D86 board looks at new program of study, new classes


Last updated 10/12/2022 at 2:53pm | View PDF

Pending board approval later this month, Hinsdale High School District 86 will have its first unified program of studies for both high schools for the 2023-24 school year.

“This is not Central’s. This is not South’s. This is D86. That’s a huge accomplishment that cannot be underscored enough,” board President Erik Held said.

Chris Covino, assistant superintendent for academics, said this effort by administrators and teachers has been underway for some time.

“We have been working over the last three years to get to the place that we are at right now,” he said.

The online version of the 138-page program of studies will include links that provide more detailed course information.

“If you ever ask yourself the question, ‘I wonder what they do in that course?’ outside of the two sentences that are in the program of studies, a click on there provides the transparency about what units are there, how their grading practices operate, what resources may be used in the course and how they’ll sort of align together,” Covino said.

The program of studies also shows which courses have been aligned between Hinsdale Central and Hinsdale South and which are in progress. Last year, Central had 87 unique courses and South had 27. The number has dropped significantly to 30 at Central and 13 at South, Covino reported.

The program of studies includes new courses, including a yearlong honors algebra and geometry class for freshmen who scored well on their eighth grade MAP test (higher than 80 percent nationally) and performed well in common core math in eighth grade.

“It is going to be a fast-paced course, so we’re recognizing that it’s not going to be for every student,” said Sarah Porod, math department chair at Central. “These are for our high achievers who haven’t taken algebra 1 yet but want to advance.”

The current options for students to advance are to take an accelerated geometry over the summer or a blocked math class (two periods) sophomore year, which means they can’t take an elective.

“The problem is we are essentially creating barriers for students,” Porod said.

Kerin Sancken, math department chair at South, noted that other districts offer a course like this and that it will enable students to move from grade level math in eighth grade to taking AP calculus as a senior.

Board member Debbie Levinthal said she is concerned the class is being taught as an honors course and that students will be asked to learn two years of math in one year.

She also expressed concerns about expanding the offering of English classes with “earned honors credit” for juniors and seniors who don’t want to take an AP class. The district added two such classes this year and plans to add two more in 2023-24 and another two in 2024-25. Board member Peggy James agreed that she would like to see how the 750 students in this year’s earned honors credit English classes do before making a decision to add more.

“You don’t have the data yet,” James said. “I would like to see that data before you expand it any more.”

The program of studies also includes recommendations from the SPED program team focused on the alignment of the applied and educational services course sequence (now called Post-secondary Readiness Educational Pathway or P.R.E.P.), Foundations course sequence and related course work in the continuum of special education services.

Covino said he will make a short presentation on any revisions made to the program of studies at the Oct. 27 board meeting before requesting board approval.

Superintendent Tammy Prentiss thanked Covino and the team for their efforts on this “monumental task.”

“I cannot underscore the amount of work that has been going on,” she said.

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean


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