Friday, May 27, 2016

Is District Moving Quickly on 24-Credit Plan?

A reader alerted me to this discussion at the HCC blog:
These talking points come from one of our commenters:
I've chatted with some board members on the subject and it sounds like the high school changes are fairly far along with no alternatives even on the table. So time is short to make improvements here. The recommendation was to send mail pointing out problems with the plan. I'll also summarize all the comments here in a letter to the board at a point when there are enough to makes sense.
The district is considering changing all high schools to a 5 period, 3 trimester schedule (3x5) as a means of helping students meet the new 24-credit graduation requirement in WA State. Instead of a classes meeting 180 days a year for 6 periods a day, classes would meet 120 days a year for 5 periods a day. In theory, students would have the ability to take more classes per year and thereby increase their opportunities to meet the 24-credit graduation requirement. In reality, the 3x5 schedule poses many challenges, and may limit the class options for students.
Link to district page. 

I suggest going to Director Burke's community meeting tomorrow at Greenwood Library from 10am-noon and asking him about this.

101 comments:

kellie said...


A cardinal rule of project management is to state the problem in such a way so that you can examine solutions in light of the simple question, "Does ___ solution, solve ___ problem."

Changing from a 12 semester year to a 15 trimester year does not solve the increased state graduation requirements in any meaningful way. An equally ineffective plan would simple be to declare all high school classes to now be 1.25 credits instead of 1.0 credits. That will get you to the number 24 faster but fails to provide the increased instruction that the was intended with the not-so-new graduation requirements.

The real problem here is that high school is woefully underfunded - both by State of Washington and by the WSS. Any meaningful increase in high school credit can only come from additional resources at high school. This plan just divides a too-small-pie even smaller.

Therefore the real answer - provide more money at high school so that the master schedule is robust enough to provide 24 credits. Interestingly, this option is not in the report.

Anonymous said...

There is no way a 5 period day will work the the IB program.

Ingraham Parent

stuart jenner said...

I think Highline has had a positive process of looking at alternatives. We looked at having 4 classes one day, and another 4 the other. This would alternate. Students could then earn 32 credits per year. We also looked at some other options too. 7 periods a day would result in shorter time per class, and also more time spent on passing between classes. 3x 5 has been used in the Yakima area. Not sure they are an IB school district. block semesters of 4 classes per semester was dropped several years ago at Highline HS. Aviation High School has a 6 period day, but with block schedules on some days. That model might be good with 7 subjects too.

Anonymous said...

The 3x5 schedule suggestion should not have gotten to the recommendation phase. It would create many more problems than it would solve.

-HS parent

Cynical today (aka Maureen) said...

Kellie didn't recommend this but why not just declare all high school classes to now be 1.25 credits instead of 1.0 credits? Seems like there would be less negative impact and the "positive" effect (kids can fail more classes before we have to spend money to help them) would be the same.

Anonymous said...

What doesn't compute for me is how the same number of teachers would serve the same number of students in a 3x5 schedule vs the current 2x6 schedule. If teachers have a load of 150 students, and they are teaching 4/5 of the time (4 out of 5 periods) under a 3x5 schedule, but currently teach 5/6 of the time (5 out of 6 periods) under a 2x6 schedule, wouldn't classes need to be larger, or more teachers need to be hired? Currently, teachers have an average load of 5 classes of 30 students each. With a 3x5 schedule, teachers would have 4 classes of 38 students each. If you did not want to increase class sizes (aren't we trying to reduce class sizes?) they would need to hire more teachers, and have more classrooms. But we don't have more classrooms! If they need to hire more teachers, why not just add a zero period for those that need it?? SPS high schools do not have the capacity to increase the number of classrooms.

The proposal of a 3x5 schedule also assumes students will fail. It is allowing students to fail. Is that the culture that SPS should be supporting? Why not focus more on keeping students in school and providing supports to help them pass? It would punish those that are staying in school and doing the work - they would get fewer course options, larger classes, and watered down content.

Teachers should be loudly saying no to this proposal - every single course would need to rework their curriculum to compress those 180 days into 120 days. Actually, they would need to create 60 day units, as there is no guarantee they would be teaching both trimesters of a given course. What a nightmare. A teacher might have the second trimester of a class that was taught by another teacher for 1st trimester. Bad for teachers and students.

-HS parent

Anonymous said...

Fewer number of teaching days will more greatly impact when there is a lost day--testing days; sick days. How would they split AP classes? I don't know the answer to that question. Why not add a 7th period so everyone can have more choices?
NEmom

Anonymous said...

I agree with Ingraham Parent. The 3X5 plan would effectively cripple the IB diploma program. Here is why.

To be diploma candidates, students must take three one-year standard level (SL) classes and three two-year higher level (HL) classes. They must also take Theory of Knowledge (TOK). It is not practical for students to take HL or SL classes for just two trimesters, even with slightly extended class periods, because of the high demands of preparing students for the rigorous exams that occur in May. I say this from experience. In addition, it's quite possible the IB organization would not even allow IB classes to be offered for only two trimesters. Thus, a typical schedule for an IB diploma candidate might look like this:

1st year of full IB
1. First year of an HL class (three trimesters).
2. First year of an HL class (three trimesters).
3. First year of an HL class (three trimesters).
4. SL class (three trimesters).
5. Electives (three trimesters).
6. Theory of Knowledge (two trimesters before or after school).

2nd year of full IB
1. Second year of HL class (three trimesters).
2. Second year of HL class (three trimesters).
3. Second year of HL class (three trimesters).
4. SL class (three trimesters).
5. SL class (three trimesters).
6. Theory of Knowledge (two trimesters before or after school).

Please note that in the second year of IB, students would not be able to take any electives. That means no orchestra, ASB, drama, and so on. I would not recommend such a schedule to any student, and I doubt many parents and students would want it. So that is why I conclude that 3X5 would mean the end of IB in the Seattle School district.

Do I believe that the district will ultimately let this happen? No, I do not. The School Board is going to get an earful about this proposal, and I don't see the Board acceding to the demise of Seattle's IB programs.

David Edelman

Anonymous said...

Will the Board get an earful before the district spends time and money on what should be a nonstarter? Let's hope so. Speak up now, parents.

I wouldn't put it past the district to end IB in SPS. They already fail to fund it. What support does the district provide now? It is school and parent driven.

-HS parent

Anonymous said...

Excellent analysis above by all! I see the 30 credit solution as no solution at all, and as raising new problems.

Beyond the impacts on scheduling, class sizes, teacher load, IB, etc., is the impact on student mindset. First, it is not difficult to muster a "D" in a class. If a student is failing, it is likely that the student is not showing up and not doing any work, as even poor quality work can result in a passing grade. Retooling the entire system for these students is not going to solve these students' problems, which run deeper than not having enough "tries" to pass. And students on the margin, the ones who are motivated to pass, but just, are going to figure out that they can completely blow off and fail 6 classes over the course of their HS time. If student can blow off 6/30 or 20% of his/her credits, then teacher resources and classroom seats (in a district with major HS capacity issues looming) are wasted up to 20% of the time. Given the scarce resources of the district, this is mind-bogglingly inefficient.

Makes more sense to leave the system as it is and focus on changing the behavior of those students at risk for failing to show up and do a little work, and also give them a chance for credit recovery, such as a zero period. The thought of a zero period might even motivate them to get enough assignments turned in for a pass.

HS mom

Anonymous said...

This makes no sense at all. If the increased graduation requirements just mean that students get more credits for less class time, what is actually changing. Not rigor. Not more instruction. Not more learning. It is a completely empty change. The only way to add more instruction to the schedule is to have longer school days, ie 7th period, or longer school year.

Also, if every AP class has to be the first 2 trimesters, what do those teachers teach during the 3rd trimester? Band? I would be very interested to see staff put together a schedule using the 3x5 for 1600 students with 30% of them taking a full load of AP or IB classes. The registrars must be laughing at the thought.

I can't believe this got out of committee.

-Other HSParent

Anonymous said...

For a few years I've heard lots of ideas around the high school and every crazy idea, like this proposal, got shot down pretty quick. The only idea which has survived scrutiny is the 7 period day in which teachers mostly teacher either 1-6 or 2-7 with students usually taking just 6 periods (but 7 if they need to recover credit... or want to graduate early or get support classes). I was expecting some creativity around this (because the admins and some support staff like secretaries/security, in theory, may have longer days and thus need more support such as flex scheduling or more pay). Hopeful there would be a creative good solution - this is creative but not at all good - I'd leave SPS if we tried implementing this ridiculous plan.

I'm pretty sure this schedule will kill IB (not instantly but via destroying passing rates and thus so few will want to do it a natural death will ensue w/in 3-5 years).

RJ

Anonymous said...

Looking into some of the districts using the 3x5 schedule (referenced in the Task Force Report), you'd find:

1) Several schools moved to the 3x5 schedule primarily as a means of saving money, not as a means of improving academic performance,
2) One school has an optional "zero period," effectively creating a 6 period day,
3) One school's pro/con analysis indicated only 6 students were currently taking 5 AP classes (so minimal impact). 6.
4) Eugene is reevaluating their 2012 move to a 3x5 schedule (new superintendent since the change was implemented).

