Click here to read responses from parents and teachers to this proposal.

Click here to read the Tennessean's March 9, 1999 article based on this paper.

Click here to read my 4/6/99 Follow-Up to Request for Action on Challenging High-Achieving Students and responses

Click here to read my June 23, 1999 Report and Questions Concerning High School and Middle School Plans for 1999-00

Middle Schools Add High School Credit Classes, September 16, 2001

 

On Meeting the Needs of High-Achieving Students and the Desires of Their Parents

 

A Presentation to the Metropolitan Nashville School Board

 

January 12, 1999

 

By David N. Shearon

 

Summary

We are currently faced with the first of what will be a number of decisions about meeting the needs of students and the desires of parents, encouraging excellence, and promoting equity in a unified school system: the magnet school selection process. By taking a broader view of this challenge, we can keep ourselves from being boxed into rationing scarce magnet school seats on the basis of race.

 

The "Academic" Magnets

The "academic" (as they are commonly called, without suggesting that the "specialty" magnets are not "academic") magnet schools, Meigs, MLK, and Hume-Fogg, have existed for over a decade. They have shown that providing appropriate challenges for high-achieving students leads to outstanding performance. MLK and Hume-Fogg produce more National Merit Semifinalists than the all other high schools in Metro, public and private, combined. Their track records for college admission and scholarships, and their national reputations, are outstanding. The demand for seats in these schools is overwhelming.

 

We have established entrance requirements for these schools, but they are not particularly high: 7 stanines on TCAP and a "B" average. These programs are not limited to "gifted" students. In fact, over 70% of the white students in Metro meet these standards. The unfortunate fact is that, less than 15% of our black students are achieving at this level. This underachievement by our black students, which is likely actually but a part of the more wide-spread underachievement by students lacking economic advantages, must and will be addressed, but it cannot and should not be addressed by allotment of limited magnet school seats.

 

The "Zoned" Middle Schools

Two facts stand out about our zoned schools. First, students whose achievement levels match those in the academic magnets attend all our schools. As the following table shows, some of our zoned schools have enough high-achieving students to create a " magnet" program themselves. Data for all middle schools appears at the end of this document. (TCAP scores taken from 8th grade math tests.)

School

TCAP 650+

TCAP 700+

Credits Offered

Enrollment

% of 700+

Credits

Pass Rate

Apollo

227

78

Algebra

89

114%

30

34%

Spanish

57

73%

49

86%

Bellevue

213

97

Algebra

63

65%

62

98%

Spanish

59

61%

44

75%

Intro. Phys. Sci.

57

59%

52

91%

Dupont Tyler

208

85

Algebra

54

64%

46

85%

IPS

27

32%

7

26%

French

50

59%

42

84%

McMurray

220

123

Algebra

77

63%

68

88%

MLK Magnet

150

128

Algebra

125

98%

81

65%

Spanish

33

26%

33

100%

Intro. Phys. Sci.

161

126%

94

58%

German

40

31%

40

100%

French

47

37%

37

79%

Geometry

40

31%

26

65%

Meigs Magnet

105

95

Algebra

118

124%

95

81%

Spanish

21

22%

19

90%

Intro. Phys. Sci.

110

116%

61

55%

German

58

61%

34

59%

French

29

31%

28

97%

Latin

22

23%

13

59%

J.T. Moore

167

115

Algebra

90

78%

57

63%

Spanish

22

19%

17

77%

Intro. Phys. Sci.

52

45%

36

69%

French

16

14%

14

88%

Latin

25

22%

20

80%

Geometry

13

11%

13

100%

Two Rivers

197

68

Algebra

65

96%

42

65%

Intro. Phys. Sci.

36

53%

36

100%

German

66

97%

38

58%

Moore, for example, offers six high school credit courses in 7th & 8th grades, the same number offered at Meigs and MLK. McMurray, on the other hand, with more high achieving students than any other school in the system, offers only Algebra for high school credit and does not achieve high participation levels in that. Last year, McMurray students earned only 68 high school credits while students of the same achievement levels at MLK earned 305 high school credits.

