The school board shot down a proposal today to have staff research whether students are benefitting from the diversity policy.
School board members Ron Margiotta and Horace Tart argued for having the Evaluation and Research Department track the performance of students who are assigned for diversity reasons. They said it would help show whether trying to balance the percentage of low-income students at schools is succeeding.
But other board members at today's student achievement committee meeting disagreed. Some said a study wasn't needed while others said it wouldn't be possible to do a valid study.
As noted previously, Wake has only done one study that actually tracked students who are reassigned for diversity reasons. But the authors of that 2004 study concluded that too few students were in the sample size to develop valid conclusions.
Instead, over the years Wake has pointed to research showing that high-poverty schools don't do as well academically. Most recently, school leaders have pointed to how high-poverty schools in Charlotte are doing much worse since the district abandoned diversity.
The initial discussion today was whether an updated study is needed.
The issue, according to David Holdzkom, assistant superintendent for evaluation and research, is that you can't statistically show how a student would have done if he wasn't reassigned.
Holdzkom said you can try to see how that reassigned student would do compared to similar students at his old school.
But Lori Millberg, chairwoman of the student achievement committee, said there are so many variables trying to compare the students that it wouldn't be "statistically valid." Furthermore, she said she knows that Wake's policy works.
"I've been at these [high poverty] schools," said Millberg, whose children have attended schools in Eastern Wake. "The stress on the teachers, the stress on the schools. I don't need any further study to see if our diversity policy is working."
Board member Beverley Clark said they can't just think about how the diversity policy impacts individual students. She argued it can't be ignored how hard it is to get teachers to work at high-poverty schools.
"As a school board, we have to be worried about the entire school system, the turnover of teachers and the overall working conditions," Clark said.
After much discussion, no one made a formal motion for a districtwide study.
But Tart asked Holdzkom if he could see how the students who were recently reassigned out of North Garner Middle School to West Lake Middle School are doing. They would be compared with similar students at North Garner.
"We have to start somewhere," Tart said.
Because Tart isn't a member of the committee, he couldn't formally make the request. It was left up to Margiotta, vice chairman of the committee, to make the motion.
But the motion died when none of the other committee members seconded the request. In addition to Millberg, committee members Eleanor Goettee and Anne McLaurin said they didn't feel the need for the study.
Millberg argued that it would be hard to control for how the students at North Garner should be benefitting from efforts to reduce the school's F&R percentage.