Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Student Achievement, Mt. Daniel, and other Matters

I attended the Nov. 10 School Board meeting last night.  The Board covered a lot of issues, and I’ll mention some of them here.  A disclaimer – as most of you know, I have been elected to the Board, with a term beginning January 1, but this quick summary is my personal report and isn’t official minutes, and does not reflect the official view of anyone.

Most important, there is a meeting with the neighborhood and stakeholders on the Mt. Daniel construction proposal this Thursday evening at 7 pm.  Among other things, FCCPS will discuss potential revisions to the plan and timeline.  If you are planning to attend, FCCPS asks that you walk to the meeting or park your vehicle at St. James School where a shuttle bus will take you Mt. Daniel.  The first shuttle will leave St. James at 6:40 pm.  The form to RSVP for the event is here:

FCCPS also talked at more length about student achievement, especially at the elementary and middle school levels.  One very nice step was to compare our SOL pass/advanced pass rates for reading and math to similarly situated schools in Arlington and Fairfax.  A very quick summary is that MEHMS fares pretty well, and there is improvement and some additional work to do at TJ, but you may wish to review the scores yourself.  It remains my personal opinion that SOL pass rates, while valuable, may not be the best indicator of school quality.

Middle and high school parents in particular should review the Pride survey, which reports on drug use and violence (for FCCPS, for 9th grade and up).  The executive summary is here:$file/PrideSurveyExecutive.pdf.  Of particular interest to me were that (1) there is what seems a relatively low level of perceived peer disapproval of the use of marijuana, with only 34.6% of students in 12th grade reporting that their friends perceive the use of marijuana as wrong or very wrong, and (2) that for those 9th graders who have used tobacco, alcohol, or prescription drugs, the average of first use was between 12 and 13. 

The “Student Enrollment by Housing Type” revised chart is now out, which shows how many kids come from single family homes, how many from apartments, etc.  You can find it here:$file/Student%20Ratios%20per%20Dwelling%20Unit%20%202015-09-30.pdf.  I am going to spend more time looking at the data on this topic before commenting.

Last for this report, the Board authorized the use of joint planning funds to employ a real estate advisor to assist in review of the two proposals for the GM and MEH expansion under the “RFP.”   Of note, the motion to authorize the use of funds passed, but with Kieran Sharpe voting “no” in part because he expressed a desire for a joint meeting with the City Council before authorizing this expense.

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