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Harwood to set structure for public input on ninth-grade regrouping

By Rachel Goff

On Thursday, February 13, the Harwood Community-School Redesign work group will meet for the first time regarding co-principals Amy Rex and Lisa Atwood's proposal to regroup classes for incoming freshmen.

Traditionally, schools have relied on tracking, or grouping, students according to ability level, but Rex and Atwood believe that there are many different ways to group students, including by their readiness, learning styles and interests, which help create more heterogeneous classes.

According to the co-principals' regrouping proposal, there would be no "honors" classes for ninth- graders. Ninth-graders would, however, still have the ability to earn an "honors" distinction by completing certain criteria, and the regrouping proposal would not eliminate honors and Advanced Placement (AP) classes in grades 10 through 12.

Rex and Atwood first presented their proposal to regroup classes for incoming freshmen to the Harwood School Board on December 18 of last year and heard strong opinions from teachers, parents and students both for and against the proposal at that meeting and the one that followed it on January 22.

At the January 22 meeting, board chair Deb Hunter said the proposal was more of an "inquiry" and stressed that the board would not consider regrouping without public input and support. The Harwood Community-School Redesign work group will determine the structure for collecting that public input at its first meeting on Thursday, February 13.

In the meantime, "please know that no changes will be made to the current ninth-grade course offerings for next year," Rex wrote in an email to the Harwood community on Tuesday, February 4, explaining that the school has developed a "process map" for evaluating the proposal.

"In accordance with the process map, we are exploring needs, best practices and the influence of external factors with the purpose of making recommendations for a future proposal," Rex said.

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