Comments on the Annual Review of Programs for 2012-13
In August 2011, the Niles Township High School District 219 Administration posted online a draft document summarizing proposed recommendations and questions regarding the Annual Review of Programs for the 2012-13 school year. Parents, teachers, students and community members were encouraged to submit their comments and questions via an online form, which was open for public comment through October 28. On November 3, the Niles North Parent Advisory Council (PAC) held a public forum at Niles North High School open to all D219 families and community members. Attendees were able to ask questions of administrators, including the department directors, who were all in attendance and were invited to comment on the initial recommendations.
Following is a summary of the comments made in the online form as well as a summary of comments made at the November 3 PAC forum.
Annual Review of
Programs: Online Comments
Conclusion: Overall, the posting of the Annual Review of Programming and a comments section online was a step in the right direction. We will continue to improve the process next year as multiple individuals commented that they didn’t have enough information to answer effectively, didn’t understand the phrasing of questions, and found the document itself confusing. Others used the online comment section as a forum to plaster the same personal opinions in every response section. The survey questions also failed to take into account eventually coding and analysis, making it difficult to disseminate information in a straightforward and effective manner for presentation. The section below outlines, as best as possible, the knowledge gathered from the exercise. In the future, a focus group format would allow the district to gather the in-depth information they seemed to be asking for in a more organized and effective setting. There were not enough respondents in each stakeholder category to divide responses by individuals’ relationship with the district. (Conclusion written by Jennifer Darling, who compiled the comments from the online form.)
Respondents: Overall, there were 107 respondents, but most questions only had around 20 responses recorded. There was a variety of teachers, parents, and students who completed the survey; however, as there was no sampling methodology results are not indicative of the larger population.
New Graduation Requirement
17 individuals agreed with the addition of the public speaking graduation requirement.
14 individuals agreed with the addition of the public speaking graduation requirement only if it was offered as part of the current English program.
6 individuals did not agree with the addition of the public speaking graduation requirement.
7 individuals had a variety of responses that were coded into the other category including request for more data and a request that extracurricular are allowed to count for credit.
30 individuals wanted to keep the junior year honors track.
7 individuals stressed the importance of allowing and encouraging student choice.
7 individuals wanted to keep Basic English classes.
4 individuals wanted to decrease English class size.
4 individuals stressed the importance of keeping the wide variety of English electives currently offered.
11 individuals had a variety of responses that were coded into the other category including many criticisms of questions and format and 3 individuals who felt they needed more information.
Fine Arts Department
6 individuals agreed with the proposed changes in the Fine Arts Department.
15 individuals requested no change in the current Fine Arts Department.
6 individuals fell in the other category, and 5 individuals choose not to respond.
Foreign Language Department
10 individuals supported keeping the Hebrew program compared to 3 individuals who supported eliminating the program.
3 individuals asked the department to expand language offerings.
7 individuals did not want honors and AP classes to be combined, while 1 individual supported the combination.
6 individuals did not support the increased language class cap to 30 students.
3 individuals fell into the other category.
5 individuals requested no changes in the current program
4 individuals like the extra support provided for students moved up a level in course difficulty.
2 individuals were against the two-track system.
8 individuals fell into the other category, including 3 who felt they didn’t have enough information to respond.
Physical Welfare Department
3 individuals did not like the Strength and Conditioning requirement for athletes, while 1 individual did like the addition.
3 individuals stressed the importance of keeping the variety of choices currently available to students.
3 individuals did not support the increased class cap.
13 individuals fell into the other category, including 3 who felt they didn’t have enough information to respond.
4 individuals did not want tracks eliminated in the science department.
3 individuals supported the proposal to make Calculus the only pre-requisite for AP Physics.
7 individuals fell into the other category, including 2 who felt they didn’t have enough information to respond.
Social Studies Department
15 individuals asked the district to keep the junior year honor track.
4 individuals felt American Government courses should be offered in both buildings.
3 individuals supported the proposed 9th grade AP course, while 1 individual did not.
2 individuals felt Economics should stay in the social studies department.
5 individuals fell into the other category, including 1 who felt he didn’t have enough information to respond.
Applied Science and Technology Department
16 individuals felt the AS & T department should be kept at its current size and course offerings or expanded.
