More about High School Configuration

Apparently, Unit 4 has been putting some serious thought into a part of Greg Novak’s “master plan” (I’m not sure that is what he called it, but that is what I am calling it). When looking through the June 11th Board Meeting agenda, one of the first presentations is by a University Master student:

The high school options under consideration include a change from the current grade configuration of K-5, 6-8 and 9-12.  One of the options under consideration includes changing the middle school grade configuration to include grades 6 and 7, a prep academy that would have grades 8 and 9, and one high school grades 10-12.  Previous presentations from Central and Centennial Administration highlighted the positive aspects of this configuration, along with the limitations.

In order to inform the Board and the Champaign Community, a thorough literature review was conducted by University of Illinois Graduate student, Lisa De La Rue.  This evening, Lisa will share her findings as it relates to grade configuration, student achievement and participation.

[Note: the “[p]revious presentations from Central and Centennial Administration” were mostly negative towards this configuration :)]

School Configuration – A relatively short (22 pages) look at how “configurations” affect achievement. Basically, there are tons of factors that affect achievement and one kinda has to roll the dice on configuration. More significant factors are probably the downstream effects of the configuration; for example, how resources are allocated, the number of transitions, the climate of the school atmosphere, etc. Great short list of “quick points” starting on page 19.

Bibliography – Includes an almost one-page summary for each of the 23 sources cited


It is interesting that Unit 4 is stepping up the ante by engaging the University this way. I think this is what some of us have been wanting for a while. I also wonder if Dr. Wiegand is taking advantage of the fact that she graduated from the College of Education from the University. 🙂 That would so totally make sense.


So if you are at the Board Meeting on June 11th, you are going to get a double whammy of high school options. Come prepared with thoughts and comments.


Looking at the rest of the agenda, I am amazed at how huge it is. Wow! And most of it is via Dr. Wiegand. This is going to be a challenging meeting for her; Gene was such a core piece of the team and carried a lot of weight, and now not only is Dr. Wiegand picking up that weight, but she also has to deal with the loss of a person. My thoughts and sympathies go out to her.



6 Responses to “More about High School Configuration”

  1. pattsi Says:

    Can you provide a date for the paper that you cite on school configuration? I am not certain that you are accurate about “kicking the can down the line” being the case related to grade configuration. Whether you are right or wrong, the more important focus might ought to be that what exists presently does not work well and why not?

  2. charlesdschultz Says:

    The only information I have is what you see – I do not have a date for the paper in the link I provided. I am not certain I follow what you mean about “kicking the can down the line”. Actually, I am certain – I don’t understand at all. 🙂

  3. pattsi Says:

    You are correct, my wording is confusing. I should have used yours “roll of the dice.”

  4. charlesdschultz Says:

    Ahh, got it.

    Going back to your question of why does what exists now not work well, I can see that being really tricky to answer because folks have different opinions on what “work well” means. I think we can all agree on the desire to see much higher literacy skills, but what about specifics? Or perhaps a slightly more targeted metric of how many kids graduate. But my own issue with that goes back to the Ken Robinson dilemma – do schools exist merely to graduate kids?

    For me, it seems that some kids thrive better when the student to teacher ratio is much lower than what we have now. Some kids are doing really well with the current ratio and my gut feeling is that they would do no worse with a lower ratio (one hopes they would do better). The study I cited (and which will be talked about on Monday) seems to indicate that the student ratio is not a panacea, but then that is obvious – there is no panacea. Which is what frustrates me about this kind of theory. I would much prefer a researcher (whether they be a student or a professional) come and look at what we have and determine what is good and what could be improved. Combing through 100 lbs of previous research has its own place, but I personally feel its impact is exceptionally limited.

    So in the end, I think we end up “rolling the dice” for lack of better idea. Having said that, I fully support Dr. Wiegand’s push for improved literacy by third grade. I am convinced at this point in time that making sure all kids can read by third grade, as a very generic and very basic metric, is rather significant. But it doesn’t stop there, obviously.

  5. June 11th Board Meeting: plowing through that massive agenda « A citizen’s blog about Champaign Unit 4 Says:

    […] my previous post. Basically, no silver bullets. Debate about whether we can “kick the can down the […]

  6. What are public schools supposed to do? | Citizen4: A citizen's blog about Champaign Unit 4 Says:

    […] that want to rewind back to the June 11th, 2012, meeting, I have a couple notes you can look over; June 9th, before the meeting, and June 12th, after the meeting. Basically, there is a weak correlation […]

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