Curriculum alignment continues to be a thorn in the side of District 86 parents and administration

Hinsdale Township High School District 86 is one of the highest rated school districts in Illinois with a consistently higher graduation rate and performance metrics when compared to the rest of the state.

According to the Illinois Report Card, an annually released report by the Illinois State Board of Education that tracks and assesses public school performance, District 86 has a 92% graduation rate, low absenteeism and test scores that outperform the state average.

However, the district wide numbers hides the fact that one of the two schools in the District 86′s shows a higher performance level than the other.

These discrepancies can be partially attributed to a higher percentage of low-income and homeless students in Hinsdale South, but also highlights what some students and parents describe as an unfair choice of curriculum between the two schools.

More courses are offered at Hinsdale Central than Hinsdale South and for years schools’ staff and board members have looked into aligning the core curriculum at both schools.

In 2019 the district aligned the science curriculum at both schools to follow the same sequencing, and in May 2023 the Social Studies department made alignment recommendations of their own.

Those changes were put on pause and ultimately voted down by the school board in October after backlash from an outspoken group of parents within Hinsdale Central’s boundary.

The topic of curriculum alignment did not stay dead for long, during an academic committee meeting Thursday Jan. 18, the topic was recommended for discussion at the next week’s board meeting.

“I encourage this committee to carefully think about the risks and liability of denying a large group of Hinsdale South students access to a course with demonstrated college value,” Adolph Galinski, the father of an incoming Hinsdale South student, said during Jan. 18’s meeting.

Hinsdale South and Hinsdale Central attendance is separated by a boundary line striking east across 63rd Street, south along Kingery Highway and between the border of Willowbrook and Burr Ridge along Plainfield Road.

This boundary determines what public high school students within the district can attend and the kinds of classes they can take.

Hinsdale Central is regularly touted as one of the best public schools in Illinois, in 2023 the state recorded it having a 96% graduation rate, well above state and nation, it also boasts a large student body with 2,419 students enrolled as of last year.

On the other side of the district’s border Hinsdale South has a graduation rate of 84%, three points below the state average, and a smaller student population than Hinsdale Central at 1,322 enrolled in 2023.

Assistant Superintendent, Jason Markey, voiced his support for curriculum alignment Thursday, but said vocal support by the board is critical if it is to be taken seriously.

“We stand behind the foundation of why this alignment has been worked on,” Markey said.

Board member and Chair of the Academic Committee, Asma Akhras has come out as one of the strongest proponents of curriculum alignment, voting in favor of the social studies changes shot down in October and recommending further discussion on the matter.

“We’re bringing in the best of the best with all our staff collaborating together to be able to create that alignment so every student in D86 has the same opportunity,” Akhras said Thursday “I know it is in the best interest of every student.”