Why did NEHS move away from Small Schools?
North Eugene High School: Next Steps, 2013
For the past five months the North Eugene staff, administration, Parent Group and Site Council have engaged in an enormously important conversation about the future of the school. We have examined the current structure of small schools and the role that choice, equity and student access play in the success of our model.
As we examine our school-wide data it is very clear that small schools work for some students but have not shown the increases in overall student achievement we had anticipated. In addition, we believe our system of self-selection into themed small schools has created a tracked system and inequitable outcomes for students. This conclusion, along with the efficacy of small schools in an era of decreased funding, implementation of the 3×5 schedule, and the ever increasing importance of high school graduation have informed our decision to move away from the small schools structure.
We know parents and students value their small school experiences across the three schools—IDEAS, NIHS and Academy of Arts. We also know that all students should have access to similar learning experiences and the opportunity to reach equitable outcomes in their educational process. During our discussions, we have kept at the forefront some of the best practices inherent in small schools: cohorts (groups) of students moving together with a team of teachers whom they know well and who can provide the support and encouragement needed in rigorous content classes.
As we enter into this model change it is important to understand that Staff, Administration, Parent Groups, and Site Counsel will continue to find ways to serve all students in a way that promotes academic success, personal character, college readiness, and prepares students to be productive citizens in their community.
What will the new comprehensive model look like?
North Eugene staff reached consensus around a new model designed to maximize our ability to increase student achievement and allow greater flexibility, options and access for all North students. Just this week, Site Council approved the new NEHS model which ends our three autonomous, themed small schools.
The staff and site council have identified the following pillars for the new model:
- To build and maintain strong relationships, North will continue to have three separate Language Arts and Social Studies cohorts in grades 9-12. Cohorts are groups of students that travel together and see the same teachers over time. This successful practice draws upon the lessons learned from small schools. We place a very high value on student-teacher relationships and personalization.
- Elective classes will now be more readily available to all students.
- Math and Science will return to stand-alone departments in order to increase rich and valuable teacher collaboration with a focus on student achievement.
- International Baccalaureate (IB) classes will now be the standard for every North Eugene student in Language Arts and Social Studies.
- There will be increased IB electives; North Eugene is the only high school in Eugene with a site license for the entire school. Students will now have a menu of courses in the IB elective area to choose from.
- College and Career Pathway programs will be available for students to increase relevant options and post-secondary preparation for students in grades 11-12. North currently offers many Career Technical Education programs.
We are excited about what lies ahead for North and will continue to work with staff, parents and students as we transition. We value the input from our community as our conversation evolves. In fact, it is crucial.
We look forward to further discussions at our next Parent Group meeting.
North Eugene High School