To boost equity, OPRF restructuring frosh curriculum

Plan designed to open up access to honors, AP courses for students of color

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By Michael Romain

Staff Reporter

On Aug. 23, Oak Park and River Forest High School District 200 officials announced a major curriculum change designed to address a historic problem at the high school — for years, the majority of students in freshmen honors courses have been white while college prep courses have contained a disproportionate amount of black and brown students.

In a statement, D200 officials said that starting in the 2021-22 school year, freshmen will no longer be separated into college preparatory and honors course levels; instead, they will all be "be given the chance to earn honors credit through one, high-level, rigorous curriculum" in English, science, history and world language.

During an interview on Friday, Greg Johnson, D200's associate superintendent, said that once the single curriculum is rolled out in 2021-22, freshmen at OPRF will receive honors credit based on how they perform — not on the class they're in.

Officials said that the information gleaned from students' performance in this single curriculum will be more expansive than the more limited data, such as standardized test scores, that the school heavily relies on to guide course placement recommendations. That status quo process, officials explained in the statement, has resulted in "racially predictable course placements." The new single curriculum is designed to expand access to honors and AP courses for black and brown students.

More importantly, Johnson said, the curriculum change should enhance how all students learn during their first year of high school.

During a presentation at a regular school board meeting on Thursday, Johnson explained that the roll of out the new freshman curriculum will take place over three years. The 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years will not feature any curriculum changes, he said; instead, teachers and administrators will research best practices, gather data and pilot the single curriculum model among a small cohort of freshmen. Full implementation of the single freshman curriculum will take place in 2021-22 school year.

Laurie Fiorenza, the district's director of student learning, said Friday that the freshman curriculum change builds on efforts already underway to tailor learning to students' individual needs and to expand the academic and social support system available to all students at OPRF.

"As we continue to move forward, we want to systematize even more [those efforts] and expand the range of interventions that are available and the ways that kids can access those interventions," she said. "The scope is bigger. It's not just closing [learner gaps] for students, but how do we accelerate some of our top learners, as well."

In an FAQ provided by Karin Sullivan, D200's communications director, the district is careful to describe how the proposed freshman curriculum restructuring compares to detracking — a term that has generated some controversy.

"There are different notions of what tracking really is," the FAQ explains. "For us, where there had been separate college prep and honors classes, we are moving to a single, rigorous, honors-level curriculum. So in that sense, yes, we are detracking much of the freshman curriculum. In order to inform this work, we are drawing heavily from the detracking literature. This is an evidence-based practice that will enhance learning for all of our students."

The FAQ also states that research shows that "increasing access to more rigorous curriculum increases achievement."

In the statement released Friday, D200 Supt. Joylynn Pruitt-Adams was careful to distinguish between academic achievement and academic opportunity.

"OPRF, like schools throughout the United States, has been grappling with how to address differences in student outcomes that are predictable by race," Pruitt-Adams stated. "While many people refer to this as the achievement gap, we view it as an opportunity gap. We believe that providing more students with access to honors-level experiences from the moment they enter our school will provide them with the opportunity to achieve at the highest levels. We don't need to fix students. We need to fix the system."

To access the district's FAQ on the freshman curriculum restructuring, click here.

A community information session on the restructuring will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 7 p.m., at the OPRF Tutoring Center, 201 N. Scoville Ave. Additional sessions will take place at all three middle schools. Dates and times will be announced soon, officials said.

CONTACT: michael@oakpark.com  

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Kevin Peppard  

Posted: September 23rd, 2019 9:37 AM

Why hasn't the Wednesday Journal reported on the September 18th meeting at OPRF explaining this major structural shift? I was there, and it was a disaster. There was severe consternation about this from the roughly 180 people who attended, largely white between the ages of 35 and 50. Most telling was the concern over lack of transparency in announcing things, where it was backwards. Community input should have sought first. It appeared that the Board itself was caught unawares, having simply given Superintendent Pruitt-Adams the goal of "doing something". Then we get, out of the blue, an attempt at a massive cultural shift without first consulting the multiple stakeholder groups and the Board itself. Anyone who studies organizational behavior knows that's a recipe for failure. One person stated that he had talked with Superintendent Condon of D90, and that he had been apprised of things only five days before the parents received the surprise email. River Forest is one of the two prime feeder districts. The woman who raised the issue of transparency received a hearty round of applause. The height of absurdity was reached when one of the presenters stated that a teacher could have a slower student in a homogenized class read a different novel. When asked how the rest of the class could discuss a novel they hadn't read, she said all novels have characters, and a compare and contrast could be done. Great -- a college level course in comparative literature for a learner who needs help. People: Speak your mind at the next hearings at the three middle schools, as posted on OPRF's website. The Board has yet to allow this train wreck to go forward in its present form. There is a Board meeting Thursday night at the school, where public comment can be delivered.

