Eastern Wake Buzz - Plans underway for two academies at Knightdale High School | newsobserver.com blogs

Friday, July 30, 2010

Eastern Wake Buzz - Plans underway for two academies at Knightdale High School newsobserver.com blogs

Idea intrigues Wake school board factions - Wake County - NewsObserver.com

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Idea intrigues Wake school board factions - Wake County - NewsObserver.com

RALEIGH -- Key members of the Wake County school board majority say they're giving strong consideration to an assignment approach called "controlled choice" that could replace its former diversity-based plan without creating high-poverty schools.
Members of the minority on the sharply divided board say the method deserves consideration, depending on how key details are structured. The development offers a window into the closely watched building of a new plan - and the possibility of common ground between the factions. They have been warring over the demise of busing for diversity as it is replaced by community schools.
A controlled choice model for Wake would create a dozen or more attendance zones, each of which would reflect the makeup of Wake County - no rich zones or poor zones, said Massachusetts education consultant Michael Alves, who's helped design dozens of such systems nationally.
Parents would be able to choose from a wide range of school offerings in their zone, with a lottery to make another choice when schools are too crowded or apply to a countywide system of magnets, Alves said. He will be in Raleigh on Tuesday for a presentation before the board committee charged with developing a new plan. Parents would not be guaranteed of getting their first choice, but in systems that use controlled choice, such as Lee County, Fla., and Cambridge, Mass., a large majority do.
"We've been looking at a number of plans from a number of districts across the country," board chairman Ron Margiotta said Wednesday. "He's very close to what we have in mind, to my understanding."
Before a meeting Tuesday that involved the arrest of 19 protesters, Margiotta pledged to a packed boardroom that any new plan would not create schools with high levels of poor or minority students. Margiotta said Wednesday the statement mirrored what members in the majority have been saying since taking office in December. He sounded themes of choice and stability, but turned heads at the meeting when he ruled out a new crop of poor, high-minority schools in Wake.
Concern that a new community-based system would concentrate mostly minority schools near downtown Raleigh has been at the heart of increasingly vocal protests by some parents, religious leaders and social activists in recent months. Members of the board minority and others who have resisted the forthcoming plan showed cautious optimism that a controlled choice system might maintain some diversity in the schools.
"I am very excited about his coming and am very excited about learning about different options," said Dr. Anne McLaurin, a member of the board minority. "All of us realize we want to do better by all of our children. My reservation about assignment by choice is that people will always choose not to go to the poor schools. The devil is always in the details."
Seeking a friendly voice?
The Rev. William Barber, head of the state NAACP and an outspoken critic of the dismantling of the diversity policy, said the decision to bring in the consultant appears to be little more than the board majority looking for a voice they want to hear.
"These five members, they came in with a playbook," said Barber. "What they're trying to do is, without a plan, destroy something that already is working and then go out and find someone who will say what they want."
Though he was skeptical about the board's decision to bring in Alves, Barber said the democratic process works on a free exchange of ideas. He said he hoped the board would also consider the NAACP's input, too.
About Alves' appearance, minority board member Kevin Hill said: "I'm looking forward to his coming to town and listening to him. I continue to look for the majority to reach out to reach to explore possibilities of how we can work more closely together."
Alves will speak at a meeting of the student assignment committee, which is headed by John Tedesco, an outspoken member of the board majority. Alves' principles are in line with the cluster assignment approach that Tedesco has presented publicly, using Garner, with its mix of traditional, year-round and magnet schools, as an example of one likely zone.
"By clustering schools together in a larger geographic area, we can manage them better without having to redraw lines," Tedesco said, echoing one of the tenets of controlled choice.
'Some good insight'
"I wouldn't have offered to give him so much of our agenda if I didn't think he could give us some good insight," Tedesco said of Alves, a widely consulted former Brown University professor who heads his own firm in the Boston suburb of Milton. His work helping school systems design assignment plans began in the early 1980s and has sometimes caused controversy, depending on the way individual systems have put it into place.
Efforts to reach board members Debra Goodman and Keith Sutton were unsuccessful Wednesday.
The consultant's appearance in Wake County is being paid for by the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and Wake Education Partnership. He will confer with both organizations.
"The position of Wake Education Partnership has been and continues to be that in a system that is growing as rapidly as ours, change is something that we all have to embrace," said Ann Denlinger, president of Wake Education Partnership.
"The fact of the matter is that the approach that we have been taking almost for 30 years never anticipated the tremendous growth that we have enjoyed in Wake County."
Denlinger said it should be possible to come up with a plan that offers stability and choice while protecting the socioeconomic balance of the schools.
Orage Quarles III, publisher of The News & Observer, is on the 29-member board of Wake Education Partnership.
Some Wake parents who have dogged the new board through its efforts to change longstanding board policies eyed the introduction of Alves' presence into the assignment debate with both interest and suspicion. Margiotta's remarks about not allowing the growth of poor and high-minority schools had already gotten their attention, said Lynn Edmonds, co-chairwoman of the government relations committee of the community group Great Schools in Wake.
"It made me feel like we were starting to make a difference," Edmonds said. "Since December we have been dismissed more often than not. Even if it was appeasement, it seemed that we are gaining momentum with our support." Read more: http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/07/22/592206/idea-intrigues-board-factions.html#ixzz0uRPoItNQ

