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Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy day to visit our blog. We would like to invite you to contribute your ideas related to professional development in this forum. We hope to offer all teachers at BHS the opportunity to have input in the PD you are experiencing this year, and to reflect on ideas and practices of our outstanding faculty.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Below is a letter from Pasquale Scuderi outlining his support for voting in support of our current 8 days of advisory.  Please provide your own thoughts in the comments section below.

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Over the past two years, we have been implementing an advisory program as a means to accomplish what I believe are some very important goals for our students.  As a strategy, advisory has supported us in making sure that for the first time ever at BHS that all students have had the opportunity to sit down with an adult and their peers to consider their academic progress towards CSU-UC eligibility, post-secondary plans, course selection, and get and give advice across grade levels.
On Monday morning the entire BHS staff will gather in the library at 8:00 a.m. sharp to vote on advisory for the 12–13 school year. BFT will facilitate that vote
The current proposal jointly submitted by the teacher leadership and the administrative team is for a continuation of eight (8) days of advisory in the 2012-2013 school year.
I have often expressed my support and belief in both the current program and future potential of the advisory program here at Berkeley High School and so I will attempt to be brief in summarizing why I believe the current program should continue. (moved next two paragraphs to the end)
In the long term, Advisory is a strategy to impact four specific outcomes:
1.    Increase UC-CSU eligibility by helping students plan and monitor their academic progress.
2.    Increase graduation rates through increased personalization and academic progress monitoring and support.
3.    Increased rates of post-secondary education and training through goals 1 and 2 above as well as supporting students to take a multi-year look towards their futures each year.
4.    Increased personalization as a goal in and of itself. We know that a single strong relationship with an adult can have significant impact on a student’s future.
In addition to monitoring the annual goals of advisory, we will continue to measure progress on the long-range outcomes. 
The primary reason I continue to believe in our current program and its future promise and potential is that it offers a systemic rather than a fragmented way to convey essential information on post-secondary planning to all of our students regardless of their background, socioeconomic status, or level of academic readiness.
Depending on pockets or isolated programs in the school to get students and families the information they require and help them conduct the self-analysis and planning they are now getting in the advisory program is a fragmented strategy. With the advisory program, all of our kids get a guaranteed channel of access to the information and outcomes.  This is a systemic strategy, one with far more potential in terms of equity. 
Thus far, our program has given all students at BHS the opportunity to create an academic five-year plan. The program has also allowed us to reach out and ensure for the first time ever that all BHS students have the opportunity to understand A–G requirements, and to identify and analyze their progress towards meeting those requirements. The advisory program has also continued to calendar an annual designated time and place for students to go through the course catalog with an adult, and to discuss with that adult and their peers, their class choices for the following year. The program provides a space where students have a designated adult who can check in with them on a monthly basis, thus increasing personalization and furthering our efforts to have each of our students connected to at least one adult on campus.
As we did last year, we will incorporate the feedback we receive from surveys and individual teacher input into the design of the advisory lessons for 2012-13 and will continue to be mindful that our stated outcomes and objectives are properly designed and aligned with current capacities in mind. 
While we are realistic about the impact that eight advisory sessions can have, I believe that with fidelity of implementation, we will see measurable benefits. However limited an impact advisory can have in so few meetings, it does play a role in helping BHS become more comprehensive and confident in its ability to explicitly articulate where it has generated growth for students as well as be a welcoming, caring, and personalized place where all students stay connected.
In 2012-13, advisory will remain focused on four long-term school-wide measurable outcomes: increased personalization, increase graduation rates, increased UC/CSU eligibility and increased rates of post-secondary education and training.
As you consider and discuss your vote on advisory over the next few days please keep in mind that we are asking for your vote in support of not just advisory as a program, but to an ongoing commitment to making sure that a structure for communicating post-secondary planning, post-secondary requirements, and personalized connections to staff exists for all students on campus.
Pasquale Scuderi


  1. My two cents:

    1) I think some of the advisory lessons are winners and some need to be improved. It would be great to hear from people who have modified lessons and had success. If we can get eight winning lessons then we are looking a lot stronger for advisory overall.

    2) With only eight meetings a year it's hard to build a sense of community with a depth that would be helpful towards the goals of advisory. I really hope keeping the same group with the same staff member as much as possible through the years is made a priority. Imagine a group that is together into their junior and senior year with advisory being the only clear thread of academic community and continuity in their high school career. I think that group versus the one that is just getting to know each other will have a lot more to offer each other.

    1. I agree with CDY that some of the Advisory sessions are better than others. Personally I feel the most successful/important sessions were "Decision Making Scenarios", Course Selection and the inter-grade pairings.

      I also agree that if advisory is to continue that it would be beneficial to keep students with their same advisor and cohort for the entirety of their high school career as this will facilitate community at Berkeley High.

      One recommendation that I have is for the counselors to explain the course selection and graduation requirements to the teachers during one of the Monday PD sessions. My students often had questions about course selection and graduation requirements that I probably could have answered if I was informed as to what they were.

      Jeremy Krefft
      Advanced Biology and Integrated Science
      Academic Choice