How serious should the AdvancED report's findings against the Wake County school board be taken?
As noted in today's article, supporters of the board majority are downplaying the findings, focusing on how Wake is keeping its high school accreditation for now. Critics of the board majority are arguing that the report justifies the concerns they've raised over the past 15 months.
Mark Elgart, president of AdvancED, said parents don't have to worry right now because accreditation is safe through at least the 2011-12 school year. But he said the report raises serious concerns that Wake needs to address.
"There are significant areas that will need to be addressed and fixed," Elgart said.
Wake received "accredited warned" status, the second toughest status that AdvancED could have given.
The most serious, Elgart said, is "accredited probation," in which serious problems were found and needed to be fixed within six months. He said about 2 percent of the 6,000 districts with schools who are accredited by the group are in that category.
In "accredited warned," Elgart said that at least one serious concern was found that needs to be fixed within a year. He said about 10 percent of the districts are in this category.
In "accredited advised," Elgart said some concerns are found that they'd like to be addressed.
The next category is clear accreditation.
Elgart said a big concern they found is that the board majority wasn't making decisions based on data. He said the board members didn't acknowledge the gains in academic achievement while criticizing the academic results under the old assignment policy.
Elgart said that board members were overly blaming the old policy for reassignment.
"Reassignment wasn't caused by the student assignment policy," Elgart said. "It was the natural result of growth. They should have focused on the real problem that they were growing faster than their capacity."
But Elgart noted that they're not saying Wake has to go back to the old assignment policy. He said that Wake can choose neighborhood schools or any other approach.
"We will not dictate policy to them," Elgart said. "We will not say you have to do x, y or z."
School board members were urged by Superintendent Tony Tata and board chairman Ron Margiotta to decline comment Wednesday. They were urged to refer questions to Tata.
In the school district's press release, Margiotta said they "disagree with certain opinions expressed in the report, especially unfair characterizations of individual board members' motives."
Elgart stood by the at times stinging words in the report.
"We agree to disagree," Elgart said. "We hold to our professional opinion."
As for those who argue the review wasn't warranted, Elgart said they're "vindicated" by how Wake is choosing to comply with the report.