The following items were discussed by the Alexandria School Board at its Oct. 22 meeting. For further information, call 988-2100.
MINORITY ACHIEVEMENT POLICY -- Superintendent Paul Masem, in a briefing paper presented at the meeting, asked school board members to shift the focus of its minority achievement program to those students scoring in the bottom third on the national standardized tests.
It was Masem's first major policy initiative since becoming Alexandria's superintendent last summer.
Masem proposed targeting specific students instead of trying to narrow the academic gap between all minority and white students, which has been the board's policy.
The proposal is aimed at raising achievement levels to help students pass a new minimum-achievement test by the time they are in eighth grade.
Students must pass the test, which will be mandatory in 1990, by the time they are in ninth grade to advance to the 10th grade.
In Alexandria, 773 out of 2,285 high school students would have qualified for the program based on their minimum-achievement tests taken in 8th grade. School officials did not know the number of junior high and elementary students who would qualify.
Masem's program, which would include individual tutoring, tailored instruction and such support services as psychological counseling, also is designed to help students read and do math on a ninth-grade level -- the minimum state standard -- by the time they graduate from high school.
"It is not an astronomically large target that we are shooting at," Masem told the board, "but it's a realistic one to move a critical mass of students to this level that will open up some doors for them."
Masem said he will present a detailed plan at the board's Nov. 4 meeting. The board informally approved the plan at the meeting.
About 63 percent of the city's public school students are minorities, many who are disadvantaged or who don't speak English.
Two years ago, the city's black elementary students scored an average of 36 percentile points lower than their white counterparts on standardized tests measuring math, reading and language skills.
Former Superintendent Robert W. Peebles, who retired this summer, launched a major effort to improve minority achievement. This year, the system has earmarked $1.2 million of its $64 million budget for programs for underachievers.