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  1. #1

    Thoughts on SFUSD's proposed middle school feeder patterns and the petitions out there?

    Since the SFUSD released its new student placement policy, the main area of contention from parents has been the middle school feeder patterns. In response, a few parent groups have submitted petitions to modify the proposed patterns in order to improve the socioeconomic or diversity balance at certain schools.

    What are your thoughts on the proposed middle school feeder patterns as well as the petitions out there?

    As an FYI, there will be an Ad Hoc meeting to discuss SFUSD's student assisngment proposal on Sep 13. For details on the meeting, click here.

  2. #2
    From what I know, the main complaints that have surfaced revolve around (1) dissatisfaction with being fed into a low performing middle school or (2) the concern that the assigned middle school can adequately support all the required language pathways or special programs (e.g. arts at NT).

    Regarding (1), the existing proposal does not provide the sense of equity in that if you happen to be in a good assigned neighborhood, you'll get a good school, and if you're not, too bad. Most parents in the "bad" assigned neighborhoods simply do not believe that they have a good chance of getting assigned to another school not designated as their feeder school since (a) they'll have lower priority and (b) supply/demand would suggest that the school they would rather be in are higher demand schools. For more parents to buy in to the feeder pattern, they need to feel that even if the assignment outcome isn't exactly what they wanted, they had as fair a chance as another family in getting into a better school. Instead of just a single feeder school per area, perhaps there could be two or even three, with either a ranked-order or random lottery system for assignment to the schools. Also, by basing the assignment on a 2 or 3 school lottery, probability should help ensure that the socioeconomic diversity and academic performance are relatively equal across these assigned schools yet still provide some sense of the neighborhood zoning that SFUSD wants to maintain.

    Regarding (2), it just seems unrealistic to expect that SFUSD can reasonably support all these pathways. Even if we give SFUSD the benefit of the doubt and assume that they can ramp them up in time, the existing proposal forgoes the economies of scale that accrue not only on the resources/teachers side but also on the student side. Instead of making every middle school support all the language/arts pathways of the feeding elementary schools, SFUSD should designate a number of schools that will support a particular pathway. But similar to (1), SFUSD should provide optionality for parents to select which schools they want to attend, whether by choice or lottery. For example, in the case of Spanish immersion, designate x number of middle schools that will offer the pathway. Then allow parents to enter themselves into a lottery for 2 or 3 schools. Argument can be made for making the designated schools city wide or by neighborhood, but obviously the neighborhood area will have to be broader than that for the general programs.

    Lastly, there has been some discussion of postponing the implementation. That's simply taking the easy way out and may give the wrong impression that current fifth grade parents are thinking only for themselves. SFUSD has tried hard to put forth a proposal and simply needs to figure out the necessary adjustments that will make the end result appealing to the larger public yet still accomplish its goals.

    Rather than complain about why the current SFUSD proposal doesn't work, I hope my suggestions can help push all of us closer to the end solution.
    Last edited by daddydrama; 09-10-2010 at 10:13 PM.

  3. #3
    Interesting way of offering choice. If this works for middle school feeder pattern, why not do something similar for elementary assignment as well? In other words, instead of assigning just one ES per area, assign 3 or whatever the magic number is and then do a lottery based on that. Now even the parents who were unhappy with the elementary assignment proposal would have less to gripe about.

  4. #4

    Superintendent Proposes Adjustments to New Placement Policy: Phasing in middle school feeder patterns

    Here's the latest press release:

    September 10, 2010 (San Francisco) - On Monday, September 13 at the Ad Hoc Committee of the Board of Education, the Superintendent will be recommending that the district move forward with the elementary and high school placement policy and take another year to further develop the middle school placement changes, which would mean postponing the decision on elementary to middle feeder patterns.

    Superintendent Carlos Garcia says “We are still committed to enacting the new placement policy in its entirety. Next fall we will have even more opportunities for middle school students and their families than those currently available and we’d like to get those in place before we institute the feeder patterns.”

    More Opportunities at Middle Schools
    The superintendent said that the district needs to provide families with specific school level details about the new school improvement initiatives before the district rolls out the feeder patterns. There are many new initiatives that are in their infancy, including:
    Special Education redesign – The district commissioned an independent audit which is forthcoming regarding Special Education programs and has a new highly qualified leader of Special Education who will help shepherd improvements in these services.

    Lau plan – The district is in its 2nd year of implementing a comprehensive plan for serving English Learners (EL). As part of rolling out this plan, program options will be expanding for both EL students and other students as more language pathways between elementary and middle schools are developed.

