Tuesday, March 5, 2019

NSD Challenge Program once again in Jeopardy...3 years later

Hello supporters of the NSD Challenge program,

As you all may remember, 3 years ago a group of community members, parents and students successfully petitioned the School Board to keep the Challenge program intact in our Middle Schools/Jr. Highs. At the time we thought that would be the end of the struggle for student choice, but we were wrong.

Over the past few weeks, it has become apparent that the NSD Administration never gave up their quest to dismantle the Challenge program. At many (maybe all) of the NSD Middle Schools and at least one High School, the registration forms for the 2019/2020 school year show that instead of eliminating the Challenge version of core classes they have essentially eliminated the General Education version of those classes. Students who do not wish to take Challenge-For-All in 7th and 8th grades have to consult their counselor to start the humiliating process to opt-out of Challenge classes.

As we all know, Challenge for all is Challenge for none. If all students (except those who jump through hoops to opt out of the Challenge classes and get branded as such) are enrolled in Challenge classes then several things are true.

1. Students no longer have a REAL choice to take a more (or less) challenging version of core classes as all kids will now be lumped into the same classroom.

2. Those students who don't feel they are up to the rigor of Challenge classes have to go through the humiliation of opting out and talking to a counselor who may try to talk them out of their choice. These Opt-Out classes may be branded as the lesser version of classes and the students in them may be branded as such as well.

3. This sets up real Tracking in our schools. The AAP version of classes exists for those kids who have tested into them. Challenge-For-All is set up as the default, and kids who aren't ready for the rigor are tracked into the "Opt-out" class.

4. As we see in the Proposal to the NSD School Board from 3 years ago, heterogeneous classrooms do a disservice to both the advanced and the struggling learner. Lumping all kids into the same room will not lead to success in our classrooms as it is not a simple task to differentiate material across several learning abilities. https://saveourchallenge.blogspot.com/p/proposal-to-school-board.html

We urge all of you who are still interested in this topic to email the school board and the superintendent at the email addresses below expressing your displeasure at the removal of REAL choice in our middle schools AGAIN.

School board: SchoolBoard@nsd.org
Superintendent Michelle Reid: Superintendent@nsd.org

Thank you for reading,
-Save Our Challenge

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Welcome, Dr. Michelle Reid, New NSD Superintendent!

Save Our Challenge welcomes new NSD Superintendent,  Dr. Michelle Reid! We look forward to working with her in the future.

To see the School Board administer the Oath of Office to Dr. Reid, click here http://saveourchallenge.blogspot.com/p/school-board-testimony-archive.html

Thursday, June 2, 2016

News Coverage of the School Board Vote on the Self-Select Challenge Program (and a Note on Math)

On May 24, 2016 the School Board voted 3-2 to maintain the self-select challenge program for grades 7 and 8 during the grade reconfiguration to Middle School in 2017. Each board member gave heart-felt reasons for how they intended to vote, and we appreciate all of the thought that went into their decision. Thank you once again to the School Board for all of the time and effort you put into this decision. Our children will absolutely benefit from your dedication.

Although Math was not part of this decision, board members did discuss the fate of the self-select challenge math 7/8 class and the single-jump self-select math path. District personnel did not give a definitive answer on math, but did say the single and double jump math paths would be maintained. They did not, however, say that the self-select nature of the single jump math path would be maintained. Criteria for entrance into the single jump math path that allows students to reach Calculus by senior year is still to be determined. (The Double jump math path currently requires testing or summer school math for entrance.)

As with English, Social Studies and Science, Save Our Challenge believes that challenge 7/8 math should remain self-select.

Several news outlets and blogs have covered this decision. Several of those articles are linked below.

Eastside Education Network

Woodinville Weekly

Superintendent Francois

NSD Staff Member

Washington Policy Center

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

School Board Votes to Save Our Challenge Program!

At last night's board meeting the School Board voted 3-2 in favor of Option 3, which preserves the self-select challenge program in grades 7 and 8 for ELA, Social Studies and Science. Sixth grade will have mixed ability classrooms in this model.

Thank you to Amy Cast, Kimberly D'Angelo and Ken Smith for voting for the successful model preferred by the Community, Parents and Students. Thank you for all of your hard work and for listening!

Friday, May 13, 2016

May 24th 7pm is the Last Chance to Show Your Support for Self-Select Challenge before the Vote!

