Summit County: Mixed feelings about SHS schedule revisions
summit daily news
Scheduling changes are being examined at Summit High School, and even though the effort is meant to provide an environment that fosters enhanced achievement, it’s being met with mixed emotions from staff and students.
High school administrators have been working for more than a year with a group of parents, students, staff, community members and more to research the schedules of the state’s 25 highest-performing schools. They aim to pull the best practices to meet school-improvement goals identified during the process.
“It’s been a lot of hard work,” SHS assistant principal Gretchen Nies said.
Nies outlined the top priorities to achieve through a revised schedule, which would go into place in the 2011-12 school year. One goal is to provide opportunities for students to get additional time with content areas and teachers for either extra help or accelerated work – known as “response to instruction.”
There’s also the need to continue programs such as elite athletes, fine arts, special education and more while also keeping the students enrolled in core classes. Modifications to graduation requirements that will maintain a “challenging senior year with greater preparedness for post-secondary success” are also part of the equation, Nies said. She added that adjusting classroom time from eight 90-minute blocks to some blocks and some regular, shorter periods that meet more frequently is something the new schedule could address.
“We’re working on how to utilize a delivery model that would meet the needs of a diverse student population and a diverse number of classes,” SHS principal Drew Adkins said.
The scheduling team plans to present the best scheduling option at the Jan. 11 Summit School District Board of Education meeting.
“Nothing is going to be perfect,” Nies said.
The most ideal schedule appears to be a modified seven- or eight-period block option, Nies said, which would maintain some 90-minute blocks for more time-intensive classes while opening up the schedule to shorter classes that can meet three times per week.
Monday early release for staff professional development is one thing that likely won’t change, Nies said, because there’s a variety of potential effects on transportation, bus routes and the greater community.
“We would want to have a lot more conversation with the community to get a feel for what would work,” Nies said.
However, the proposed schedule still poses some challenges.
“Some of our ideals create direct conflict with the others,” Nies said.
In particular, adjusting graduation requirements and the associated schedule could directly interfere with the elite athlete practice times, some students say. They’ve been experiencing some testing of new schedule components in the past few weeks.
Currently, such students earn physical education credit for the last period of the day. With 64 opportunities to earn 50 credits, they have the leeway to not be enrolled in a core class during that time. But for other students who complete their core classes by the end of their junior year, it could translate to an overly laid-back senior year.
If the schedule moved from eight periods to seven, students end up with 56 opportunities to earn their credits and must be more focused, engaged and challenged each semester, Nies said.
“Personally, I don’t know if I really like it because as an elite athlete it might change the scheduling for ski racing,” junior Ellie Hartman said.
She and junior classmate Miranda Sheely said there could be benefits to having two lunches instead of three, but those two periods may have to be longer to allow time for more students to get their lunch and eat it.
And as for the varied class length, the girls had mixed feelings, because some classes would meet more frequently, potentially meaning more homework assignments.
“It would be interesting, but I think we’d adapt to it nicely,” Hartman said.
Sheely said she could see where the changes could help improve student achievement, particularly by offering more frequent classes.
But from what Sheely can see, not many students are eager to change from the green day/white day schedule that’s been in place for years.
“I think a lot of people don’t really want (the schedule) to change,” Sheely said.
According to Nies, with such mixed emotions and with challenges that no one schedule can fix, a change would not be easy.
For more info on the ongoing scheduling discussion, visit http://bit.ly/e5GNTU.
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