2010 Preliminary Federal AYP Results by School

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

New End-of-Grade Reading tests were implemented in 2007-08 in Grades 3 through 8.

These results are considered preliminary until they are certified by the State Board of Education.


KHS's future up for debate

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


KNIGHTDALE - Knightdale's top elected officials met with Wake County school board chairman Ron Margiotta recently to discuss programs aimed at boosting academics at Knightdale High School.

The discussion comes as Knightdale 100, an organization designed to promote academics in schools in eastern Wake County, has turned its emphasis away from a magnet school at Knightdale High to other innovative programs designed to strengthen academics.

"We met to bring him up to date on the efforts of Knightdale 100 and to encourage his leadership and the board's continued interest in finding solutions to academics in eastern Wake County, particularly at Knightdale schools," saidBryan, a Wake County commissioner who lives in Knightdale.

Bryan said he, Margiotta and Killen met at Cinelli's Restaurant in Raleigh on June 29.

"He's very supportive," Bryan said. "He said he'd be willing to take the lead between the school board and Knightdale 100."

Bryan noted four board members and acting superintendent Donna Hargens attendance at recent Knightdale 100 forums.

Knightdale and East Wake High School lag behind other high schools in the county on SAT scores and end of course testing. Knightdale 100, a grass-roots movement of parents and educators, want to change that.

Knightdale 100's Catherine Dameron said after a recent forum on magnets, members of the organization began to shift their view on just how tenable a magnet would be for Knightdale High School.

"(Wake school board member) Chris Malone, had originally asked us to identify what type of magnet we would like there," said Dameron. "Our purpose is to educate the community on the type of magnets and if they would like a magnet at all."

Dameron said after Wake County magnet coordinator Dr. David Ansbacher spoke at a Knightdale 100 forum on magnets, thinking began to shift. Before the forum, the organization had put up a petition on its Web site and received more than 100 signatures calling for a magnet school at Knightdale High, Dameron said.

Dameron said the goal is to attract the 540 students in Knightdale attendance nodes who attend magnets back to Knightdale High School. KHS has more students in its attendance district attending magnets than any other high school in Wake County.

"Magnets pull from a large range," Dameron said. "Once we get our base kids back, there's no where else to pull from. Broughton lost their magnet for that very reason. The base wanted to go there. I don't know if a magnet's the right way to go. We want a specialized program there."

Killen also said a magnet would not work at Knightdale High School. He said Wake County's "academy" model with a math, science, or bio-science academy that could reach as few as 20 students and as many as 50 is an idea that he, Bryan, and Margiotta discussed as a possibilty.

