High school board examines 'achievement gap'


The persistent academic achievement gap among the schools and students in the Sequoia Union High School District is the topic for a three-hour conceptual discussion set for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 21, at the district's office at 480 James St. in Redwood City.

Along with the five members of the district board, Linda Darling Hammond is expected to be there and talk with the board about research on the topic. Ms. Darling Hammond is a professor at Stanford University's school of education and a leading thinker on current issues in education.

The agenda for the March 21 Sequoia board discussion includes a review of achievement gap data, the programs meant to close the gap, and relevant questions going forward, including what to do next.

Among board members, the tentative plan is for more such in-depth studies so as to "inform policy and priorities of the district," board member Chris Thomsen said in an email.

"My own interest is seeing where we can have a system-wide impact, rather than focusing on individual program interventions to address the major challenges of the district," Mr. Thomsen added.

A related panel discussion on the role of technology in closing the achievement gap is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 27, at Woodside High School at 199 Churchill Ave. in unincorporated Woodside.

The panelists include speakers from the U.S. Office of Educational Technology, a nonprofit foundation focusing on lowering the cost of textbooks, a high-tech entrepreneur focused on K-12 education and Woodside Principal David Reilly, who has expanded career technical education at Woodside High.


Like this comment
Posted by johngslater
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Mar 19, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Its easy to close an achievement gap: divert resources from students do better. Basically, your investment strategy is to get the lowest ROI.

Like this comment
Posted by Clarification
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 19, 2012 at 9:02 pm

I want to make sure I understand what Mr.Slater is saying because there is a word or two missing. If the comment is that by "diverting" resources from the higher performing students to the ones who need more help the school district will be getting a lower return on investment -- in other words, wasting money -- then he couldn't be more wrong. Over 80% of the prison population has learning disabilities. So, would you rather pay now to educate those kids who need help, or let them sink and then pay many multiples more for their eventual incarceration or government assistance? I'll tell you the best ROI -- make sure our education tax dollars are being used to give all kids a fighting chance. That doesn't take anything away from the high-performing kids -- believe me, they will do just fine and as a matter of fact they will benefit from being part of a diverse learning community that mirrors the real world. By making the playing field even we ensure that as a society all our citizens are capable of being productive and making a valuable contribution. We can all learn from each other -- it's not only Rhodes Scholars who make a difference in the world.

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