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theschoolboards
05-10-2011, 07:52 AM
PPS-SF and PAC presented their joint report on findings and recommendations from community conversations about middle school quality, K-8 pathways and feeder patterns at the school board meeting last night.

The main messages that they have heard throughout the various community meetings are:


More than anything else, parents want quality schools - and they don't perceive all schools as quality schools. Because all schools are different, most parents want to be able to choose a school that will meet their children's needs.
Most parents questioned whether student assignment - specifically, the proposed feeder patterns - has any direct relationship to building quality middle schools.
Many parents challenged the feeder patterns as unfair and inequitable. They don't want to feel forced into something that won't work for their children.
Even parents who supported feeder patterns, as a way to address the challenges of increasing student enrollment and to support better planning, had questions about how feeder patterns would meet the individual needs of different students.
Most parents would like their children to attend a school that's easy to get to, but they also care about special programs, school culture and size. Many parents would be willing to send their child to a school farther away if it meets their family's needs.
Many parents wanted the results of the district quality assessment inventory to be reflected in a plan to assess and improve middle schools in all communities before the district moves to change how student assignment works.
Most people support expanding language programs - the only academic plan presented during the forums - but many wonder whether the district has the resources to implement these programs well, especially given the budget crisis.

Two new issues also emerged from the community conversations:
1. The widespread desire to address the language needs of all students in the district, including:


Newcomer students who speak languages in addition to Cantonese, Spanish or Mandarin, as well as students who speak those primary languages
Students who need bilingual support to develop academic English skills, as well as recognition of their bicultural identity
Students coming out of K-5 language immersion and bilingual programs, and
General education students, who should have access to learning a language before reaching high school.


2. Fundamental questions about how to meet sudents' different needs, from Special Education to GATE - especially in the context of a policy of open enrollment in honors and advanced placement courses in high school.

Here is the summary report of findings and recommendations:


English (http://ppssf.org/Issues/San%20Francisco/PPSPACAdvisoryCouncil/PAC_PPSFindingsMay9.11.pdf) (pdf), Spanish (http://ppssf.org/Issues/San%20Francisco/PPSPACAdvisoryCouncil/PAC_PPSFindingsMay9.11_Spanish.pdf) (pdf), Chinese (http://ppssf.org/Issues/San%20Francisco/PPSPACAdvisoryCouncil/PAC_PPSFindingsMay9.11_Chinese.pdf) (pdf)


Powerpoint of the presentation to the Board of Education Ad Hoc Committee on Student Assignment, May 9, 2011


English (http://ppssf.org/Issues/San%20Francisco/PPSPACAdvisoryCouncil/SlidesMay9.11_English.ppt) (ppt), Spanish (http://ppssf.org/Issues/San%20Francisco/PPSPACAdvisoryCouncil/SlidesMay9.11_Spanish.ppt) (ppt), Chinese (http://ppssf.org/Issues/San%20Francisco/PPSPACAdvisoryCouncil/SlidesMay9.11_Chinese.ppt)(ppt)

theschoolboards
05-10-2011, 08:12 AM
From Rachel Norton's blog (http://rachelnorton.com/2011/05/10/feedback-on-the-middle-school-plan/) in response to the presentation by PPS-SF and PAC:
The overarching recommendation was for the district not to implement the feeder plan, and instead retain the choice system for middle school enrollment, while strengthening the quality at all schools. It’s an oversimplification of the groups’ work to focus just on this recommendation, but it’s definitely the biggest “takeaway” from the evening pending further reflection and more time to digest the 24-page report.

For their part, district staff articulated the various initiatives underway to ensure quality programs at every middle school. The work has focused on the findings of the “Gaining Ground in the Middle Grades (http://www.edsource.org/middle-grades-study.html)” study of high-performing middle schools published by EdSource last year. Still, it’s simply a fact that some middle schools offer more robust programs than others, and that enrollment and parent involvement have a lot to do with the ability to offer a wide range of electives and other programming parents and students want.

And so staff is continuing to recommend that the district continue with the implementation of feeder patterns, but now says the proposal should be phased in over five years: the feeder pattern would become a tie-breaker after younger siblings but before CTIP in determining assignments. Starting in 2015-16, students entering 6th grade would receive an initial placement offer based on feeder patterns, then have the option to participate in a choice process in later rounds.

The problem with the feeder program is that it is a “push” strategy — at its worst, it pushes families into schools they’d rather not choose in order to enlist their help in building up the program. On the other hand, the “pull” strategy only works if you can somehow build up the program without the kids there in the first place. Clearly, the hope is that by phasing in the preference, the push will become more of a pull over time.

The Board’s reaction to all of this was, to my mind, somewhat unclear. Commissioner Wynns and Commissioner Maufas were probably the least equivocal in their comments — Commissioner Wynns pronounced her mind changed on feeder patterns and said she was disinclined to support the staff’s proposal; Commissioner Maufas expressed disappointment with the report’s findings and said she believed it would be short-sighted of the board to abandon its feeder policy because the current choice-based system has been found not to create the outcomes we want for our students (she also reminded us of the many people who came before the board last year and expressed a desire for predictability). Commissioners Yee and Murase expressed cautious support for the direction outlined in the staff proposal. Commissioner Mendoza and I are both deeply undecided.

read more>> (http://rachelnorton.com/2011/05/10/feedback-on-the-middle-school-plan/)

theschoolboards
05-10-2011, 12:43 PM
Attached is the presentation the school district gave last night at the board meeting:

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theschoolboards
05-12-2011, 08:11 AM
The SF Board of Education Parent Advisory Council prepared another report (http://rpnorton.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/pac-report-may-10-2011.pdf) in response to the discussions at the Ad Hoc Committee meeting on May 9. The three main issues the Board raised are:


For years the Board has heard parents say they want predictability in student assignment - and now they're saying they want choice. That doesn't make sense. Why are they saying this?
People who attended the forums were those who were already involved and informed. What did we hear that was different in the conversations we held with parents in targeted communities, with the folks who don't come to the big events?
Parents who are against feeder patterns haven't heard all the research the Board has seen about middle schools - so they aren't informed about how feeder patterns work to build quality schools.

Click here to see the report (http://rpnorton.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/pac-report-may-10-2011.pdf) and the responses to the issues.