Thursday, October 24, 2019

Is D86 in Trouble?

Moments ago we were surprised to receive notification that a comment was posted on our Final Blog post published in March 2018.  After reading it we decided to go ahead and honor the request to create a free-standing post. We are posting it here to see if there is any interest in having our blog made available for community members and D86 teachers to submit comments or posts that they want us to run on current D86 issues -- anonymously or not.  We are not so sure about the request to create a blog called D86 Parents for Accountability and Transparency, but we guess anything is possible........

"Anonymous said...
Help!!! D86 is in trouble. Please consider running this comment as a free standing post to get some discussion going. Last night the D86 Board of Education agreed to dismantle the science sequence currently taught at Hinsdale Central High School and phase in the Physics First sequence offered at South. This will include eliminating G-level classes. It is eerily reminiscent of the Learning for All plan that D181 experienced. This is going to have major implications on the district going forward. Teachers are afraid to speak out publicly. This may be the only avenue they have to be candid about what they think. I know you haven't posted since March 2018, but we need your help! Maybe you can even start a blog called D86 Parents for Accountability and Transparency? Please??????"

(Note on submitting a comment:  If you are looking at this post from your laptop or desktop and want to see comments that have already been submitted, click on the word Comments at the end of the post.  If you are trying to post a comment from your phone, you may encounter a glitch which we are in the process of resolving. If you attempt to submit a comment from your phone and it gets deleted when you click on "Publish Your Comment," go to the bottom of the page and click on "View Web Version." The web version will open up, then click on the Post you wish to submit a comment on, then at the end of the post a Comment Box will open up that should work without any glitches. You will get a verification box to prove you are not a robot. You can submit with your name or anonymously.)


Anonymous said...

Learning for All was a disaster for D 181 and a curriculum shift that set the district back many years in competitive education for all students. When we move as a district and community to teach one way to all students and force students to fit a mold or track rather than build students up for success, we fail as an educational system. Seeing the individuality of our students can be tough in a large public school setting; how we do this and account for student differences and challenges while still empowering students to push to their potential is offering opportunities for learning that meet the needs of a large cross section of students. The science course sequence being dismantled in a first phase and elimination of G level classes forces all students to fit a mold. What will be next? Math? I think we need to recognize that as a community, successes and growth happen at all levels for all students. Much of this community and its students is founded on the premise that our children can be successful from a wide variety of interests and approaches because they come from a very focused and supportive environment that nurtures excellence in many forms. Not everyone will be successful in Physics first just as not every child needs to be a science honors student.

I think that the larger issue here is that our communities as a whole need a voice and an opportunity to share information; ideas; and frustrations as well as successes. I'd like to think that people will get to a BOE meeting and speak their mind but the truth is, few people are courageous enough to do that or willing to take the time. A blog would help to get the information out there. We should always be mindful of names and people since we don't want to be accusatory or derogatory towards any one person or entity but I think it would be helpful to have a resource that people can check for "current news" and frustrations district and community wide. It may just spurn action and get stake holders and community members out to meetings and help to disseminate information. Information is power-isn't that the adage? Perhaps not D 86 Accountability but Education Accountability in D 181 and D 86. I do believe that there is much work to do districts wide.

Anonymous said...

I was really pleased to receive the e-mail this morning indicating a new post on this blog as I have been wishing for a forum to find information about the changes that we are seeing for Hinsdale Central students. Except for the BOE meeting itself, there has been a complete absence of information for HC parents about the elimination of G level classes and the changing science sequence. I think that the administration and board really missed the boat in failing to notify parents in the district that this was all being considered. I am concerned that this is how important decisions will be made in the future and I don't have time to go to every meeting to try to keep track of things.

With respect to the actual changes, I have heard varying opinions about both the G level and physics first sequence. I would like the opportunity to speak to decision makers before any of this is rolled out. My student had a horrible experience with LFA (which is why I was so thankful for the blog) and I don't want a repeat. I learned then that parents have to be involved but I think that the district adminstration and board of education have a responsibility to keep us up to date regarding big decisions that impact our students.

Anonymous said...

This blog was an invaluable repository of ideas and information during D181’s Learning for All debacle. As an impetus for change, it made possible D181’s return to its previous educational excellence.

The sweeping curriculum change being instituted in D86, with inadequate supporting data and insufficient public discussion, suggests that the blog is once again needed.

Thanks, bloggers!

Anonymous said...

These are the first 2 steps in "aligning" Hinsdale Central with South. Grading practices are next. South cannot be aligned with Central because they do not have the student population to do so. The boe and superintendent favor "bringing the floor up" over "excellence for all" despite what they say in public. It is learning for none all over again.

Anonymous said...

D86 parents, look for emails from South/Central regarding the Illinois 5Essentials Survey. This survey is required by the state, reported to the public in the Illinois Report Card, and can be an effective means of sending a message.

If you are dissatisfied with the direction the D86 curriculum is taking and the way in which that direction is being implemented - limited community voice and public discussion, and Board of Education "support" without the accountability of a vote - use this 10 minute survey to send that message to the D86 administration, Regional Office of Education and State Board of Education.

Frustrated said...

Thank you for giving our community a place to talk. So frustrated that Access trumps Readiness. The reason Learning for None was so devastating was that it created holes that got bigger and bigger. By properly placing students in ability groupings everyone masters foundational skills - scaffolding maximizes potential without creating holes. Students need the proper rigor - with four years ability divided into two groups with a 40/60 split closing in on 50/50, no one will be served. Central loses G-level and 2 AP Physics Course. So sad!

