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Grade Configuration Steering Committee Meeting Summary

Jan. 23, 2017: Successful urban schools

  • Dr. Jim butterworth and Dr. Jennifer Bashant presented on the different models for urban middle schools, and provided a summary of the research on their respective successes. The presentation can be viewed in full here

  • Before their presentation, they provided a brief overview of the racial composition of the district's elementary and middle schools as a framework to the discussion that would follow

    • Of magnet schools, TOAST and ASH have demographics representative of the district as a whole while Montessori Magnet School has a significantly higher percentage of white students, indicating a potential flaw in the magnet process

    • Of the neighborhood schools, Eagle Point and New Scotland Elementary Schools have a significantly higher percentage of white students

    • Because the data on racial background and ethnicity is self-reported, the committee raised valid questions about the accuracy of the data. For example, some students from the Middle East may identify as white, while other may identify geographically as Asian

  • Following this discussion, Dr. Butterworth and Dr. Bashant began their presentation focusing on district-wide and neighborhood schools as the two primary models

  • District-wide schools

    • Forced bussing assigns and transports students to schools across the city in an attempt to address residential segregation

      • Generally regarded as a controversial practice resulting in the disenfranchisement of families with limited transportation, "white flight" and unreasonably long bus rides

    • Magnet schools offer distinctive themes to draw students from across the city based on interest and not ability

      • The success of magnet schools hinges on a number of factors and assumptions, and is entirely dependent on the execution of the idea and an equitable lottery process. It is equally possible for a magnet system to result in increased segregation. This was illustrated to some extent by the Montessori Magnet School data presented during the analysis of racial demographics preceding the presentation

  • Neighborhood schools

    • This model is based on practicality and geography; students are sent to schools based upon the proximity to their homes. This creates schools that are demographically representative of neighborhoods rather than the district as a whole

      • The success of these schools is largely impacted by the surrounding community, resulting in many neighborhood schools transitioning to community schools

    • Community schools are neighborhood schools that incorporate a full service model to serve students, their families and the community

      • By partnering with community agencies, schools become a hub of services including before and after care, medical, dental and health services, community service components, GED and continuing education classes for adults and various other forms of assistance

      • This is an overwhelmingly positive model in terms of developmental and academic outcomes as well as parental involvement, but requires buy-in from all parties involved and time to fully develop

 

 

 

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