Some of our schools are leading the way in getting students below the 700 TCAP scale score range not only to attempt, but also to pass and receive high school credit for Algebra. See, in the table at the end of this document, Ewing Park as an example. That faculty, with only 22 students scoring 700 or above, got 49 students to take algebra, and 36 of them (73%) earned high school credit. East Literature, East Middle, Litton, and Neely’s Bend also achieved high participation and high pass rates in Algebra.

 

The "Zoned" High Schools

At the high school level, AP courses offer a barometer of the challenge that high-achieving students are able and encouraged to undertake. Here are the numbers (top 40% based on geometry end-of-course test):

School AP Subjects Tests Taken Students in Top 40% Tests Taken/

Top 40%

Antioch

4

38

32

1.19

East Literature Magnet

1

13

N/A

 
Glencliff

5

28

70

0.40

Hillsboro

15

215

125

1.72

Hillwood

10

112

100

1.12

Hume Fogg Magnet

20

395

274

1.44

Hunters Lane

7

67

53

1.26

Maplewood

2

2

12

0.17

McGavock

9

53

207

0.26

Martin Luther King Magnet.

13

333

209

1.59

Nashville School Arts Magnet

2

9

N/A

 
Overton

9

85

172

0.49

Pearl Cohn

2

23

30

0.77

Stratford

4

40

32

1.25

Whites Creek

2

25

42

0.60

 

Again, at the high school level, the zoned schools can, but generally are not, offering high-achieving students academic opportunities equivalent to those available in the academic magnet schools. Hillsboro, building off the strong foundation laid by Moore is leading the pack in terms of both number of courses offered compared to the number of high-achieving students, and in terms of the ratio of tests taken to that number of students. In fact, Hillsboro surpasses both academic magnet high schools in these categories.

High-achieving students at McGavock have very little opportunity to take AP courses, and very few of them do, despite a population cometitive with the magnet high schools. Overton continues the unchallenging trend set by McMurray by both offering comparatively few subjects for its large group of high-achieving students, and getting a very small proportion of them to take the AP tests. Antioch, Hillwood, Hunters Lane, and Stratford are doing a good job of getting relatively small numbers of high-achieving students to take the AP tests, but they can offer only a limited selection of these courses.

 

 

Conclusions

Overall, most of our zoned schools are not offering programs comparable to the academic magnets to their high-achieving students.

The performances of Moore and Hillsboro indicate that it is possible for schools with a large number of such students to offer comparable programs.

Some of our schools have such small numbers of high-achieving that it would be hard for them to offer comparable programs.

 

Recommendations

Make the same opportunities for challenging academics available to all high achieving students. Toward this end, central office staff should begin immediately to work with the faculties at Apollo, Bellevue, Dupont-Tyler, McMurray, Moore, and Two Rivers Middle Schools and Hillsboro, Hillwood, McGavock and Overton High Schools to determine the interest, support and capabilities of those faculties and administrators to develop programs in their schools comparable to those at the academic magnets for the 1999-2000 school year. In view of the success of Moore and Hillsboro in this area, their administrations and faculties might be able to lend substantial assistance to this process. This effort should also include the faculties and administration of 5th & 6th grades feeding into these schools to provide comparable academics to Meigs to prepare students for the 7th and 8th grade work.

 

Because meeting the needs of high-achieving students in their zoned schools would alleviate the demand on the academic magnets while maintaining diversity, plans should be developed by the central office staff and the administration and faculty of Apollo, Bellevue, Dupont-Tyler, McMurray, Moore, and Two Rivers to begin immediately to advise the parents of students in those schools of the efforts being made to meet the needs of high-achieving students and to attract those students to those programs in lieu of the academic magnets. This effort should extend to students in feeder schools into these programs.