SPS, please just rule out this option now.

-pragmatist

Anonymous said...

KidsStruggle
To the HS mom stating that it is not difficult to muster a "D" in a class and suggesting that students who fail simply are not trying, unless you've had a struggling student in your household or worked with them, this is unhelpful misinformation.

Students fail classes for all sorts of reasons. Yes, some fail because they don't show up and don't try (though it's best to try to figure out WHY they don't show up or try--what is going on in their life that makes that hard--personal issues, family issues, learning disabilities, something else?). But there are plenty of students who fail classes while desperately trying to do the work, and there are huge discrepancies regarding how much work is required to pass a particular class with a particular teacher at a particular school.

Also note that while a D is a passing grade, there is a 2.0 minimum for graduation, so lots of low grades will not get you to graduation. Overall, I'd counsel compassion and help for students struggling with classes.

The ability to get 24 or more credits is about a lot more than students failing classes, too.

Watching said...

Interesting comments from HS Parent and David Edelman. I'm wondering if the 24 credit requirement will impact various academies such as Bio Tech, Maritime etc.

Anonymous said...

No, the 24-credit requirement doesn't have to impact academies such as Bio Tech, Maritime, etc. It also doesn't have to impact AP, IB, etc. It's not the 24-credit requirement, in and of itself, that's the problem--it's how we accommodate the new 24-credit requirement. We could simply add an extra period for students who need it (or everyone). Or add summer school options for course recovery. Or add more supports so students don't fail classes. Or do them all. Those would have no negative impact on current programs, academies, course pathways, etc. Maybe some teachers would be willing to teach 6 periods out of 7 (instead of current 5 of 6) if they could have half-size class sizes for a couple. They'd end up with the same overall student load, plus they's probably finally be able to provide more differentiation and one-on-one instruction--which might be a lot more rewarding. Smaller class sizes for those at risk of not graduating might be really beneficial.

If the issue to solve is that students who fail classes need more opportunities to get their units in, the focus should be on (a) helping students to not fail, and (b) providing more opportunities for that subset of students to recover credits if needed.

I think part of the problem with the way this is unfolding is that the initial survey that was sent out had some very vague and leading questions, and now they are trying to use that as evidence to support the trimester plan. "We told people the 24-credit requirement was going to make it hard for some kids, and people said they wanted more credit opportunities! Look, that's what we've done! We upped it from 24 to 30! And even better, that somehow means less stress and less homework--this 3x5 schedule is like magic!!! P.S. We don't know if it's really feasible, and we do know that there's not a lot of support for this plan, but we're recommending it nonetheless. It's like magic, remember? Yay!"

Crazy Talk

Anonymous said...

Students who fail classes already have ample opportunities to get their units in both through online and summer classes. This is already outlined in detail in the District handbook - which I have read. The options are many. This is a solution looking for a problem.

Furthermore, the impact on IB will be tremendous, it will create a last minute scheduling upheaval and likely destroy the program. Michael Rice was on the committee. He must be aware of this. I cynically believe this could be a madcap attempt by the district to destroy the specialized programs such as IB. They have made it clear that specialized programs cause enrollment/capacity problems for them.

Please keep the communication on this issue open and post means by which we can protest. I agree with "Crazy Talk" that there are other excellent means to assist struggling students that are already codified within the district operations. They just need to be utilized. Instead the idea here is to remove material from the curriculum by shortening class length and instructional days. Instead, let's push for more stability within the district.

-SPS parent

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Crazy Talk. That summed it up quite well.

Perhaps the post should be titled, "There's no magic bullett, SPS"

-abracadabra

Anonymous said...

bullet.

Anonymous said...

We know of two programs that help students succeed when they were at risk of failing. That is Rainier scholars & the Stars program of UW engineering. Both programs give extra instruction & supervised work/practice sessions. That means extra hours at school with instructors. Changing classes to fewer instructional hours in order to assist struggling students seems backward.

HS Parent

Anonymous said...

The 3X5 proposal tries to re-brand the exact same number of minutes in school as being worth more credits, while creating a whole host of new problems. It doesn't solve anything, except making SPS appear to be compliant with Core 24.

I actually feel bad for SPS in this case [except for the fact that they procrastinated on dealing with this - that's classic SPS incompetence], because this is a major unfunded mandate in an already-chronically-underfunded state. What can they really do without more money?

I think they should come up with genuine Plan A (probably something expensive like periods 1-7, where students can take classes 1-6 or 2-7 unless they need to recover credits - with extra buses to support this) and an openly-silly Plan B (make each class worth more credits). Then they can announce that funding constraints force them to go with Plan B until the legislature gets their act together and fully funds education.

I'm getting really tired of schools having to follow all of the legislature's rules, while the legislature itself laughs in the face of Supreme Court rulings. What if schools just followed the legislature's lead and refused to do anything they didn't want to do? Better yet, districts can create parallel "work groups" and "task forces" about implementing these requirements to highlight the absurdity of it all.

-Edulegislate

Maureen said...

Reposting for Anonymous at 10:46. Pick a name. Why not "KidsStruggle"? As perhaps you intended. (Not clear to me from the format.)

Anonymous said...
KidsStruggle
To the HS mom stating that it is not difficult to muster a "D" in a class and suggesting that students who fail simply are not trying, unless you've had a struggling student in your household or worked with them, this is unhelpful misinformation.

Students fail classes for all sorts of reasons. Yes, some fail because they don't show up and don't try (though it's best to try to figure out WHY they don't show up or try--what is going on in their life that makes that hard--personal issues, family issues, learning disabilities, something else?). But there are plenty of students who fail classes while desperately trying to do the work, and there are huge discrepancies regarding how much work is required to pass a particular class with a particular teacher at a particular school.

Also note that while a D is a passing grade, there is a 2.0 minimum for graduation, so lots of low grades will not get you to graduation. Overall, I'd counsel compassion and help for students struggling with classes.

The ability to get 24 or more credits is about a lot more than students failing classes, too.

5/28/16, 10:46 AM

Ramona H said...

Hi, I served on the committee that recommended the 3x5. Yes, it would require a few more positions based on enrollment of about 1000, but over all would reduce the number of students each teacher worked with at any one time. It also offers kids the option of taking 15 courses a year, building in options. There are a lot of comments on this string, but I would be happy to take some time to review them and share what I can about our thinking and rationale.

Anonymous said...

HS Parent at 2:44

That is NOT what Rainier Scholars is. At all. Please take a moment to read what the organization is and who they serve.
http://rainierscholars.org/who_we_serve.html

As for this requirement, I'm so glad to be moving on from SPS. College here we come.

RS Parent

Anonymous said...

@ Ramona,

Can you explain the committee's thinking regarding AP courses? Two trimesters, or the more typical three? And what about band/choir, which are also typically three terms in schools on this schedule?

Also, was the thinking really that the 5 classer per day thing is optional, only for those who need 5? The majority of students could take just four classes per day, resulting in a lot fewer than 1080 hrs?

Di

kellie said...

The 3 x 5 recommendation is fundamentally flawed for a very simple reason.

Core 24 is an un-funded mandate. Core 24 was introduced in 2010. Shortly thereafter, (2013?) the legislature delayed this requirement until there was funding. The WAC was undated with the structure of the funding. However, the dollars have not materialized.

When / if that money arrives, you have the solution, which is the money to pay for additional teachers and additional classes. Re-shuffling the deck chairs just creates more problems with no real added value.

kellie said...

There are so many components to why high school is so poorly funded but here is a very short list. I will try to break this out to State level issues and then the local ones.

Here is on BIG state level issues in addition to the UN-funded nature of Core 24 that makes it challenging to provide enough classes.

The State of Washington funds high school based on average attendance, not the October 1 headcount. This means that on average only 95% of high school students are funded. That is a HUGE amount of money and severely restricts the high school master schedules. - Imagine what the high schools could do with a 5% increase in funding for the same number of students.

This practice was designed to "encourage" districts to prevent drop outs by refusing to fund students who leave mid year. However the practice discriminates equally between drop outs and early gradates and students who need an extra semester for credit retrieval.

It is a hideous practice that means that every high school in the state receives significantly less money that everyone thinks for high school.

kellie said...


There are additional funding issues at the district level that are independent of State level funding.

However, before digging into those issues, it is important to note that they ability to get 24 credits with 24 slots in 4 years is a problem for ALL students, not simply those students who are struggling.

The issues that struggling students face are rather obvious. If you need to get 24 out of 24 credits and you fail to get credit when you are in a class, you fall behind.

However, what is missing in this conversation is that many students are NOT even placed into six classes per day, even when they want six classes. From some quick research there seems to be about 100 students per year at each of the major comprehensive high schools that request but do not receive a sixth class. I discovered this when researching the teacher cut at Garfield in 2015.

One of those "open-secrets" is that students have NEVER been able to reliably get a full six class academic schedule. For the most part, students can get 5 academic classes plus music - band or choir. Because music classes are exempt from the 150 student per teacher ratio, music classes provide all the flexibility at high school.

