Eskildson: Scottsdale Schools finally addresses need for change

Last month the Scottsdale Unified School District finally addressed the need for change.

Loyd Eskildson

Hopefully that will lead to a timely end to nearly a decade of districtwide declining pupil achievement and enrollment. SUSD pupil achievement significantly lags leading area charters and our strongest Asian economic competitors, especially in math.

One result is losing about $50 million a year in revenues due to dissatisfied parents withdrawing their children from SUSD and enrolling them elsewhere.

Coronado High School has been the most talked about target for change. Unfortunately, the CHS initiative is inappropriately focused — major emphasis should be directed not primarily at boosting easily remedied very low AP testing and college application rates, but at improving pupil achievement, especially in math.

It is also a major mistake to assert that successful CHS improvement depends on the community. Education CHS pupils is SUSD’s credibility, regardless of the fact that help from parents, ASU, and parents may be utilized. Both pitfalls can be avoided by setting significant and timely pupil achievement improvement goals, with lead roles assigned SUSD personnel.

Another welcome first step is SUSD asking itself what is most important overall to SUSD parents in south Scottsdale. However, it is essential that this effort be immediately and significantly expanded as follows:

  1. Include the entire district, especially those areas where SUSD has incurred the greatest student losses;
  2. Expand the analyses to determine why parents of almost 4,000 pupils have transferred their children into SUSD — more would be better, and;
  3. Establish goals for improving pupil retention/gains at each school, as well as making SUSD pupil achievement competitive — with significant initial improvements this current school year.

Making SUSD competitive will boost not just parent and pupil satisfaction. The increased revenues from increased enrollment would also help add programs, further improving parental satisfaction, and boost teacher pay.

 

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