Webinar Recording

Presentation Slides

Restructuring the High School Program of Studies

Thursday, April 1, 2021

7 PM - 8:30 PM

Link to join Webinar: https://zoom.us/j/99396399703

We would like to take this opportunity to share with the community all of the details and the rationale for these changes. During the information session, we will provide information regarding the long-term restructuring of the high school program of studies, provide updates and clarification regarding frequently asked questions, and provide an opportunity for further questions.

Barrington Public Schools has a mission to empower ALL students to excel in character, citizenship, collaboration, creativity, communication, and critical thinking to positively impact the future. We also have a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. With these goals and commitments in mind, the high school has begun to restructure its program of studies.


Dr. Katie Novak, author, educator, and national expert on Universal Design for Learning

Michael Woodlock, Principal of Groton Dunstable High School

Annie Reznik, Director of Education Finance Institute, National College Access leader

Joseph Hurley, Principal, Barrington High School

Steven Pickford, High School Social Studies Chair

Bill Barrass, High School World History Teacher

Dr. Kevin Blanchard, High School English Chair

Suzanne Pickford, High School English Teacher

Drew Genetti, Special Education Chair

Dr. Paula Dillon, Assistant Superintendent

Michael Messore, Superintendent

Also present: Kristen Matthes, Director of Pupil Personnel and Mark Biancuzzo, Assistant Director of Pupil Personnel


7:00 PM - 7:05 PM Welcome, Introductions, and Norms

7:05-7:25 The Why of Restructuring

7:25 - 7:45 Advantages and Opportunities

7:45-8:00 What to Expect in the Short Term

8:00-8:15 What to Expect in the Long Term

8:15-8:30 Questions

Please note that additional questions from the survey and this event will be made publicly available next week.

A sampling of the research and studies used in our processes

Is this change supported by research?

Yes. Considerable educational research supports the restructuring. Most notably:

  • Grouping students stratifies students by race and socioeconomic status. It also is linked to lower achievement for students in lower levels.
  • Structural barriers created by singleton courses and inaccurate expectations for students exist when courses are leveled. It may appear that students have choice, when in fact, barriers for entry continue to drive decisions.
  • Studies, as well as our internal data, have shown that students assigned to low-ability groups score lower on standardized assessments than if they had been placed in mixed-ability classes.
  • BHS grade data shows that when students are placed in heterogeneous settings, their performance improves.
  • Research, as well as anecdotal evidence, shows that when implemented, equal access is tied to success for all students.

John Hattie’s work (https://visible-learning.org/hattie-ranking-influences-effect-sizes-learning-achievement/ )— with an interview specifically around tracking/deleveling (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6czhy6kPpc) has served as a starting point for many of the changes that have been made in Barrington. School-level data matches the patterns that Hattie is pointing out.

A short article on the Opportunity Myth discusses that most students lack four key drivers to success including access to grade-level instruction and teachers with high expectations for their learning. You can access the full report when you have more time to explore.

This report published by the National Council on Disabilities sums up the research on inclusion (p.37-40). Pg. 41 introduces Universal Design for Learning (UDL) as a framework for inclusion

Cole, C. M., Waldron, N., & Majd, M. (2004). Academic Progress of Students across Inclusive and Traditional Settings. Mental Retardation: A Journal of Practices, Policy and Perspectives42(2), 136–144. - This study reports students with disabilities progress in math and ELA inclusive settings versus self-contained settings

Additional Articles and Research





"Accelerating Mathematics Achievement Using Heterogeneous Grouping," by Carol Corbett Burris, Jay P. Heubert, and Henry M. Levin, American Educational Research Journal, Spring 2006. A longitudinal study on providing accelerated mathematics curriculum to all 8th graders in a diverse suburban school district. Performance of high-achieving students showed no statistical difference when compared to their previous homogeneously grouped classes. Additionally, scores on placement and Advanced Placement tests improved over time.

"Accountability, Rigor, and Detracking: Achievement Effects of Embracing a Challenging Curriculum as a Universal Good for All Students," by Carol Corbett Burris, Teachers College Record, March 2008.

"Alternative Approaches to the Politics of Detracking," by Kevin Welner and Carol Corbett Burris, Theory Into Practice, Winter 2006

“Choosing Tracks: ‘Freedom of Choice’ in Detracking Schools,” by Susan Yonezawa, Amy Stuart Wells, and Irene Serna, American Educational Research Journal, Spring 2002.

“Detracked--and Going Strong,” by Peter Bavis, Phi Delta Kappan, Nov. 28, 2016. Highlights detracking Evanston Township High School. Positive outcomes include noticeable gains in ACT scores across all demographic groups.

"Detracking: The Social Construction of Ability, Cultural Politics, and Resistance to Reform," by Jeannie Oakes, Amy Stuart Wells, Makeba Jones, and Amanda Datnow, Teachers College Record, Spring 1997.

"Does Educational Tracking Affect Performance and Inequality? Differences-in-Differences Evidence Across Countries," by Eric A. Hanushek and Ludger Wößmann, National Bureau of Economic Research, February 2005. Analysis of different tracking arrangements in 20 international institutions. Results suggest tracking is linked to lower overall performance and an increase in inequity.

"Four Decades of Research on the Effects of Detracking Reform: Where Do We Stand? A Systematic Review of the Evidence," by Ning Rui, Journal of Evidence-Based Medicine, 2009. A meta-analysis of 15 studies found that detracking consistently demonstrated positive effects on low-ability achievement with no measurable effects on average- to high-ability student achievement.

Guidance from the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP)

"Honoring All Learners: The Case for Embedded Honors in Heterogeneous English Language Arts Classrooms," by David Nurenberg, English Education, October 2016.

“Matchmaking: The Dynamics of High School Tracking,” by Jeannie Oakes and Gretchen Guiton, American Educational Research Journal, Spring 1995. Cornerstone article in detracking literature. A three-year longitudinal study of detracking in 10 racially and socio-economically diverse high schools. Found that detracking efforts confront and should attend to assumptions about power, control, and legitimacy in schools that manifest in how students are viewed as learners.  

“Readiness for College: The Role of Noncognitive Factors and Context,” by Jenny Nagaoka, Camille A. Farrington, Melissa Roderick, Elaine Allensworth, Tasha Seneca Keyes, David W. Johnson, and Nicole O. Beechum, VUE, Fall 2013.

"Sustained Inquiry in Education: Lessons from Skill Grouping and Class Size," by Frederick Mosteller, Richard J. Light, and Jason A. Sachs, Harvard Educational Review, Winter 1996. Analysis of literature found a lack of available evidence to support the current form of tracking in U.S. schools.

"Tracking Detracking: Sorting through the Dilemmas and Possibilities of Detracking in Practice," by Beth C. Rubin and Pedro A. Noguera, Equity & Excellence in Education, 2004.

"Whole-School Detracking: A Strategy for Equity and Excellence," by Doris Alvarez and Hugh Mehan, Theory Into Practice, Winter 2006.


Additional Links



- This is a sample of the research currently in process: https://www.edworkingpapers.com/ai19-65