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School board to discuss community feedback on equity issue between two Coeur d’Alene high schools

The board will discuss community feedback results on equity issues between Coeur d’Alene and Lake City high schools, including unequal graduation requirements.

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — The Coeur d’Alene School District board of trustees will meet today to discuss results from recent community feedback on an equity issue between two high schools, as reported by our partners, The Coeur d'Alene Press. 

For the past three years, the district has been analyzing and reaching out to the community for feedback on unequal graduation requirements, class opportunities, and instructional time in core classes between Coeur d’Alene and Lake City high schools.

A 2019 curriculum audit flagged the differences in the schools as an important equity issue. Spokesman Scott Maben said that 10 years earlier, the issue was also flagged by a different curriculum audit.

The variance stems from the different schedules each high school follows. LCHS students follow a block schedule, taking eight classes per semester, while CHS students follow a traditional schedule with six periods, taking six classes per semester.

With the block schedule, LCHS students attend four 1.5-hour classes a day, rotating classes per day. The period schedule has CHS students taking about six one-hour classes per day.

Because of the difference in schedule, LCHS students take two more classes per semester, allowing them to take more classes of their choice. However, CHS students end up with more hours spent in core classes such as math, English, science and history.

That leads to CHS students graduating with the state minimum requirement of 46 credits, while LCHS students graduate with 58 credits because of the extra electives. LCHS students end up taking 12 more electives to graduate than CHS students.

LCHS offered 116 courses unique to the school, while CHS offered 49. Courses unique to LCHS included 12 more English language arts courses than unique to CHS, nine more science courses, seven more physical education courses, 28 more career and technical education courses, seven more fine/performing arts courses and seven more school services.

Maben said that while some people say core classes are the most important, and CHS students get more class time in those classes, a lot of LCHS families like the flexibility and options to take extra electives so students can start exploring career opportunities and get exposed to a greater variety of topics and subjects.

Data based on 11th grade exit exams show that in the last five years, CHS students placed 2-30% higher in English Language Arts, and 13-33% higher in mathematics. SAT and AP scores for CHS students also averaged higher than LCHS students.

However, the scores aren’t necessarily a reflection of the different schedules, Maben said, and can be affected by other factors. Many of the highest performing schools in the top 10 in Idaho use the block schedule, according to the district high school alignment committee.

To fix the equity issue between courses and requirements, trustees were asked in February to consider schedule alignment between both high schools by selecting either one current schedule or implementing a new schedule, or keeping the current schedules and finding other ways to address the concerns about class offerings and graduation requirements.

Trustees asked the district to once again reach out for feedback, which will be shared at the workshop Monday.

In December, a committee reviewing a previous round of feedback with 766 participants found pros for each schedule.

Among these, committee members found some participants favored the block schedule used by LCHS because it offers:

• The option to choose from a wide variety of electives

• Long periods of time to explore a topic deeply

• More class preparation time for teachers

Sixty percent of survey participants also selected the block schedule as one that best met their priorities.

The committee found that participants in favor of the period schedule found the following compelling:

• A cost savings of over $600,000 if both schools were on the period schedule

• More instructional time per course per semester with 28 hours additional instructional time in each course more than the block schedule because of fewer classes taken per semester

• Staff prioritized being able to see students every day

• Locally, students on the period schedule outperformed their peers significantly

In the most recent round of community input, the district heard from over 2,200 participants, with over half saying it's very important that both high schools have the same graduation requirements, and almost 30% responding it's somewhat important.

Almost half of the participants felt very strongly that both schools should have similar course offerings including electives, with over 30% responding that it's somewhat important. However, over half of the participants think it's not important that both high schools operate on the same class schedule.

“There are strong feelings on both sides,” Maben said. “Those school communities feel strongly that the schedules they have work.”

Maben said they’re not under pressure to have the school board make a decision in May because if changes were to occur, they would not be implemented until fall of 2023. However, he said if the trustees decide to make a change, they would want to see that decision made in the next six months to give the district time to prepare.

The board will meet today in executive session at 2:30 p.m., then move into the workshop at 4 in the Midtown Center Meeting Room on North Fifth Street. Seating capacity is capped at 72 per the fire marshal. Other agenda items include a budget overview and bond capacity.

Information from the most recent round of community feedback on the high school schedules and requirements will be made available to the public on the school district's website at cdaschools.org following the workshop.

The Coeur d'Alene Press is a KREM 2 News partner. For more news from our partners, click here.



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