Santa Barbara school board to dive into plans for combined honors and college-prep classes | School zone

A controversial proposal to combine honors and college preparatory English courses will go before Administrators of the Santa Barbara Unified School District Tuesday night.

Previously, students from Santa Barbara Unified School District would decide to enroll in college preparatory courses or specialization courses.

Under the new regime, students in both classes would be in the same room but would remain on different rosters for the teacher to see. Teachers would provide differentiated instruction to students, but could decide during the semester whether a college-prep student should have a specialized curriculum.

Honors classes are usually for students who are above grade level, while college preparatory classes are usually for students at grade level or below. Flaws in the system exist, however.

Some parents strongly advocate for students to be enrolled in the specialized program. Other students in college preparatory courses might qualify for honors courses but for some reason did not enroll.

“Data collected over the past decade clearly shows us that the course selection process did not always accurately identify whether students would consistently achieve higher standards at the grade level,” the district’s report for the meeting reads. tuesday.

“In fact, enrollment in advanced courses reinforced student achievement that fit into predictable patterns identified by culture, race, or ethnicity.”

The change would apply to high school and junior high students.

As currently proposed, beginning in the 2022-23 school year, high school students would enroll in either an “H” for honors or a “P,” which is honors access. For the 2023-2024 school year, students would enroll in English classes 9 and 10, and receive “access to honors”, without having to choose.

Beginning in the 2022–23 school year, junior high students would also register for either an “H” for honors or a “P” for honors access. For the 2023-2024 school year, they would enroll in English 7 and 8, with no distinction or college preparation preference. Math, science, and social studies students in this school year would always choose an “H” or a “P.”

In the 2024-2025 school year, junior high students, except those in math compaction, would no longer choose honors or college prep, and all would have access to the designation of class honors.

According to the most recent data from the Santa Barbara School District, 86% of Asian and White high school students were taking advanced courses, followed by 56% of Black/African American students, 51% of Hispanic/Latino students, and 50% of socioeconomic students. disadvantaged students.

In junior high, 89% of Asian students were enrolled in special classes, along with 87% of whites and 52% of Hispanic/Latino and socioeconomic students.

The district only released data for Black/African American students for 2019, finding that 76% were taking honors courses. The number of Black/African American students in 2020 fell below federal reporting guidelines to protect identity, SBUSD spokesperson Nick Masuda said.

“We believe that every student deserves to learn at the highest level,” Superintendent Hilda Maldonado said at a recent district event on the subject.

Upper Back Pueblos Principal Bill Woodard explained that the goal was to alter what he called a “predictable pattern”.

“Historically, students have self-selected English 9 or 10, Honors or CP, both cover the same California content standards, but we have created a system where up to 70% of our students apply for Honors in some schools, but unfortunately the numbers don’t reflect the population we serve,” Woodard said.

“And as the junior high school data show, this gap really begins and remains remarkably constant and predictable through high school. So we’re here to uproot this predictable pattern.

However, some parents are upset with the district’s proposal.

Caroline Harrah, parent of a high school student and president of the PTA at Santa Barbara High Schoolcalled the district’s idea of ​​universal access a “misnomer.”

“If the district is serious about addressing equity,” she said, “it needs to do a better job of supporting the elementary — that’s every elementary school, every elementary teacher, and every student. elementary – with the resources they need to ensure students are prepared to excel in honors-level middle and high school courses.

“Today, these resources are at best unequal, at worst inequitable. That’s where the district should focus its resources, in my opinion, and that would really translate into universal access.

Top of San Marcos Physics professor Joshua LaForge explained what universal access is and isn’t.

“Universal access does not lower the rigor or expectations of any student in either school,” he said. “It’s a commitment that all students must learn at every grade level.”

LaForge said it’s not about putting all the students “together in classes” and just hoping for the best.

“It provides for the unique mix of needs that are always present in every classroom,” he said.

The school board meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. at the district office at 720 Santa Barbara St.

– Noozhawk writer Joshua Molina can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Login with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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