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Roy v. United States

United States District Court, D. Arizona

February 11, 2019

Roy and Josie Fisher, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
United States of America, Plaintiff-Intervenor,
v.
Anita Lohr, et al., Defendants, and Sidney L. Sutton, et al., Defendants-Intervenors, Maria Mendoza, et al., Plaintiffs, United States of America, Plaintiff-Intervenor,
v.
Tucson Unified School District No. One, et al., Defendants.

          SPECIAL MASTER'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION WITH RESPECT TO BORTON AND BOOTH-FICKETT MAGNET SCHOOLS

         Borton Overview

         The Special Master identified Borton as a magnet school that did not meet the criteria for sustaining its magnet status because of the substantial achievement gaps in the school. The school is integrated and attracts about 70% of its students from beyond its neighborhood. Overall, Borton students achieve an acceptable rate as compared to the District average. So, what is the problem? The immediate environment of the school is characterized by low income housing, including a housing project. Research on magnet schools shows that families that send their children to schools other than their nearest school are, on average, better educated than those who do not make that choice. Thus, Borton serves a broad range of students from different socioeconomic conditions which, in turn, are highly correlated with student achievement in most schools. This variation in socioeconomic backgrounds of students is a major contributor to the achievement gap. In order to narrow the gap, additional resources will be needed that are focused on the lower achieving students. In addition, during the 2017-18 school year 7 of 19 teachers were beginning teachers.

         While the Borton plan for improvement is as good or better than that of some other magnets, the plan does not address directly the fundamental problem. To address the achievement gap specifically, Borton needs, at least, an instructional coach in mathematics. Borton has such an expert on site for reading.

         It is also the case that the class-size at Borton will average 25 next year, which is higher than some magnets. Having a coach /master teacher with expertise in mathematics instruction to work with teachers, especially newer teachers, in smaller classes particularly in the early grades, would have a high probability of substantially increasing the achievement of the lowest performing students.[1]

         Recommendation

         The Special Master recommends that the Court confirm that Borton will not lose its magnet status contingent upon the addition of a master teacher/coach assigned to Borton for at least two years.

         Booth-Fickett Overview

         Booth-Fickett is an integrated K-8 school magnet school. Nonetheless, the Special Master identified Booth-Fickett as one of the magnet schools where academic performance and other challenges warranted increased support from the District in order to maintain its magnet status. Since the Special Master's report regarding Booth-Fickett, the District has provided the school with substantial support. In addition, the District has developed a partnership with one of the leading technology-rich curriculum providers - Amplify - whereby the District will contribute its expertise in culturally responsive pedagogy and will, in return, receive from Amplify its curriculum (that aligns with District and state standards).

         Working out the details of this potentially exciting partnership and the implementation procedures will, no doubt, take some time this school year. The Special Master believes that the partnership will significantly strengthen the capacity of Booth-Fickett to enrich its Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematic (STEM) magnet theme and is an opportunity for the District to share its expertise in culturally responsive pedagogy on a national level.

         The sooner the staff of Booth-Fickett and the families that have enrolled their students there can be confident that the school is moving forward as a magnet school implementing a highly regarded technology-rich curriculum, the sooner the school can arrest the loss of students that occurred recently and attract new students.

         Recommendation

          The Special Master recommends that the Court affirm that Booth-Fickett will not be losing its magnet status.

         CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE

         I hereby certify that on February 11, 2019, I electronically submitted the foregoing via the CM/ECF Electronic Notification System and transmittal of a Notice of Electronic Filing provided to all parties ...


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