Funded! This project was successfully funded on July 1, 2011.

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"De-leveling the System" is a documentary focusing on a system of student placement called "Leveling" .

More About This Documentary

In the South Orange & Maplewood, NJ school district there is a system of student placement called "Leveling" that begins in middle school. It is supposed to be a fluid system by which students can move up or down based on a set criteria. However, what has happened more frequently over the years is that most students remain stuck in their level regardless of whether they continue to perform at their level's requirements.

Most of the students in the lower levels are of black or latino descent, while the majority of students in the honors and AP levels are white. While race isn't part of the placement criteria, the racial disparity among the levels has become too clear to ignore. Over the past decade the debate over the effectiveness of this system has been a heated one; last summer the NAACP even considered suing the district, asserting that the leveling system was creating a system of "racial segregation" within the schools.

The district has put new changes in place this school year that appear to be moving in the direction of de-leveling the system. This documentary will follow the effectiveness of those changes.

What I'm Trying to Do

Over the past few months I have been interviewing teachers, principals, parents, students, community activists, and even the superintendent to gather the facts and different points of view on leveling. However, after a year I have run out of my own personal funds for this project and need better equipment.

So far I have merely been developing this documentary, but I plan on heading into production soon as I continue following the changes in the system for another school year. I seek to interview those who stand on the other side of the issue and support leveling. I will also spend time over the next year following current students in middle school and high school, interviewing professionals and parents in surrounding school districts and examining the alternative systems that those districts have in place.

To produce this documentary the right way, I need your support in funding this project. Help me shine a brighter light on this all too important issue in education so that it may reach a wider audience. Thank you. 

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