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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

High School Schedule Update

Internal documents from a couple of high schools indicate the following may be happening for school year 2018-2019 for comprehensive high schools(sorry, I cannot post these docs in order to protect my sources):


- the district wants some kind of interim schedule for next year so that 9th and 10th graders can get the credits they need because of the new state graduation credit requirements.

- it is already being acknowledged that current 9th graders that don't earn three credits per semester will already not be on-track to graduate.

- the district is leaning towards more block scheduling

- the comprehensive high schools are likely to move to an 8-period A/B day for next year.

- some high school staffs are already discussing this but there isn't any vote to be taken yet

- the timeline for proposals seems to be sometime in mid-late January

- the longer schedule would be advantageous for athletes and coaches

- there was an odd notation that IEPs would have 230 minutes a week instead of 265 (I cannot account for why the minutes would be less.)

Naturally, this is in the process of being drafted and discussed so it's fluid. 

73 comments:

Anonymous said...

8 period A/B? Is that a way of saying split shift? Some kids are 1-6, some 2-8? Or something else?

-sleeper

ConcernedSPSParent said...

The number of credits required for graduation has been known for some time. If the district has not responded appropriately and has 9th graders on a path to failure why is Nyland still employed?

Anonymous said...

So ALL students will be forced into a schedule that greatly reduces contact time for each course? And they think this will improve educational outcomes??

It seems the most cost effective means of improving outcomes is providing zero period (or summer school?), then moving to a 7 period schedule, and LASTLY, moving to an 8 period schedule.

I assume an A/B schedule would operate with odd classes meeting one day and even classes meeting another, with all classes meeting on Wednesday, for 3x per week for each class.

SPS madness

Michael Rice said...

It is called a 4x4 where you only see the students every other day, but for a longer period of time. You would have periods 1, 3, 5, and 7 on one day and periods 2, 4, 6, and 8 on another. So every two weeks you see the students 5 times. As a math teacher, I am not a fan. Assemblies and Wacky Wednesday will really mess up how often you see the students and how much time you get with them. I addition, I will now have to come up with 4 versions of every exam I do, because I will see some kids on on day and other kids on the other.

I am hoping for a 7 period day.

kellie said...

I have heard rumblings of many of these themes. At several of the community meetings about high school boundaries, there were multiple mentions of "additional credit earning opportunities" for all high school students. I was stunned by how casually those comments were made.

Here is the bottom line on high school, credits and funding. If you want more credit earning opportunities at high school, you need to pay for MORE TEACHERS to teach MORE CLASSES. That fundamental truth is so basic, I honestly can't believe that I need to type it.

There is some mythological idea that somehow you can get "blood from a stone" and somehow squeeze out a few extra credits in the master schedule without adding additional time, energy or money. That is how the 3x5 schedule recommendation was made. "Look everyone. It's magic. With no extra money, students will have the opportunity for 15 credits instead of 12."

That recommendation eventually fell apart because it was ultimately non-sensical. Moving to an 8 period schedule will mean that you will need to pay for more teachers to teach more classes. Otherwise, you are expecting the current faculty to teach more (either number of students or number of minutes) without any change in pay.

I have been trying to get staff to daylight the massive enrollment increases in Running Start over the last few years. Because these enrollment increases are indicative just how crazy efficient the master schedule at high school already is.

We already have approximately 100 students at most high schools who are unable to get a 6th period. We already have large numbers of students going to Running Start, not because they want to, but because it is the ONLY way for them to get the classes they need. Why don't we solve that problem first?


Anonymous said...

"Longer schedule?" The school day will still be the same length, correct? The amount of time lost per class per year is substantial. By my back of the envelope calculations, moving to an 8 period day is like loosing the equivalent of one 50 minute class/course/week for the entire school year, or like missing 7 weeks of school (36 missed classes/5 per week=7.2 weeks).

confused

Anonymous said...

I think we should stay with the 6 period schedule and then offer students who fail classes the chance to make up credits during the summer (or a zero period?). If students take 6 classes and pass them all four years, then they should have enough credits, right? So it's only an issue if a) they can't get 6 classes or b) they fail classes.

If they can't get 6 classes, that's the problem we need to solve - not "adding" classes by chopping the school day into 7 or 8 periods, rather than 6.

And then we should have summer school or other options for students who fail classes and need help getting credits.

Also I 100% agree with Kellie's comment that if you want more credit opportunities, then you need more teachers and more classes. It is totally crazy to take the existing teacher pool and have them teach more classes for shorter amounts of time.

Jane

Anonymous said...

