UPDATE: Enrollment Preferences Task Force meeting #6 tonight
UPDATE 6/25 In reply to kavips, who asked what happened at the meeting:
I said it would be tedious, and I wasn’t lying. The group is going though a twenty-something page list of questions (the watermelon questions) and discussing and taking a straw poll on each to determine if it belongs on the pre-acceptance application, or only on enrollment forms after acceptance. Plus a few other nuances. I would characterize the discussions as “politely contentious.” Tedious, but necessary in order to get to the point of even being able to think about making recommendations.
Some of the discussions got so elongated that the moderator resorted to the “parking lot” tactic (no, not taking the offender out to the parking lot for a good beating). Rather, the “parking lot” was a poster-sized sheet where topics were “parked” for future discussion, so the group could continue to plow through the list. I am not sure how far they got in the list; I think I may have fallen asleep :-)
But I will say that the topics that ended up “parked” were telling, because they went to the heart of the “specific interest” preference. The big ones I recall were essay questions, and prior report cards. When asked on a pre-admission application, these are the kinds of questions that give the choice to the school, not the family. And those were the ones that sparked the most discussion and could not be settled in one night.
The group has a list of questions asked on existing choice applications, and is now identifying whether each question belongs on pre-acceptance application, or should be collected only after acceptance. The group discusses each item and holds a (nonbinding) vote on each one. It can be a tedious process, but the discussions sometimes touch raw nerves and highight some of the areas of contention.
At the May meeting, one of the parent members cogently asked the group to evaluate each item in light of the question she posed: “Whose choice is it?” Is the family choosing a school, or is the school choosing its students?
The specific interest clause came under scrutiny several times. Delaware’s charter law contains the poorly defined and highly malleable provision that a charter school may give admission preference to “Students who have a specific interest in the school’s teaching methods, philosophy, or educational focus.” Charter School of Wilmington notoriously uses an admission test as a dubious measure of “specific interest” in its STEM mission. A number of members suggested that filling out the application was a sufficient sign of interest, and that a test measured knowledge , not interest. Personally I think an admission test is a measure of the advantages the student has had previously.