The new schedule at Hopkins junior highs is not paying off in greater teacher contact with parents and students, at least according to a survey the reviewed Thursday.
Last year, the junior highs . That change halved the number of students each teacher had at once from 180 to 90 students—even as students completed the same number of courses. Officials expected that to foster better communication between teachers, parents and students
Despite these changes, nine out of 10 parents say they don’t hear from their child’s teacher more than monthly—with 55 percent of respondents saying teachers are in touch with them less than monthly and 27 percent saying teachers are never in contact with them.
“I thought at the junior high by changing the student load from (180 to 90) that you’d see a much greater response to that,” said School Board Director Wendy Donovan. “That was the big push for this.”
In all, 52 percent of parents surveyed said they were disappointed with the frequency of communication.
Students aren’t reporting much of a difference in terms of teacher contact either. About 53 percent said there was no change in their interactions with teachers, while only 33 percent said teachers check in with them more often and 19 percent said teachers work with them more individually.
In their own survey, teachers disagreed—with only 25 percent and 26 percent saying individualizing instruction and helping lower-achieving students, respectively, was somewhat worse or much worse.
“Now this is junior high, so I sometimes think parents are used to elementary communication frequencies. But I think it’s worth looking at,” said Kyla Wahlstrom—director of the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement, which is evaluating the changes Hopkins made to its secondary programs.
District administrators said they’ll be reviewing the results moving forward. The report’s authors are still analyzing data and interviews for the study. The final report will be presented Aug. 1.
“Until you live it, you don’t if it’s going to produce the result that you hope it does,” Nik Lightfoot, the district’s director of administrative services, said about the changes.
Students and parents were more positive about how the schedule change affected academics. Students said they learned the material better and managed their homework better. More than half of parents said their children had an easier time keeping their class work organized, and 70 percent said it either adequately or greatly met their child’s academic needs.
Still, the schedule garnered mixed reviews in other areas. Most students found it hard to remember material after skipping a term between core classes, and large numbers of students and parents reported no change in other categories.
Teachers were the most likely to not see any change. Significant majorities reported no change in use of higher-level thinking strategies or alternative assessments. In most categories, there was a roughly equal division between those who thought the schedule was worse, better and unchanged.
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