Admin considering changes to advisery after three year review

First formal review of advisery system since 1965

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The School Board heard results of a three year long review of the advisorey system on April 16.

According to the Adviser Program Study Board Memo, the Adviser Program has not been formally evaluated since 1965. This prompted a study to begin in 2015 to provide more research on how the Program is affecting students, parents and staff members.

The Executive Summary of the Adviser Program Evaluation reported the results of The Hanover research survey, which was administrated to students, parents and staff from 2015 to 2017.

Board of Education President Greg Robitaille said, “[Adviseries] should be conducted in a manner to provide the maximum support to each individual student.

What form that takes or what changes should be considered versus how it is currently structured is what we have asked our staff and administration to review and recommend to the board.”

Assistant Superintendent for Student Services Timothy Hayes believes advisery is a cornerstone of the school.

“For students, it provides an advocate at New Trier who knows you and can help support your academic, social, and emotional growth. For parents, it provides a single point of contact to help them navigate the complexity of our school. For staff members, it provides the opportunity to know students more completely and to have a comprehensive understanding of the whole school,” he said.

The survey generally showed an upward trend of positive results from freshman year to junior year. These results showed that freshman and juniors are 59% and 64% satisfied with the adviser system, respectively.

The Board of Education also held focus groups where students, parents and staff could talk about their views on the adviser program.

“[The Adviser Program] has and continues to serve students and their families well. The Hanover Research report evidenced a high level of student/parent/Adviser satisfaction but also identified several areas for improvement that the Board will be focused on in the near future,” said Robitaille.

Students generally felt their advisers help them grow. One student, during a focus group, said “my adviser won’t do stuff for me. He’ll tell me the steps I need to do in order to get something done.”

“Advisery has taught me to get along with a lot of different people even if they’re not in my group,” said another student from the focus group.

One of the topics reviewed was gender-specific advisories. The Board of Education weighed the pros and cons of having gender-specific adviseries.

The pros were that gender-specific adviseries have provided comfort to students and encouraged better discussion in gender-specific settings, especially since the school is mixed-gender.

An adviser in the focus group said, “I love it. The female experience is very different than the male experience.”

The cons were that it could marginalize students, especially in the LGBTQ+ community. Another con was that gender-specific programs can be unrealistic and unproductive because our society isn’t gender specific.

A student was reported saying, “we have [a] progressive curriculum [and] an outdated system that enforces a biological binary.”

However, a future change is still uncertain. Hayes does not see a “clear consensus from students, staff, or parents who were surveyed and participated in focus groups.”

“We recommended to the Board of Education that this should be a topic for the strategic planning process that New Trier will begin next year,” he said.

The goal is to help every student. “I hope students gain a sense of self and of belonging to the broader NTHS community,” said Robitaille. “I hope students feel advisery is a place they can reliably connect with fellow students and the Adviser to help NTHS feel like a more personalized, more manageable school.”

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