantial problem with the manner in which the present board majority have conducted business.  But then again, Chairman Margiotta just said that there is nothing to worry about and some in our county think that he is a tower of intellect. 

Hey, spelling champ....

"Instead of villifying Reverend Barber....."

There's only one L in "vilify."

LOL

Hey CaryC, the word is "ginkgo." --- Sorry, I forgot.

and

HEY, SPELLING CHAMP .... There's only one L in "vilify."

Two big LOL, Choked on the second one while I was laughing at the first.

Hey CaryC, the word is

Hey CaryC, the word is "ginkgo."

Sorry, I forgot.

Why would SACS/AdvancEd consider such actions if they did not believe that there was a very substantial problem with the manner in which the present board majority have conducted business.

I don't know, I never heard of them before Barbar launched his complaint.  I have no idea what, in their view, merits sending in a swat team.  Do you know what criteria they use to decide whether followup is needed?  I am a bit curious why such a group would ask for information on the decision to move the H6 site.  There's plenty of debate between people who love and hate that decision, but what in the world does it have to do with education (which I assume is SACS's business).  If there is concern that the board's decision-making process was illegal then I'd expect that to be pursued through the legal system.

Chairman Margiotta just said that there is nothing to worry about

Interesting to know.  But now matter how remote the possibility, everyone should be worried about losing accreditation if it means our students lose out on scholarships and college admissions.

Fact Check

 

We don't compare that favorably to average in our own state, and NC is not known as a pillar of education
 
Performance of Students in Each Grade on the ABCs End-of-Grade Tests
% of students above Grade Level
 
     Reading Math
Wake  73.4% 83.4%
State    67.6% 80.0%
 
Performance of Students in Each Course on the ABCs End-of-Course Tests
% of students above Grade Level
 
Wake
          Eng      Alg1    Alg2    Geo    Bio       Chem  PhyS  Phy      Econ  USHis
Wake 80.7% 76.5% 81.6% 81.0% 80.2% 87.3% 67.2% 92.1% 80.4% 77.6%
State73.8% 67.7% 72.9% 73.3% 71.2% 77.7% 62.7% 85.9% 71.4% 71.2%

Reality of EOGs.  A middle

Reality of EOGs.  A middle school student, to be proficient on an EOG has little more to do than answer 51% of the questions correctly.  Until just a few years ago it was 49% in math to be "proficient."  The EOG typically consists of 60 questions with 20 field test items that do not count for or against score.  I have looked at the raw data each year from my students (Iteach 8th grade science) and I know that my students are graded as proficient answering correctly 31 questions.  The raw data never includes FT Items.

I graduated from Old Dominion University in 1997 with a Masters in Education.  In Designs for Effective Education we discussed testing.  The professor in that course made mention of the fact that if you did not like the way in which your schools strack up against the rest of the nation then you can create your own test "like NC did."  The EOGs do not compare to any other test in the nation because it is given only in NC.  Also, the rsults are not really a percentage of where a particular student scored in comparision to other NC students.  The CAT, for example, tells you that if you scored in the 87th percentile then you scored that in comparision with where every other student scored who took that test to date.

OK, then...

The only times I know how my children are doing compared to the rest of the country are when they take something like the  CogAT & IOWA tests in 3rd grade?

Sounds like we need a way to compare the kids to the rest of the nation.

There you go again, quoting

There you go again, quoting numbers that you know are biased because of Wake's demographics.  Take a lookey by subgroup and see if you can come to the same conclusion. 

Weren't you comparing WCPSS

Weren't you comparing WCPSS to the rest of the state?

If you're doing that, how is comparing district averages to the state average "biased"?

The zone you end up assigned to will likely be very different demographically than a zone that includes SE Raleigh.  Will that be bias, too?

Bias when

Haven't you figured it out yet - when WCPSS actually does compare favorably it is demographic bias. When it doesn't - WCPSS sucks and demographics is just an excuse.

Barber doesn't care...he

Barber doesn't care...he only cares about his opinion , not matter who he takes down with him.  And if that means the other hard working students in WCPSS...he'll do it.

Pfft..

Big difference between "world class" and unaccredited.  

The idea that WCPSS would be deaccredited is preposterous.  Heck, Halifax is accredited, and they're one of the districts that Judge Manning called out for not providing a sound basic education.  If it were to happen, I would be very inclined to believe that the deaccreditation was politically motivated and not based on any sort of objective standard.  The accreditation body would be calling its own credibility into issue.

...

Keung,

What are the possible outcomes from this complaint? Is it an all-or-nothing decision? You either keep accredidation or lose it?

 

Aside from leaving it alone

Aside from leaving it alone or removing it outright, SACS could suspend the accreditation or put Wake on probation.

...

So that begs the question. Why would Barber want this?  How does this fit in with his demand for high quality schools?

 

 

 

Accountability

Accountability, SB.  The board must be held accountable for their decisions, something they have not felt obliged to be, except to the people who voted them in. Barber has stated he feels the direction this board is taking will create high poverty, racially identifiable schools, which are historically underfunded and offer less opportunity for students, and he's not willing to watch it happen. Barber's was not the only complaint. There's quite a few people out there that get the big picture. So it looks like to me he is acting for the benefit of those students who will inevitably end up in the high poverty schools.

....

The only thing the SACS review could do is remove or suspend accreditation of our schools.  That's not accountability. That's spite.

I bet your friends at Enloe are reconsidering their support of Barber right now. If not, they should be.

 

 

Sideburns,   I'm just

Sideburns,

 

I'm just curious, have you ever visited Enloe High School?

Follow the rules

To be in the club, you have to follow the rules, SB.  Why should Wake be any different?  If the board has been following the rules, then there is nothing to worry about, right?  I'm wondering how your friends in the M5 districts, especially senior parents, are feeling right now? SACS would not be coming to town without justification. Whole lot of effort on their part, just for spite.

IF...

If Advance-Ed is operating out of pure motives, that's right.  Please look at the Advance-Ed standards for accreditation -- http://www.advanc-ed.org/accreditation/standards/advanced_school_standards.pdf -- and identify which of Wake's 24 high schools are not meeting which standards.

The problem is that by just coming here and calling the accreditation of Wake's schools into doubt, they've already done damage.  Does the name Reid Siegelmann ring a bell?  You may not be able to key into where you've heard the name, but I guarantee that you've heard it and you probably have negative connotations, not because of anything he did, but because of accusations in an overzealous investigation made against him.

I don't think it's just for spite -- I think it's political.  Big difference, although spite might easily be in there.

Aren't elected officials

Aren't elected officials accountable to the people who elect them? It seems Barber et al have decided they know what is best for us, elections be damned. The assignement plan Wake is changing to is the same policy used by over 99% of school districts.

No, they are accountable to

No, they are accountable to all of the people in Wake County.  The elections are over.  They took a oath to serve all students and families in WCPSS and all stakeholders (ie. taxpayers) in the county.

and having won that election

and having won that election they get to vote in the manner they feel serves all of wake county. I guess if they vote in a manner you agree with you feel they are serving all of the county, if their vote is one you don't agree with they are only serving those that elected them. After every vote of every school board I doubt all citizens feel that they represented.

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About the blogger

T. Keung Hui covers Wake schools.
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