When I talked with Dr. Bob Malito back in September, one of things I did not mention in my summary was one of the big ideas he has about possibly restructuring how we do 7-12th grade. During our last Wednesdays at Houlihans, this idea came up again, so I figured it is past time for me to give it some space here. I can swear I read this elsewhere, but right not Google is not helping me out. NG? WILL? I am sure I’ll find it some time…..
So here is where we are at. Not too long ago, a bunch of folks wanted to create a brand-new 3rd highschool up near Olympian Drive. I am not exactly sure who the biggest pushers were, but once the public got involved in the discussions, the BOE was forced to take a step back from their aggressive planning. Which is probably a good thing. Granted, we need to do something about our aging buildings. But what?
I am not sure if Dr. Malito conceived this idea, but in this post, I am going to give him credit for it. Please correct me if I am wrong. The idea is as follows – the traditional method of 6-8 middle school and 9-12 high school goes out the window:
due to the high drop-out rate and the stress of going from middle school to high school (all backed by statistics and test score metrics), 8th grade is combined with 9th grade. They become an independent campus.
10th-12th grade are on a separate campus. They could focus more on vocational/tech skills getting them ready for the workplace. In addition, there is some interest on working more closely with Parkland to start getting kids into the college scene earlier.
After talking with a Board Member, I gained the personal opinion that our current way of moving students through school really sucks. For instance, apparently we do not flunk students between Kindergarten and 8th grade (due to some policitcal/legal brouhaha). What sense does that make?!? Now perhaps I totally misunderstood what was said to me (would not be the first time). But in the current environment, it is entirely possible for a student to land in high school and hardly even be ready for 6th grade. Imagine the stress that puts on teachers (all teachers, not just the luck 9th grade teachers). I would first want to work on a way to promote students from one grade level to another once they are ready to move on. Isn’t that what happens in real life anyway? Think you can get a job in tax preparation without a CPA?
So going back to this idea of breaking off 9th-grade and partnering it with 8th grade. The root problem is not the testing – it is the progression of education. Would a combo 8th-9th grade work? Would placing more of a votech emphasis on 10th-12th be good for us?
That is a game changer for how we look at our buildings as well. Suddenly, if we have smaller populations of students under one roof, it is easier to find seats in existing buildings without having to go to the somewhat expensive process of buying land on the edge of town and building out there. Besides, we are quite cash-strapped at the moment, and I do not think it is realistic at all to buy land and build a new, larger structure.
I invite those who are knowledgeable on this topic to correct what I have said, and/or fill in details I might have left out. And the rest of you…. what do you think? =)