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Representatives attend Stanford Challenge Success session

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A team of representatives from Oak Park High School was sent to Stanford University to discuss results from the Challenge Success Survey for the second time since 2013 on Sept. 15, 2017. The team, comprising various members of the faculty, deliberated on issues such as student stress and course workload.

The Challenge Success Survey is a questionnaire that has been administered by an organization at Stanford University since July 2007.  According to the Challenge Success website, the survey itself comprises sections designed to assess “students’ perspectives on homework, extracurricular activities, sleep, physical health, stress, parent expectations, academic engagement, academic integrity and teacher support.”

In October 2013, the school sent a group of delegates to Stanford to learn new strategies that could enable the school to help students efficiently manage their school and home life.

The district participated in the Stanford Challenge Success Survey as part of a broader goal to help students cope with both the difficulties of school as well as extra-curricular activities.

I think it opens a lot of things up for discussion to see what things could be done to create a healthier, more meaningful and more productive learning environment for students.”

— Todd Creason

The Challenge Success program initiatives align with many of the school policies that have been in place since before the survey itself was administered.

“Challenge Success aligns with some of our goals regarding reducing student stress for students in high achieving schools like ours. Many of the things Challenge Success recommends for students we were already doing,” Buchanan said. “They recommend support periods, block schedules, peer counseling groups, homework policies and guidelines and looking at prerequisites for entrance into advanced placement courses.”

After the initial study conducted at both Oak Park High School and Medea Creek Middle School, the district instigated several changes in order to help ease student workload during the school year.

“Three of the things that came out of [the survey] were that we developed homework guidelines, we changed our school calendar to allow school finals to be conducted before the winter break and now we have a district policy of having no homework over the [winter] break,” Buchanan said.

The new team, comprising senior and Associated Student Body president Meghan Cleary, counselor Jennifer Charrett, social science department chair Todd Creason, assistant principal Jason Meskis and Parent Faculty Association president Julie John, went to Stanford to discuss new ways in which the school can help reduce stress among students.

“Reduction in homework, more meaningful homework and mental health issues were the majority of the topics they were focusing on,” Creason said. “I think it opens a lot of things up for discussion to see what things could be done to create a healthier, more meaningful and more productive learning environment for students.”

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