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School Notes

The Arlington Public Schools is looking for volunteers on several of its citizen advisory committees.

The advisory groups are part of the Advisory Council on Instruction (ACI), the umbrella committee to which all of the curriculum-based/focused committees report. The committees assist in reviewing the systemwide curriculum and instructional programming, and in the developing recommendations for improvement in both.

Citizen volunteers serve on these committees for two-year terms. Meetings are held monthly during the school year, and an annual report is presented to the School Board. Each committee may have up to 20 members. Each is chaired by a citizen, who is assisted by a staff liaison, usually the curriculum supervisor for that particular area of focus. The committees work to ensure that the academic/instructional needs of students and teachers are being met. Members may determine that they need to research certain issues and that they need to visit classes and talk to administrators, teachers and students.

Vacancies exist on ACI advisory committees focusing on:

Arts Education

Career, Technical and Adult Education

Early Childhood Education

English

ESOL/HILT

Family and Consumer Sciences

Foreign Language

Health and Physical Education

Instructional Media and Technology

Mathematics

Science

Social Studies

Special Education

Students Services

There are also vacancies on the Arlington Citizen's Committee for the Extended Day Program, a joint County Board and School Board advisory committee.

Citizens interested in serving on an ACI advisory committee, or the Citizen's Committee for the Extended Day Program, should fill out an application available online at the Arlington Public Schools Advisory Committee Web page, or contact the School Board office at 703-228-6015. Email at schoolbd@arlington.k12.va.us for a printed application and fax completed applications to 703-228-7640.

According to a survey conducted in the spring of 2002, Arlington parents, citizens, students and teachers feel good about the education and schools being provided to county children. The survey was conducted by the University of Maryland Survey Research Center (SRC) to determine the level of satisfaction with the educational services and learning environments within the school system. The results were interpreted and described by the Superintendent's Advisory Committee on Accountability and Evaluation.

SRC polled more than 600 parents and community members, over 800 students, and more than 500 teachers via written and phone surveys. Responses were kept confidential to ensure privacy so that answers could be honest and complete, two aspects critical to the survey's success.

To provide a national comparison, many of the questions mirrored those used by the Gallup organization in its annual poll on education. A number of questions were "report card" items asking respondents to provide letter grades for various aspects of the education and the school environments in Arlington.

Responses to the 2002 report card items show:

* More than half (50.5 percent) of Arlington parents give their child's school an "A", with 88 percent giving an "A" or "B," compared to 28 percent of parents across the country "A's and 43.6 percent of the 1999 Arlington parents giving an "A" grade.

* More than 85 percent of Arlington parents give the public schools in Arlington an "A" (40 percent) or "B" (45.5 percent), compared to 62 percent of parents across the nation who give an "A" (19 percent) or "B" (43 percent) and 77 percent of Arlington parents surveyed in 1999 bestowing an "A" (24.3 percent) or "B" (53.3 percent).

* More than 90 percent of teachers gave the Arlington schools an "A" (43.0 percent) or "B" (48.5 percent), which compares favorably to the 1999 teacher response of a little over 80 percent giving an "A" (32.8 percent) or "B" (48.1 percent).

* An "A" is the most frequent grade given teachers by parents (52.2 percent) and students (42.1 percent).

* An "A" is the most frequent grade given principals by parents (52.6 percent), teachers (43.4 percent) and students (40.1 percent).

Other survey findings reveal that:

* Over 90 percent of parents are very satisfied (62.8 percent) or satisfied (29.7 percent) with the level of instruction received by their children.

* Over 83 percent of parents and nearly 60 percent of community members feel that their "tax dollars are being well spent in the school system."

* Over 90 percent of parents strongly agree (75.3 percent) or agree (18.8 percent) that they feel welcomed at school.

* About two-thirds of parents (63.2 percent), teachers (63.4 percent) and students (71.9 percent) believe they have just about the right number of students in their classes.

In regards to student expectations:

* Almost all elementary school students (98.6 percent) say their teachers always (91.1 percent) or sometimes (7.5 percent) expect them to do well.

* Over 90 percent of middle school students agree (73.6 percent) or mostly agree (18.7 percent) that their teachers expect them to do well.

* Over 90 percent of high school students agree (61.4 percent) or mostly agree (29.5 percent) that their teachers expect them to do well.

* Approximately 70 percent of middle and high school students believe their school does a good job of preparing them for college.

* Approximately 60 percent of middle school students and a little over half of high school students believe their school does a good job preparing them for a job.

Other survey questions dealt with perceptions of school safety, school climate and the achievement gap. To see a full report of the results, visit the 2002 Survey Results Web page at www.arlington.k12.va.us. For more information on the customer satisfaction surveys, contact Lisa Stengle, Assistant Director of Evaluation for Arlington Public Schools, at 703-228-8663.

Sara Wieseneck, a graduate of Yorktown High School and the daughter of Michael Wieseneck, is the recipient of both a Rush Rhees Scholarship and a Xerox Scholarship at the University of Rochester in New York. A Rush Rhees Scholarship is awarded to students who score 1350 or higher on the SAT or a composite of 31 or better on the ACT tests. Xerox Scholarships are awarded for academic merit in the humanities or social sciences.

The following Arlington residents are recipients of a 2002 dean's partial-tuition scholarship valued up to $9,000 to DeVry University's Arlington campus: Brett R. Mckinney, a graduating senior from Wakefield High, Toan N. Nguyen, also a graduating senior from Wakefield High.