Ramona Lopez  

Posted: August 31st, 2019 8:16 AM

@ Jeffrey: "And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed?"if all records told the same tale?"then the lie passed into history and became truth. 'Who controls the past' ran the Party slogan, 'controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.'".....1984.

Jeffrey Smith  

Posted: August 31st, 2019 6:03 AM

Ye gods, no wonder The Thing is in the White House. He's the embodiment of the institutional racism that's eating this country from within. Talk about your profound errors...

Ramona Lopez  

Posted: August 30th, 2019 11:42 PM

Chris. Those are not my words, but others who claim rampant racism at OPRF. I simply turn it around and never get a response. Yes, the racism is subtle and discrete. I agree. The way some speak though, they paint a picture of the entire administration, faculty, staff and community all attend weekly KKK meetings and are white supremacists. All I do is question those who make the extremist claims. Also, I agree there is no "policy" or 'equity doctrine" or "equity director" or whatever you want to throw at it that will "fix" the problem.

Chris Weiler  

Posted: August 30th, 2019 1:17 PM

@William Dwyer Jr... Well said. @Ramona. The idea that an organization would have a stated "racist policy" one can point to and that such a policy is required to validate a culture, practice or undercurrent of racism or discrimination is absurd. Organizations and administrations can no longer be overt about discrimination... too litigious and poor optics in today's climate. Especially in OPRF, racism, like sexism is often subtle. The OP Country Club won't directly tell a woman she can't join without riding in on the back of her husband. They simply request her husband be part of the application/sponsorship process. Interestingly, the husband does not require the wife. I know the owner of large manufacturing co. in Chicago. Around 10 years ago he said to me, "we don't hire blacks. You can see for yourself, not one works here. Of course we can't say that and don't bar anyone from applying or interviewing, but we can always find a reason to justify why that person was not right for the job who happened to be black." Discrimination is nourished by subtlety and uncertainty. It leaves room for doubt and question by those who don't like dealing with the uncomfortable truths of our society. The marginalized teenager who is invited to a party, but intentionally given the wrong location or day. Oops! So sorry. With respect to being honest and directly saying how you think and feel to someone's face, the average person is a coward, who avoids conflict and being uncomfortable. This dynamic is what gave birth to our PC culture. No school will state, we're going to treat your black child differently, thought you should know. Today, discrimination, which includes racism is often driven and expressed through the subtlety of one's intent, not policy. There is no policy to "fix" as the problem is us... people. Our attitudes, expressed through our thoughts, words and actions are what need to be addressed and evolve.

Chris Weiler  

Posted: August 30th, 2019 1:12 PM

@William Dwyer Jr... Well said. @Ramona. The idea that an organization would have a stated "racist policy" one can point to and that such a policy is required to validate a culture, practice or undercurrent of racism or discrimination is absurd. Organizations and administrations can no longer be overt about discrimination... too litigious and poor optics in today's climate. Especially in OPRF, racism, like sexism is often subtle. The OP Country Club won't directly tell a woman she can't join without riding in on the back of her husband. They simply request her husband be part of the application/sponsorship process. Interestingly, the husband does not require the wife. I know the owner of large manufacturing co. in Chicago. Around 10 years ago he said to me, "we don't hire blacks. You can see for yourself, not one works here. Of course we can't say that and don't bar anyone from applying or interviewing, but we can always find a reason to justify why that person was not right for the job who happened to be black." Discrimination is nourished by subtlety and uncertainty. It leaves room for doubt and question by those who don't like dealing with the uncomfortable truths of our society. The marginalized teenager who is invited to a party, but intentionally given the wrong location or day. Oops! So sorry. With respect to being honest and directly saying how you think and feel to someone's face, the average person is a coward, who avoids conflict and being uncomfortable. This dynamic is what gave birth to our PC culture. No school is going to say we're going to treat your black child differently, thought you should know. Today, discrimination, which includes racism is often driven and expressed through the subtlety of one's intent, not policy. There is no policy to "fix" as the problem is us... people. Our attitudes, expressed through our thoughts, words and actions are what need to be addressed and evolve.

