Tuesday, December 10, 2013

How will CMS magnets screen students?

If CMS sticks with the test-score requirements that are posted on the web site,  a whole lot of students could find themselves shut out of IB,  math/science and world languages magnets next year.

Those magnets require grade-level scores on end-of-year state exams.  In years past,  that screened out a relatively small percentage of students who weren't ready to keep up with advanced academic programs.

This year a whole lot more students, in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and across North Carolina,  fell below grade level on new tests designed to measure more complex skills. If the 2013 trends hold for 2014,  about three-quarters of black and low-income students could find themselves ineligible for some of the most popular and rigorous magnets.

There's no way CMS will let that happen.  Some cities have highly competitive academic magnets,  but CMS magnets have always been designed as an open system, serving the largest possible number of students who can do the work.

The new iMeck Academy magnet at Cochrane plans to give students who fall short on the state exams the option to be admitted with high grades in core subjects,  technology facilitator Kim Leighty told me.  I'm guessing other magnets will have similar backstops,  but I couldn't confirm that Monday.

CMS seems to be scrambling to get ready for the Jan. 11 start of the 2014-15 application period.  The school board,  which normally has its work done by November,  gave itself an extra month to approve new programs for the coming school year,  and will vote on 12 of them Wednesday.

Magnet director Jeff Linker retired this summer and has been replaced by Akeshia Craven-Howell, executive director of the CMS transformation office.  She didn't respond to my request for information about the admission requirements Monday.

Best I can tell,  some families in southwest Mecklenburg will get letters in January telling them their kids are assigned to an unnamed elementary school.  The board normally names new schools before the application season begins,  but there's nothing on the agenda to name the "Winget Park relief school"  in the Palisades area.  There's an engineering magnet at that school up for a vote, and it's unclear how that will be described on the menu of options.

It's not clear whether CMS will have school data online on time for parents to do their research,  and some schools may be glad of that.  The lower scores on the 2013 exams pose a marketing hurdle for schools like Cochrane  (17.6 percent overall proficiency)  and McClintock  (23.1 percent)  that will be trying to persuade high-performing students to apply for seats.  And yes,  all of us in the public are still waiting for enrollment numbers,  poverty levels and demographic data,  which has been delayed by PowerSchool problems.

We'll soon see how some of these issues are handled.  CMS has promised to have magnet lottery instruction letters in homes the first week of January.


Anonymous said...

Who are you fooling? CMS magnets have been used for kids who don't like their home school and parents that don't mind a 5 mile bus ride for them. Some advanced students do use magnets for the original intended purpose. Yet a larger number abuse them as a alternative to their zoned school. They somehow feel entitled to use the magnet most likely due to fact CMS never fixed the zone school. The community really does not get the most out of the magnets when the intended use is abused. The BOE does not seem to care so it goes on as many deeper issues. Keith W. Hurley

Anonymous said...

So they lower the standards and then complain that these "special" programs really don't do much better than CMS as a whole?

Gee, I wonder why that happens.

Wiley Coyote said...

I'm waiting to see how CMS massages graduation data over the next two to three years, since we now know what students supposedly have been learning is bogus.

That 81% graduation rate should proportionally drop like a rock with the new testing scores. Right?

But as Ann says - There's no way CMS will let that happen

If you like your status quo, you can keep your status quo. Period.

BolynMcClung said...


Magnets are a way for good students, trapped in slow classrooms, to escape.

Let me say it another, less attractive way. If CMS exports all the students of motivated families from the under-achieving schools, then the Home School teachers can spend more time on remedial and basic instruction.

If CMS would admit this then it could solve its graduation problem. Just send any student that wants to escape a bad neighborhood school to one of the many top performing District Six schools. I'd start with Providence Springs Elementary, Elon, Hawk Ridge and Elizabeth Lane but with the goal of each of the twenty-four schools in the District to be involved.

Put ten more trailers at each school. Wouldn't that work nicely? CMS wouldn't have to go to the administrative cost of thinking up new Magnet topics. It would just create the Escape Magnet.

Bolyn McClung

Wiley Coyote said...


Perhaps you should read Ann's story "Neighborhoods Still Trying For CMS Boundary Changes". You will find one of the real reasons why parents seek magnets.

...The diversity rating was also perplexing. The rating form states that it is based on “creating a relative balance of economically disadvantaged students.” The Crown Colony request, like most of the others, seeks to move students into lower-poverty schools.