    SIG Magnet grants– Horace Mann and Everett, two middle schools in the Mission district, will be receiving millions annually starting this fall to drastically accelerate student achievement. The district is awaiting information about whether or not Horace Mann and Everett will also be receiving funding to develop magnet programs.
    Community Feedback
    The district has sought out and received input from community members over the past few weeks and for several years preceding the new placement policy.

    Special Assistant to the Superintendent Orla O’Keeffe says that while accepting the initial assignment offer for a feeder middle school would be optional for families, some parents are concerned that their options for other middle schools would be limited.

    “In the past few weeks we have heard from parents who are excited about the proposed feeder schools and parents who are very concerned about it – the concern is primarily based on whether or not currently enrolled elementary parents perceive their proposed feeder middle school as one where they would want to send their child,” states O’Keeffe.

    “Given the mixed reactions we have heard, we acknowledge that postponing the implementation of feeder patterns will be disappointing to some parents and welcome news to others,” she continues.

    Proposed Revision to the Placement Policy
    The Board will be reviewing a revised policy proposal that states that for the enrollment year 2011-2012 the middle schools choice process will give preference to applicants in transitional years (i.e., students transitioning from fifth to sixth grade) in the following order:
    1. younger siblings of students who are enrolled in and will be attending the school during the year for which the younger sibling requests attendance;
    2. CTIP1
    3. all other students
    Students who are not assigned to one of their choices will be assigned to the middle school closest to where they live that has openings.

  5. #5
    Was watching the Ad Hoc Meeting online and wanted to share a summary of the key items related to the MS feeder patterns:

    - The proposal is to phase in the middle school feeder pattern implementation. In other words, the draft patterns will very likely be scrapped until the special programs have had a chance to develop.
    - In its place, the recommendation is to use the temporary choice method suggested by the superintendent in his press release above.
    - Many parents spoke up in support of existing middle school feeder patterns. They are unhappy that "minority complaints" are causing the feeder patterns to be scrapped.
    - Many parents are unclear what the language pathway is for them in the original draft and the temporary choice method.
    - One of the board members wanted to reassure parents that it won't be easy to game the system with fake addresses.
    - Rachel Norton, SFBOE member, pushed the SFUSD superintendent to share more information about the special programs and how they would benefit SF families.

    What do you think about the delay?

  6. #6

    Rachel Norton - Recap: Assignment committee recommends delay

    An excerpt from Rachel Norton's blog post after the Ad Hoc Committee meeting:
    As expected, at tonight’s meeting of the Student Assignment committee, the Superintendent formally requested that the Board delay implementation of the middle school portion of the new student assignment system for one year. Committee members accepted the recommendation and fowarded it to the full Board for a vote on Sept. 28.

    Specifically, Deputy Superintendent Richard Carranza explained that after considering feedback about unclear reform initiatives, special education pathways and building capacity in our middle school language immersion programs, the district had concluded that the one year delay was the best way to ensure instructional quality going forward. A number of initiatives, including the redesign of special education, the implementation of the Lau Plan for serving English Learners, and the School Improvement Grants just rceived from the state, are in their infancy at the current time, and the district concluded it was better to roll out all of these improvements more fully before implementing feeder patterns.

    Fifth graders seeking a middle school placement for the 2011-12 school year would instead go through a temporary process with no initial assignment; families would submit an application with a list of choices by Feb. 18, 2011. The system would place younger siblings first, then students in CTIP1 areas, and then all other students by general lottery (no diversity index, and no attendance area preferences). Students would be placed in their highest available choice, or offered placement at the closest middle school with space if none of their choices were available.

    read more>>

  7. #7

    Board of Education Meeting to Discuss Middle School Pathways

    There will be a Meeting of the Board of Education, San Francisco Unified School District, as a Committee of the Whole, on Tuesday, January 18, 2011, at 6:00 p.m., in the Irving G. Breyer Board Meeting Room, 555 Franklin Street, First Floor, San Francisco, California for discussion of the following:
    Resolution 111-11Sp1 - Approval of a Public Education Enrichment Fund Expenditure Plan for School Year 2011-2012
    1. Report from the Community Advisory Committee on the Public Education Enrichment Fund (PEEF)
    2. Board Discussion
    3. Public Comment

    2010-11 Strategic Priority: Quality Middle School Pathways
    1. Overview of Project Plan
    2. Board Discussion
    3. Public Comment

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