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Dublin High School Proposed Schedule Change Debated at Town Hall Meeting

June 6, 2014

Dublin High School Schedule Change Town Hall Meeting 1It was a rather interesting night in the gymnasium at Fallon Middle School on Thursday evening. The Dublin Unified School District (DUSD) presented the first of two public town hall meetings to discuss and gather family feedback on a proposed bell schedule modification at DHS in the fall. Part of the impetus for this change was DUSD’s examination of overall academic results. While the district has experienced sustained API growth over the past 10 years at all of its sites, there are a segment of students that are continuing to experience challenges – often resulting in achieving either a “D” or “F” on their respective transcripts. The district’s overall goal has been to prepare all students for college or career readiness. Additionally, the District’s Homework and Grading Committee has evaluated both topics. While DUSD has produced students that have matriculated to “Top 100” universities throughout the United States, there has also been a segment of students that have found the academic rigor at Dublin High to be a challenge. This statement can resonate at any high school site in California.

In concert with adopting many of the principles of a Professional Learning Community (PLC), a small group of DUSD staff members made a pilgrimage to Adlai E. Stevenson High School in the Chicago-land area earlier this year. Stevenson HS is considered the “birthplace” of PLC. A previous article in detailed a recent visit by the former Superintendent at Stevenson, Dr. Timothy Kanold. He shared portions of the blueprint at Stevenson that helped to shape and improve academic performance at this site. As an example, 19 years ago, 60% of the students at Stevenson had a D or F on their transcripts. Today, they have reduced this number into single digits. These improvements were largely accomplished through several mechanisms: by adding a 7th period that was dedicated to targeted interventions, moderately extending the school day and by increasing the number of collaboration occasions for all teachers. The overall processes have not yet been perfected. However, it is difficult to argue with the results.

As with any change to an existing structure/schedule, there is an anticipated response from the community. What would this mean to incoming freshmen to DHS? What would this mean to a child entering their senior year? All families are bracing for the roll out of the new Common Core Standards – would a schedule change be prudent at this time? These are just some of the questions that came out of the town hall session at Fallon tonight. On the surface, it would appear that the District is a proponent of these modifications based partially on the Stevenson HS model and the fact that enrollment at Dublin High is in a high growth mode – and will continue to be so in the next several years.

Dublin High School Schedule Change Town Hall MeetingIn response, the District proposal presented a two-year transition into the 2014-15 bell schedule under the moniker of the “College and Career Readiness Program” (CCRP). But it represents so much more than a changing of the bell schedule. A major element of this program is to provide a mandated period specifically for incoming 9th graders. This feature would insert these students into a program that includes mentoring from upper classmen. At the same time, it would provide an addition period for under achieving students that truly need additional support within the school day. According to Principal Carol Shimizu, history and metrics have shown that many students that should be taking advantage of academic support in after-school programs simply have not. This strategy would dedicate a period within the day for the students that would gain the most benefit. Logistically, DHS would also provide a Testing & Tutoring Center for this purpose. So intervention activities would occur within the school day.

Conversely, the question remains: How might this impact high performing students? This question was raised repeatedly at Fallon by impassioned parents of children that are very motivated and weighted down by multiple AP and Honors courses. The District response was that the additional period would actually provide flexibility to these students as they might utilize this time to either work on group projects or their normal studies in a quiet environment, like in the library. In our view, high achieving students will probably flourish in any circumstance. That said, the two-year rollout represents a true opportunity to measure how the overall plan is working.

In these tight fiscal times, how can DHS afford to offer these programs? Here is a multi-tiered answer. There are “base funds” that are supplied from the State of California, in addition to supplemental funds under the umbrella of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) that was confirmed over a year ago. Title I funds (Federal) still exist and the recent passage of Measure B will add additional support. The District is also seeking to expand existing grants, corporate sponsorships and enhancing its partnership with the Dublin Partners in Education (DPIE).

Dublin High School Schedule Change Town Hall Meeting 2After the initial PPT. presentation, District staff entertained questions for the crowd either through live microphone or questions submitted on index cards. The passion from the crowd was obvious and the questions were very well articulated. A sampling of the questions included: the impact upon a spring athlete that should not be asked to miss two classes, the impact upon lunch clubs, the proposed increase in collaboration days from 16 to 21, more free time for high-achieving students, mandating that Freshmen students remain on campus during lunch period and the evaluation the success of this proposed model schedule.

It was a fascinating process to observe and it was clear that those in attendance were clearly engaged. There are no easy answers. As the evening wound down – a bit later than the scheduled 8:00 PM end time, DUSD Board of Trustees President, Sean Kenney took to the microphone. He stated that he had spoken with roughly 20 district families about the proposed changes. His comment was that he was generally in favor of the modifications. He said that “Changes can be tough. But, the overall goal is to support all students in DUSD – regardless of their academic standing. We’re trying to make it a great experience for all of our students.”

DUSD will provide a similar public forum on Monday, June 9th at the Dublin High School Library at 6:30PM. We would encourage all of those that have a stake in this subject to participate and to ask questions. On Tuesday, June 10th, the DUSD Board of Trustees will convene for their regular meeting that will include a period for public comments on this subject. No vote will be executed on that night for an implementation for what has been proposed. However, an implementation of the proposed changes may occur at the June 24th meeting. The opportunities are out there for you to share your comments.

  1. jht permalink
    June 9, 2014 8:26 pm

    If this is designed and targeted at the under-achieved students (a relative small percentage I assume given that DUSD’s API etc.), why make it mandatory for ALL? A very simple question that I hope DUSD owe me and other concerned parents a good answer.

  2. June 9, 2014 11:21 pm

    Arnie Duncan (head of the Federal Dept of Education) wants your kids in school 12 hours/ day 6-7 days per week. This is step one people. Fight it!


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