Wake County Schools

Wake schools unveils drafts of student assignment plans

Posted May 23, 2011

— After more than a year of debate over how to implement the Wake County Public School System’s controversial new student assignment policy, the district on Monday unveiled drafts of two long-term plans aimed at maximizing student achievement while providing families with more stability and choice.

“We believe these two proposals for student assignment can be the foundation of a long-range strategy,” Wake schools Superintendent Tony Tata said. “These are not finished products by any means, but they are concrete enough that we can bring them to our parents and citizens and ask for their feedback.”

middle school, school bus Wake schools student assignment plan proposals

The school system posted a link on its website, where parents will be able to enter their address and see student assignment options that would be available to them under the proposed plans. – neither of which are new but are based on previous plans put before the school board.

“They address many important priorities that have been expressed by residents of our district: community-based schools, programming choice, diversity, efficient use of resources, stability and achievement,” Tata said.

The plans released will be open for public comment until June 12. Based on the feedback, Tata said, the plans will be adjusted as necessary before he makes a recommendation to the school board in mid-June.

The chosen plan would take effect with the 2012-13 school year.

Wake schools 'blue' assignment plan

Under the so-called "blue" plan, or the “Community-Based Choice” plan, parents can choose from four to six elementary schools, each of which is paired with a middle and high school.

Parents can pick from traditional, year-round, magnet and other schools, including achievement schools with specified high-performing teachers.

Students get priority based on whether they have a sibling at the school or live close by. The district will also take into account achievement balance and capacity at any individual school.

Wake schools 'green' assignment plan

The "green" plan, also known as the “Base Schools Achievement Plan,” is similar to the current assignment model. Under it, the school system assigns students based on student achievement, ensuring that students from low-performing areas end up at high-performing schools.

Parents can still apply for magnet or other alternative schools.

“By keeping the magnet system in place, with some modification, both plans generate academically diverse populations at schools,” Tata said.

While he believes both plans will hold up to any potential legal challenges, he says he thinks the “blue” plan seems to allow “a little bit better stability and elasticity” to accommodate growth in the state’s largest school system, which currently enrolls more than 143,000 students.

He has said that he expects 80 to 90 percent of parents will be pleased with the options and would get to send their child to the school of their choice.

Both plans would cap enrollment so that students can't cluster in schools where the demand is greatest.

Public input sought on Wake student assignment plans Public input sought on Wake student assignment plans

Tata recognizes that no plan would make everybody happy, he said.

“No plan can satisfy 100 percent of the need, but we hope these two plans will be the starting point for greater stability and choice – a family-friendly approach to student assignment that maximizes every student’s academic potential,” he said.

Amid protests and sit-ins by community groups, students and parents opposed to eliminating the district’s longstanding policy of busing students to achieve socio-economic diversity, the school board voted 5-4 last year to move to the community-based model.

Supporters of the board's action said the old policy resulted in long bus rides for some students and did not deliver on promised gains in student achievement.

Vocal critics, such as the state NAACP, said changing the policy would create pockets of poverty in the school district, result in high teacher turnover and keep lower class students from receiving the same quality of education as their counterparts.

The group’s complaint has led to a federal civil rights investigation.

State NAACP president Rev. William Barber said Monday that the association would deliberately analyze both plans and their implications.

“The question of any plan that comes forward is, No. 1, how is it better than the plan we had,” he said. “Secondly, the goal must be a high-quality, constitutional, well-funded, diverse public education for every child.”

Last month, the superintendent previewed the plans for school board members, and, despite a year of divisive battles over how to implement the new policy, was met with cautious approval from both sides.

Board member Keith Sutton, who voted last year against the policy change, said Monday that he sees promise and potential with both options.

“Both take into account student achievement, which addresses in a way – maybe not in
the same way but at least in a similar way – the diversity piece that we felt like was missing from the other plans that were put on the table,” he said.

Other board members, said they are leaning toward the “blue plan.”

“I do believe in parental choice, and I do believe in schools that are proximate to home, and I believe in an opportunity to better balance the system in the face of growth,” board member John Tedesco said.


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  • smthomas66 May 31, 2011

    I don't see why anyone would complain about what has been proposed. It appears that if your kid is already in the system nothing changes no matter what until they finish up with that school unless you want to change. Other than that you get six choices instead of two and with the green plan it was basically what we have now. Did anyone see a significant change?

  • tgiv May 24, 2011

    It is absolutely impossible to determine what the impact on transportation would be (if any) under the blue plan without knowing which choices that parents will make. The board and/or staff obviously is trying to push opinion toward the blue plan according to their rating system, but there is not enough information about the assumptions to reach some of the conclusions in their rating system.

    There are merits to both plans. However, when more choice costs more money and complexity, there must be the same backing for picking up the tab. I don't mind spending more on education if we're getting better education. Too often with education programs we pay more and simply get different.

  • haggis basher May 24, 2011

    "With the budget crunch, you would think that the one cheapest for the school system would be the one to prevail."

    Well that would likely be ALL public schools moving to a year round schedule....but then poor little johnny wouldn't have 10 weeks "summer" to sit around playing video games and forgetting all he learned the rest of the year..........

  • showsomelove May 24, 2011

    i noticed that too lol. but oh well. as they said stop being lazy and drive. or move! funny how tables turn and they are the ones on the opposite end.....wakemom

    I drive my kids to school everyday and pick them up. Live outside of the beltline, but I don't see the point of me living in Wendell.Then have to drive my kids to WForest to school,go to work in RTP. That just don't make any kind of sense! NO I don't plan to move,satisfied with being out of the city limits and away from the beltline. Don't make me have to make adjustments beacuse the one's whom live near the beltline don't want others bused to your schools. Or don't want your precious one bused to far. When it's all said and done it's the parents who are acting childish. The students learn to adapt and get along with their peers. Reguardless to which school they attend they are going to learn or not learn,make educating them a priority!

  • bill0 May 24, 2011

    "With the budget crunch, you would think that the one cheapest for the school system would be the one to prevail."

    Not if leaders have any common sense. It would be cheaper to just throw all the kids in a gym and let them goof off all day, but they wouldn't learn much. The #1 criteria needs to be "Does this benefit the largest number of children?" The #2 criteria needs to be "Does this unfairly hurt any group of children?" Obviously, we all have to live within budgets, but it doesn't make any sense to implement an ineffective education policy just because it is cheap.

  • WritNEWlaws May 24, 2011

    I'm going to home school!

  • AWakeMom May 24, 2011

    radartoe - Makes perfect sense - in theory. But boy there would be some foot stompin' upset individuals. EVERY year it's the same thing. Round and round. I guess it's more important for parents where their children attend school, than it is to ACTUALLY learn while they're there.

  • Rebelyell55 May 24, 2011

    With the budget crunch, you would think that the one cheapest for the school system would be the one to prevail.

  • wakemom May 24, 2011

    Funny how it's mainly the outside the beltway people complaining about not getting the closest school.

    i noticed that too lol. but oh well. as they said stop being lazy and drive. or move! funny how tables turn and they are the ones on the opposite end.

  • AWakeMom May 24, 2011

    Basher (fitting) - if you think about it, we all pay each others wages in one form or fashion.

    I don't envy Tata - I think he's a good man that wants to do right, but it is IMPOSSIBLE to make everyone happy. WCPSS will never be as successful as it once was if we keep trying to give in to the selected few.