Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Come one, come all to a Community Forum to discuss quality middle schools and K-8 feeder patterns. Everyone welcome.

When: Tonight! Tuesday, March 8, 6:30 PM

Where: Aptos Middle School, 105 Aptos Avenue, San Francisco

- Donna


  1. I'd like to see the disrict draw up geographic attendance areas for each middle school and use these areas as a tie-breaker. If the feeder pattern preference is a higher priority tie breaker than geography, you have a feeder pattern system. Dialing it the other way, if geography is a higher priority tie breaker than feeder pattern, you have a neighborhood system. That's putting all the cards on the table.

  2. I hope you can attend tonight's forum to voice your concerns and to get your proposal on the table. My sense is that you could rally a lot of support for this option.

  3. I attended half of tonight's meeting at Roosevelt but had to leave to pick up my sone. I plan to attend the whole meeting at Presidio. I did ask Orla O'Keefe this question : Are we hear to discuss what kind of assignment system we should have for MS or is it something else. She said the feeder system is already a done deal. It is only a matter of how to implement it. In other words, the community meetings are not a forum for input on possible change to another system, but an attempt to gather input in order todecide how best to employ the feeder plan that the Board already passed.

  4. I'm frustrated why it's a "done deal" when they are only getting out to the middle schools to gain feedback now?

    There is a lot of discussion from SFUSD admin about all the "research" that shows how pathways really make a difference in middle school. I wish they'd show it - I'm not finding it.

    After Denman's session, I spent several hours trying to find studies that show what SFUSD keeps saying is out there. All I could find is one Rand study from 2005 that touts K-8 programs - but that was along with about 9 other things that affected middle school quality.

    Most recently the EdSource report in Feb 2010: "Gaining Ground in the Middle Grades: Why Some Schools Do Better" looked specifically at California middle schools. I took a vacation day and brought my middle school Assist. Principal with me to their presentation.

    They explored 10 elements, 7 of which they see as the most impactful in attaining the best academic outcomes.

    At the bottom of the list that they said had no impact? Regarding K-8, 6-8, or 7-8 structures they said: "There might be other reasons to do these, but in gaining better academic outcomes, there was no effect."

    So it's the bottom of the list, not the top 7, that is what SFUSD is starting with to explore middle school quality.

    Why aren't we using this study as the guide for exploration? As a middle school parent of two, it certainly makes sense to me. Check it out.


  5. Geez Lorraine. You keep up the criticism of SFUSD and you might just get blackballed.

    Thanks for posting the link. I was up early this morning, like 3 am, and I read 90% of all the pdfs. You make some excellent points. I want to try and understand and believe in what SFUSD is doing, honestly, but they make it difficult. I mean, what kind of public feedback do they want if they have already picked the MS feeder assignment system and the feeder maps? The rest of the stuff is just some minor squabbling over phase-in and the like. Another community feedback con job brought to you by your elite education bureaucratic. That's the same thinking that makes it OK to shove through millions in categorical change of use dollars without even a required public hearing. Sounds like those nasty Wisconsin Republicans to me.

    It was an interesting study, but somewhat of a let-down. It isn't as if it is going to come as a surprise when schools that focus their efforts on better academic outcomes, actually get them. As opposed to what? I mean if we focused our talents and funding at Alamo on kickball we would be outstanding kickballers. But I'd have to get my kid to attend a different school. And if by the same token the Superintendent focuses all his efforts on the superintendent zones, they might be able to scratch out an achievement gain. But what about the rest of the district? It is as if he's the Superintendent for the Bayview-Mission School District.

    I wonder how the study can adequately measure success without consideration of per pupil expenditure? That was entirely absent in the study. As we know the Serrano Band of $350 is not an accurate measure of how much districts get, nor does it speak to the distribution of dollars within districts. There are large disparities and they are getting bigger all the time.

  6. Lorraine,

    How come you say SFUSD is starting to explore middle school quality with grade structure? I'm looking at the Quality MS and k-8 feeder pattern FAQ handout from the meeting at Roosevelt. I don't see that there.

  7. Don, I think you probably answered your question here in another post, but wanted to follow up.

    My point is simply that while this district trumpets QMS plan (which I, of course, ASSUMED was about higher academic outcomes - but I may be wrong about that!) , it only seems to consist of K-8 pathways, which EdSource finds as having no impact on academic outcomes.

    And you are right, they note plenty of other areas that schools focus on that consistently are part of higher performing middle schools.

    I agree when I read it I think "well of course!" Our Aptos Middle School principal pointed out that "that's what WE are doing!" But it appears to be a school by school choice, certainly not something being really evaluated and explored district wide (which, BTW, was one of the elements noted to create success in the EdSource study - Superintendent Leadership for Middle Schools.)

    I'm thrilled that this is getting a little attention. I've been driving with this study in my car and bringing it to SSC and PTA meetings for a year now.

    It isn't the only answer, but it should be the place where we start a real discussion about building quality middle schools in SFUSD.