Highland Park, News

District 113 slows plan to limit lab time

Township High School District 113’s experiment to alter the structure of science courses will need some time under the microscope before it becomes a reality. 

District 113 Superintendent Dr. Bruce Law announced during the board of education’s March 19 meeting that officials will be pushing back a contentious plan to shift the majority of science courses at Highland Park and Deerfield high schools to a single-period structure until the 2025-’26 school year. 

As previously reported by The Record, more than a dozen District 113 educators addressed the School Board during its Feb. 20 meeting to rally against the administration’s proposal to move to the single-period structure next school year. 

During that Feb. 20 session, district educators argued the change was a “spur-of-the-moment” decision that was “unilateral,” “poorly executed,” and lacked communication and stakeholder feedback. 

According to Law, administrators met with the District 113 Education Association in mid-March “to discuss the impact of making this change for the 24-25 school year.” 

Following that meeting, “it became clear that to implement this change well, teachers would need more time than the rest of this year and the summer to prepare for it,” Law said. 

“We will learn a lot as we go through this process and we will make sure that those changes are made in the best interests of students and our teachers,” Law said while informing the board that incorporating science labs into daily instruction will begin the following school year.

Under District 113’s current model, students have to set aside a class in their schedule in order to have a science lab, according to district officials during a presentation Feb. 20.

Those science labs typically meet once or twice per week. When students are not in their science lab, they are in a study hall period, which offers chances to get assistance and make up work, among other opportunities.

Moving to a single-period structure for science classes would open up additional opportunities for students to enroll in elective courses, officials previously said.

Law, who is currently the district’s top administrator but is set to retire later this year and hand the reins to Dr. Chala Holland, built on the district’s reasoning for the decision, calling it a “matter of equity.”

Full-time science teachers in District 113 currently teach four classes, while other full-time teachers in the district teach five, Law said, adding that in addition to “bringing equity to all our teachers,” and reiterating that the change also “allows students to take an elective in place of the time slot that is now currently occupied by a science lab.” 

Law believes the decision to wait a year before moving to single-period science will allow the district chances to study what he describes as the many peer districts that incorporate labs in their daily instruction. 

“The student outcomes aren’t compromised by the fact that labs are worked into daily instructions and the AP results are also very strong, and it’s because of the way that science is delivered,” Law said. 

“So there is a lot that we can learn from other school districts, and most other school districts are on this path. So (we’re going) to make sure that as we are incorporating this into daily instruction, that we learn from them and are able to use that learning as we go.” 

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martin carlino
Martin Carlino

Martin Carlino is a co-founder and the senior editor who assigns and edits The Record stories, while also bylining articles every week. Martin is an experienced and award-winning education reporter who was the editor of The Northbrook Tower.

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