Monday, June 07, 2010

Nice Comment Explaining the Hope High Situation

east side res explains from the ProJo cesspool:

1) The new schedule greatly reduces planning time--including common planning time by grade as well as department time. (Which is especially concerning considering that the new curriculum is coming down the line AND there are major special ed changes occurring at Hope IT next year, which include integrating resource students into mainstream classes.)

2) The is no discussion of the loss of reading, writing, and math support classes students currently receive at Hope their 9th and 10th grade year. The district has said low-performing students will get that support, but the fact that all the support teachers have been let go, suggest otherwise. Also, if those support classes are still in place, what classes are taking the hit? Science? Art? History? The classes the district claims they are trying to protect by switching to the 6 period day?

3) There is no discussion of the quality of the curriculum being implemented vs. what Hope has in place. The new curriculum focuses on lower-level thinking and removes projects requiring higher levels of depth of knowledge (DOK) from most subjects. (Which will be added back in two-three years down the road. Read: portfolio projects, which are hugely successful at Hope and require students to develop complex skills and thought while connecting curriculum to the real world are being removed to align with "the rest of the schools".) If the issue is standardization (which is one reason being given by the district), Hope created aligned units across schools three years ago--long before the district began doing so.

There is no proof that the system being implemented by the district will succeed. In a school that has found success, it seems dangerous to stop so many effective programs to implement something that is questionable at best, and, honestly, is taking the academic standards established at Hope and reducing them greatly to meet the needs of the lower-performing schools.

4) Why can't the curriculum be implemented in the block? Math and science teachers have been doing it this year, and Hope teachers have agreed to work with the English and Social Studies curriculum (which is still in its beginning stages even though it is supposed to be implemented in less than three months) to make it block-friendly. What sort of curriculum is so dependent on a 53 minute schedule vs. a 87 minute schedule?

(My answer to that would be: a curriculum that doesn't look at larger life questions and skills. A curriculum that doesn't trust it's teachers to be able to assess student needs and develop the necessary steps to bring them to the goal. A curriculum that has specific teaching goals every single day but neglects the huge deficiency of knowledge students have--especially in math--and leaves no time for real comprehension because teachers must be at a certain point in the curriculum or else face professional repercussions.)

There is nothing wrong with the district clearly stating what students should know and be able to do by a certain point. There is nothing wrong with holding teachers and students to a high standard. But when there is such blatant disrespect for teachers and for a rigorous curriculum that is already in place . . .

I look forward to your second article Ms. Steiny. I find the plan--and specifically the implementation of the plan--so appalling and contrary to all logic, I'm curious to see what good you find in it. Or see what they didn't tell you. Or see what beautiful nuggets of wisdom they have been hiding from the Hope community.

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