Support Quality Science Education for Northwood High School Students

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California’s Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) allow for multiple models to teach high school science, including the Three Course Model, the Four Course Model, and the Every Science, Every Year Integrated Science (ESEY IS) Model.  Among all IUSD high schools, only Northwood High School (NHS) has adopted ESEY IS, a curriculum used by less than 1% of high schools in California, whereas all others use the Three Course Model.  Today, students and parents in the NHS community are calling for an objective, scientific and comprehensive evaluation of NHS’s science curriculum, budgeting and staffing.  To all past, present, and future NHS students and families, we need your help.  Please sign the petition to tell NHS and the school district that, as students and parents who care about NHS, you support:

  1. Comparing NHS’s ESEY IS curriculum with Irvine, Portola, University and Woodbridge high schools’ in terms of teaching quality and student learning outcomes;
  2. Allocating sufficient funds to hire qualified science teachers and increase students’ accessibility to science courses, including advanced placement courses, both in terms of total classes offered and number of seats available for enrollment;
  3. Increasing transparency in both curricular decisions and school program funding allocation;
  4. Considering offering NGSS Three Course Model at NHS and making ESEY IS elective instead of mandatory.

NHS is alone in its choice to mandate IS 1 (HIS 1) and IS 2 (HIS 2) for freshmen and sophomores.  In May 2019, NHS attempted to make IS 3 (HIS 3) mandatory for all junior students, although it had to temporarily make it optional due to strong and immediate opposition from students and parents.  However, NHS has indicated it intends to make IS 3 (HIS 3) mandatory in the near future to meet the requirements of the new science state test (CAST), rather than aligning with NGSS in a balanced manner that other Irvine high schools have indicated they prefer.

The current ESEY IS textbooks are outdated: The textbook for IS 2 was last updated in 2001.  Teachers are not relying on textbooks, and instead are resorting to ad hoc materials such as PowerPoint slides and fragments of online science book chapters.  Lacking structured and in-depth learning materials, students are forced to resort to external resources.  However, such resources often do not meet the expectations of the ESEY IS standards because almost all of the reference materials found outside of the classroom are designed for discrete science curriculum (Biology, Chemistry and Physics), not for Integrated Science.

Also of concern is the fact that the majority of the NHS science department is credentialed in only one of three core science subjects, yet the current design of ESEY IS curriculum forces teachers to guide students through materials outside of their area of expertise.  This means that NHS students are not being taught by specialists in the subject matter for the majority of their time in science classrooms.  There have been complaints over the years that students are not getting adequate instructions in classes of IS 1 and IS 2, and sometimes teachers are struggling to explain important concepts outside of their expertise.  

The Integrated Science program in NHS has always been controversial since its inception.  However, there has never been an objective and comprehensive assessment of the effectiveness of the IS curriculum.  At the end of Spring 2019, selected students were asked to complete a survey conducted by the NHS Science Department and Administration.  Sample size was unknown, and the results of the survey were not shared in a complete and transparent manner.  We would like to conduct another survey for current and graduated NHS students to collect their honest feedback on IS (attached at the end of this petition).  If you are a current or graduated NHS student, please fill out this short yet important SURVEY so that your experience can be shared with NHS, IUSD and the NHS community.

We urge everyone in the community to make their voices heard.  You can help by spreading this petition to everyone you know who care about quality education in NHS.  It’s only through your help that we will be able to convince the school district to make a positive change for NHS students.

Please also attend the IUSD board meeting at 6:30 P.M. on November 12, 2019 (Tuesday) in the IUSD District Administration Center at 5050 Barranca Parkway, Irvine, CA 92604 to let your concerns be known.  Elementary and Middle school parents, we encourage you to come as well, because this is about your children’s future, too.

Take the survey: https://forms.gle/xkn2SKjMU7hHzzJZ9

If, as a student, you want to remain anonymous and don't want to sign in with your email address, you can set up a new  account to take the survey.  But be assured we will not identify you under any  circumstances.  We will keep all students who want to remain anonymous, anonymous.