Jane, that “solution” doesn’t work for most students with disabilities. Most of them take a study skills class, for better or worse. That means they will accrue 20 credits in 4 years - 4 short of graduation requirements. How do you propose students with disabilities get their 24 credits in a 6 credit per year class scheme? Clearly they can’t. The district MUST provide a minimum of 7 periods per day (or week). 24 credits was always a dumb idea. If the school day doesn’t increase, then the time per credit (eg class) must decrease to accomplish an increased credit requirements. It’s simple math.

Spedvocate

Anonymous said...

@Jane: I think your idea of sticking with a 6-period day and giving the option for more/make-up classes during 0th period or in the summer, if necessary, is great and the least disruptive way to go. I have a 9th grader who is taking jazz before school (7:55am start). We did not realize it at first, but she is earning an extra credit though this 0th period class.

@Spedvocate: I do not fully understand why the state introduced the 24-credit requirement. As you say, it only really makes sense if the school day increases or classes become shorter, assuming that students are not necessarily able to do a full 6 credits per year as is. Perhaps the study skills class could be during 0th period?

Ingraham Mom

Teacher said...

Teacher here. The proposal being floated is similar to what another person commented. 4 periods a day, with classes meeting every other day, with one day having all 8 classes meet for short (~40 minute) periods. Teachers would be expected to teach 3 out of the 4 blocks each day, which means teachers would now be teaching 6 classes instead of 5 for the same pay. Teachers aren't in favor of it, it would require approval by the union, and in the end it's just credit inflation. All of the plans that have been floated, including this and trimesters, involve students getting more credit for the same amount of instructional time. The burden ultimately falls on teachers, who have to deal with more preps and grading for the same amount of pay.

Anonymous said...

All of the plans that have been floated, including this and trimesters, involve students getting more credit for the same amount of instructional time

Actually, no. The proposed plans have involved getting equal credit for less instructional time. Big difference.

SPS madness

Eric B said...

I really liked a proposal I saw elsewhere that has a few basic parts:

* Zero hour or 7th hour classes for credit recovery and assistance
* PE credit for out of school physical activity

I also think it should be possible to get credit for study skills classes, since there are schools that give credit for "making good life choices" classes.

What I really like about this is that you are adding 2-4 credits possible for things most students were already doing. It gives a little breathing room without giving too much space for screwups. I don't like the 8-credit year that gives permission to fail 8 classes before you don't graduate in addition to what everyone above has already said. It would probably be a little tricky to get the credit-reporting work in place for PE credits, but it could certainly piggyback on the PE waiver.

Anonymous said...

As a parent, I would advocate for no schedule changes prior to the opening of Lincoln in 2019 and instead encourage SPS to get more creative in granting credit for what students are already doing - zero period support, PE credit for school athletes, HS credit for the WA State history course taken in MS, online credit recovery, etc. If a student is struggling in a subject now, shortening the course contact time does not seem like a recipe for success.

SPS madness

Anonymous said...

When I was in high school, I hated block classes (2x50 minutes or so) because they were just too long. As a teacher, I think I would dislike them too. So, if SPS decides that they absolutely must cram more credits into the 8:55am-3:45pm school day (rather than sticking with 6 periods plus make-up/additional credit opportunities), I would advocate for 7 (shorter) periods per days rather than alternating-day block schedules. I assume that with 410 minutes per days at school that would result in 7x50 minute periods plus 60 minutes for lunch and passing times (or 7x45 minute periods plus 95 minutes for lunch, passing times, and some advisory time). As a student, I always thought 45 minutes was plenty long for each class I had :).

Ingraham mom

Teacher said...

@ SPS madness:

We're saying the same thing about credit and instructional time. My point was that overall, the length of the school day isn't changing, but students are receiving more credit for that same school day (4 credits per semester, rather than 3). You were saying that on a per class basis, students are receiving the same credit (0.5 per semester) for a class with less instructional time. They're both true.

Teacher said...

@Ingraham mom

As a teacher at a school that already has block periods, I can say that I prefer them for most classes. We have 90 minute classes, and these allow the time to get into much deeper learning activities than I was ever able to accomplish in 50 minute blocks. They also feel more efficient, as there's less time devoted to passing periods and less time that my classes are in setup or cleanup mode.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Teach, as an IA who has supported teachers across the district, I see exactly the opposite. Teachers do not cover more in blocked periods. They cover exactly the same thing that would have covered in 50 minute periods. Some teachers I supported actually forgot it was “block day” and simply ad lib’ed with little material to get to the end of the extended time. Not only are students unable to concentrate for the block, they are mostly unable to come prepared for the block either. Will they do twice as much homework independently because they see the teacher half as often? No they don’t. They procrastinate even more when given the opportunity. And really? All of a school’s disabled students have to get there at the zero period to get their study skills classes at once? And those support classes might be something else, and more extensive than just study skills. Not a bad idea but there isn’t enough special education staff to teach every kid all of their iep requirements during the zero period. What would those teachers be doing during the rest of the day? Are they supposed to hire 5 times as many special ed teachers, but have the all be 0.2 FTE? Good luck getting the union to go for that nonstarter, SPS madness. I suspect that the problem with study skills classes is not a matter of credit which students already receive, but the fact that the credit doesn’t count (and could never count) towards the heightened distribution requirements.

