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SUHSD Scheduled to Hire Contractor to Study Impact of Detracking

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Update on 4/24 at 07:26: The Board approved the contract unanimously without pulling the item for discussion.

Read previous reporting on detracking here.

Sequoia Union High School District (SUHSD) is set to approve a $54,500 contract with the market research firm, Hanover Research, to study the impact of detracking and provide policy recommendations at Wednesday’s SUHSD Board of Trustee meeting. The contract is on the consent agenda, which the Board doesn’t discuss unless requested by a trustee or the superintendent.

Both Hanover Research and SUHSD could not be reached for comment before the publication of this article. 

The District previously released a 121-page report on the impact of detracking authored by SUHSD Director of Program Evaluation and Research Diana Wilmot. The report generally found that detracking “made it easier for all students to navigate the courses and helped more students excel. In some instances, it kept access and outcomes similar to before, but generally, it caused no policy harm, and in fact improved outcomes for most students.”

The report generated criticism from some community members and organizations against detracking like SUHSD Students First. Referring to the original report, Students First wrote, “It appears to be biased against restoration of honors/AS classes. We are disappointed the Board did not ensure a neutral report and did not have any participation in the review of the data. It is clear we should have advocated for an external contractor to conduct the research and prepare the report.”

Students First could not be reached for comment. 

Hanover Research, which often focuses on the education sector, claims that their “data-driven insights help school districts of all sizes develop the programs, allocate the resources, and implement best practices to optimize student outcomes.” 

They created a report on tracking and student achievement in 2015, which found, among other things, that “detracking may have negative effects on high-achieving students when it results in a decrease in instructional rigor, but a challenging curriculum within heterogeneous ability groups can benefit high-achieving students.”

The Board previously held a study session on detracking that ran until 1:00 a.m. At a following meeting, the board was expected to pass a resolution in support of or against detracking but instead passed a motion supporting AP classes and freshman electives, much to the disappointment of community members present. 

Arden Margulis was a junior in his second year of journalism at the M-A Chronicle before he tested out of high school. He was the M-A Chronicle's Webmaster when it was a finalist for the Online Pacemaker. During his first year, Arden wrote a two-part series on Paper Tutoring, which won First Place News Story from Santa Clara University. Arden was a finalist for Writer of the Year from the National Scholastic Press Association. He also won First Place News Writing from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association for an article on FERPA and M-A's No Privileges List. Arden focused on news and legal research along with sending Public Records Act requests to government agencies. He was most proud of an editorial he worked on about M-A's treatment of sexual assault survivors. He left the M-A Chronicle to intern at the Almanac and go to college earlier.

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