Revisit the Decision

4J schedule change should be delayed

Recent experience suggests that once they understand the true implications, 4J parents and students have grave concerns about implementation of the 3×5 schedule at North Eugene, South Eugene and Sheldon high schools, and believe it should be delayed for at least a year or two, pending review of actual results of Churchill’s pilot of the controversial new schedule. This would allow all the key stakeholders — students, teachers, parents, administrators and board members — to develop a better-informed and fact-based foundation for making and accepting decisions.

The decision to adopt this schedule and impose it on all four high schools was made by the school board last year, but that same school board can easily revisit their decision pending review of actual evidence of the positive and negative effects of this schedule change on student learning and college- and career-readiness, rather than the hunches and anecdotes with which the schedule change was initially sold.

Our job is to convince the board that delaying implementation to give the Churchill pilot time to generate actual results will be the most appropriate and responsible path.

But time is of the essence. We will be most likely to succeed if we can:

• Capitalize on the momentum created by the deep concerns expressed by the majority of 4J high school teachers as they struggle in vain to find a way to implement the schedule without jeopardizing student learning

• Use our voices as parents, students, and teachers in large enough numbers that they can’t be ignored; this can only happen if we each make personal invitations to high school parents and students in our own social circles and ask them to take a couple of easy steps to support student learning

• Communicate in a positive and motivating way to help board members see a more productive path to achieving their most important goals; talk to board members about solutions, such as a delay to allow review of the actual evidence coming out of Churchill, that will help them make the best decisions for all 4J kids

Here’s what you can do right now to stop districtwide implementation of this controversial schedule prior to an evidence-based review of the effects:

• Write a respectful email to the school board requesting that they delay implementation at North, South and Sheldon to give the Churchill pilot a chance to yield concrete results of the positive and negative effects of the 3×5 on student learning and college- and career-readiness; you don’t need to spend a huge amount of time on your note, just speak respectfully and from the heart; all board members can be easily reached at HYPERLINK “”

• Plan to attend and give solution-focused two-minute testimony at the 7 pm May 1 school board meeting (show up at 6:40 to sign up to speak).

• Sign the forthcoming parent petition and remind your child to sign a student petition

• Amplify the impact of your effort by asking at least three friends to write an email, sign a petition, attend and speak at the board meeting and/or talk to their kids about doing the same.

• Encourage affected students in your family to send emails, speak at the next board meeting, and invite their own friends to join them; let kids know that authentic student voice is really powerful for board members.

Doing some or all of these things will make a real difference. Thank you for your participation and fast action.

Want to get more involved? Join us for a meeting at 7 pm Thursday, April 25, at the Unitarian Church at 13th and Chambers, to explore more ways to use this limited-time opportunity to make a real difference for 4J students. Bring a friend or two.

Still getting up to speed on the issue? Here’s some background information.

Some might ask, ”What’s the big deal about the 3×5?” Well, among the various stakeholder groups there are a broad range of concerns, and the board has heard all of them, from the limitations on electives in this schedule to the lack of continuity from one term to the next in courses, content and teachers.

In addition, here are some recurring issues that cast doubts upon the integrity of the decision-making process, and create substantive concern about the new schedule’s effects on preparation for graduation, college and careers:

• Problems with the process. From the composition of the team that reviewed the schedule options (which deliberately included no parent representatives and structurally constrained teacher team member dissent), to a recommendation to the board that was purported to be informed by parent input but seemed indifferent to survey and parent workshop concerns. The process ultimately appeared to be more of a rubber stamp on a preordained outcome than a real exploration of diverse perspectives or actual data related to our school board’s desired outcomes.

Lack of data allaying parent, teacher and student concerns about negative effects on learning caused by compressing a year’s worth of learning into two-thirds of a year, breaks in continuity in core academic subjects such as math, science and foreign languages, and the very real potential for a dive in student performance on Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams

• Lack of data supporting the idea that opportunities for remediation potentially created by the 3×5 schedule will outweigh the likely increased need for remediation caused by compressing a year’s worth of content into two-thirds of a school year and by unwieldy gaps in core-subject instruction

• Questions about the academic integrity of the credits offered in the eyes of college admissions offices and other entities; will allegations of credit inflation disadvantage 4J students and programs?

• Concern about the wisdom of disengaging and alienating teachers when no reliable data supports the effectiveness of the new schedule, but ample evidence supports a direct connection between improved teaching and student learning outcomes. — David Zupan

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