Anonymous said...

What does this comment mean? “ South cannot be aligned with Central because they do not have the student population to do so.” What is different about the population or what each student needs? Each population has various levels of learners.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 6:21. As I understand it, there are several reasons that South cannot replicate Central's class offerings exactly. The most obvious is size. Fewer students can mean fewer class offerings. As it relates to the G level classes, parents have heard from staff at both schools that the racial composition of the G level classes at South was one of the main reasons for their elimination several years ago. Because of this fact (and maybe other reasons) Central cannot keep its G level classes in math and Science. To be clear, South has a very good and very successful Science department, it is just different than Central's and I'm not convinced that "one size fits all" here. My guess is that we will have similar discussion with respect to other subjects in the future.

Anonymous said...

I don't know anything about "what type of physics South has". Can someone please share some information about different "types" of Physics?

Anonymous said...

I am a teacher in a district that has implemented physics first. I would like to share with you portions of an email I recently wrote to a former colleague who was instrumental in bringing physics first to our district. It has been edited to remove personal details and other things irrelevant to the conversation. I think the text will speak for itself.

“To say that as of right now, physics first is a catastrophic failure on every level is an understatement. The transition to physics first has transformed the physics curriculum into a testing ground for the worst sorts of ideas that come out of education schools. This has left our physics curriculum as what can be generously described as a middle school physical science class, and is in reality a glorified arts and crafts class for many students every year.

The reasons for the this are many, but include the following:
1. students sorted into an "honors" and a "regular" track based on their incoming reading scores, and not their math scores, because the physics is thought to be “conceptual" and therefore free of any quantitative reasoning.

2. students transferring in and out of the district being negatively impacted by placing them in classes with students 2-3 years younger than they are, which is inappropriate for both the transfer student and the other, younger students in the class.

3. the creation of an curriculum which is simply designed around "fun" arts and crafts style activities, robbing the majority of the students in the district of anything resembling an appropriate high school physics (or even physical science) education

4. the fact that now about 2/3rds of the "physics teachers" in the district have a sub-high school level understanding of the subject they teach, and little to no desire or incentive to improve upon their knowledge base. The curriculum has been geared and is currently being change so that everyone must teach down to their level.

I could go on with specific examples (like a district level "project based learning" unit where students are encouraged to call local body shops and ask the mechanics how Newton's First Law relates to their jobs), but I hope that you can see from the few examples what I have outlined that the physics curriculum is currently in dire shape.

Over the past few years, I have had to spend many hours fighting to keep something resembling academic rigor in existence in the physics classes, sometimes with success and sometimes without. Many of my days are spent making the case that what we are doing is in fact harmful to our students, and many of the administrators either don't care or seem to want to remain willfully ignorant of this fact. In fact, the ideas spawned for the physics first classes are now seeping their way up into chemistry and biology, much to the chagrin of many of your former colleagues. I like to paraphrase the a poem for the other science teachers when they complain by saying "First they came for the physics teachers, and I said nothing, for I did not teach physics..."

My question for you is this: did you honestly believe that physics first was going to be successful, and if so, why? I have searched diligently, and I have never been able to find any strong corroborating evidence in the research literature that physics first has had any positive effect on student learning anywhere. All I find is quasi-philosophical opinion pieces, which are endemic in education "research" but are not in any way helpful in trying to teach something resembling a grade appropriate physics curriculum to my students.”

I urge everyone hear to try as hard as you can to stop this initiative. Simply put: there is no strong evidence that it is better than a traditional curriculum sequence when done right, and a very high probability that it will be done wrong, with disastrous consequences. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Maybe that's why they eliminated G level sciences classes. We won't need them.

Anonymous said...

The NAEP Nations Report Card scores are out. What do the scores mean? Scores for the highest performing students have increased in reading & math.

“However, for the lowest 10% of students, scores have dropped across the board. The scores were 175 & 219 in 4th & 8th grade reading in 2009; by 2017 they had dropped to 171 & 219; and, over the past 2 years, they dropped further to 168 & 213. In math, the trends are similar: the scores were 202 & 236 in 4th & 8th grade math in 2009; dropping to198 & 233 in 2017 & dropping even lower at 199 & 231 in 2019.

…So what did we do at the start of the 21st century that we are no longer doing? We are not focusing as much attention on the students who are struggling the most…For these students to maintain their prior gains & to see increased achievement in future years, we’ll need to bring the focus back to them.” (Susanna Loeb, Prof of Education at Brown University & director of its Annenberg Institute)

The lowest 10% consists of many students with IEPs. One of the best ways to bring the focus back to our lowest 10% is to provide them with the CLASSES and ACCOMMODATIONS they need to be successful.

I’ve watched our special education folks dig their heels in & it is often at the expense of the child. When will they get past themselves & recognize that they don’t always know what’s best? When will they look to other professionals who may know & understand our children’s disabilities better than they do? When will they take into account suggestions the parents may have? Why is it a contest that the special education department always has to win?

The Parents said...

To the Anonymous teacher who posted on 10/30 excerpts from a letter he/she sent regarding her/his high school's PCB program, would you give us permission to publish your comment as a free-standing post so that more people will read it? Thank you. The Parents.

Anonymous said...

I am the teacher who made the earlier post. Please feel free to post it as a free standing post. Thanks.