Dear District 86 Community,
First and foremost, I want to thank everyone who has offered their thoughts and perspectives about the changes to our science program. The comments, questions and input you have shared highlight how deeply you care about our schools and the students we serve.
Second, I want to apologize for the ineffective job our administrative team did of communicating about this important topic. By not undertaking these efforts until a few months ago, we created a great deal of unnecessary confusion, concern and angst for our current and future families. We also did a disservice to the outstanding educators who have spent hundreds of hours on this endeavor. I have spoken with the members of the team about this situation, and will work closely and collaboratively with them to ensure that we are more thoughtful, organized and proactive when communicating about these critical initiatives.
Third, given the feedback we have received from the community and the communication issues described above, we, in consultation with the members of our science department, have decided to make the following revisions to our plans for implementing the changes to our science program.
- We will be extending the rollout of the ESS-integrated PCB sequence (ESS stands for Earth and Space Science; PCB stands for Physics, Chemistry and Biology) at Hinsdale Central by one year. This means that rising ninth graders for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years will have the option of enrolling in physics or biology. The PCB sequence will then be fully implemented at Central (i.e., all rising ninth graders will enroll in Physics or Physics Honors) at the start of the 2022-23 school year. By extending the rollout by a year, we will have additional time to help students and their families make the transition to the new sequence.
- We will be adding a G-level biology course option for freshmen at Central during the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years. This will help ensure that all of our rising ninth grade students, regardless of their learning needs or backgrounds, have the option of taking biology during the rollout period. This will also enable us to ensure that the needs of these students will continue to be met when we fully implement the new sequence at the start of the 2022-23 school year. Since the recently approved program of studies at Central includes a G-level biology course for students in grades 10 through 12, the administration will be asking the board of education to consider revising the description for this course to read grades nine through 12. This request will be presented to the board during one of its meetings in January.
While we would not typically make this type of announcement during final exams and so close to winter break, we are doing so for a couple of reasons. The first reason is that Central will be hosting its Family Night on Jan. 8. During this event, rising ninth grade students and their parents/guardians will have the chance to talk to staff about their classes for freshman year. By sharing the changes to our implementation plan now, families will have more time to discuss their options prior to Family Night and final course selections, which will occur at the end of January. The second reason is that we will be working on our staffing plan for next year following winter break. By finalizing our course offerings now, we will have ample time and opportunity to ensure that we are adequately staffed and can effectively meet the needs of our students.
Fourth, as a reminder, our science team is scheduled to meet again on Jan. 14 and 15. During these two days, the members of the team will work with the chairs from the math department to ensure there is alignment between physics and Algebra 1. They will also review and discuss the feedback we received from students and community members regarding science electives that fall outside of the PCB sequence, including AP Physics. The board will receive an update on Jan. 23 about the topics the team discussed and the work it completed during its meeting.
Lastly, I want to restate my strong belief in the ESS-integrated PCB sequence. I also want to reiterate my appreciation and full support for the team (teachers, department chairs, assistant principals for curriculum and instruction, principals and district-level administrators) that brought forth the recommendation. Their hard work and tireless efforts to align the science courses across both of our high schools will help our students down the path toward their ideal future.
Thank you for your time and attention to this message. I hope you have a safe, restful and relaxing winter break.