High School is the Master Schedule and ALL students can only get six classes if everything lines up and because high school is short funded this does not reliably happen.

kellie said...


So back to the District funding issues.

24 credits was first introduced in 2010 without any corresponding State level funding. Funding for 24 credits at high school has been included on every operations levy since then, listed as one of the many un-funded mandates. However, this funding is structured so as to provide ONLY a nominal access to 24 credits.

In other words, high schools are just funded so that there is the *theoretical possibility* of six classes per day but your credits needs must perfectly match the schedule or no 6th class for you.

Back in the day when draconian style cuts were being made the building levels, there were some drastic high school cuts. As funding has been increasing each year, many of the staffing cuts at the elementary level have been restored. However, high schools are still not operating at the pre-recession staffing levels, let alone at staffing levels to provide MORE classes.

That is the first problem to fix. Just get high school back to pre-recession funding and suddenly there will be more credits on the table for students.

kellie said...

And last but not least ... this recommendation completely and utterly ignores any capacity problems.

If you take the same number of students and divide them into FIVE classes instead of SIX classes. Those class sizes must be LARGER or there must be more classes. Just look at the math for the K-3 class size reduction.

Any notion that changing from SIX to FIVE slots is LOGISTICALLY possible is just .... FUBAR.

Anonymous said...

On page 17 of the report from the 24-credit Task Force, the "Task Force recommends that Seattle’s high schools adopt a five-period day, trimester schedule, otherwise known as a 3x5 schedule." Yet, two paragraphs later, the Task Force admits that while they "had the opportunity to weigh the merits of the 3x5 schedule against other schedule options (see below for extensive comparison), the group could not examine fully the feasibility of implementation of the 3x5 across the district."

In other words, the Task Force unequivocally recommends the 3X5 schedule, but doesn't know whether it's feasible across the district. I don't see how their recommendations are defensible if they don't know whether they're feasible.

David Edelman

Anonymous said...

Sorry RS,

I did not mean to be offensive. I see that I implied that Rainier Scholars helps failing students & that is not what I meant. The friends I have who have been part of Rainier scholars were not unmotivated, but had limited ability to succeed in rigorous coursework because of lack of advantages available to students from homes with more resources or parents with more experience to enable success. They were the kind of students often left to struggle in the high school where other parents are helping with trig homework at night. They were able to get additional academic work & guidance supervised by qualified instructors that allowed them to succeed at higher levels than they would have otherwise. I think what Rainier Scholars demonstrates is that increasing academic coaching & practice can boost achievement. I think that most students who are failing could succeed with extra attention like that we see boosting achievement for Rainier Scholars. I did not mean that Rainier Scholars are failing students.

Being a failing student does not mean one is lazy or unintelligent. It could just mean that no one at home can show you how to do footnotes or make flashcards to memorize for a test, so you just stop trying. I don't think cutting hours in each course is a good solution for those students. I think they need more time.

-HS Parent

Anonymous said...

Is it just me, or is the math in the comparison table on p. 21 a little fishy?

For one, 5 70-minute classes is 350 min, plus 30 for lunch and 20 (minimum) for passing periods. That's 400--but our current day is only 390. So they must be using the new 20-min-longer day? If so, let's say 350 for class, 30 for lunch, and 30 for passing (including maybe a short advisory period 1 day/wk). Using the new, longer day, that could then get us to 140 hrs/credit under the proposed 3x5, which matches what they say in the table.

But the comparison to the "current" schedule (the "no change" column) leaves a lot to be desired. Clearly they didn't want to bother figuring out the details, as it might call much attention to how much less instructional time students will get per credit. For the sake of working with the same length school day, let's see how Garfield would look:

Six 60-minute classes is 360 minutes. 30 for lunch, 20 for passing (5 min for each of the inter-class periods, no passing for lunch). That gets us to the new 410 mark. But guess what? 60 minute classes for 18 weeks means 90 instructional hours per term, or 180 instructional minutes.

But while the the current schedule might get a student 180 hrs/credit, the table on p. 21 curiously suggests the current plan is more like 150. That's a huge difference, and very misleading. Is that intentional, or just an oversight/not caring enough to bother?

Compare what would be approx 180 min under the current typical schedule to the likely 140 instructional minutes per credit under the proposed plan. Under the new plan they'll only get 78% of the instructional minutes per credit. I guess they'll also only cover 3/4 of the material?

Little fishy

Anonymous said...

@ kellie, while I agree that the 3x5 plan is a bad idea for many reasons, I'm not following you re: why it requires additional capacity. Why is the number of periods per day a factor in how many classrooms are needed? If you have 1500 students @ 30 students/classroom, don't you need 50 rooms per period, regardless of how many periods there are in the day? You're not dividing students across the day, but throughout the school each period of the day. Class sizes don't necessarily need to be any smaller; teachers just teach fewer periods and thus fewer students, so you need a few extra teachers.

Crazy talk

Anonymous said...

I don't know about the 5x3 needing increased capacity... However the 5x3 is more expensive. The teachers will be teaching 4/5 of the day instead of 5/6. In short: 1 out of 5 on prep period at any one time instead of 1/6.
Numbers Guy

kellie said...

@ crazy talk.

The capacity side of the problem gets sticky pretty quickly, because as you note, ultimately it is really a question of how you divide up a fixed number of rooms and students.

So this most likely means class sizes of 38 instead of 30 in order to keep this resource neutral.

The simple answer is .... if you go with the idea of ONE teacher for ONE classroom, then if you need more teachers, then you need more classrooms. While there is some ability to share homerooms, eventually you run of those options as well. So that is the

This is a variation of my ... the only thing that solves a capacity problem is more capacity. The only thing that solves a resource problem is MORE RESOURCES.

A 3x5 schedule is simply a re-shuffling of the deck chairs that creates an ILLUSION of more resources, by creating a few extra slots on a schedule by making for LARGER class sizes.

The bottom line of this problem is that you need more AUTHENTIC slots on a master schedule to grant more credits. This is smoke and mirrors at best.



Watching said...


"In other words, the Task Force unequivocally recommends the 3X5 schedule, but doesn't know whether it's feasible across the district. I don't see how their recommendations are defensible if they don't know whether they're feasible."

I am in COMPLETE agreement. To me, the district's plan sounds dangerous, chaotic and poorly thought out. There is no way of knowing if teachers will be able to cover class content etc. If anything, the district should consider a pilot of their plan...before attempting to institute a district wide roll=out.

Crazy talk makes a log of sense.

Anonymous said...

No. The 3x5 should not even be piloted. Why pilot something that clearly is not a sound plan?

-pragmatist

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

reposting for anonymous below

Teachers sign petition against 3x5 schedule
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-z5iaR05_A

4J Board Faces High ‘Level of Skepticism’ to Schedule Change
http://www.eugeneweekly.com/article/4j-board-faces-high-%E2%80%98level-skepticism%E2%80%99-schedule-change

And from HCC blog:
My college buddy works at Eugene H. S. The 5x3 schedule is a disaster. They are looking at how to bail from it.
- NP

Melissa Westbrook said...

Readers, I have to commend you all for a sobering and illumination discussion.

There's some irony that some in the legislature complain about voter-elected unfunded initiatives but they have no problem passing legislation that they don't fund.

Anonymous said...

@Kidstruggle, I apologize for my ignorance of kids who really do try and still struggle with the material. I'd like to know what the best support is for them. I wonder if adding 6 extra classes to their load is beneficial, in that it does give them more chances to earn the credits, but also just gives them more classes to manage with no increase in hours in a day to manage them. But I will believe what you tell me might work best for such kids.

I also believe (having seen) there are lots of kids who are completely checked out, and the knowledge that they can blow off 6 classes over the course of HS will not help them focus or get to their 24. Those kids deserve and need different kinds of supports, and I'd rather focus on those supports for those kids and credit retrieval via summer school and zero period.

I think there are too many problems associated with the proposed plan to go forward with it. It's not a good solution for the kids who need help/support/motivation to get to 24 credits, and it causes more problems for the entire system, budget, teachers and students.

HSMom

Anonymous said...

@ kellie, thanks. But why do you say it would take a class size of 38 to keep it resource neutral? The calculation they use on p. 21 for the current model is per 1000 students, with 6 periods, class size of 30, and teachers teaching 5/6 of the day (so student loads of 150). 6000 student-periods per day divided by 150 student-periods per teacher per day results in 40 teachers needed. I'm not saying that's all accurate, but it's how they've calculated the "baseline."

Substituting in the key 3x5 numbers, here's what I get:
5000 student-periods per day, with 40 teachers (resource neutral) teaching 4 periods each day, means each teacher needs to cover 125 students (a bit more than the 120 in the proposal). Those 125 students per teacher would need to be covered during 4 periods (out of 5), so it would take an average class size of 31.25. That's larger than the 30 used in their baseline current model calculations, but nowhere near the 38 you suggest.

Are my calculations somehow wrong, or are you suggesting that their model itself is wrong somehow?

Crazy talk

Anonymous said...

