• Align perspectives and decision-making structures for advanced course taking in Bellingham high schools.
  • Understand the demographics of which students take advanced classes in Bellingham high schools and why.
  • Ensure advanced course taking in high school is equitable and accessible to all students.

Basis for Establishment:

  • Dual enrollment course data suggests that students in Bellingham Public Schools experience very different pathways in terms of college and career.
  • These pathways are often determined at the high school level.
  • With significant socio-economic and racial disparity in graduation rates, we need to examine how students are placed in advanced courses, what supports students receive, and whether they are successful is an important priority for the superintendent.
  • Principals and counselors have been asking for districtwide alignment on three specific programs: Advanced Placement (and how much should we subsidize tests), College in the High School and how to make it more equitable, and Running Start and how to provide more support for students.

Decision-Making Process:

  • This task force will not make any formal decisions, but will recommend a course of action to the superintendent.
  • Recommendations will be made based on research, discussion and group consensus.
  • Recommendations will be presented to the superintendent in March 2017, with the understanding that enrollment for 2017-18 will likely occur by February 2017.

Plan of Work:

  • Examine up-to-date research on the effectiveness of dual-enrollment and advanced courses and how to improve access and support for students in advanced classes.
  • Create an aligned approach, philosophy, and decision making structure for advanced course taking across all Bellingham high schools by conducting empathy interviews with participating students, former students, teachers, parents, and local college administrators and leading team meetings with high school principals.
  • Have up-to-date data available for relevant stakeholders on the demographic of students accessing dual-enrollment classes (race, gender, socio-economic status, etc.) and who is succeeding or not succeeding in these programs.
  • Develop recommendations for future work and share solutions to all relevant parties.


  • Martin Atkins, High School Assistant Principal
  • Kelly Boyer, High School Counselor
  • Steve Clarke, Assistant Superintendent, Teaching and Learning
  • Michael Couto, High School Assistant Principal
  • Kristi Dominguez, Director Teaching and Learning
  • James Everett, High School Principal
  • Sharon Gilbert, High School Counselor
  • Jeanette Grisham, High School Assistant Principal
  • Aramis Johnson, High School Counselor
  • Kip Jones, High School Counselor
  • Linda Miller, High School Principal
  • Eric Paige, Elementary Principal
  • Bill Palmer, Director Teaching and Learning
  • Gretchen Pflueger, Grant Writer
  • Brian Rick, Director Teaching and Learning
  • Katie Ruthford, High School Assistant Principal
  • Keith Schacht, Director Teaching and Learning
  • Chair, Prateek Dutta, Doctoral Intern


  • Commit to five 90 minute meetings and be an active participant
  • Possibly engaging in site visits or interviewing staff, parent, or students

Timeline and Meeting Dates:

  • Wednesday, Oct. 13, 10:30-12, District Office, Room 212 – Minutes
  • Wednesday, Nov. 9, 10:30-12, District Office, room 212 – Agenda, Minutes
  • Wednesday, Nov. 30, 10-11:30, District Office, room 212 – Agenda, Minutes
  • Wednesday, Jan. 4, 10-11:30, District Office, room 212 – Agenda, Minutes
  • Wednesday, Feb. 8, 10:30-12, District Office, room 212 (canceled due to weather)
  • Wednesday, March 8, 10:30-12, District Office, room 212 – Minutes

Budget Implications:

  • None, unless recommendations suggest otherwise (i.e., all college in the high school classes need to be subsidized, etc.).