Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Rumor busting: IB school. Round II

And the rumors continue to swirl! Some more rumor busting for you! As always, this is verifiable information, not my opinion. That I'll save for deliberation.

  • "It's going to cost six million dollars, and..." No. You can find the budget on page eight of the proposal. These numbers--like the numbers that were in the Ad-Hoc committee report--are from the finance office, and they're the actual numbers we're using in our schools right now, projected out. The proposed academy tops out at nearly $2 million a year for operating grades 9-12 of 250 students in a building that we are already running. To give you some idea of the scale, Burncoat Middle (with 500 students) will cost about $5.4 million to run this year. 
  • "Giving only an exam will give more accurate (or insert adjective here) results." No. First, exam school programs that use only an exam for admission (as is done in New York City) are notorious for not in any way reflecting their full student body (and if you're prepared to argue that academic ability in fact lies along those lines, then you have issues beyond those of school admission); thus the schools do not accurately admit those who are most academically gifted, but those best at taking exams. Further, the school proposed is an International Baccalaureate school. If you aren't familar with the program, please read up on it (or read the Ad-Hoc report starting on page 20; hint to the press: an article on IB would be VERY USEFUL right now!). It is NOT a program in which success aligns closely with test taking ability. In fact, we were warned specifically of this by schools that currently run the program; admitting good test takers poorly serves both the students and the program.
  • "You could achieve the same thing by simply expanding Goddard Scholars." No. While we can and should have a discussion about Goddard Scholars (and at the risk of repeating myself), this is an International Baccalaureate program. We don't currently offer one. There are only 13 schools offering the Diploma program (the 11th and 12 grade program) in all of Massachusetts; in central Mass, only Abby Kelley Foster Charter School and Quabbin Regional have it. This is not something we, or much of anyone else is doing locally, and in that, we are both nationally and internationally behind. We can decide to do or not do it, but it isn't something we're doing already.
  • "It will send X school into Level IV status by skimming off the top students." Aha! Anything is possible, and this is among them. I dislike intensely the notion of state test results determining the academic programs we run,  BUT: if we're going to talk about skimming, then we need to be honest with ourselves about it, and talk about every single other limited admission program and school we have in the district. We have more than one school and at least one program that pick their students in one capacity or another. 

  • And again, if this interests you, please read the recommendation from administration and please also consider reading the original Ad-Hoc report. The Worcester School Committee takes this up at our next meeing on December 18. Public testimony will be welcome, and you can always email all of the School Committee at schoolcommittee (at) . 

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