Staff should develop for presentation to the Board by January 26, 1999, a plan to give either priority entrance to the academic magnets or a choice to attend a school at which such a program is being developed to those eligible students not zoned for a school which will be offering (or, at the 5t & 6th grade level, feeding into a school that will be offering) a comparable program to the academic magnets.

 

Since

the effects of this approach on diversity at the academic magnets may well not be known until school starts next year, and

the delay inserted into the magnet school selection process at the December, 1998, meeting will make it virtually impossible for any high school to have student schedules completed before school starts next year, and

such a delay would result in substantial lost class time for high school students next year,

the magnet school selection process should be returned to its original schedule with instructions to staff to provide reports at each Board meeting on the diversity of the applicant pool to each magnet school and efforts being undertaken to market those schools to underrepresented groups of our students.

The Board should continue to monitor diversity issues at all schools for such action as may be deemed necessary by the Board.

 

 

Middle School Credit Analysis

School

TCAP 650+

TCAP 700+

Credits Offered

Enrollment

% of 700+

Credits

Pass Rate

Apollo

227

78

Algebra

89

114%

30

34%

Spanish

57

73%

49

86%

Bass

50

19

Algebra

53

279%

0

0%

Spanish

33

174%

21

64%

Bellevue

213

97

Algebra

63

65%

62

98%

Spanish

59

61%

44

75%

Intro. Phys. Sci.

57

59%

52

91%

Buena Vista Mag.

18

0

Algebra

31

2

6%

Spanish

31

16

52%

Cameron

111

31

Algebra

28

90%

14

50%

Intro. Phys. Sci.

41

132%

0

0%

German

39

126%

11

28%

Dupont Hadley

80

26

Algebra

26

100%

17

65%

IPS

17

65%

11

65%

Dupont Tyler

208

85

Algebra

54

64%

46

85%

IPS

27

32%

7

26%

French

50

59%

42

84%

East Literature Mag.

53

23

Algebra

27

117%

20

74%

East Middle

98

12

Algebra

18

150%

13

72%

Ewing Park

116

22

Algebra

49

223%

36

73%

Goodlettsville

123

56

Algebra

56

100%

24

43%

Spanish

45

80%

35

78%

Intro. Phys. Sci.

24

43%

13

54%

Highland Heights

86

16

Algebra

26

163%

1

4%

IPS

20

125%

2

10%

Joelton

82

16

Algebra

44

275%

7

16%

Litton

134

25

Algebra

48

192%

37

77%

McMurray

220

123

Algebra

77

63%

68

88%

MLK Magnet

150

128

Algebra

125

98%

81

65%

Spanish

33

26%

33

100%

Intro. Phys. Sci.

161

126%

94

58%

German

40

31%

40

100%

French

47

37%

37

79%

Geometry

40

31%

26

65%

Meigs Magnet

105

95

Algebra

118

124%

95

81%

Spanish

21

22%

19

90%

Intro. Phys. Sci.

110

116%

61

55%

German

58

61%

34

59%

French

29

31%

28

97%

Latin

22

23%

13

59%

J.T. Moore

167

115

Algebra

90

78%

57

63%

Spanish

22

19%

17

77%

Intro. Phys. Sci.

52

45%

36

69%

French

16

14%

14

88%

Latin

25

22%

20

80%

Geometry

13

11%

13

100%

Neelys Bend

115

35

Algebra

48

137%

37

77%

Spanish

21

60%

16

76%

Two Rivers

197

68

Algebra

65

96%

42

65%

Intro. Phys. Sci.

36

53%

36

100%

German

66

97%

38

58%

West End

72

17

Algebra

23

135%

9

39%

Spanish

10

59%

5

50%

Wharton Arts Mag.

57

21

Algebra

18

86%

6

33%

Spanish

38

181%

38

100%

Wright

182

41

Algebra

52

127%

19

37%

Intro. Phys. Sci.

98

239%

25

26%

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Copyright 1998, 199, 2000, 2001  by David N. Shearon