The School Board meeting on May 24th, 2016 at 7pm will be the LAST CHANCE to speak to the School Board and show support for the Self-Select Challenge Program before they vote. 

The Middle School Grade Reconfiguration Task Force and its Academic Subcommittee have presented the board with 2 options for the Middle School Academic Model. The two options presented are Option 1 (Mixed Ability Classes for grades 6-8) and Option 3 (self-select challenge for grades 7 & 8 with mixed ability classes for grade 6):

Do Not Be Fooled or Confused! Option 1 would result in the REMOVAL of the Self-Select Challenge program!

Out of the 2 choices being considered by the School Board, Option 3 is the model that would Save Our Challenge Program in grades 7 and 8. Option 3 was the second choice model of both the Task Force and the community input to Save Our Challenge. 

The School Board can choose to Save Challenge by Voting for Option 3! If you support the Challenge program, please attend the May 24, 7pm school board meeting to express your support for challenge and Option 3. We believe the school board listens to students and will act in the students' best interests. So, please encourage all students (students who have taken challenge, students who chose not to take challenge and we're happy to have the choice, and elementary students who want to have a choice when they are in middle school) to attend and speak to the school board.  

We need to fill the board room with challenge supporters if we want to keep this valuable, equitable program that gives students CHOICE. Now is the last opportunity for the School Board to hear from the community before their vote on whether or not to keep the Self-Select Challenge program. Now is the time for everyone to speak! May 24, 7pm!

Please browse the Save Our Challenge website if you would like more information on this. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Thank You to the School Board

A huge "Thank You" to our NSD School Board!

You have made a welcoming place at your meetings for our students to come and advocate for themselves as so many did last night in favor of maintaining the Self-Select Challenge Program. You have listened with attentiveness and asked them pertinent questions. For many of our students this is their first foray into public speaking and community advocacy and you have helped make the experience a positive one. Thank you!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Urge the School Board to Vote for Option 3 at the May 10, 4pm Board Meeting and in Email.

Hello Challenge Supporters,

Tomorrow afternoon (Tuesday May 10th at 4pm) is the next School Board meeting. At this meeting the School Board will hear the first reading of the Middle School Reconfiguration Task Force’s recommendation on Challenge. At last week’s School Board Study Session, the School Board decided to narrow the choices being considered to Option 1 and Option 3. Let’s talk about those options and how they emerged.

The district is currently calling Option 1 “Challenge for All in grades 6-8”. This name is, in fact, a fairly recent re-branding to confuse the Northshore Community. Option 1 was originally called “Heterogeneous Class Groupings” until after the October 13, 2015 Academic Subcommittee meeting. When the Save Our Challenge group started regularly attending Subcommittee and task force meetings and testifying at School Board meetings, the district renamed Heterogeneous Class Groupings “Challenge for All” in an attempt to make the community think the district was keeping and expanding the challenge program. In reality, Challenge for All is Mixed Ability, Heterogeneous classrooms in which the district believes teachers will be able to create and deliver differentiated instruction for each student in their classroom at a Challenge-level pace.  Any student who is not ready for challenge-level pace may be forced to take a support class in the subjects in which they struggle INSTEAD of taking an elective. 

Do Not Be Fooled or Confused!  Option 1 would result in the REMOVAL of the Self-Select Challenge program!

Although, Option 3 was not the first choice voted on by the community and presented to the School Board in the Save Our Challenge Proposal, it was the second choice of the parents, students and community members. Option 3 will keep the current Self-Select Challenge Program in grades 7 and 8 while also keeping the Mixed Ability, Heterogeneous classroom model that is currently used in our elementary schools for 6th grade. We had hoped self-select challenge classes would be available for 6th grade as well, but in this compromise model, the students will still have self-select challenge for 7th and 8th grade. Also, Option 3 was the second choice model voted by the Task Force. Nearly half of the task force members found option 3 to be an acceptable second choice. This is not the preferred model of either side of this debate, but it is an acceptable compromise for both.

Out of the two choices being considered by the School Board, Option 3 is the model that would Save Our Challenge Program in grades 7 and 8.

Please attend the School Board meeting on May 10, 2016, at 4pm to urge the School Board to choose Option 3! If you are unable to attend please send an email to all school board members urging them to vote for Option 3! (sbdistrict1@nsd.org, sbdistrict2@nsd.org, sbdistrict3@nsd.org, sbdistrict4@nsd.org, sbdistrict5@nsd.org )