Fisher, et al v. Tucson Unified, et al
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION of Special Master - RE:UHS Admissions Process Revisions. (Attachments: # 1 Admissions Process Attachment A, # 2 UHS Admissions Process Attachment B, # 3 UHS Admissions Process Fisher Attachment C, # 4 UHS Admissions Process TUSD Attachment D)(SMBE)
MENDOZA PLAINTIFFS’ OBJECTIONS TO FINAL UNIVERSITY HIGH SCHOOL (“UHS”) ADMISSIONS
PROCESS REVISION (“REVISION”)AND REQUEST FOR SPECIAL MASTER REPORT AND
Mendoza Plaintiffs remain concerned about the District’s failure to comply with the
USP’s express provisions relating to UHS, which, inter alia, mandated the creation of revised
admissions procedures so that they could be piloted for transfer students for the 2013‐14
school year. (Sec. V,A,5,a.) Having missed that opportunity, the District has now adopted a
pilot admissions process for enrollment in 2014‐15 for all entering freshman and sophomores.
A critical piece of that pilot admissions process is a motivation test. The Revision is
incomplete. It states that the CAIMI or “other relevant measures” will be employed but does
not state the basis on which the decision to use some “other relevant measure” will be made.
Neither, in the form approved by the Governing Board, does it state what weight will be given
to the results of this motivation test. These omissions need to be addressed. (That said,
Mendoza Plaintiffs reiterate that in concept they support the use of an additional admissions
tool to assess “motivation.”)
The USP expressly states that the District “shall administer the appropriate UHS
admission test(s) for all 7th grade students.” (Sec. V,A,5,b.) The Revision does not confirm that
this will occur. The District should be required to commit to this testing.
In comments on earlier versions of the UHS admissions process both the Mendoza
Plaintiffs and the Special Master have questioned the weights assigned to CogAT scores and
grades in the admissions process and suggested that an evaluation be undertaken to determine
the correlations, if any, between (1) CogAT scores and the grades achieved by UHS students in
their classes and (2) the GPAs of entering students and the grades they achieve in their UHS
classes for the purpose of determining how strong each of these factors is as a predictor of
success at UHS and/or whether the weights assigned to these factors should be modified.
In the Expert Reports attached to the final Revision, the same point is made. Kenneth
Bacon, Principal of Scarsdale High School in New York writes: “I would urge you to analyze the
correlation of the different elements of the admissions process (the CogAT, GPA, CAIMI, and
non‐cognitive assessments) with student performance in the high school every year to
determine their appropriate point values and inclusion in the process overall.”
Such requirement, with results broken out by the race, ethnicity and ELL status of the
students, should be expressly included in the Review section of the Revision.
The experts (both Kenneth Brown and Jeannie Franklin in Appendix K) noted
inconsistency in the Revision in the treatment of the weight to be given advanced courses such
as honors or pre‐AP for the purposes of an admission score and suggested that the
inconsistencies should be resolved. (This occurs both with respect to the Freshman and the
Sophomore admissions sections.) Mendoza Plaintiffs object to any resolution of this
inconsistency that results in additional weight being given for such courses at least until the
District demonstrates that it has met its obligation under the USP to increase the number and
percentage of African American and Latino students enrolled in such courses. (See, Sec. V, A, 4
related to Advanced Academic Courses.)
The Revision contains a section entitled Recruitment and Retention which
simultaneously states that recruitment and retention are not part of the admissions plan and
then states that efforts are in place to improve recruitment and to further develop and improve
student support systems. Absent is an acknowledgement of the specific outreach and
recruitment efforts mandated by the USP in Sec. V, A, 5, b, c, and d. The District should be
required to confirm that these mandated recruitment efforts are in place.
With respect to recruitment and retention, one of the experts retained by the District
(Jeannie Franklin in Appendix K) made specific suggestions for the use of a pre‐selection
committee and a school advocacy tool. Having received such recommendation from its expert,
the District should report whether it is intending to implement those suggestions and, if not,
Mendoza Plaintiffs lodge a separate objection to the use of Illinois Mathematics and
Science Academy (“IMSA”) as the comparison school to UHS for the purpose of the power point
presentation made to the Governing Board and the public with respect to the UHS admissions
process. (The power point was included in the Governing Board agenda items for its October
22, 2013 meeting.) [Mendoza Plaintiffs also note that the power point seems to resolve the
inconsistency noted above in favor of giving weight to enrollment in pre‐AP courses. Again, as
stated above, Mendoza Plaintiffs object to such weighting as discriminatory with respect to
African American and Latino applicants to UHS given the disparity in participation by African
American and Latino potential applicants in such advanced classes.]
Mendoza Plaintiffs lodge their objection because they believe that comparisons
between the two schools are extraordinarily hard to make and that the information presented
in the power point is misleading.
The power point begins by suggesting a basis for comparison by saying that Aurora,
Illinois, where IMSA is located, is the second most populous city in its state as Tucson is the
second most populous city in Arizona. What it does not say, however, is that IMAS is a state
agency, independent of any local school district, which recruits students from all over the state
of Illinois. (In fact, it is a boarding school.) (See Finn and Hockett, Exam Schools, at 61.)
Therefore, the comparison between the demographics of Aurora, Illinois and Tucson, which is
made in the power point is meaningless. The more valid comparison, as the authors of Exam
Schools recognize at page 68 of their book, is with the entire state of Illinois. Further, as its
name implies and unlike UHS, IMAS focuses on science and math. Finally, all students enter as
sophomores, having completed their first year of high school.
Mendoza Plaintiffs therefore object to any conclusions about the demographics of UHS
and/or Tucson that the District purports to base on a comparison with IMAS.
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