School board chooses new schedule for Summit High School
Summit Daily News
Summit High School now has a new schedule template, after Summit Schools Board of Education members approved the seven-period modified block schedule on Tuesday evening.
The change is being made as a tool to promote higher achievement in the school, principal Drew Adkins said, though he said it takes quality instruction to really make a difference.
Vice principal Gretchen Nies said it’s something to work with, as there will be minor tweaks made to try to get it as close to perfect as possible. In particular, high school officials need to figure out how to best approach having more than 200 minutes per week of access time – time where students can meet with teachers to get extra help, receive enrichment, serve as a peer tutor, or receive rewards such as playing basketball or relax and watch TV – without it being viewed as free time by students.
J Kent McHose and Alison Casias voted against the seven-period modified block schedule, with McHose primarily supporting two other schedule options that would provide more instructional time – the waterfall schedule and a 3-by-7 schedule, both of which have classes meeting four times per week instead of three times in the modified block version.
“I’m not OK with reducing instructional time 242 minutes a week,” McHose said. “It’s not a positive step.”
Nies pointed out that instructional time will increase from current levels regardless of the chosen schedule – the modified block schedule has classes meeting three times per week. She also assured board members that attendance is taken during access periods, so students should be accounted for no matter what they’re doing.
Adkins acknowledged that by allowing such flexibility in the schedule, board members are asking high school staff to take on significant responsibility.
“I’m not saying it wouldn’t be a challenge and that we wouldn’t have work to do,” he said, later adding, “It puts huge accountability on us … to make some gains and make (access) impactful on students.”
Another item to consider is how those same access periods could be used by some students to add an eighth class, likely an elective, to their schedules while still taking advantage of the access periods. Many board members supported giving students – particularly those pursuing the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme and are given limited options as the program expands – the option to include more electives in their schedules, whether it’s during the bonus eighth period or during the optional zero period before school.
“It’s an opportunity for students to take a class they want to take but (the Diploma Programme) is not letting them,” student liaison Amanda Moore said.
However, teachers and officials will have to work together to adjust offerings so they fit in the schedule – such as perhaps providing club orchestra during access periods.
The decision somewhat concludes two years of work researching schedules from Colorado’s high-achieving schools and adjusting them to fit Summit High’s needs. Nies and Adkins said the tough work now begins to make tweaks that best address those needs.
Nies said it’s nice to have something customized to the district, though Adkins pointed out that nothing’s perfect – there will still be shortfalls in the new schedule.
Adkins presented the seven-period modified block schedule as the one preferred by scheduling committee members and staff – though staff and students were split in terms of support for the three schedules.
“We wanted to make as much of an informed decision as possible … It’s been awhile since the schedule has been modified,” Adkins said, adding that Nies took the schedule to student groups and students during the three lunches for feedback.
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