Source: Grosse Pointe News Online

Team to review high school structures

by A.J. Hakim

September 20, 2012

Grosse Pointe Public School System administrators are coordinating a 21st Century High School Review Team to make several recommendations in response to mounting pressures at the secondary level from state and federal governments and changing community expectations.

The team of about 35 community members, parents, administrators, teachers and students will focus on five areas: blended learning, dual enrollment, high school schedule, graduation requirements and credit recovery.

“We are not looking at primarily pedagogical issues,” Deputy Superintendent of Educational Services and team chair Jon Dean said during a presentation at Monday’s GPPSS Board of Education work session. “Pedagogy is a fancy teacher term for how we teach kids. Some of these things will touch on these areas, but we’re really not focusing on how we teach kids. We are also not looking primarily at curriculum. Instead, we are really going to be looking at some of the structures that surround our high school.”

In looking at those structures, Dean wants team members, which he’ll divide into five subcommittees, one for each focus area, to enter their groups with a spirit of good will, an open mind to the overall goal. That is, to find ways the district can change or improve in a respective area, if change or improvement are necessary, to meet the best interests of all students.

For the subcommittee, Dean said, any findings supersede potential financial issues and the subcommittees won’t maintain status quo for status quo’s sake or mandate change for change’s sake.

“If we’re not going to make change for the sake of change and we’re not going to maintain the status quo because that’s how we’ve always done it, then the deciding factor should be, does this work for students,” said Lois Valente, board vice president.

“Does it give us a competitive advantage? Does it put us in a position to compete, to attract students, to retain students?”

Dean has set a tentative timeline, with an initial whole team meeting in mid-October, followed by subcommittee meetings in late October, early November and preliminary recommendations scheduled for December or January.

“This is just the first step in probably a variety of steps down the road to make some changes,” Dean said. “And I don’t think all of these are going to get done in four months for an easy answer for next year. But it’s a dialogue we need to have.”