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At the Board Academic Steering Committee meeting on December 9, 2013, Curriculum & Instruction Exec. Director Kelly Hornby, introduced the Pathways Framing Document; which is designed to describe the academies’ structure, purpose and deployment. The principals of the four high schools will host meetings with their respective staffs in mid-December to discuss the document and answer questions about the academy system. Administration and trustees will attend these meetings.
The level of faculty interest and concerns regarding the academy system were addressed by Principals Kelly, Diller and Trujillo. Principal Kelly indicated that NCSD teachers were at various levels of interest and adoption and that their previous experience with implementing small learning communities and project based learning would help with implementation. Principal Diller stated that the release of the framing document had helped lower angst. Principal Trujillo described her staff’s work with Understanding by Design as positive and a base for the academy based system. She also indicated that the release of the framing document had eased anxiety.
NCHS student Ciara McGinley expressed concerns about the academy-based system—that it is being thrust upon the teachers; students will get “stuck” in a program or direction; busing time to/from the CAPS facility will take away from instruction time; students will get pigeon-holed because of the academy they choose. She indicated that her impressions were based on conversations with her teachers. In response Mark Mathern noted the documented benefits students receive from taking a sequence of related classes, the necessity for early academy choice to make this possible and the flexibility allowed for students to choose or change a pathway. Trustee Applegate suggested that the Pathways Framing Document appeared to address some of her concerns.
Trustee Sandoval questioned the potential success of the academy structure related to its tie to problem based learning. Supt Hopkins clarified that the instructional mode of the academies will be project-based, not problem based, and the two are very different approaches. Mr. Hornby will update the framing document to delineate the differences between the two approaches.