Ramona Lopez  

Posted: August 29th, 2019 10:37 PM

@Jeffrey. I have asked people like you to identify a "racist" policy at OPRF so all of us can fix it. I get no answer. I ask you to provide evidence of a rigged system and I get no answer. Why is it so hard to provide evidence for very basic rudimentary questions? If it's as rampant as you and many others claim, then my questions should have a laundry list of answers.

Nick Polido  

Posted: August 29th, 2019 8:30 AM

I agree that 1619 was a misrepresentation of our historical past. Now schools are encouraging teachers to incorporate this series of articles in their curriculum......

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: August 29th, 2019 8:27 AM

Mr Tarrant conflates what a group of white land owning males spoke and wrote about slavery, all very high minded, with how slavery was woven into the very economic fabric of life in the original southern states. And I'd remind anyone who might believe his ramblings that the southern states started a bloody civil war in defense of slavery, which was the law of the land there. Get real. This country is still to this day trying to purge the toxins of racism and the legacy of slavery. What's so hard about just admitting we were wrong and unjust?

Tom Tarrant  

Posted: August 29th, 2019 7:21 AM

There was not an Abolitionist of the wildest character in the Northern States but might find in the writings of Jefferson, at the time of the Declaration of Independence, and during his whole life down to this very last year, a justification for everything they say on the subject of slavery, and a description of the horrors of slavery greater than he had the power to express. Adams was not a minor figure; not only had he been president, but he became the mentor to a generation of antislavery leaders that included Sumner, Joshua Giddings, and William Seward. Yet their work goes unmentioned in the Times articles. Thus when Taney claimed in the Dred Scott case that it was a matter of historical fact that the founding fathers meant America to be forever a white nation, with blacks either enslaved or deported, he asserted what was factually untrue?"and his arguments were systematically demolished by Lincoln and Douglass. The founders deserved blame for not doing more to eradicate slavery, said Douglass, but the notion that they were white supremacists was "a slander upon their memory." It meant that they "were the veriest imposters that ever practiced on mankind." But that was simply not true. Adams, Lincoln, Douglass, and their allies sought to vindicate the founders against the white supremacist spin doctors of the 1830s?"yet their efforts are never mentioned in the Times articles. It's astonishing, shameful, and dangerous, that the Times agrees with Roger Taney. Thank goodness that Americans?"both before the Civil War and after?"have proven wiser.

Tom Tarrant  

Posted: August 29th, 2019 7:19 AM

The NYT series makes a profound error in claiming that the United States itself is premised upon slavery; that the authors of the Declaration of Independence didn't actually mean "all men" when they said "all men are created equal," but only meant white men; and that the Constitution protected slavery, and that the United States was, in the words of one Times writer, "founded?as a slavocracy." These things are utterly false. In fact, the nation's founders recognized the evil of slavery and said repeatedly that it could not be reconciled with their principles. It was the generation that followed who, in the 1830s, manufactured the myth that the America was founded as a whites-only nation. People like John C. Calhoun, Stephen Douglas, and Roger Taney, advanced this idea, in disregard of the facts?"and they were challenged every step of the way by leaders such as John Quincy Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Charles Sumner, and Frederick Douglass. John Quincy Adams is a pivotal figure in this story. He knew all of the founders personally, and became the intellectual godfather of the antislavery movement. In February 1842, when his outspoken hostility to slavery led to a battle on the floor of the House of Representatives, Adams had a few words to say on the subject: Mr. A?went at some length into the history of his past life, his intercourse and friendship with, and the confidence he had enjoyed of Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe?. In all the intercourse he had had with these men, from Washington down to Monroe, never, in the course of his life, was there a question between them and him on the subject of slavery. He knew that they all abhorred slavery, and he could prove it, if it was denied now, from the testimony of Jefferson, of Madison, and of Washington themselves.

Jeffrey Smith  

Posted: August 29th, 2019 5:25 AM

So, no takers on the 1619 Project, huh? Didn't think so.