Blocks are good for a very limited type of class, labs, and anything similar to labs like art and music with significant setup and collaboration time mandates. Maybe there’s some scheduling magic that could provide blocks where they made sense, but not where they didn’t.

IA

Anonymous said...

I'd agree with IA. Students (and teachers) reach a saturation point.

Is there a compromise? What about a 7 period schedule with only 2 block days - say all classes meet M, Thu, and F, but periods 1,3,5 and 7 meet on Tues and periods 2,4, and 6 meet on Wed? There is one longer class each week for labs and extended projects, but each class still meets 4x/week. You still have the issues of losing class time (moving from meeting 5x/week to 4x/week, and reducing total hours per course) and needing additional teachers.

Unknown said...

I'm a teacher and I absolutely adore block schedules. I teach LA, Social Studies, and I'm a gifted specialist. These subjects take time to teach. The ideas and connections take time for students to create and make. Most teachers have been so addicted to 50 minute periods that they have no frame of reference for 90 minutes or 70 minutes. I won't try and speak for everyone because I know teachers that detest block and others, like me, who love it. Having been trained and experienced in block I know that my students show much larger gains than students who just have a 50 minute period. Other teachers shouldn't try and speak for anyone else either. If we want a deeper learning experience and great learning relationships with our students then we need time. Time makes everything possible. Rushing students just leads to anxiety and depression both in and out of the classroom or the teachers lounge. I have always thought that 6 periods was also very strange as it limits elective choice and downtime. Having made my scheduling choices in school I was able to have a pair of free periods during my day. Sometimes I studied and sometimes I listened to music or got creative. The school day needs to be longer and students and teachers need more time to learn and to teach beyond what can be done in 50 minutes.

Mr. Theo Moriarty

Anonymous said...

My student has been complaining about the possibility of adding a period or two. There's a lot of homework being done in my household and the prediction is that teachers won't cover what needs to be covered in class, so more homework in our future. Anyone who ever had the misfortune of having a boring teacher should commiserate with students having to endure long blocked periods.

-Clueless

Anonymous said...

Theo, chill out. More class time is not on the table. The only thing on the table is LESS time per class as required by the new mandate. The only question is how do you parcel out the smaller total amount of time per class. Free periods is almost guaranteed to never be available. Or, it will come at the expense of even less total teacher face time, exactly the opposite of the mandates intent.. Sure, if we could have more of everything, then there would be endless ways to skin the cat. As it is, we simply have to schedule more things into the same amount of time. And right again, if you had a longer more luxurious day, we’d schedule in free periods. And making connections isn’t just for gifted students. btw. All students benefit from more class time, longer amounts of time to develop subjects and relationships and to have schedule breaks.

IA

Anonymous said...

Free periods to listen to music or read or do homework would be awesome and would alleviate much of the anxiety kids are experiencing. Unfortunately, I can’t imagine that will ever be possible in SPS. Where would students go for these free periods? Our buildings are crowded and teachers have no time to supervise study halls.

Given the goals of adding classes without adding time, I’d prefer a seven period day with a couple of block days each week. Maybe four blocks on Tuesdays and three on Wednesdays would work? Whatever the solution, at least we can be sure that students at Garfield will no longer be spending almost three hours a week in advisory.

Fairmount Parent

Anonymous said...

"Sorry, Teach" "Chill out, Theo"?

Civil discourse: if we can't do it, how can our kids?

asdf

Anonymous said...

It's not about civil discourse. It's about an armchair expert. There are lots of these on this blog.

IA, if you know so much, get your teaching certificate. It's expensive, time consuming and cumbersome.

You certainly have a valuable perspective, but that's about as far as it goes.

"The buck stops" with the teacher.

About Time

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Melissa Westbrook said...

I don’t know what is going on with some of these cryptic remarks but cease and desist and stay on topic. Yes, you will be deleted if you don’t.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Melissa.

There is nothing cryptic about this: You are deleting my posts and pretending that your blog is open.

When Chris Korsmo deleted posts, you took the high road. Of course, Charlie was part of the scene then. He talked out of both sides of his mouth, but he had enough going on in the neural cells to know when the tide was changing.

