Parent Voices Concern Over Grouping Issue With School Board

Heidi Willis voices her concern over student grouping to the school board.

A Haverford School District parent voiced her concern to the council at last night’s school board meeting about a pro-grouping document on the district’s website.

Heidi Willis, whose child attends Chestnutwold Elementary School, told the Haverford School Board last night that many parents she has been corresponding with by e-mail are concerned with a 2002 study about student grouping that appeared on the school district’s website a few days ago.

The PDF document is a summary of a chapter in Gene Glass’ book “School Reform Proposals: The Research Evidence.” Glass is a regents’ professor at Arizona State University and specializes in educational leadership and policy studies.

Grouping is when students are placed into groups based on educational level: High achievers, average students, and low achievers. The three groups are then separated into different classrooms and are taught at a skill level that represents each group.

What concerned Willis, and her friend who was with her at the meeting Lisa Mintzer, is that Glass’ chapter summary, which endorses ending the grouping practice, was on the district’s website and because of that, she said that parents believed the board supports Glass’ conclusions.

Dr. Valerie L. Burnett, director of Pupil Services and Special Education, was the first to address Willis’ concerns after the parent stepped away from the podium and took her seat.

The school district looks at all studies about grouping, Burnett advised. “Grouping is a fact of life.”

School Board President Denis Gray said the school district would regroup and group around the needs of the students.

“I don’t want you jumping to conclusions based on one article,” Gray told Willis.

Once the meeting was adjourned, Willis told the Haverford-Havertown Patch that she felt relieved after hearing the school board’s response on grouping. Her friend, Mintzer, felt the same way.

“It will be reassuring to the community,” Mintzer said.

Haverford Middle School Update

The next business that the school board took on was the reconstruction of the Haverford Middle School.

Gray  said that phase four will nearly be completed in three months. There is a total of six phases to the project.

Project Manager Kevin Matthews, of C.B. Development Services, gave an update of the construction to the board.

The cafeteria is nearly complete and that students will move into 31 new classrooms later this month, Matthews reported.

Unstable walls have been repaired and an old sign that said “Haverford Junior School” has been discovered during the reconstruction, Matthews said. He also added that $1,400-ceramic tiles from Mexico have been ordered. 

The next school board meeting, Monday, Dec. 6, will take place in the new auditorium of the middle school.