Focus groups to discuss equity in the high schools

January 27, 2009

By Chantelle Lusebrink

District officials and community members are examining the future of programming and curriculum at Issaquah’s high schools.In the wake of last year’s kindergarten through 12th-grade boundary review, questions regarding programming and curricula equity among the high schools arose. 

To address those questions, district officials have created the Optimal High School Experience leadership team, made up of district officials and high school principals Dana Bailey, Mike DeLetis, Lisa Hechtman, Ed Marcoe and Paula Phelps. Patrick Murphy, the district’s executive director of high schools, is also on the team.

The team is charged with evaluating the experiences of students at each high school and investing in curricula and programming to streamline experiences for all students. The team is also selecting participants to share their experiences in community forums. Forum participants will include district staff members, students, parents and community members. 

“It is our intent that the focus groups will represent a wide range of experiences in our schools, from the high achieving student to the struggling, from the actively involved parent to the less connected, from the core academic teacher to the elective teacher, to the secretary, to the educational assistant, and other classified staff and district staff,” Murphy wrote in an e-mail.

All members of the community are invited to observe the forums, provide follow-up input, review materials and take surveys. 

“The focus groups is only one way to gather information,” Murphy wrote. “As we move forward, the leadership team will look to implement other ways to gather information from the community to best help us in this important work.”

Data from the forums will help the team develop plans that “guides our approach to learning, decision-making and allocation of resources to shape a quality high school experience to meet our students’ unique needs and prepare them for post-graduation opportunities,” according to the district’s Web site.

Five principals will guide those plans: 

-Access: Students must have maximum academic access to programs, faculty and instruction that best meet the needs of those students.

-Connectivity: Students should feel connected to their school by having positive relationships with faculty and others in school.

-Citizenship: There should be opportunities for students to think and act beyond themselves, and build compassion and respect for others.

-Resiliency: Students are provided a safe and structured environment, which allows them to move in or out of their comfort zones to experience new opportunities.

-Expression: Students must have multiple opportunities to express themselves. 

To help fulfill these goals, principals will evaluate changes they can make, like new classes, new graduation requirements, and mental and physical health resources.


On the Web

Go to,  click “Optimal High School Experience” under “What’s Happening”


If you go

Focus group meetings at the high schools:

Feb. 2 at Skyline 

Feb. 10 at Liberty 

Feb. 25 at Tiger Mountain Community 

Feb. 26 at Issaquah 

Starting times have not yet been set.




The district’s boundary review brought about concerns about equity among the high schools. District officials and community members were asked to examine high school education and see what investments can be made.



Focus groups will meet in February to discuss the future of high school philosophy and programming in the district.



The groups will meet with the district’s high school leadership team to discuss concerns, philosophy and equity among curricula and programs, and possible future investments.

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