Minorities are worry in JDHS survey

Posted: Tuesday, May 09, 2000

Teachers and parents at Juneau-Douglas High School are fairly satisfied with academic standards, community partnerships and student attitudes and behavior, according to a recent survey. But respondents, who answered anonymously, were less pleased with efforts to ensure the success of Natives and other minority students.

The surveys are part of a self-study that will result in a school improvement plan. It's for the school's accreditation process, which takes place every six years with annual follow-ups.

About 40 parents responded to the survey, which was given out at parent-teacher conferences in February. On a scale of 1 to 4, with 4 being outstanding, about three-quarters rated JDHS at 3 or higher. But only about half the parents rated JDHS at 3 or higher in ensuring minority success.

In comments on academic standards, parents said teachers need to explain what content standards are being taught in a class and what is expected for a grade. Another parent said the school should let students ``test out'' of classes and move on if they've mastered the material.

To improve minority success, the school should expand alternative programs for at-risk students, one parent said. Another asked for English as a Second Language teachers in math and science. Still another said the school needs to incorporate more respect for all cultures.

But one parent said there's too much emphasis on differences: ``ENOUGH!!!! It's the middle of the road kids -- ALL RACES -- falling through the cracks -- everywhere!!!''

About 50 teachers responded to the survey. More than three-quarters rated the school at 3 or higher. The exception was in minority success, where the majority of teachers split between ratings of 2 and 3.

In comments on minority success, one teacher asked for better enforcement of attendance. Another said the school needed an English as a Second Language teacher for math students. One teacher said people work hard to make programs work, but they are met with opposition or apathy.

Results from a student survey weren't available.

The public is invited to participate on 14 committees that will be formed in late August to write the improvement plan, said Kathryn Milliron, an assistant principal who is on the accreditation committee. She can be reached at 463-1900.

North Pole High School in Fairbanks recently followed a similar accreditation process, and the public needs to be involved, said Principal Vivian Dailey.

``There's a whole lot of soul-searching to make sure we're doing what we say we're doing,'' she said.

``It brought out an interesting point to us. It's not that parents had a lot of criticism,'' she said. ``But it did bring to light issues we knew were there but didn't know were so important, especially communications with high school teachers.''

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