Written by Gina Coco, Steering Committee Chair
In 2013 the Steering Committee made a decision to eliminate the dual track course offerings that included a standard and an “Honors” course for English in grades 9, 10 and 11 and for social studies in grades 9 and 10. As intended when this decision was made in 2013, the current Steering Committee has been monitoring, researching and evaluating the impact of this change. As a result, the Steering Committee is exploring a proposal to relabel certain core courses as “Honors” and considering the potential weighting of grades earned in these courses on a 4.5-point scale (as a note, the district would have to be able to implement this policy in their system before it could be finalized, and this is still uncertain at this time). Currently, there are no “Honors” courses at D’Evelyn, and only AP courses are weighted on a 5.0-point scale. In order to keep our community informed, Mr. Griffin will present on this issue at the Accountability Committee meeting on May 7th at 5:30 pm. If this subject is of interest to you, please plan to attend.
The decision to eliminate the “Honors” track is outlined in this 2013 document and was based on several factors. Significant to the current proposal are the following key points. The 2013 committee found marginal differences between the 2013 “Honors” and standard courses. Further, the committee concluded that the standard courses for English, social studies, science and foreign language “are at a level equivalent to “Honors” in a contemporary secondary school setting.”
Student enrollment and retention is one metric used to assess the impact of this policy. In determining whether or not the 2013 decision played a role in declining enrollment and retention, the Steering Committee looked at student and parent exit surveys. Unfortunately, we have observed an undesirable impact on our students as a result of this change. We also hear students express that their GPA does not accurately reflect the effort and content mastery required to complete the rigorous academic courses at D’Evelyn. Student post-graduate outcomes, student morale, and an appropriate representation of D’Evelyn coursework on student transcripts are all important to the Steering Committee. In order to address these pertinent issues, we researched the approach of other like-minded schools.
We contacted several Colorado schools with a similar rigorous curriculum and found that each of them labeled most of their core courses as “Honors”. These schools included The Vanguard School, Ridgeview Classical, Liberty Commons, and Goldenview Classical. They shared that, like at D’Evelyn, their core curriculum demanded far more of students than the neighborhood school courses. They instituted the Honors label and weighting for those courses (many had done so in the last few years) to properly communicate to colleges the rigor of their courses and to reward their students for the work they were completing. These schools informed us that in response to introducing an Honors label and weighted grades, college admissions counselors were positively receptive; students felt rewarded for the work they were doing, enhancing their academic motivation; and parents were supportive.
The current proposal defines “Honors” courses as academic core courses taught above grade level in depth, scope of content and/or pace of presentation. As such, English, Science and Social Studies courses would be labeled “Honors”. There would not be a dual track, rather courses would be designated as “Honors” when they meet the above definition in comparison with standard level core academic courses taught in neighborhood schools.
The Steering Committee is committed to fully vetting the proposal for the following reasons:
By Gina Coco
Join us after the April 9th Accountability Meeting at 6:30 pm to get to know our two Steering Committee Candidates:
By Scott Spendlove
The Steering Committee-D’Evelyn’s Unique Answer to School Governance
You may not be aware of the Steering Committee, or how it participates in the operation and running of the School. But this 8-member committee, set up by the Founders of the School to safeguard the program and make decisions in the best interests of the School, is critical to D’Evelyn’s continued success.
The Steering Committee was created by D’Evelyn’s Founders to be the governing Board of the School, as part of our initial contract with the District. The job is essentially “(t)o make broad decisions such as upholding, interpreting and clarifying the philosophy, approving new curriculum, maintaining relations and communications with the District, and reacting to new laws or District policies etc.” The Committee is comprised of 5 parent members, two teacher/staff members, and the Principal, who are committed to upholding the Founding document, and to ensure that our next 25 years of operation are as successful as the first 25!
So, are there any openings coming up, and how does one become part of the Steering Committee? There are currently two openings, one for a parent, and one for a teacher, that will be filled by an election of qualified candidates this Spring. These three-year terms will begin next Summer. And the good news is, that if you are interested in joining Steering Committee, your timing couldn’t be better!
Steering Committee held an initial Candidate Information evening on November 13th, where we were joined by several parents and teachers who may have an interest in serving on Steering. If you were not able to join us that evening, don’t worry, you can catch up. Participants were to have read “The D’Evelyn Difference” which describes what makes the D’Evelyn curriculum and philosophy special and unique, particularly in Jefferson County public schools. Participants also read pages 4-14 of the D’Evelyn Founding Document, the program narrative and philosophy statement.
These initial readings will give you more of sense about the role of Steering Committee, and whether it might be a good fit for you. If you are interested, great! We would encourage you to join us at our next Candidate Training evening, Tuesday February 12th, at 6:30 pm in the Library. This will follow the regular Accountability Meeting scheduled that night. At that meeting, we will discuss the role and purpose of the Steering Committee; responsibilities and obligations of serving, and what it REALLY means regarding time commitment and effort required.
Prior to the meeting check out the Application packet, and the associated Candidate readings. These readings are all available to check out from the Library as well as linked here. Some of the other things you will need to do is serve on a committee or subcommittee of the school, such as a hiring or curriculum committee. And come visit us to watch us in action! To apply, you need to attend at least two Steering Committee meetings, or a Steering Committee meeting and a Subcommittee meeting, in the last 12 months. Our next meeting is Monday January 28th at 4:30 and are generally every other Monday. Check the School Events calendar for future meeting dates and times.
And the most important qualification? An interest in supporting the Founding Document, serving the wonderful school of which we are all a part, and excitement to help build the next 25 years of D’Evelyn’s legacy!
The Steering Committee is the governing board of the school and establishes policies designed to maintain and enhance its liberal arts philosophy. The Steering Committee appoints Directors to the Board of the D'Evelyn Education Foundation.