WSSD urges immediate action on weighting study

BRATTLEBORO — Vermont lawmakers commissioned a research study in 2018 to determine whether the state's formula for weighting students with different needs and challenges should be structured in order to determine how much aid a school district receives.

The report, prepared by researchers at the University of Vermont, Rutgers University, and the American Institutes for Research, recommends that students from lower income families and who are English-language-learners be weighted substantially more heavily than they are now.

The Legislature is considering what to do now that they know there is no evidence that their weighting formula was based on facts.

On Feb. 27, the Windham Southeast School District unanimously approved the following resolution:

“The Windham Southeast School District recognizes the importance of using facts and valid research to guide our decisions and actions. We recognize the deleterious effects limited opportunity due to poverty, language, and restricted ability have on student performance. We call on the Legislature to take immediate action to implement the findings of the student weighting research.

“We are fully prepared to explain to our residents the necessary changes in student weighting identified in the recent legislative report. We see no reason to delay or perform further study before providing the level of support this research indicates is needed to help these marginalized students.

“Vermont schools have seen little improvement in the performance of these students compared to peers with greater opportunities since we began measuring the gap in 2001. Now, the Legislature is being advised to 'go slow' and 'be thoughtful,' despite the clear data they have been presented. They are being advised to tell marginalized families they will just have to wait.

“We call on the Legislature to take immediate action to implement the findings of the student weighting research.”

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