For simplicity sake, consider a teacher that only teaches Algebra 1. Under the current schedule with a student load of 150, they would have 5 classes of 30 students each. If they moved to a 3x5 schedule, and taught those classes only 1st and 2nd trimester, the same students would need to be squeezed into 4 classes of 38 students (150/4). The other option would be to stagger the classes, so one section met 1st and 3rd trimester, and another section met 2nd and 3rd trimester. To fill the teacher's schedule in the 3rd trimester, that same teacher could teach a few sections of slower paced 3 trimester math class, some kind of make up class in the 3rd trimester, or the 1st trimester of another math class that continued in the next year. A staggered schedule creates discontinuities for students and a 3 trimester class would limit the other classes a student could take.

A student that wants to take a year long elective, such as music or drama, would be limited to 2 or 3 AP or IB classes. Example 3x5 schedules (E = elective, courses 1-5 are core classes, including world language):

1 1 * ------ 1 1 *
2 2 * --or-- 2 * 2
3 3 E ------ 3 3 E
4 E 4 ------ 4 E 4
E 5 5 ------ E 5 5

-bad idea

Anonymous said...

@ bad idea, many schools that use the 3x5 schedule do stagger classes, even core classes. In fact, I think the schedule ONLY works out the way the 24-credit task force committee "thinks" it does if classes are staggered. There's no way they were accounting for core classes only being offered first and second trimesters. They acknowledge that it takes more teachers to keep class sizes constant, though they claim not many more... Since students already don't come in neat 150-student blocks (or however many of a particular class a teacher would teach), I don't know that the staggered/discontinuous schedule necessarily means larger class sizes either.

Under 3x5, a teacher could teach Alg I to MORE students over a multi-year period. The Alg 1 teacher's schedule might look like this:

Al1gA prep Alg1B
Al1gA Alg1B prep
Al1gA Alg1B Al1gA
Al1gA Alg1B Al1gA
prep Al1gA Al1gB

They could get FIVE 30-student classes worth of students through a year's worth of Alg 1 (so same as now), PLUS another 60 kids could start Alg1 (and then finish the following year). Theoretically this type of schedule allows students to take 3 yrs worth of x over the course of 2 yrs.

Crazy talk

Anonymous said...

So a student finishing 2 quarters of Algebra would have 140 hours of class time compared to 180 hours of algebra class time now. Is that correct? Still not seeing how that helps improve algebra skills for borderline students.

-HS Parent

kellie said...

@ crazy talk,

The "baseline" you reference from the report is the same baseline that is effectively used to fund high school currently. So this model that is the baseline is the same model that generates a master schedule where 5-10% of students are NOT able to get six periods currently.

IMHO, that invalidates the entire math in the report but ... let's presume that it is acceptable baseline and try to answer your question.

Sometimes the simpler the logic, the better. There is NO magic way to slice and dice the same resources and get a bigger pie. You only get smaller chucks. Sometimes the smaller chunks can be arranged more elegantly or in a better deployed manner but the TOTAL RESOURCES is still same, in order to be RESOURCE NEUTRAL.

The "math" in their report ONLY works because there are a lot of empty places on the new schedule.

At the moment there are 12 slots per year and a student must fill 12/12. Under the 3/5 plan, there are 15 slots and students are filling 12/15 slots. This math NECESSITATES that there are THREE empty slots in a students schedule per year, without any regard for the intricate process of smoothing out three EMPTY classes to load balance course loads over the year.



kellie said...

The REAL problem is that you need to have 5-10% in-efficiency in the system in order to get the APPROPRIATE FIT between the classes and services provided by staff to the students that need that particular service.

The math and the logic in the report is fundamentally flawed, because it is not looking at all of the elements that comprise a master schedule.

The bottom line is the situation is that High School is the Master Schedule and a Master Schedule by its very nature is does NOT work at 100% efficiency. There needs to be some "empty space" in the schedule in order for things to work and empty space requires more resources. The empty space in the 3x5 structure is created by GAPS in the students schedules.

This is exactly the same as the current system. Currently the empty space is provided by the simple fact that only 21 credits, not 24 credits are requires for graduation. This means that 42 semesters out of the total of 48 semesters needs to be filled and those 42 slots can be filled by direct instruction at the high school, online classes or Running starts.

In any resource neutral situation, we are ONLY shifting the types of gaps and sizes of the slices. If you want MORE services, you need MORE resources.

Anonymous said...

@ kellie, so what you're saying is that we'd have the same scheduling problems under 3x5 that we do now? That it only works now because students only need 21 of the 24, and it would only work in the 3x5 because students would only need 24 of the 30? That makes sense--in which case I agree it's just rearranging deck chairs...and then relabeling them so that more students hit the magical new number of 24.

It also means a student graduating with 24 credits is getting a lot less instruction than a student graduating with 24 now, and even less than a student graduating with 21 now (since you can skip/fail 20% of the possible credits under 3x5, vs. only 12.5 % now).

Crazy talk

Meg said...

@kellie

it sounds a lot as if changing to a trimester system would temporarily hide the real problem: lack of money.

It wouldn't improve student learning, because it won't actually increase time in the classroom, and the way to help that is with more money.

It wouldn't ease teacher loads, because the way to do that is with more money.

But it WOULD make it APPEAR as if students are getting more, when they aren't.

Is that about right?

kellie said...

Yes, both Crazy Talk and Meg have it exactly right.

Under a 3x5 system a student with "24 credits" with have substantially LESS instruction than what they get now with 24 credits. The same would be 30 credits.

It ONLY makes it APPEAR as if students are getting more but ... with the same amount of minutes in the day and the same student teacher ratio what they really get is the same.

Anonymous said...

In that case it seems easier to keep the current 6 period schedule & just give 1 credit for each semester class instead of .5 credits. That way students can get 24 of 48 credits in 4 years. Students will have lots of chances to meet requirements, they will be way ahead of the game. And the scheduling should be easier.

-Humpf

Anonymous said...

I love the idea that has been suggested twice in previous comments. Let's just declare that all courses are now worth more credits and be done with it. Let's NOT completely revamp the school year schedule to the detriment of AP, IB and the majority of students based on this ridiculous new mandate.

The legislature threw the new requirement at us with no funding and no discourse, so responding with a redefinition of terms would be an appropriate and deserved response. Done.

-Seattle Parent

Anonymous said...

For a 2x6 schedule, teachers teach 5/6 of the day; for a 3x5 schedule, teachers teach 4/5 of the day. To cover the school day in a move to a 3x5 schedule, you'd need a 4% increase in teaching staff (and classrooms, assuming their planning period is in their classroom).

For a high school with 1600 students, and 32 students per class, you'd need to increase the number of teachers from 60 to 62.5.

1600 students/32 students per class = 50 classrooms

50/(5/6) = 60 teachers
50/(4/5) = 62.5 teachers

Of course this is an oversimplification, as classes are not in perfect packages of 32 students and scheduling is much more complicated, but it shows the change is not cost neutral. If more teachers need to be hired...why not just leave the schedule as is, and accept that more teachers and/or support staff need to be hired?

-doesn't compute

Anonymous said...

@ doesn't compute, the task force recommendation acknowledges that their proposal is not cost neutral. I think the Superintendent mentioned that as well. The table on p. 21 shows that that approx 1.6 additional teacher FTEs are needed per 1000 students, so that's consistent with your calculation.

Hopefully the fact that we don't have the money to fund this will be enough to keep it from happening, since we all know the district rarely listens to the wisdom of parents...

Crazy talk

Anonymous said...

Ramona was repeatedly told of the problems with Core 24 when she led the PTAs endorsement of it. Struggling students don't benefit from additional and more standardized burdens to meaningful graduation. Colleges and high schools ALREADY offer remediation, ways to back fill skills deficits, and opportunities to rejoin educational advancement for anybody interested. Advanced students already have lots of opportunities to take advanced classes that prepare them for post secondary education. Who benefits from Core24? Absolutely nobody except standardized curriculum providers. Also whiter, wealthier populations - because they have yet another tool, graduation, in the white privilege toolbox to "prove" entitlement. The ridiculous 3x5 scheduling, where students get longer periods of less effective instruction - but fewer overall hours is more of the same. Let me guess, IB and AP will be exempted.

When is this supposed to start? 2016-17?

Parent

Anonymous said...

Isn't the 3x5 schedule an all or none proposal? Having it at just some schools would create issues for students moving between schools (and wouldn't be considered equitable), and a school needs to have one master schedule - they couldn't "exempt" just IB and AP. All high schools offer AP courses, and a 3x5 schedule would limit access to those courses, partly because a 3x5 schedule requires some classes to be staggered and AP courses would need to taught in the 1st and 2nd trimesters. The year long AP Government class taught at Garfield (it's typically a semester) would probably no longer exist under the 3x5 schedule.

http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/education/less-lecturing-more-doing-new-approach-for-ap-classes/

It does not seem any student benefits from the 3x5 schedule. All courses would be compressed into a lesser version of what we have now. It seems equally bad for all students. As far as standardized curriculum, it's meant for a standard school year. Under a 3x5 schedule, all teachers would need to rework the standard curriculum to fit a nonstandard time frame. I can't imagine any school principal wanting this change for their school.