Kevin Peppard  

Posted: August 27th, 2019 4:23 PM

@Alice Wellington: Once again, I appreciate your insightful remarks. There is, however, a very strong correlation between spending and educational outcomes. But it's a deceptive, spurious correlation, not a causative relationship. It's due to something called "multicollinearity" where two variables, otherwise unrelated, are driven by other ones. An example: The number of people who die from drowning is highly correlated with ice cream consumption. They are both driven by whether it's Summer. In education, spending and outcomes are both driven by family background and wealth of the community. Professor Eric Hanuschek of Stanford has built economic models of causation in education and concludes that the foregoing ideas hold. (Google his work). The D200 Board Members and Administration do not seem to understand these concepts. They act like the Cargo Cult people of the South Pacific, who thought that if they built earthen runways again on their islands, the Americans from WWII would return with their airplanes, bearing gifts for them to appease them. They confused cause and effect. Board Member Ralph Martire on Chicago Tonight described Hanuschek as essentially his bete noire. The debate centers around these issues. Dissecting such things is taught in any decent MBA or Public Administration program, but seems to be unheard of in Education programs.

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: August 26th, 2019 12:04 PM

Jeffrey Smith: Please comment on Pres. Obamas knowledge,use of cages to imprison brown children.

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: August 25th, 2019 7:09 PM

@ BK: You could add the Olympics. However the disposable yearly champion is renewed every year with the hopes of a victory, excitement for someone elses team.. I agree whole heartedly that sports demands exceptionalism regardless or race. Question: In what sport and at what position does a female break into male dominated sports? Left handed pitcher in baseball and field goal kicker in football.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: August 25th, 2019 2:49 PM

Brian. I'm not talking about the pros. Look no further than high school athletics. Look at our basketball team. More specifically look at our "crown jewel": our nationally ranked wrestling team, where merit and excellence are the sole criteria as to who "starts.". This has nothing to do with cheap entertainment or the Cubs or your beloved Blackhawks at all.

Virginia Fazio Seuffert from Oak Park  

Posted: August 25th, 2019 12:28 PM

Despite Jeffrey Smith's ranting, OPRF does not have teachers in white robes standing in hallways barring black kids from honors classes. The article does not address some important questions. First what criteria will be used to determine honor credit? The link to OPRF's website does not provide the answer. The article says that it will not be standardized testing. Okay, then what? Teacher or textbook publisher tests? Additional assignments? What happens if black students do not test as well or fail to turn in optional assignments. If they fail to earn this credit in proportion to their number in class, will that be racist too? The high school has a serious obligation to provide equal access, but I am not sure how they can ensure equal outcomes. The only way is to lower the bar for everyone.

Kelly Bacon Desmarais  

Posted: August 25th, 2019 10:45 AM

Jeffrey Smith, Enough with the gibberish, you sound like a CNN correspondent. Why don't you just tell people how the system is rigged instead of criticizing them? Students of color are free to take honors classes and are offered free tutoring, the system is not holding them back. By eliminating honors classes the system will be holding back advanced students. People have legitimate concerns. Honor students will be bored out of their minds!

Jeffrey Smith  

Posted: August 25th, 2019 10:05 AM

Among my friends and acquaintances, the pervasive denial of racism on these comment threads is a running gag - as are the people who leap to deny a system rigged against people of color. This while the current squatter in the Oval Office imprisons brown children and refuses to care for them. Y'all need to read the 1619 Project from the New York Times instead of listening to replays of the Racist-in-Chief's Tweets and press conferences in which he denounces Jews, people of color and anyone else he'd happily apply a final solution to if allowed. Asking for evidence the system is rigged isn't just disingenuous, it's inexcusable. The Thing in the White House is following Hitler's playbook, as told by Vladimir Putin, and it's shaking down to every level of American society.

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: August 25th, 2019 9:27 AM

@ BK: That's because athletics is a form of continuous change. The Cubs won the World Series and a good portion of the world doesn't play baseball. This years champion will be replaced by next years champion. Gretzky replaced Howe as goal scoring champion and now Ovechkin has a chance to replace Gretzky. Sports are a cheap entertainment. Except for my beloved Blackhawks.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: August 24th, 2019 11:15 PM

Ramona all true except for one major facet of life in our society: athletics ... where merit and excellence determine outcome ... not skin color or "hurt" feelings. Why is that?

Ramona Lopez  

Posted: August 24th, 2019 10:52 PM

@ Gregg. Thank you for your comment. The post modernist leftists seek some Utopian society where everyone is the same (i.e. communist Russia), our innate differences are nothing more than social constructs and feelings are more important than facts.

Ramona Lopez  

Posted: August 24th, 2019 10:48 PM

@Jeffrey. So the system is rigged? Please provide some evidence to this claim of yours. It seems Asians, Indians, Jews and Latinos perform well under this "rigged" system.

