Is factoring student achievement into the mix for student assignment in Wake County another way by the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and the Wake Education Partnership to at least partially maintain the old diversity policy?
As noted in today's article, there's a strong correlation with lower test scores, poverty and race. Balancing achievement levels in the new plan being developed by Michael Alves would likely result in zones that are more racially and socioeconomic ally diverse than those being considered by the school board.
Alves said Thursday it's his goal to make the new zones reflect the demographics of the county by using student achievement. For instance, he said he wouldn't put all of Southeast Raleigh in one zone.
“You’d want zones to have city schools and suburban schools,” Alves said. “You can reflect the natural diversity of the county.”
You could have Southeast Raleigh split into multiple zones to try to balance out the academic performance levels.
School board member John Tedesco, chairman of the student assignment committee, is skeptical about how you could have roughly similar achievement levels across the zones without gerrymandering the boundaries.
“If you're trying to draw up zones based on maintaining quotas, you won't maintain public support,” Tedesco said.
Tedesco said they're already factoring in student achievement in the planning process. For instance, he said you might set aside half the seats in Southeast Raleigh magnet schools for neighborhood children.
In low-performing schools, Tedesco said Wake can take advantage of the state law that was passed this year as part of the effort to win the federal Race to the Top grant. The law says that low-performing schools can replace staff, be turned into community schools or be converted to charter schools.
Wake's old student assignment policy did have a provision saying that a goal was to limit a school to no more than 25 percent of students not passing state reading exams. But the reality is that it wasn't much of a factor, especially back in the early part of the last decade when passing rates were much higher before the state toughened the exams.