It's my understanding the proposal is supposed to be considered for possible implementation in 2017-18 ('cause changing the start times for all schools wasn't enough disruption...).

-bad idea

Anonymous said...

Add to the list of cons for a 3x5 schedule:

- It would disproportionately impact the most mobile students. It would be much more difficult for students to transition into or out of our district, without disrupting their current pathway of courses. What does a student do if they start midyear, and have missed 2/3 of the class already? It would certainly be hard to catch up. What about a class that was split between spring of one year and fall of the next? A student starting in the fall simply couldn't access that class. And who are typically the most mobile students? The lower income students with less secure housing.

-bad idea

Eric B said...

Ramona,

Since you asked for questions...

How does the new schedule accommodate AP and IB classes with testing in May?
Is Core 24 actually required, or are we just banking that the state may someday get around to funding McCleary and we'd have to do something then?
How do teachers get the same amount of material in to the 3x5 classes as they presently do in 2x6 schedule when there are significantly fewer classroom hours per credit? *
Has a prototypical master schedule been prepared for a sample high school to show how this would work in practice (especially with AP and IB)?
If so, have prototypical schedules been prepared for sample students, showing how they would meet the requirements?
Did the task force consider any other options like credit retrieval, replicating successful existing 9th grade supports, 7th period for those who need them, etc.?

* Note: I asked this at the Ballard meeting on this topic. Your answer then was basically that having longer periods makes the classroom time more effective and that the math all works out. Frankly that sounds like magical thinking, so maybe you could go into more depth to explain?

Magical Thinking said...


"Ramona was repeatedly told of the problems with Core 24 when she led the PTAs endorsement of it"

Ramona finally came out in support of charter schools. She keeps thinking the law could be amended to work. I have no faith in her leadership.




Magical Thinking said...

It appears this plan would create an enormous amount of work for teachers. I'm not convinced our students would be provided with instructional time needed to cover content etc.

Why revamp our entire system? Why not create pathways for struggling students?

Lynn said...

This is one of those ideas that is so obviously wrong it's difficult to understand who could support it.

A student preparing for entrance to a four year college should at a minimum have the ability to study an art (visual arts/theatre/music) of their choice, a world language and math all year, every year of high school. That's 36 trimester class periods.

10 class periods for English - two years of pre-AP plus two years of AP classes

10 class periods for social studies - one year of pre-AP plus two years of AP history plus AP US Govt

11 class periods for science - one year of pre-AP plus three AP classes

4 class periods for PE and Health

That's a total of 71 class periods in a trimester schedule that allows only 60.

Lynn said...

To solve the actual problem of students who are unable to pass the classes required to graduate, we need to give them more instructional time.

We could:

Provide summer school or after school classes for students in elementary school who struggle with reading and/or math. Pay actual teachers for these classes - rather than depending on volunteer parental tutors.

Provide summer school or zero hour classes in middle school for students who are not on track to be prepared for high school work.

Provide summer school classes at every high school for struggling students.

Provide zero hour/1st period and 6th/7th period math blocks for students who struggle with math.

Provide zero hour/1st period and 6th/7th period English blocks for students struggling with reading and writing skills.

Provide after school and Saturday homework support/study sessions - staffed with qualified tutors paid for by the district. (Seattle U, UPS, UW education students?)

These additional classes would likely limit a student's ability to participate in extra-curricular activities. If that's a problem for them, they'd be more likely to enroll in summer school classes. If they need to work during the summer and aren't willing to sign up for a longer school day, it will take more than four years to graduate from high school.

kellie said...

Has anyone looked at the impact of thIs change on running start and the total credit load limits?

Right now the part time running start credit max is designed around a semester system. AND running start is what is holding high school capacity together

Lynn said...

I doubt the task force looked at running start. They didn't even consider the repercussions of a 3 X 5 schedule on the AP and IB classes that are held inside our schools.

Anonymous said...

As I understand it, Running Start students can enroll tuition-free in up to 15 college credits, and they are limited to a combined 1.20 FTE when enrolled in both high school and Running Start.

Since it's based on FTEs rather than specific credits (high school plus college), does the actual high school schedule matter re: limits?

Crazy talk

Anonymous said...

Is Ramona coming back to share the task force's thinking on reduced instructional hours and reduced access to advanced classes and electives?

Waiting

Anonymous said...

Class Sizes and Capacity
->If the total number of classes offered in a single class period remains the same, then class sizes must increase. Teacher load goes from 30 per class to 38 per class.
->If the total number of classes offered in a single class period increases, then there is an increased strain on building capacity

Problems with Districts Cited as Examples
->Several schools moved to the 3x5 schedule primarily as a means of saving money, not as a means of improving academic performance,
->One school has an optional "zero period," effectively creating a 6 period day,
->One school's pro/con analysis indicated only 6 students were currently taking 5 AP classes (so minimal impact). Not significant to be used as comparison or support.
->Eugene is reevaluating their 2012 move to a 3x5 schedule (new superintendent since the change was implemented).

Strategic Problems
->Initial survey had vague and leading questions
->Using survey as evidence to support the trimester plan, while survey did not mention this option
->Group says that while they "had the opportunity to weigh the merits of the 3x5 schedule against other schedule options (see below for extensive comparison), the group could not examine fully the feasibility of implementation of the 3x5 across the district."
-> From the report: “the current district leadership structure potentially lacks a point person to oversee the transition to these new requirements and support high school principals directly with implementation and change."

Better Alternatives
->Add a seventh period
->Add a zero period for students who need it
->Add summer school options for course recovery
->Add online options for course recovery
->Add option of two-period English or Math classes for kids who need more instruction (blocked zero/1st period or 6th/7th period)
->Provide summer school or zero hour classes in middle school for students who are not on track to be prepared for high school work
->Add additional supports so students don't fail classes

***********************
(Example 1)
Illustration of how IB does not work in the 3x5 setup:
1st year of full IB (3-trimesters per credit)
1. First year of an HL class (three trimesters).
2. First year of an HL class (three trimesters).
3. First year of an HL class (three trimesters).
4. SL class (three trimesters).
5. Elective (three trimesters).
6. Theory of Knowledge (two trimesters, must meet before or after school).
*if year-long elective is chosen, there is no space for CTE, Health or PE

2nd year of full IB
1. Second year of HL class (three trimesters).
2. Second year of HL class (three trimesters).
3. Second year of HL class (three trimesters).
4. SL class (three trimesters).
5. SL class (three trimesters).
6. Theory of Knowledge (two trimesters before or after school)
*no space for CTE, Elective, Health or PE

Alternate IB Schedule (2-trimesters per credit)
IB classes must be completed before May testing. If IB classes are reduced to 2 trimesters:
they must be completed in Fall and Winter;
students must study for tests independently, on top of Spring course load;
Spring schedule is made up entirely of non-academic courses.

***********************
(Example 2)
Illustration of how a college-prep doesn't work with 3x5 setup:

A student preparing for entrance to a four year college should at a minimum have the ability to study an art (visual arts/theatre/music) of their choice, a world language and math all year, every year of high school.
36 trimester class periods for art/music/drama, world language & math
10 class periods for English - two years of pre-AP plus two years of AP classes
10 class periods for social studies - one year of pre-AP plus two years of AP history plus AP US Govt
11 class periods for science - one year of pre-AP plus three AP classes
4 class periods for PE and Health

That's a total of 71 class periods in a trimester schedule that allows only 60.

****************************

3x5

Anonymous said...

The Running Start question is super important. Currently, there's a direct correlation of 5 college credits to 1 high school credit. For example, if a student takes one quarter of a 5-credit calculus class at a community college, that shows up on the high school transcript as 1 full credit of math.

If the high school credits are so diluted, will this equivalency still stand?

What a mess.

Graduating, gratefully

Anonymous said...

It suspect 5 college credits (quarter system) would continue to equal 1 high school credit, at least for some time. The "one high school credit" idea is based on the typical amount covered in a year-long class, but schools can cover the material more quickly. The State Board of Ed did away with the hours-based high school credit requirement, and now a credit is essentially whatever a school district decides is enough to meet the learning standards.

From the UW website, re: College Academic Distribution Requirements:
CADRs completed in high school are expressed as high school credits. In general, at the college level, five credits on a quarter system (or three credits on a semester system) equals one high school credit. Usually, one CADR credit represents content covered in a full year course. Alternative scheduling systems, such as block schedules, can also result in one credit awards being granted for comparable course content covered over various period of times (e.g., over a semester rather than full year).

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

There's a long first half to my post above (4:20PM) and I've sent a message to the admins, hoping they can help me figure out how to post it. It's a compilation of ALL the arguments against 3x5 that have been posted here (excellent arguments from so many of you). Apparently my list is so long it's broken the blog (I've tried and failed 3 times). Which I suppose is a good thing, but I'd really like to share it here so others can use it as a resource for contacting the board and the district. Stay tuned.

No 3x5

Anonymous said...

We all know "comparable course content" would be a joke, even if it would technically pen out on paper. Our students get the short end of the stick and colleges will know it is a farce.

Still a mess.

Still grateful

No 3x5 said...

