As the mother of ninth- and 10th-graders, I appreciate the quality resources our district devotes to Lakeridge and LO high school. Given that these resources are finite and costly, our school board must proactively monitor and assess their utilization and effectiveness. This ongoing analysis must mine all available data, including:

• Naviance. This computer-based program has captured information on the college admissions decisions for more than 3,000 Lake Oswego students. This data is plotted on scattergrams (graphs) by high school for each college. A Lakeridge student, for example, can see the scattergram for all Lakeridge applicants to Stanford but not for LO High applicants to Stanford; and

• Scholars’ Alliance. Selected families pay $400 a year for Scholars’ Alliance college counselors to prepare college applications that promote the students’ participation in this LOSD academic program.Delaney

After gathering this data, the next step is to identify and compare “similarly situated” applicants. This is the same approach I applied in lending discrimination complaints against FDIC-supervised banks. Where two applicants are alike in all relevant ways yet one is treated differently, other factors must be considered as determinative.

In reviewing our school district’s publicly available records, I do not find any effort to use the Naviance or Scholars’ Alliance data to compare similarly situated students. The absence of this analysis leaves LOSD parents questioning whether their teens have fair and equal access to opportunities that make a difference in college admissions decisions.

Instead of engaging in data analysis, some school board members simply blame “culture” for differences between Lakeridge and LO High. In this context, “culture” becomes a euphemism for the way parents raise their children. Where I grew up such talk of culture’s impact on outcomes at segregated schools would have started a race riot. “Culture” ignores variables that are more logically related to public education and controllable, such as high school rankings, name recognition and counselor intervention.

As your elected representative on the school board, I will collaborate on data-driven evaluations of resources at both high schools so we can improve student success. Protecting confidentiality of the Naviance data and student privacy will be a priority during this process. The results will ease the tremendous stress of college admissions.

For example, the Scholars’ Alliance program has been marketed to parents for years yet has never advertised itself based on quantifiable measures of success. Parents have depended upon word-of-mouth to justify the $400 annual fee and substantial time commitment. This situation may be due to ownership of its “intellectual property.” On Aug. 23, 2010, John Wendland proposed a “slight rewording” of the school superintendent’s employment contract to “clarify” that Dr. Korach is “entitled to benefit financially” from past and future materials developed for Scholars’ Alliance. Wendland’s wife, Lisa, is a private college counseling specialist who works for Scholars’ Alliance.

As your elected representative on the school board, I will push for a clearer public understanding of the relationship between the LOSD and Scholars’ Alliance. More importantly, if we establish that it provides measurable benefits in college admissions, I will advocate to utilize its conceptual model as part of the programs at both Lakeridge and LO High so all students can take advantage of it.

Karen Delaney, Lake Oswego, is a candidate for Lake Oswego School Board, Position 3.

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