Poverty levels are based on eligibility for federal lunch subsidies. But individual students’ eligibility is considered confidential, McCully said, while CMS planners have access to racial information on each student. So he looked at the race of the students who would be moved and the demographics of the schools they would leave and move to.

Here you have families that just want to send their kids to a school closest to their home, but are forced elsewhere due to the long standing "diversity at all cost" mantra in CMS.

Until "diversity" - whatever PC label you want to use like race and/or income - is eliminated in school choice, CMS will continue to be mired in a state of assignment uncertainty.

If parents want to use magnets as a way to escape CMS' strongarm tactics related to failing neighborhood schools and PC policy, I support them 100%.

Anonymous said...

How about give parents the option to let their child attend any CMS school, as long as they provide the transportation? Transportation would only be provided to the neighborhood school.

Anonymous said...

Funny, but when Morrison is interviewed he often talks about how the future of CMS is in "choice".

But it still seems that they practice "quotas" instead.

Shamash said...



Maybe they should also have a "social engineering" magnet school for the parents who WANT their children to be in a perfectly socially/demographically/economically balanced school.

I think one trailer would suffice.

Anonymous said...

Bolyn said "If CMS exports all the students of motivated families from the under-achieving schools, then the Home School teachers can spend more time on remedial and basic instruction."
Ah, but Bolyn you forget that those under achieving students can only learn if there are successful (and dare I say it) middle and upper middle class students in the room. At least that was the theory sold to us for years (and that some are still selling). See Wylie's comments about Crown Point and the "diversity rating".

Anonymous said...

Great comment, Shamash. Of course your magnet idea wouldn't satisfy some. Loved it back in the late 90's when a neighbor in our predominately white subdivision bemoaned the fact that if busing ended her children would no longer attend "diverse" schools. I told her that I was sure CMS would be looking for white middle class students to attend inner city schools and her children would be welcomed. She replied, "But then my children wouldn't be with their neighborhood friends. I want them all to go". Never mind that the rest of us would be really happy to have our kids much closer to home.

Anonymous said...

CMS has a long history of social engineering - they have spread the criminals and street thugs with ankle bracelets all across the district. Now ever historically high achieving schools are experiencing unheard of failure rates. Instead of a middle of the road district with a few bad schools, we are becoming a low performing district. I'm still waiting for someone to tell me why heards of kids get off the city bus every morning and walk across Runnymead to Myers park ( many having issues with the walking part due to their pants falling to their knees)

Wiley Coyote said...


I believe you have perfectly summed up the fact of the matter and 45 years of history in 37 words.

Anonymous said...

Because, 9:47, having a diverse school makes the elites in Myers Park feel superior to the rubes in the suburbs. Who cares that the diversity students at MP have some of the worst scores in the district. Eventually that Myers Park aura should rub off on them, right?

Shamash said...

It's just so much easier to focus on mixing skin colors and free-lunchers with caviar-eaters than it is to provide better instruction for everyone.

So all this "diversity" stuff will probably be around a while.

Even though there have been better ways of educating the "at risk" and "underprivileged" in our own segregated past...


It's funny how easily people gave up what actually worked for more pie-in-the-sky pipe dreams once they drank that "equality" Kool-Aid.

Barb S. said...

Doesn't Magnet school transportation cost (us) 3-4X as much as busing a neighborhood student?

Anonymous said...

Of course, some of the "drink the Kool-Aid" types can be just a tad hypocritical, like the former head of a prominent local ministry association (known for their "social justice" stance) who once told me she couldn't stand her suburban neighbors--none of them cared about diversity. I asked her why she didn't move. The answer--I will, as soon my kids graduate from high school.

Shamash said...

Anon 9:37 (and others...)

Today poverty and wealth are the new "races".

Social justice (equality, equity, etc., etc.) is the new "integration".

And, now as then, "mixing" (and drinking the Koolaid) is still the politically correct solution to our problems.

Only it didn't really work then and it won't work now.

The only thing that probably WILL work is work.

But no one wants to hear that.

Even though work has proven to work time and time again even in remote parts of the world under much worse circumstances than we've had (and it also explains why Singapore isn't Mexico).

It's just so much easier to "learn" by osmosis.

And it's a lot easier to sell, too.

(If y'all can't tell, I'm about fed up with the silliness in our education system.

Especially with all the defensive crap coming out about how well we are performing internationally if you just adjust our society to compensate for ALL our "poverty".

We might as well "compensate" for everyone who just doesn't try hard or who is just plain stupid.