Post 1 of 3

Commenters on this blog have thought this through very deeply and I greatly appreciate the viewpoints posted. I’ve compiled the water-tight arguments you've posted here and have sent them to the board, Michael Tolley and Superintendent Nyland. I hope every one of you on this thread will copy/paste these or write up your own and do the same. Because this is just the sort of thing that SPS would push through. It's poorly planned, doomed to failure, and an instant solution to the problem at hand -- classic SPS.There are SO MANY arguments against 3x5.

1. Class Content:
->Students would earn each credit in 60 fewer class periods than they do now.
->Course content would be significantly compressed.
->It would be especially challenging for math and science classes that are paced for covering a topic a day.
->Requires reworking of all curriculum to meet 33% faster pace of courses
->Courses are unlikely to have increased depth or less homework as suggested in SPS report

2. AP, IB, Running Start and College Prep:
In 2014, 62% of Seattle high school graduates went on to a 4-year college or university. (http://erdcdata.wa.gov/hsfb.aspx). This category applies to MORE THAN HALF of Seattle’s graduates:
->Limits the opportunity for year-long electives for any college-prep student, as academic classes and graduation requirements will fill up to 5 credit slots in each trimester.
->Four-year pathway must be planned out before freshman year and makes scheduling very tight.
->AP & IB classes must be taught on a schedule that prepares students for May testing, so these classes cannot be staggered Fall and Spring.
->AP & IB classes may need to be three trimesters long.
->Incompatible with Running Start, which must be on the semester system to sync up with colleges. Running Start is a critical capacity management tool.
->Doesn't work with IB schedule. See Example 1 below. Three high schools offer the program now. In schools where it’s offered, IB has improved academic outcomes. It is also a necessary capacity management tool for the district.
->3x5 does not work with a full AP course load. See Example 2 below.

3. Inequity
->As AP and IB classes must fill Fall/Winter spots due to fixed testing in May, more Gen Ed classes would have to be placed on the less desirable Fall-Spring schedule.
->Year long AP classes, such as Garfield's AP Government, would not fit in the 3x5 schedule. These classes make AP success possible for underperforming students, reducing the achievement gap.
->Difficult to transition in and out of district. This places an unfair burden on students with less secure housing.
->Inequity across districts: 24 credits in SPS will not be the class-time equivalent of 24 credits from another district.

continued below
No 3x5

No 3x5 said...

Post 2 of 3

4. Obstacles to Learning
->Gaps of 3 to 9 months between core classes (a class that meets Fall & Spring, or a class that finishes in Winter with the next one starting up Winter of the following year)
->Lack of teacher/course continuity as the same teacher can't be guaranteed for the second half of a credit course.
->Lost class time due to illness or testing has a greater impact

5. Scheduling Difficulties
->Cannot accommodate the 30% of students who take a full load of AP classes
->Music classes provide much-needed scheduling flexibility at high school, because music classes are exempt from the 1 to 150 ratio. But many students will not be able to fit them into schedules.
->Inefficient: 20% of class time is "extra"

6. Teacher Impact
->All teachers would be required to reinvent lesson plans for 60-day, stand-alone trimester units
->Teachers paid to teach 80% of the day, vs 83% they teach under the current plan

7. Academic Standards:
->Creates an academic culture where lack of engagement does not have significant consequences.
->Creates an academic culture that assumes students will fail.
8. Class Sizes and Capacity
->If the total number of classes offered in a single class period remains the same, then class sizes must increase. Teacher load goes from 30 per class to 38 per class.
->If the total number of classes offered in a single class period increases, then there is an increased strain on building capacity

9. Problems with Districts Cited as Examples
->Several schools moved to the 3x5 schedule primarily as a means of saving money, not as a means of improving academic performance,
->One school has an optional "zero period," effectively creating a 6 period day,
->One school's pro/con analysis indicated only 6 students were currently taking 5 AP classes (so minimal impact). Not significant to be used as comparison or support.
->Eugene is reevaluating their 2012 move to a 3x5 schedule (new superintendent since the change was implemented).


10. Strategic Problems
->Initial survey had vague and leading questions
->Using survey as evidence to support the trimester plan, while survey did not mention this option
->Group says that while they "had the opportunity to weigh the merits of the 3x5 schedule against other schedule options (see below for extensive comparison), the group could not examine fully the feasibility of implementation of the 3x5 across the district."
-> From the report: “the current district leadership structure potentially lacks a point person to oversee the transition to these new requirements and support high school principals directly with implementation and change."

continued below

No 3x5 said...

Post 3 of 3

11. Better Alternatives
->Add a seventh period
->Add a zero period for students who need it
->Add summer school options for course recovery
->Add online options for course recovery
->Add option of two-period English or Math classes for kids who need more instruction (blocked zero/1st period or 6th/7th period)
->Provide summer school or zero hour classes in middle school for students who are not on track to be prepared for high school work
->Add additional supports so students don't fail classes

***********************
Example 1
Illustration of how IB does not work in the 3x5 setup:
1st year of full IB (3-trimesters per credit)
1. First year of an HL class (three trimesters).
2. First year of an HL class (three trimesters).
3. First year of an HL class (three trimesters).
4. SL class (three trimesters).
5. Elective (three trimesters).
6. Theory of Knowledge (two trimesters, must meet before or after school).
*if year-long elective is chosen, there is no space for CTE, Health or PE

2nd year of full IB
1. Second year of HL class (three trimesters).
2. Second year of HL class (three trimesters).
3. Second year of HL class (three trimesters).
4. SL class (three trimesters).
5. SL class (three trimesters).
6. Theory of Knowledge (two trimesters before or after school)
*no space for CTE, Elective, Health or PE

Alternate IB Schedule (2-trimesters per credit)
IB classes must be completed before May testing. If IB classes are reduced to 2 trimesters:
they must be completed in Fall and Winter;
students must study for tests independently, on top of Spring course load;
Spring schedule is made up entirely of non-academic courses.

***********************
(Example 2)
Illustration of how a college-prep doesn't work with 3x5 setup:

A student preparing for entrance to a four year college should at a minimum have the ability to study an art (visual arts/theatre/music) of their choice, a world language and math all year, every year of high school.
36 trimester class periods for art/music/drama, world language & math
10 class periods for English - two years of pre-AP plus two years of AP classes
10 class periods for social studies - one year of pre-AP plus two years of AP history plus AP US Govt
11 class periods for science - one year of pre-AP plus three AP classes
4 class periods for PE and Health

That's a total of 71 class periods in a trimester schedule that allows only 60.

Anonymous said...

Let's also remember all of the many, many days that are lost to standardized testing. This will make at least the spring trimester, also likely winter and fall, much shorter than the already hyper-shortened teaching/learning timeframe imposed by a 3x5 structure.

Thanks to "No 3x5" for the detailed summary

Still a-mess

SPS Mom said...

One correction - most colleges in WA, especially community colleges that Seattle students would use for running start, are on the quarter system so a HS trimester would likely map more closely to the community colleges. NOT a reason to go to trimesters, but for the sake of accuracy. One HS credit equals one quarter of a 5 credit CC course.

Lynn said...

No 3X5,

Thanks so much for taking the time to gather all that information. This is the time to contact the board. They are having a work session on the 24 credit graduation requirement next Wednesday. If they hear from parents now, they'll be prepared to bring these issues into the discussion.

No 3x5 said...

Thank you SPS Mom. That's important -- I'll make the edit on my master list. I also meant to include this point in that section: students in a full AP schedule, who would take their entire academic course load in Fall/Winter because of May testing, could end up with a full day of non-academic courses every Spring (but still not be able to take a year-long elective!).

Director Burke responded to my email and mentioned the work session that Lynn noted above. He encourages the public to attend and provide feedback before they meet. Write the board everyone!

kellie said...

@ SPS mom

Unfortunately, a trimester schedule would have worse alignment with the community college quarter system, that uses 4 quarters.

This is because the trimesters would need to align with the K8 system for start and end dates and breaks.

No 3x5 said...

Kellie, I think SPS Mom is right, because one of those 4 quarters is summer. Here's their schedule for the next academic year: http://www.seattlecolleges.edu/DISTRICT/calendar/academiccalendar.aspx

It's not a precise match up, but close.

Anonymous said...

Also, the question remains, what would be the credit alignment between college quarters and SPS trimesters? Both systems would have 3 terms between September and June, but you've got to be kidding me if SPS thinks that 2 shorter high school terms would equal one college term. That's crazy. Currently, 2 high school terms that encompass a full year of instruction at the high school level equals one quarter/term of college instruction. High school students will get less in 2 trimesters at the high school level, so I can't imagine that could remain the equivalent of a college quarter/term.

Break alignments are the least of it.

Still a-mess

kellie said...

While it looks-like a trimester and a quarter system would align ... it is just not likely, because trimesters are longer than quarters. With the 180 day school requirement, that means each trimester needs to be 60 instructional days.

While both school years end about the same time, SPS would start a few weeks earlier. So the Fall trimester would end in early December. The Winter trimester would most likely have BOTH the December holiday and mid-winter break.


kellie said...

