If you haven't' read it yet, the Wake Education Partnership had an assessment of last week's discussion by the Wake County school board on the student assignment policy.
This appeared in Thursday's issue of In Context, the WEP's e-newsletter:
The framework for a long-term approach to student assignment that is noticeably different from past years is beginning to take shape in public conversations among school board members.
Unlike the current assignment policy, which is several pages long with lists and subsections, the new proposal has four basic goals and no more than three factors to be considered within each goal. The goals are achievement, stability, proximity and operational efficiency.
The difference would be immediately obvious to legions of frustrated parents who have spent countless hours trying to navigate the numerous and sometimes conflicting elements of the current approach.
The new proposal, which was discussed by board members this week, is not designed to make everyone happy. No large school district in the country can make that claim. But it is straightforward and it breaks from past plans in several key areas.
One of the biggest differences is an acknowledgement that the district can no longer expect all schools to be similarly diverse. While it would strive to minimize concentrations of low-performing students and low-income students, its other goals would make it impossible to create all schools with similar demographics.
To address the differences among schools, the district would turn to a new equity policy that would guide how money and other resources are spent. The goal would be to ensure all students have access to what they need to succeed.
An equity policy has not been discussed in detail yet, but a working proposal was distributed last month.
“The devil is in the details” is a phrase that applies here and school board members know they have a lot of work ahead of them. For example, will there be a specific cutoff for concentrations of poverty? How will new schools be filled when stability is a goal? Will every school have its own defined walk zone?
The list of questions goes on, but the mission is clear. Board members want to create a policy that will last a decade or more. They will need a solution by late summer or early fall to be ready for the first day of school in 2014.