It seems that we're always looking for the magic bullet excuse to save face while not putting in the necessary work to do well.

Oh, how horrible! The kids in Shanghai, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan go to tutors AFTER SCHOOL and THAT's why they're so good.

WELL DUH! If only we cared as much...)

Wiley Coyote said...


Undereducating the populace with failed diversity driven drivel costs 1,000 times more.

Not finding out who qualifies and who doesn't each year for programs designed for those in need costs us hundreds of billions each year.

Get off the cost of magnet transportation or I'll see your magnet transportation and suggest we cut out all extracurricular activities including sports programs.

Everything that is part of the education exeperience and should be paid by tax dollars (everyone).

Anonymous said...

Dearest Mr. Wiley, Magnet school students who are receiving door to door service should pay a portion of that service. Just like the sports players pay a portion of theirs. Fair is fair, wouldn't you say?

Wiley Coyote said...


CMS gets its funding through tax dollars we all pay.

Parents have choices; neighborhood schools or magnets, which are ALL paid for by our tax dollars. CMS continues to expand magnets.

CMS also implemented a drop system for magnet transportation.

I don't care how much it costs. As I said earlier, it is part of the education experience we all pay for so if you want to get real, let's start charging parents who live over 1.5 miles from their neighborhood school for transportation.

I'm willing to bet that if you add up all that cost plus half empty school buses, the cost would be much greater than magnet transportation.

Have you bothered to look at high school boundaries and the distances from the outer boundaries to the school? Some are over 7 1/2 miles from the outer boundary to the school.

Regarding sports, many students get to play sports for free under CMS' "pay to play" scheme, where other parents get hosed twice - through tax dollars and having to pay $100 or $50 per child per sport.

Either pay for all kids to play or cut out sports.

Dig a little deeper said...

Barb, a numebr of us challenged that alledged CMS conclusion but were rebuffed when we demanded proof. So I call them on the carpet for that.

In actuality, the move was to discourage the "caring/responsible" students and families from exiting failing neighborhood schools and get their failinfg scores back up.

When I went back and looked at some numbers (of course with a large grain of salt because once again CMS had put them out), it seemed we moved students from lower per pupil spending schools back to higher per pupil spending school and if you believed CMS's numbers, we actually spent more money in the end than if we paid for door to door busing to magnet schools. Don't forget too that CMS has been caught before spending over $50k per year just to bus a certain few students, not Metro school type.

Anonymous said...

Helms did you really say that students need a "grade level score" to get into IB and advanced math and science programs? If in fact that is true it is lunacy of the highest order.

A "grade level score" implied 50th percentile. Is that level of learning that IB programs are designed to teach? Of course not. Advanced programs such as IB and AP are designed to teach upper level thinking skills not "grade level" skills.

If students who can't preform at "grade level" are placed in those classes advanced classes to meet some social engineering goal one of two things can happen. Either the actual teaching and grades are dumbed down or the students who can not do the work fail. If that happens the social engineers will riot. If the classes are taught at a lower level and the students who can learn don't and the colleges assume an IB student from CMS didn't learn anything. Either way we all lose.

The bottom line is that until parents learn to be parents and prepare their children for school from the cradle nothing will happen in the school system.

Wiley Coyote said...

Here's another tidbit for all you magnet school haters out there:

...Students at all public schools can take tuition-free courses at community colleges. The middle college schools provide more flexible schedules and a college setting, with easier access to CPCC instruction. The plan calls for CMS to spend $40,000 a year in county money to provide bus passes so students can get there.

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/09/24/4339956/two-new-small-high-schools-on.html#storylink=cpy

$40,000 per year wasted, just like magnet transportation, right?

Anonymous said...

How about this proposal. You offer a voucher to any (race/income) student ($8,000) to apply to any school they wish. Charter , CMS or private all would have to accept the voucher. If its outside a "bus zone" parents will ahve to provide transportation or just use someone else's address. (a common issue) It would shrink the size of CMS and make it more manageable. It would also shrink pay checks of downtown staff not needed. Tax payers could shop for the value in their educational needs imagine? CMS would be held accountable and really would not need a BOE or even a executive making over $150,000. Keith W. Hurley

Shamash said...

Anon 1:50.

OF COURSE they need to admit students who are BELOW "grade level" into the IB and AP classes.

If not, then "about three-quarters of black and low-income students could find themselves ineligible for some of the most popular and rigorous magnets".

And that's no way to run a sports program, uh, I mean school.