I did a bit more looking at this. Running start enrollment costs are based and the number of minutes per week.

So the slightly longer classes will completely shift the cost structure for part time running start. At the moment a student can take 4 high school classes plus one running start without incurring additional tuition.

To get the same no tuition situation, a student would be limited to three high school classes and one running start.

Ramona H said...

Hi,
I will address issues one by one as I see them. On concerns about teacher work load. Upshot from majority of HS teachers on task force and high school committee is the trade offs seemed worth it.

Positive: Class periods are longer than a 6 period day can accommodate (but not too long) and there is less time lost to changing period disruption. Think slightly narrower container, but deeper/longer as opposed to shallow and spread out. ... AND with longer class periods comes longer planning periods. That is important in supporting staff.

On reworking schedules: The hs teachers on the task force did not think the switch would be too big of a hurdle. Does not mean others would agree, that’s just where our discussion and consideration led us.

Yes, moving to a 5x3 is different. It is not as different as moving to a modified 8 bloc schedule (a la Cleveland STEM); it gave more opportunity and flexiblity to a wider variety of kids than a modified 6 bloc.

Yes, teachers likely would need to modify lesson pacing, but they would have LONGER planning periods and LOWER caseloads per trimester. Working in time for teachers to handle workload during school hours was important. And as one teacher put it, she reworks her plans all the time anyway.

Ramona H said...

In support of the
5x3:
Includes longer periods than is currently possible with 6-period day schedules
· Provides more options for students than is currently possible with district high school
schedules
· Promotes team planning
· Provides more planning time for teachers to implement restructuring efforts
· Has built-in flexibility
· Reduces the student/teacher workload
· Allows for the inclusion of an advisory
· Supports the IB program (this is comes from another school that is implementing. I'm not sure of the rationale vs concerns expressed by some here... but included because it is NOT universally accepted that the 5x3 wouldn't support IB)
· Allows for classes of different duration and/or meeting time

Ramona H said...

5x3 vs 8 bloc (this taken from another school adopting; I use because they are providing technical detail I think some on here would like to see)

ADVANTAGES:
The Planning Team believes strongly that the schedule we adopt needs to be intensive
and provide extended periods so that students can engage in more in-depth exploration
than is possible with 6-8 period day schedules. For this reason, most of the following
comparisons were made between the trimester and the A/B Block schedule. The
advantage of the Trimester over other schedules studied include:

· 86.4% of the instructional day for students is spent in direct instruction as opposed to
70.4% with A/B Block.
· Teaching hours per week (23.3 hours) for teachers falls within the accepted district
range (WHS A/B Block @ 19.8 hours; AHS 8 period day @ 20 hours; and SHS 6
period day @ 25 hours)
· Teachers have minimal duty (1 hour every 2.5 weeks if an access tutorial is
implemented as well)
· Teachers have reduced overall daily student contact of approximately 132 students
(from approximately 160 without study hall or 200 with study hall) as compared with
current district high school schedules
· Teachers teach four classes per term as opposed to five with current district schedules
· Teachers have 145 minutes of total planning time per day as opposed to 120 minutes
with the A/B Block

Ramona H said...

more cut and paste from another school site. We did not review this at all, but independently we also hit on these issues:

Students can earn a total of 30 credits during a four year period as opposed to the
24 credits possible with current high school schedules (highly competitive colleges
want to see 28+ credits on transcripts)
· Some colleges (Stanford, Berkeley) indicate that they are equally receptive to
semester and trimester schedules, but are skeptical to the 4x4 block (because fewer
courses appear on a transcript each semester)
· It eliminates the need for a mandatory prep/study hall (optional study hall may still be
offered and it may be staffed by classified personnel since students can earn so many
more credits with the Trimester)
· Students accumulate 140 hours of seat time per 1.0 credit as opposed to 135 per credit
with A/B Block
· The opportunity to provide students with more elective credit facilitates career academies/pathways
· It allows for easier Running Start articulation, because community colleges follow a trimester calendar
· It gives students more opportunities for remediation and for accelerated studies (e.g.
supportive math lab could be a third term elective offering; advanced students could take
advanced enrichment electives the third term)
· It increases the frequency of progress reports so it can improve school/home
communication
· Two 70 minute periods can be easily blocked into a 140 minute period for integrated,
teamed teaching
· It meets IB instructional hours requirements
· Schools who have implemented it report that it is less stressful for students because
they take just five classes per term (with the commensurate homework load) as
opposed to 6-7 common to other schedules
· Schools who have implemented the schedule report that it has contributed to a safer
learning environment and has caused a dramatic reduction in disciplinary referrals
· Schools who have implemented the Trimester report that teachers and students have
an easier time adjusting to a 70 minute extended period as opposed to one that is 95
minutes in length (980 to 95 is what you see with the 8 bloc sked)
· Students who want to take electives such as band and a world language may do so
with this schedule
· It provides for more seat time hours for AP courses (students take AP Prep third term)

Ramona H said...

5x3 .. important to think about and resolve ...

The ability to offer more courses will mean some increase in the need for funds
allocated to instructional material purchase

· The adoption of any schedule that includes extended periods brings with it a need to
offer staff development in the area of teaching strategies within the bloc

Ramona H said...

tri vs quarter ...
Trimester is a quarter system, just without the 4th/summer quarter.

Ramona H said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ramona H said...

e kellie's comment that a trimester schedule doesn't "solve" the state requirements. The task force didn't approach this as trying to solve a state problem. We approached this as an opportunity to review what qualities the high school experience should offer and how to accommodate that. Some considerations:

The right requirements?

There was some task force discussion at the very beginning about why “these” requirements, but our charge was to make recommendations for implementation, so we focused on that.

However, we took the opportunity to explore and discuss what a great high school experience could look like.

Everyone felt Seattle Public School graduates should have the opportunity to step into a 2- or 4-year college, which means making sure there is equitable access to at least three years of math and science, social studies, world language, etc. No one suggested those courses should be rationed for subsets of kids.

At the same time, there were a number of members (myself included) who wanted to make sure kids who wanted to COULD design their own pathway -- that is a sequence of courses that allows them to build a portfolio of work, or achieve certification in a technical area, or just take 4 years of math and world language.

The state’s 24-credit framework addresses both those issues. It has a “core” of 17 classes in traditional academic areas, then offers 7 classes for kids to design a pathway for their personal goals.

So while we didn’t enter into the process as cheerleaders for the requirements, we also didn’t focus on whether they were mandates. We focused on what kids needed, what was equitable, and how scheduling and supports could better accommodate kids.

Some shared goals:

Make schedules work for kids. Give them flexibility to take the classes they are interested in, without having to sacrifice courses they need for ongoing study or that colleges and employers require. Alternatively, if they need to retake a class, or could benefit from a math lab or study skills class, create a schedule that accommodates it.

Build in more time for staff prep and planning - during the school day.

Make it easier for staff and students to develop relationships, and for schools to support the whole child - that is, social and emotional growth, health and fitness, and creative expression, as well as the traditional core academics.

Keep credits equitable. It was upsetting that some kids had access to more credits and support than others.

Give kids space to explore, and forgiveness for taking a risk and failing.

Accommodate career and technical education. There are wonderful opportunities in this area, but CTE pathways often require sequenced courses. Kids need flexible schedules.

Facilitate authentic engagement in career education and exploration.


Final note
I should also add year one of the task force had several counselors involved. They really helped us think in terms of creating a system that worked for all kids, not just subsets. Year two had more teachers, and communication with the standing high school committee, which helped us consider technical details and affirmed that what we were processing was also important to them.

So, yes, we took the framework of does XX solve YY. You may not agree with the recommendations, but we had a framework.

Ramona H said...

On IB, I don't know what to say other than there are schools that have adopted the 5x3 and made it work with IB. How IBX works in I don't know. I'm not familiar with the details of that program.

The 5x3 does offer longer classes (usually 70 minutes) and in general a more focused, deeper approach. You know how college classes typically don't meet daily and operate on a quarter system? It's in line with that.

Advice from the West Seattle principal, who was not on the task force but who brought us the idea of the 5x3 from the high school committee: We need to think of time differently. This is not a 6 period day crammed into 5. This is a series of 15 courses, spread across 3 trimesters. Some credits will take 2 courses to fulfill. Others just 1. And possibly some, 3.

Ramona H said...

On longer school day/time (raised in various posts)

The day is being extended as part of the state requirements (80 hours in HS, though districts can opt for a district wide average of 1027 hours in grades 1-12). Also, time is picked up by cutting out passing periods.

Research indicates that schools that moved to 5x3 posted higher SAT scores, so the fewer classes, longer time slots and more focused attention from kids seemed to work.

On the task force, we focused on the longer individual periods teachers had with students and the potential for project-based learning that afforded. Which also translate to longer prep times. And teachers have lighter caseloads, because they teach 4 classes, not 5 (1 period is for prep & planning)

All of the bloc schedules use time differently. Cleveland STEM has a modified 8 bloc (all 8 classes on Monday, then alternate A and B blocs Tue-Fri). Nathan Hale has a modified 6 bloc for grades 9 and 10, allowing students to take 7 courses in their first 2 years. Nathan Hale also has a longer day. And also requires 23 credits to graduate.

