The following email was sent by Supt. Dr. John Ramos to the SOMSD community on Thursday:
Dear SOMSD Community:
Last fall the Board of Education passed a new Access and Equity Policy and revised the Academic Placement Policy in order to increase participation in advanced level courses and to provide students and families with more choice. This is very significant because policy advises all the work we do. When you presume, as this policy allows us to do, that students have access to whatever the district offers, then there are no artificial gates. Our challenge is to ensure that students are so positioned that they can succeed in whatever academic courses they choose to take.
The Access & Equity Policy states that all students “shall have access to, and the ability to choose between, current and future educational programs in all academic subjects, and at all academic levels.”
The revised Academic Placement Policy states that “The primary purpose of academic placement recommendations is to provide meaningful, nonbinding guidance to ensure that all students receive an academic program that will encourage and guide academic success and insure college readiness.”
We are still in the process of revising Academic Placement regulations so that they align with the new policies. In the meantime, placement decisions need to be made and schedules created.
As we begin scheduling for the 2016-2017 school year, we want to make sure everyone knows about these policies, and how they affect placement determinations in the secondary schools.
Students will receive placement recommendations for next year based on their progress and mastery of content this year. We encourage families to consult together about these recommendations, look at the other opportunities for that grade and/or course, consider the description and requirements of each opportunity, and make an informed decision to accept the recommendation, or request another placement.
One thing we want to be clear about in this entire process is that quality and excellence are not separate from the idea of equity – they are inextricably tied. There are some who would suggest that if you’re trying to create equity and give more access you are going to sacrifice quality. We are committed to always holding quality high, while simultaneously encouraging students to try something more challenging rather than closing doors before students even have a chance to look through them.
Our mindset is that if you hold the bar high, students can and will rise to it.
John J. Ramos, Sr., Ed.D.