Dist. 86 slows PCB rollout timeline
Last updated 12/23/2019 at 3:37pm | View PDF
In response to strong criticism of a plan to alter the science sequence in Hinsdale High School District 86, district officials have decided to delay its implementation to address concerns while still reiterating support for the change.
In a statement released Dec. 19, Superintendent Tammy Prentiss apologized that the proposal to switch to the physics-chemistry-biology (PCB) sequence was not unveiled earlier to allow for more community discussion.
“By not undertaking these efforts until a few months ago, we created a great deal of unnecessary confusion, concern and angst for our current and future families,” Prentiss wrote.
The new sequence rollout will be pushed back one year, with rising ninth-graders in the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years having the option to enroll in physics or biology first. The PCB sequence then will be fully implemented in the 2022-23 school year.
“By extending the rollout by a year, we will have additional time to help students and their families make the transition to the new sequence,” Prentiss stated.
A G-level biology course will also be added for freshmen during those transitional years to “ensure that the needs of these students will continue to be met when we fully implement the new sequence.”
The PCB plan has received the support of the school board, but recent meetings have been marked by sharp criticism of the switch from community members and tense exchanges. Driving the plan is a desire to align the district’s two high schools’ science courses and implement new science standards. Hinsdale South has had the PCB sequence for several years, but it would be a new approach at Hinsdale Central.
Hinsdale’s Linda Burke, one of the plan’s most vocal opponents, said the district’s apology for poor communication doesn’t address the substantive concern of critics that the one-track PCB sequence envisioned denies high-achieving students ample opportunities to reach their full potential while posing a challenge to other students because of its math-intensive nature.
“I do support ‘physics first’ as an option. Alignment means the same options for everyone. There’s no reason why alignment couldn’t be for strong academic quality and more options for everyone,” Burke wrote the day after Prentiss released her statement. “The goal is to stop this misguided, unheard-of, radical science experiment before it can start — and failing in that, to terminate it quickly and implement a transparent process for aligning our science program in the direction of more options for all, not less.”
She said the curriculum for the new sequence has not been completed yet and that it should be piloted for a year before it is approved. The omission of AP Physics also has raised the ire of Burke and others.
Prentiss reiterated her support for the PCB sequence and said members of the science team will work with math department chairs to ensure alignment between physics and Algebra 1.
“They will also review and discuss the feedback we received from students and community members regarding science electives that fall outside of the PCB sequence, including AP Physics.
The board will receive an update on Jan. 23 about the topics the team discussed and the work it completed during its meeting,” Prentiss wrote.