9 individuals did not support increasing class size, while 1 individual did specifically for Project Lead.
3 individuals wanted Economics courses in the department, while 2 feel the courses should stay in the social studies department.
6 individuals liked the consumer education proposal, while 6 others disliked the proposal.
3 individuals asked that the fashion courses not be combined.
4 individuals fell into the other category, including 2 who felt they didn’t have enough information to respond.
3 individuals felt a teacher and not just an aide was needed.
7 individuals fell into the other category, including 3 who felt they needed more information.
3 individuals stressed the importance of summer school providing an enrichment opportunity instead of being a necessity to fulfill requirements.
3 individuals were against an increase in summer school.
2 individuals supported, and 2 didn’t approve, of an online summer school option.
3 individuals wanted more options and flexibility for students.
2 individuals wanted to extend the summer school session and shorten the day, while 2 individuals wanted a shorter commitment.
5 individuals fell into the other category, including 1 who felt he needed more information.
10 individuals did not agree with the proposal to allow non-school certified librarians work in the school, while 4 individuals agreed.
2 individuals wanted more librarians in general.
5 individuals fell into the other category, including 3 who felt they needed more information.
4 individuals felt support staff should be kept the way it is.
4 individuals fell into the other category, including 2 who felt they needed more information.
7 individuals stressed the importance of not limiting electives.
4 individuals felt everything was fine in the district the way it was.
1 individual liked, and 1 individual didn’t like, the credit recovery proposal.
11 individual fell into the other category, including 5 who felt they needed more information.
Other: Two individuals choose to answer the survey with the same response for each question. Those responses are:
“Fine just the way it is”
Parent Advisory Council
(PAC) Forum on Annual Review of Programs Executive Summary
November 3, 2011
PAC leaders opened the forum by summarizing the three main programming concerns expressed most frequently to the leadership.
Details of new public speaking graduation requirement
Theatre seminar program modifications
Junior year honor track elimination
Superintendent Nanciann Gatta explained the reasoning behind all suggested changes and opened the floor to questions from the constituents present. The following is a summary of the points presented by the 24 people who came to the microphones to express their opinions and ask questions of the panel.
10 speakers expressed unhappiness with the proposal to eliminate Honors classes in junior year English and U.S. History. Many feared for student “emotional welfare.” Students specifically mentioned they choose to take AP in some courses and Honors in other to balance their load and would not feel comfortable taking either AP or regular track if Honors was not offered. Representative statements included, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” and “They (some students) just don’t belong there (in AP classes).”
5 speakers expressed their support of the public speaking graduation requirement, although one of the above also stated she would prefer if the class was imbedded in current requirements instead of a separate class.
5 individuals were concerned over collapsing the theatre curriculum into middle level seminar courses with fewer prerequisites, though the stated intent is to boost enrollment. One parent asked, “If we are an award winning school with our current curriculum, why are we changing it?”
2 individuals discussed the fashion program. Neither felt with current staffing it was possible to increase class size to 30 students. One speaker also requested greater collaboration with the fine arts costume design program.
A representative from the Niles North Fine Arts Parents asked the panel to hold off on any district policy changes until the group’s outreach and recruiting efforts have time to make an effect on enrollment.
1 student expressed concern over merging AP and higher level Honors Spanish coursework. She stated, “I wouldn’t know what was going on.”
1 individual expressed concern about hiring librarians without school certifications. He also asserted some students need more advocacy and expressed a concern that netbooks were not used enough for curriculum, but more for social networking.
1 individual supported the creation of an AP level freshman social studies course. He also wanted economics courses to remain in the social sciences department and allowing students to take AP Physics (if they have the required math skills) without taking honors Physics.
Suggestions based upon the Annual Review of Programs:
Continue pushing students up to higher level tracks with additional school support when at all possible, but do not eliminate the junior level Honors English and Social Studies tracks. If desired modify and suggest next year with modified marketing.
Clearly distinguish Theatre Workshop, Seminar courses, and Capstone courses when marketing changes in the Theatre Department based upon staffing needs, but proceed as suggested.
Continue developing collaboration between the Fine Arts program and fashion program. Keep the fashion class cap at its current level.
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