Jeffrey Smith  

Posted: August 24th, 2019 8:58 PM

No, it's not an admission of the school's inability to teach "under-performing" students, but the question itself is a jim dandy admission of odious and extreme prejudice. Poor white people - they just can't accept that they will soon be a minority in America and even their ability to rig the system and keep control of it will one day fail. Their frustrations is delicious an endless source of amusement in these comments.

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: August 24th, 2019 8:33 PM

Isnt this an admission that the staff and management of the high school can not teach under performing students?

Kevin Peppard from Oak Park  

Posted: August 24th, 2019 7:27 PM

Alice: Great article. Your post may lead people to believe that this is about the Detroit schools. It's actually about one of the elite suburbs, Grosse Point, where the old money lives. That's where Edsel Ford and his son Henry II had a Lake St. Clair mansion on such a large plot that the house was concealed from the road by woods. The gatehouse was as big as many homes. It's comparable to our Winnetka, and that kind of dumbing-down is going on even there.

Alice Wellington  

Posted: August 24th, 2019 9:57 AM

This article is about Detroit, but the similarities to Oak Park are scary. "Parents of high-performing students are "satisfied customers." Their kids study and bring home good grades, so they think they are getting their money's worth from high taxes. But they don't know that there is no correlation between per pupil spending and student performance. And they never complain. Parents of low-performing students also want good "results." They hear their children's tales of woe and complain constantly. Subjected to this one-sided feedback, administrators tacitly urge teachers to lower standards, despite proclaiming the opposite in public. Like the Dodo in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, "everybody has won, and all must have prizes."" https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/detroit-teacher-comes-out-of-retirement-is-horrified-by-what-he-sees

Rob Ruffulo  

Posted: August 24th, 2019 6:37 AM

This is ridiculous. They keep lowering the academic standards to make their reports look good. They can spin the numbers and test scores so it looks like they are equal for everyone.Total joke.. Another waste of liberal time and money. Teach the kids to EARN their merits, not lower the standard so the can reach them easier

Gregg Kuenster from River Forest  

Posted: August 24th, 2019 5:36 AM

Administration, bureaucracy, testing, fed/state funding, unions ? This is the fascism infecting our society and our social systems. The True Belief in 1 Education, 2 Medicine and 3 Criminal Justice that all actions must follow 1 a Set of Answers, 2 a Standard of Care, 3 a Code of conduct to support the SYSTEM. These True Beliefs IMO are making our society a living lie. Humans have differences. These human differences are where we find love, beauty and art. Our Leading True Believers find joy in pointing out and punishing these human differences. Send everybody to jail is the solution of the True Believers.. It seems that no political stripe has any tolerance for free thought, art or religion. Look Up True Believers 1951.

Chris Weiler  

Posted: August 24th, 2019 5:15 AM

Another reshuffling of the deck, but the cards remain the same. We moved to OP in 2002. After assessing the "great schools" parroted by most residents we spoke to, we instead enrolled our daughter in Montessori. My wife would comment, "...it's like everyone drank the Kool-Aid." The following year I attended the first of a series of town hall meetings held by the school board to help identify and address the shortcomings of their current education model. The meeting started with an ask for a general headline. I contributed first... "the traditional education model is broken and failing." Moving from general to specific, we were prompted to offer solutions. I contrasted their traditional education model to an alternative education model such as Montessori, which is supported by foundational principles of respect for the child (including their time), interests, stewardship, compassion and self-guided inquiry. I suggested they simply go to the Montessori school down the street and that school's director would welcome them observing their process. This was followed by an awkward period of silence and similar head-cocking your dog expresses when they hear your words, but have no facility for understanding or internalizing them. Finally, a man said "I think we need to offer Mandarin." Regaining their footing, the conditioned masses were now back in familiar territory, as evidenced by the next suggestion. This woman felt software such as Power Point was necessary in elementary school to help students get a jump start in being competitive in their future work... SMH. Continued below...

Chris Weiler  

Posted: August 24th, 2019 5:12 AM

Cont...Seventeen years later and the educational powers that be are still trying to fix a crumbling foundation with policies, procedures and programs that have little to do with teaching and educating young human beings. Policies don't have power, people do. Challenging when most of those tasked with educational reform have been conditioned by the same traditional education model they are attempting to fix. Until traditional education evolves from a policy/bureaucracy centric model, to a child-centric education model, the problems will persist and very little progress will continue to be made.