7 periods is an option. It stretches kids attention though. You get more classes, but shorter class periods. Teachers have a higher workload. It's also expensive. This was the option the high school committee really did not like.


Ramona H said...

Watching ...
regarding how 24 credits affect academies like Biotech and Marine Sciences at Ballard HS ... I'd say the same way trying to meet college requirements currently affects students.

BioTech includes core classes (math, science, ELA) so it is just a focused way to cover mandatory credits. It fits in nicely as is and that won't change. How they fit into a 5x3 should be explored. (Would bio tech take up 6 classes, or 9?)

Pathways is where kids struggle (example, video pathway at Ballard). If you are interested in the video pathway AND interested in choir, say, you can't also fit in the classes needed to get into college, like 2 to 3 years of a world language and 3 or 4 years of math and science. You can meet current HS requirements, but not the coarse load colleges want.

Increasing the number of classes kids can take each year from 12 to 15 increases the number of electives they can take. Kids at Cleveland can take a wider variety of classes.

Ramona H said...

" Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ Ramona,

Can you explain the committee's thinking regarding AP courses? Two trimesters, or the more typical three? And what about band/choir, which are also typically three terms in schools on this schedule?

Also, was the thinking really that the 5 classer per day thing is optional, only for those who need 5? The majority of students could take just four classes per day, resulting in a lot fewer than 1080 hrs?

Di"

The thinking was that there would be 15 courses offered a year, 3 more than the current 12. Each course would be worth .5 credit. Within that framework, schools would have flexibility to design courses and sequences their kids would benefit from, and kids have the option to design a pathway that was meaningful to them.

In the 5x3 scenarios, it appears some schools spread AP over 3 trimesters. Another option is spread them over 2, then have a class in the 3rd trimester where they can focus on test review in general, that is, if a focus college testing was what they wanted to pursue.

Our focus was on finding a framework where kids could fit in electives for their pathways, or credit retrieval, or extra academic support. It was on easing caseloads of teachers and on building time into the schedule for career education -- that is, not CTE classes, but time for kids to actually explore and plan for what they want to do career-wise. Kids could focus in on an academic core and take longer, more in-depth IB or AP. Or a CTE sequence. Schools really have some options to rethink how they cover materials and standards. We didn't try to decide that for them.

As for how many classes kids would actually take, per state law, kids need to attempt 24 credits, and pass 22. (Of which, a 17 "core" ones must be passed). Some kids may cram in as much as possible. Others may stop once the 24 are met and move on. Athletes may take 4 classes a trimester, leaving time early or late for games/practice. Musicians might take 5 every time. Seniors might take 4 and leave time for work or internship.

The point was flexibility.


The point is make the system flexible to accommodate the variety of learners. Don't get hung up on how things are currently done, think about how they could be done AND ease up on teachers, AND give kids advisory, AND allow kids more access to electives.

My son takes 7 classes (0 hour music). It takes a toll. When I suggested this to him (also a biotech student at BHS) he just rolled his eyes and said, oh I WISH I could have had something like that.

Just saying "add on a period" is shortsighted. For kids really pursuing excellence in 1 area, they need to focus in, not spread out. But at the same time, they need access to courses college require if they want to go to college. And most kids do.

Ramona H said...

On the suggestion of retrieval via summer school or zero hour - those absolutely options, but please consider that they are ALSO very difficult scenarios for a lot of kids who struggle, for various reasons (needing to work for the family being one; being force to give up extracurricular activities like sports or clubs, which not only help fully develop their potential, but which can impress colleges later on, etc).

And contrary to statements here, credit retrieval is NOT equitable. Some SPS schools offer online retrieval, not others, etc. Summer school is also unfunded. Why not incorporate that into the regular school day? Why not offer kids time for a study hall and in-school support so they don't fail and have to completely retake the course? Why this tolerance of let those kids fail, then let them use up electives to recover?

Cleveland STEM was inspiring. They offered kids more support, more opportunities than any other school. And they did it in the existing school day, not summer school, not zero hour, not after school. It really opened up possibilities. Why do we have 6 periods, anyway? What's so special about learning in 50-minute blocs and shuffling around all day?

I started the task force thinking, 7 periods; no brainer. I ended year 1 thinking, wow, Cleveland and that modified 8 is something. But that's full on project-based learning with 90 minute blocs. Staff resistance and kind of expensive.

In year 2 one of the principals from the standing high school committee came to us with the 5x3 (she was researching options on her own) and it really sparked interest. More courses overall, but letting kids focus in on fewer at a time. It really appealed to those of us with high schoolers!

In any case, it is a recommendation. An option. Not a demand. High school doesn't actually work very well for a LOT of kids. Arbitrary seat time isn't a very good predictor of quality. We reviewed options and thought the 5x3 showed the most promise.

Ramona H said...

" Anonymous said...

Ramona was repeatedly told of the problems with Core 24 when she led the PTAs endorsement of it. Struggling students don't benefit from additional and more standardized burdens to meaningful graduation. Colleges and high schools ALREADY offer remediation, ways to back fill skills deficits, and opportunities to rejoin educational advancement for anybody interested. Advanced students already have lots of opportunities to take advanced classes that prepare them for post secondary education. ... When is this supposed to start? 2016-17?
Parent"

SHORT ANSWER: In SPS, new grad req are for current 7th-graders. Elsewhere they are in play for current 9th graders. We got a waiver. Also, college isn't just for the "advanced students." Most jobs require college of some sort.

Also not true, interestingly, on kids failing in the 24 credit scenario. Offering more and expecting more do not result in higher rates of failure. But you do need to support the students, and that includes factoring in staff time to prep, collaborate, etc.

As for college retrieval: It is not free. Kids who are under served in high school face higher college costs because FIRST they have to pay for remediation classes. A 2-year program can take 3 or more years, etc. Their completion rates are low, and quite a number end up in debt with no degree. And yes, these students are disproportionately youth of color.

Also: Remediation in HS comes at the expense of electives. Kids who struggle in high school often don't get much of any option to explore their strengths and interests in the traditional 6 period day.

HISTORY/CONTEXT on the 24 credits: So, "Core 24" is a model proposed but then modified by the state board of education. The new requirements actually have a "core" of 17, and then 7 flexible credits for students to pursue pathways. Basically, kids need to take the minimum core classes colleges and workplace say they need , then have 7 spots to create the pathway that is meaningful to them.

These changes were made after quite a bit of testimony at the state level, from CTE students in particular. Flexibility was a huge theme among students who engaged on 24 credit requirements with the legislature and with the state board of education.

During this same time, CTE quality was all across the board and the state was reviewing it. The results for most kids going full on CTE without core classes was shockingly bad (based on unemployment and college attendance after HS .. in other words, not working and also not in tech school or college, etc). BUT ... nationally CTE showed amazing promise for project based learning and for preparing kids interested in technical fields.

So there were years of work at the state level trying to come up with something that was flexible enough to work in different scenarios, ensure kids had access to classes they needed, had some rigor, but also allowed kids choice. AND ensured all kids would have the opportunity to take the type of classes that prepare them for college, if that was their chosen pathway. (This is instead of rationing classes, only allowing "gifted" kids access to AP classes, and other pretty reprehensible practices not uncommon across the state.)

Is the end result ideal? It does offer minimum assurances of what needs to be offered in the state's program of basic education. Pior, college prep stuff was all "enhancement" and not part of basic education.

As for the personal reference to me, I was staff policy and advocacy lead for the Washington State PTA from 2010 to 2013 , and later I was the governor appointee to the legislative task force on career education opportunities. I didn't lead the PTA endorsement of 24 credits, though. It made the priority platform prior to my time. But I definitely worked the issue.

Ramona H said...

Eric B

"How does the new schedule accommodate AP and IB classes with testing in May? ..."

No schedule has been finalized. Some schools on the 5x3 use 3 trimesters for AP. Another option could be to use 2, then offer some sort of the prep class for the test.

To clarify, the task force reviewed and made recommendations. There is a standing high school committee, and technical details are in their court, or they fall to the schools to consider.

Ramona H said...

Eric B,
"Is Core 24 actually required, or are we just banking that the state may someday get around to funding McCleary and we'd have to do something then?"

Yes, the new requirements are indeed required, for SPS kids who are currently in 7th grade. (current 9th graders for those who didn't get a waiver)

BUT ... "Core 24" was dropped several years ago. the new requirements include a 24 credit framework, but it is different from the specific proposals called "Core 24" back in 2010.

All this is on the state board of education's website.

Ramona H said...

Eric B,

"How do teachers get the same amount of material in to the 3x5 classes as they presently do in 2x6 schedule when there are significantly fewer classroom hours per credit? *"

I have to defer to the principals and teachers on the task force. The upshot I took away was less interruption, and more focused attention from kids not taking 6 or more classes.

The 5x3 was actually brought to us by a principal (West Seattle. And the high school committee was the group that really did not want to pursue 7 periods. Not that they got a lot of resistance from me.

(Please note: I was in no way a leader of this group. I was just one of many and one of several parents.)