Wake-Forest-Rolesville High School has a construction academy. Apex High School has a computer technology academy, Sanderson, a finance academy and Southeast Raleigh High, an engineering academy.

Other ideas include a leadership academy, and an in-school suspension program, Killen said. Dameron said one idea being discussed is participating in a science, technology and math program through some type of partnership between Wake County schools and N.C. State.

"We all agree that eastern Wake County got the short end of the stick, and we need to address that," said Malone. We want to do the right thing. "We don't want to sit on it. We can't let this languish. We've got to act on it."

Algebra opens other doors

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

denise.sherman@nando.com or 269-6101 ext. 101

KNIGHTDALE - Over and over again last Thursday night, parents heard about the importance of taking algebra in the eighth grade.

Wake County Public Schools senior director for middle school math Ken Branch said Algebra I in eighth grade is a gateway subject.

Branch was one of five speakers at a forum sponsored by Knightdale 100, an organization aimed at improving education in eastern Wake County.

"It is clearly the path to success not just in high school, but in college and in careers," he said.

Knightdale 100 chose the topic because of an earlier forum when Wake Education Partnership President Ann Denlinger showed data from a SAS software program that showed more eastern Wake County students are qualified to take algebra in eighth grade than take it.

According to 2008-2009 data, 50 percent of those the SAS EVASS evaluation showed could be successful in algebra at East Wake Middle School took it, 50 percent at Wendell Middle and 65 percent at Zebulon GT Middle.

Knightdale 100's Catherine Dameron said educators are working hard to change those statistics, and that the forum was needed to bring emphasis on algebra so that parents understand its importance.

Dameron said both East Wake Middle and Wendell Middle plan to increase the number of students taking pre-algebra by 50 percent this year.

Branch said students need algebra in eighth grade in order to take higher level math in high school. But he also said algebra is no longer only the province of the college bound.

"Algebra matters to the electrician and the computer scientist," he said.

Branch said during the 2010-2011 school year, Wake County Public Schools wants to increase the number of students eligible for advanced math classes. East Wake Middle School Principal Nancy Allen said already 25 percent more children, or 103 students, will be taking Algebra in the next school year than this year. This year, 86 students were enrolled in Algebra.

Braska Williams, pre-college coordinator for math and science at North Carolina State University, said students are more likely to earn bachelor's degrees if they take upper level math. And the students who take higher math have a higher earning potential, he said

But the key to algebra readiness starts in elementary school. Branch told parents, end of grade tests and a teacher's professional judgment are considered when students are recommended for sixth-grade advanced math, which starts the ball rolling toward algebra.

In most cases, students must take advanced math in sixth grade to take pre-algebra in the seventh grade, a prerequisite for algebra I in the eighth grade.

Educators also use the SAS software to predict student success when they consider student placement at the end of elementary school.

Even if a student lacks the traditional methods for placement in advanced mathematics and scores well in the software assessment, the student likely will be placed in advanced mathematics, Branch said.

Branch said teachers are told if a student is borderline to err on the side of advanced placement.

Denlinger, who also spoke at Thursday's forum, said Knightdale 100 had "a noble cause" to make sure every child has every opportunity to learn.

Denlinger, who has twice been a superintendent of schools, said it was important to get students in pre-algebra in seventh grade. She also said schools need a sense of pride. Details like a well-cared-for school matter in instilling that pride, she said. There is a correlation between an engaging curriculum and behavior, though she said all behavior problems couldn't be overcome by an engaging curriculum.
Principals of more successful schools invest their budgets in core academic subjects rather than supplementals, she said.

Parents were told the importance of communication with teachers as they make recommendations that can affect the path of their children. Parents can change a student's course if he or she disagrees with the recommended path, Branch said.

Wendell Middle School math teacher Louise Bilenky said students do well in algebra if they can interchange fractions and decimals, skills parents can make sure their children are learning in elementary school.