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Opportunities and Outcomes

   By Charles_Sampson - Posted on 09 January 2013

How do various academic opportunities spur positive student outcomes? We are grappling with this question here in the FRHSD. In order to make sense of our student performance, we are engaged in a deliberate examination of the opportunities within our system through the development of an opportunity index. The index gauges student participation in rigorous coursework by comparing enrollment in Learning Centers and Academies, Advanced Placement courses, and honors courses for all student groups in comparison to its proportion of their total population in the district. Identifying why and how students do or do not take advantage of opportunities is the first step toward a more nuanced understanding of the complexities related to student performance here at FRHSD.

This is the start to a much deeper conversation.

As our work has progressed, several critical questions have quickly become apparent:
• What elements of our system harm or help particular student groups?
• If we identify barriers to access for certain course within our system, what are appropriate actions for our leaders to take?
• If we increase opportunities for one group, does that necessarily mean that we limit or reduce the opportunities of another group?

The third question asks if opportunity is a zero-sum scenario. I do not believe so. In fact, we must strive to develop avenues for all students toward more rigorous coursework.

Our analysis should provide a clearer roadmap for our articulation with our sending districts as we continue to strengthen our collaboration. Our work must include deep dives into our student data to determine how students reach our shores.

We must explicitly determine how these opportunities impact student outcomes. Providing students access to more rigorous coursework does not automatically result in higher student achievement. We must continue to focus on teaching and learning throughout the district to ensure that we strike the proper balance of supports, opportunities and expectations for increased student achievement.

This is all possible. The opportunity index is an entry point into more substantive and significant work. But we must be willing to face the answers to some of these questions in an open manner. We must continue to push forward for all students. In doing so, we will continue to improve upon the student outcomes for all of FRHSD.

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