Not in an age when "equality" and "diversity" are the most important goals for school and society.

Soon, they'll also allow ALL students to be quarterback for the football team, too.

Even the slow fat kids who can't throw the ball.

Because, as we all know, EVERY child CAN and SHOULD benefit from being a quarterback.

No one really cares if this holds back the rest of the team.

After all, schools can always celebrate their "diversity" instead of "victory" and alumni pride will never be higher.

(Just kidding, you KNOW we'd never do anything so stupid in sports, some of those kids grow up to be PROFESSIONALS...)

Anonymous said...

Shamash it is like we are thinking with the same brain - you just said it in a much more interesting way.
It is too bad that no one in a position of responsibility will ever pay attention to us.

Anon @ 1:50

Shamash said...


H'mm. Let us think about that.

Well, when I'm confronted with stupidity in academics, I always try to think how "da coach" would look at it.

Because that is where the schools REALLY KNOW HOW TO EXCEL.

However, I do have a simple solution for the "AP/IB for Dummies" scenario.

Just have two types of credits and grades for the class and let the teacher handle whether or not the kids get to stay in the class.

It's like mixing graduate and undergraduates in a class in college, you grade the graduate students differently and they get a different type of credit.

But, I am still not sure how that will translate onto the football field without two (or more) parallel games going on at the same time.

Maybe it would be like 3-D chess.

Anonymous said...

Wiley, you don't care how much it costs? WEll, some of us do. We have 3 Magnet buses come to our South charlotte neighborhood. They are full sized buses and empty, only pick a few other kids up on their 17 mile, 11 mile and 9 mile drives. That IS a waste of money. Our 3 neighborhood buses are loaded.

Absolutely the extra costs should be paid by the families, as is happening all over the country.

Anonymous said...

Students testing below grade level and teachers paid way below national levels

Okay CMes, solve the equation !

Anonymous said...

Never has more money been wasted and lost with the statement of:

"Its for the children"

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:44pm.

Well, they wouldn't want to "diss" the magnet kids by sending them to school on a "short bus".

Anonymous said...

fyi....the CMS Magnet students are getting a Private school education for nothing, and free transportation too. Sounds like a deal to me, unfortunately the schools are not open to ALL students.

Wiley Coyote said...


Magnets are open to all kids who qualify academically. Some are more popular than others which leads to an waiting list.

Here is the link to CMS' Magnet Website.

Educate yourself.


Anonymous said...

Many magnet programs do not have entrance requirements.

Wiley Coyote said...


My "I don't care how much it costs" statement refers to what the current cost is based on CMS' requirements that parents drop off their kids at drop point to ride to a magnet.

CMS magnets are open to anyone who meets the requrements. Students still have to take all core courses to graduate, therefore if the cost is X, then that's the way it is.

As I stated in another post, take a look at the boundaries for high schools and the distances buses have to travel each day.

The farthest point for Olympic is over 9 miles for those students who have this as a home school.

From my house, I can get to over 15 different magnets within 9 miles of my house so why don't we start charging people who live over 1.5 files to their home school?

All of you magnet haters get a life. They aren't going anywhere and neither is the transportation to get kids to them.

By the way. How do you propose the 42% of poverty students pay for magnet transportation to a school like Piedmont Middle School? Afterall, low income students get everything for free (even though we can't prove who they are) so someone will pay for them to get there.

Anonymous said...

Get over the magnets and get to work on the Affordable Heathcare Act. (Powerschool) Down for two days. Who needs BYOT when paper is the norm. Gotta love the Pearson model…….buy and kill a working program then force a bill of goods on gullible administrators.

Barb S. said...

CMS magnets are open to anyone who meets the requirements.

Anonymous said...

If CMS sticks with the test-score requirements that are posted on the web site, a whole lot of students could find themselves shut out of IB, math/science and world languages magnets next year.

Those magnets require grade-level scores on end-of-year state exams. In years past, that screened out a relatively small percentage of students who weren't ready to keep up with advanced academic

The whole purpose of the article suggests that there ARE requirements to getting into Magnet schools. I believe that some of the transportation comments on this blog are due to the fact that the complicated Magnet transportation schedule dictates to the rest of the CMS schools the crazy start and end times. That's a fact (Wiley).

Anonymous said...

What the heck is the CMS transformation office?

Anonymous said...

From School Transportation News regarding later high school start times.


Anonymous said...

Good question, 7:42 -- I just got the definition myself. It combines the former magnet, career-tech and virtual learning offices.