With the upcoming Northshore School District (NSD) school board elections, I feel compelled to advocate for change. I’ve seen, first hand, the damage that has occurred because of the ‘challenge’ program that went into effect at our junior high schools several years ago. I have watched over the last five years curriculum changes that have altered the demographics of each of our classrooms (not for the better). Students who struggle are compacted into classrooms without additional support or curriculum differentiation. It is an unacceptable situation for the students and the teachers.
When this ‘new challenge’ program was implemented, I personally saw classroom programs that were successful at addressing all their students’ learning styles/personalities. They were group-project based and allowed students to use their prior experiences. It was painful to watch this engaging and successful curriculum die in order to add ‘challenge’ classrooms instead.
Since implementation, students (parents), choosing the ‘challenge’ courses, that do not have the needed prior knowledge to do well in these classes quickly fall behind in their course work. Teachers see the damage this has on specific students and are unable to be proactive in addressing student needs.
The ‘challenge’ program succeeds in allocating an uneven amount of NSD resources per student to a program that addresses social divides more than educational/learning success. This is a disservice to all of NSD’s students including the students currently in the challenge program. This campaign is misguided and is not the best way to help our students achieve the skills they need for success.
The bigger picture and real challenge is to address changing the whole system so that we can incorporate the neuroscience of learning in all of our schools. We need to differentiate teaching for all of our students.
Please consider a different direction of supporting teachers and students rather than obstructing what will be the future of education. The current focus on ‘challenge’ programs has a limited life span. There is overwhelming data, based on the neuroscience of how we learn, that is proving there are more effective ways to teach students how to learn, solve problems and achieve learning success.
A Few Program Resources:
- North Carolina is years ahead of NSD
- Stanford Online, Education
I want NSD to be a leader in education. Continuing to support ‘challenge ‘programs and ‘teaching’ to the state tests has nothing to do with teaching students how to learn and persevere when they are faced with real challenges.
Please, as NSD community members, elect the people that educators are supporting.
Cyndee W., Bothell