Chris Weiler  

Posted: August 24th, 2019 5:01 AM

I also found Eric's comment about transient students interesting. Specifically, "not having benefitted from the quality of education D97 has offered and may be coming in with a built in gap." Although a single, subjective experience, we found the opposite to be true. Not spending much time in D97 enabled my daughter to graduate high school in 3 years, while attending OPRFHS (where she graduated from) for only 1 year. My daughter went to Montessori through 5th grade, then I home schooled her for 6th. After much campaigning, she convinced us to let her attend D97 for 7th and 8th grade. Although she liked the larger social arena, she was bored and quite over prepared as evidenced by one of her teachers regularly commenting, "... of course the Montessori girl knows..." I continued our long standing practice of frequently taking her out of school for fun days. Skiing, swimming, kayaking, rock climbing, shopping or just play. But isn't a proper education having as much "seat time" as possible in class? Clearly not. At the end of 8th grade she received a 3 page, glowing letter of recommendation from her favorite teacher, Mr. Kannan, to support her admission to the Montessori high school she wanted to attend. Continued Below...

Chris Weiler  

Posted: August 24th, 2019 4:58 AM

Cont... As I could longer deal with her being at an out of state school, she agreed to come home for her junior year and decided to attend OPRFHS. So, this transient student entered our much vaunted high school as a junior and graduated the same year, a year early, as a junior. As well, she dropped 3 of her 5 AP classes. Because of their difficulty? No. Because they were a disappointing waste of time and she didn't need the extra credits. You see, after a direct conversation with these teachers, we discovered they were "under mandate from the administration to only teach to the AP exam." What a shame, as these classes presented wonderful opportunities for interesting projects and discourse. Instead, a year with nothing but rote memorization. For the benefit of the students? No. But among other things, it enables real estate agents to continue serving up the "OP schools are great" Kool-Aid to prospective tax payers. Consider this perspective. Our schools are not good at educating students. Organically smart kids do well and some thrive, despite these school's policies and application of curriculum, not because of it. Good teachers have to work against the administration to teach well. Bad teachers have few consequences or incentives to excel and engage. Poor performing students or those not organically as smart do not do well because these types of school systems do not teach well due to their flawed education model and administration. An education model that prioritizes administration, bureaucracy, testing, fed/state funding, unions, local taxes, etc, can rarely prioritize a student-centric model.

George Irving Thompson from Oak Park  

Posted: August 23rd, 2019 8:51 PM

The new approach sounds like an improvement. I found Eric's prior comment interesting suggesting that more transient students may explain why the original disparity existed. More understanding and analysis as to why the non-white students were not getting into the honor's classes in the current system would probably also be useful. Making the curriculum less complicated probably has added benefits as well as opportunity to students. currently achieving at a lower level. I also feel leadership training for all entering Freshman with a refresher their junior year would be a way to motivate all students to learn and achieve more success in their lives. Seems like psychological issues that include cultural and social issues keep being raised, so why not address improving student's sense of leadership, community, character, and mental well being as well as challenging instruction?.

Eric Molas  

Posted: August 23rd, 2019 5:42 PM

It is commendable that OPRF is attempting a more radical approach to closing the achievement gap. It isn't clear how "top learners" will be impacted, while i do believe it will help lower performing students by placing them in a more demanding, rigorous environment. I did study how detracking was implemented in Evanston and what results were achieved , Evanston being the school whom OPRF is using as a model. Oak Park may not achieve similar results as Evanston, however, as the two communities have some differences. For example, how many transient student does Evanston have ? I believe the numbers indicate Oak Park has a higher number of students who move to the area right before starting high school, as opposed to growing up in the community. These students will not have benefitted from the quality of education D97 has offered and may be coming in with a built in gap. The more fiscally conservative members of our community will likely state that we are subsidizing students from surrounding communities whose taxes have not gone into D200. By detracking , teachers must accomodate a wider range of material being taught simultaneously in a single classroom. More individualized education seems the goal, but the bound still exists : 1 teacher for every 20 or 25 kids. how much individualization can realistically occur at that ratio? All this being said, it is a bold move and I applaud the effort. I don't believe this is a zero-sum game where top students will necessarily suffer so that lower performing students are brought up. At the same time, without further details and proof of its success, many people will be left wondering if this is harmful to higher performing students. An interesting question is - how will this impact a family that values education highly when they are making a decision which community to make their home for their children. Just as the housing experiments changed the landscape of Oak Park, so too will this.

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