Can the Wake County school board successfully harmonize policies on student assignment, equity and closing the achievement gap?
Understandably, much of the focus of today's joint meeting of the school board's student achievement and policy committees will be on the review of the student assignment policy. They'll go over these handouts from the Sept. 25 committee meeting, which talks about developing an assignment plan to avoid high concentrations of low-performing students in a school.
The details of the achievement component, along with whatever modified version of a socioeconomic component that doesn't use school lunch data, would need to be finalized before it could be used in the 2014-15 plan.
After that discussion, the committees will get this update today on the grading policy. Due to the absence of some key staff members today, board vice chairwoman Christine Kushner said they're not likely to take any action at this meeting.
Kushner, who chairs the student achievement committee, said the grading policy presentation is more meant to remind everyone of where they left off on the review and to remind them they need to make a decision on any changes.
The closing the gaps policy talks about how "the Wake County Public School System is committed to an ethos of academic excellence and will have high expectations for all students." It lays out what central office and school staff should do to help close the gap.
The equity policy has been talked about for years but never been actually adopted. The draft policy in the packet, dated Nov. 16, 2011, talks about what it takes to have equity in education.
I'll recap the meeting in more detail later, but in general it was more of a wide-ranging discussion on how to define the four pillars in the assignment policy.
There was discussion about how explicit the achievement section should be. It's a question of whether it should be general wording about avoiding concentrations of low-performing students in schools or a more specific goal.
There were also questions about whether, as stipulated in the June assignment directive, a socioeconomic diversity section should be incorporated.
There was also recognition from board members that they can't rely on just the assignment policy to promote achievement. That's where the proposed equity and closing achievement gaps policies could help play a role as staff talked about how the curriculum management audit noted that llow-income and minority students haven't been given equal access to education opportunities.
Interim Superintendent Stephen Gainey said staff will need some guidance as to how to weigh the pillars of achievement, proximity, stability and operating efficiency (aka school capacity) when drawing up assignment plans.
Staff wants any revisions to the policy done by early summer so they can begin work on the 2014-15 plan.