The Alexandria School Board, agreeing for a third year in a row that minority achievement is its most pressing educational goal, decided yesterday to consider new factors -- in addition to standardized test scores -- in measuring minority students' progress.
At its annual goal-setting meeting, the board agreed to include such factors as dropout rates, involvement in extracurricular activities, grades in honors courses and college enrollment figures when tracking the progress of minority students in Alexandria public schools.
The board currently relies on standardized test scores, which last month showed that black pupils score an average of 33 percentile points lower than their white classmates in Alexandria.
Also, the board met in executive session with four City Council members to hear the lawmakers' views of the three finalists for the school superintendent position. The current superintendent, Robert W. Peebles, announced in March that he will leave the $77,742 post, citing health reasons.
Council member Lionel R. Hope said after the meeting that at least five of the seven council members support one candidate, who he and others declined to identify.
The candidates are William Leonard, Alexandria's assistant superintendant for finance and administrative services; Paul Masem, a superintendent in Ames, Iowa, and Shirli M. Vioni, a former superintendent in Wayzata, Minn., a Minneapolis suburb.
The School Board, which makes the final decision, is expected to announce the results Wednesday.
Minority education became a focus in Alexandria in 1985 when the city recorded the widest gap between black and white students in the Washington area on the Science Research Associates tests that measure mathematics, reading and language arts skills. Since then, officials have reported that blacks are making larger gains that whites on the tests.
School Board member Judy Seltz, who introduced the proposal, said that increasing standardized test scores is not an ambitious enough goal. "I don't want people to think that all this school system is about is basic skills."
The board is to decide on Oct. 1 which additional measurements to incorporate.
Other goals the board endorsed yesterday are:To begin long-range planning in order to predict the school district's problems three to five years into the future and to examine educational trends. "We've been concerned that we don't have an organized means of looking into the future," said board chairman Tim Elliott. To investigate reorganization options in the school district to handle the declining enrollment figures and consider special programs such as day care, preschool and all-day kindergarden. To initiate a comprehensive evaluation of school programs and curricula so board members can assess the educational offerings of the city. The board agreed to decide on a schedule in October.