High School Redesign: Unanswered Questions
PPS to hold High School Redesign Meeting, Friday December 18th.
A group of Portland TAG parents has developed a list of questions concerning the High School Redesign process:
Under the district’s
proposed redistricting plan, while many schools that have few advanced
classes will now offer more, some schools that currently offer many advanced
classes will lose classes. One example is that Grant HS will go from about
25 advanced classes to between 10 – 16 advanced classes, the plan’s district
standard. The same is true for Lincoln and other schools. At the same time,
there will be a district-wide “no transfer” policy for the new comprehensive
high schools. This plan raises several fundamental and urgent questions for
TAG students that require serious thought and resolution while the redesign
plan is still in its infancy: .... read more
.... read more
- What will happen to upper level students
that early on complete all the advanced courses that a high school has to
offer but cannot transfer out under the new policy? For example, what if an
11th grader has already completed Calculus AB and BC, English
7-8, or AP European History?
- Similarly, what will happen to TAG
students whose high school does not offer the advanced courses they need,
but they cannot transfer out? Such as a student who has completed three
years of French, but whose HS offers only AP Spanish? Or who attends a high
school only offering AP Biology - but not AP Chemistry or AP Physics - how
will a student planning on majoring in the sciences get access to these
- What will happen to TAG students in
ninth and tenth grade who need advanced classes starting as freshmen but
are assigned to comprehensive schools that only offer IB classes in 11 and
- Currently, when a HS does not offer TAG
students the courses they need, TAG students sometimes receive study halls
or early dismissal, or are made to repeat material they already have
learned. Can we expect these practices to continue, at an even greater rate
since there will be fewer advanced classes?
- Many TAG students will have already
completed high school level courses in math, sciences, English, history and
foreign language by the time they finish the 8th grade,
particularly coming from the ACCESS Academy. For example, most entering 9th
graders from ACCESS will enter high school with 8 credits and will have
already completed Algebra 1-2, Geometry, Algebra 3-4, English 1-2, Modern
World History, Spanish 1-2, Spanish 3-4 and Fundamentals of Physics and
Chemistry by the 8th grade. Will all high schools recognize
credit for prior coursework in the same way?
- Will incoming 9th graders be
able to receive credit by exam for prior work, or to place out of classes
such as 9th grade English if they have already taken this course
at the middle school level? What access will 9th grade students
have to advanced course work under the new system? Will they be expected to
retake courses they have already completed in 6th, 7th
and 8th grade or will they be allowed to take advanced courses at
their appropriate level as freshmen? What advanced classes will such
students be allowed to take under the new system?
- In mixed level classes, will there be
differentiated instruction for TAG students so that they are learning at
their appropriate rate and level? Is professional development planned for
teachers so they can do this effectively?
- Currently all PPS HS students have equal
access to classes at local colleges and universities such as PCC, PSU and
Reed, so they can fill in gaps in their high school course offerings. Will
this continue, and equally important, will there be counselors to create and
facilitate such relationships? If not, will all students lose this
opportunity or only students at certain comprehensive High Schools?
- Peer grouping is essential for TAG
students, especially in the critical adolescent years, and is the most
important point mentioned by the high school TAG students we have spoken
with. What support will there be for TAG students, so that they don’t suffer
the serious effects, such as depression, and/or harassment, that come from
isolation? What work is being done to provide
HS administrators with the knowledge that will enable them to understand the
unique needs of these students? The ACCESS program at Grant successfully
provides peer support at that school – will it continue? What will happen at
the other high schools?
In other words, what is the current thinking for how the plan will fulfill its directive to provide appropriate instruction to all students if there are fewer advanced classes and no transfer policy? If all high schools only have 10-16 advanced classes available, how will there be enough advanced courses available to allow TAG students to stay in high school for 4 years?