Then he did his own version of the JetBlue flight attendant. He quit writing on this blog when he deemed that HCC demographics were inequitable. He made his statement here and took the metaphoric beer and slide down the escape shaft. It took a move to the south and lack of personal/children investment to figure out that HCC is inequitable. His come-to-Jesus moment about Spectrum occurred about six months prior to that. I expect you to delete this comment, as you delete anything that threatens your narrative. You have revealed yourself as power-hungry control freak who can't tolerate a different point of view. You have to "know-it-all", even with teachers like me who have been teaching on the far side of 25 years now.

In the meantime, several readers will have read what I wrote, told their friends, and let them know that you deleted it. Not only that, readers will see all of the deletes and realize you were somehow threatened again.

I am a veteran teacher who has a point of view based on long experience in SPS (which pre-dates you, Kellie and the other "institutional memory" braggers). I do not, however, predate Carol Simmons (but know her and know her cohorts well).

Cheers!

About Time/FWIW

Btw: I'm copying and pasting this to the HCC/APP blog to demonstrate what you're doing. I refuse to partake in Facebook, which limits my ability to show the public how you are operating with posters. Fortunately, Benjamin takes an open approach to opinion.

Eric B said...

Having block schedules one or two days a week makes it harder for students who choose part-time Running Start to manage schedules, since the classes they do have at school are at different times on different days.

My student had Theo Moriarty. He is not an armchair expert. He is an expert. You might even notice that he speaks to his own experience and asks other people to only speak to theirs and not assume that their experience is generally applicable.

Anonymous said...

FWIW/About time - maybe you should start your own blog if you have so many problems with this one. I would encourage you to do so.

It makes perfect sense to me that Michael Rice and Theo Moriarty (both excellent teachers that my child has been lucky to have) would have opposed views to the scheduling propositions. Their subjects, math versus LASS, are, respectively, better suited to the two different scheduling propositions.

Won't the block schedules tend to wreak havoc with the IB program? That program also has strict guidelines regarding the number of class-hours per subject. I have a feeling that the SPS is going to do whatever it wants under the context of it being an "emergency" despite the fact that there has been time to make reasonable plans.

-RamParent

Eric M said...

"If you want more credit earning opportunities at high school, you need to pay for MORE TEACHERS to teach MORE CLASSES. That fundamental truth is so basic, I honestly can't believe that I need to type it."

That's what I would have thought, too, with the additional caveat that more classrooms are going to be needed, too.

But the A/B idea is genius, in that it puts all that additional cost on the backs of teachers. Regular classroom teachers would have an additional 30 students on their rosters, above what they have now. Now:150 students 2019:180 students. No additional new classrooms required.

"Oh, but you wouldn't have all those students every day." I'm pretty sure teachers don't get to turn away a student for help after school, or not go to an IEP meeting, because that's an "A" day student, and this is a "B" day.

The plan is to spread teachers even thinner than they are now. In keeping with that "spread it even thinner" plan, a casual imagining of this schedule suggests that many more high school teachers are likely to teach 3 different (we call these "different preps") classes. Now, I'm a teacher with 33 years experience, and have taught 7 period day with each class as a different prep. That's awful, and completely unsustainable. The average in SPS high schools is 2 preps, which is reasonable. But every prep added to a teacher's schedule increases the workload enormously, and inevitably degrades the quality of teaching. Especially in a district without a classroom supply budget or textbook and curriculum purchasing, where teachers have to spend their own money and develop their own ideas.

Anonymous said...

@ About Time, Mr. Moriarty understands the often-puzzling needs of gifted students. He has taught two of my children--both very different--and he was favorites to both. He pushed them, they learned.

Based on your apparent animosity toward HC kids, services, and parents, I get the sense you are not a similar expert when it comes to serving gifted students. Good for you that you've been teaching for a long time. I hope it has been ok for your students, too.

toxic much?

Eric M said...

BTW, this A/B schedule as rolled out yesterday to Roosevelt High School staff was described as a done deal and, quote, "non-negotiable".

Which means, as in "it happens so often, it's almost like standard procedure", I guess we move right to the fighting and outmaneuvering.

Teachers have no idea, as far as I know, what SEA leadership's position is on this. It represents a significant departure (called a waiver) from the current Collective Bargaining Agreement. A powerpoint presented to RHS staff yesterday described that waiver also as "non-negotiable". Which is a strange way to describe a waiver that has to be negotiated.

Anonymous said...

Students are not getting increased instruction under any plan that doesn't increase the length of the school day. They are just getting more credits for the same time investment. Smoke & mirrors. Might as well just keep the current schedule & change the number of credits awarded for each class. It would be less disruptive.

-HS Parent

Anonymous said...

Readers bring up good points.

- Whatever schedule SPS decides, ALL high schools must follow.
- Teaching more than 3 unique courses or having a student load over 150 departs from the current negotiated contract (when does the current contract get renegotiated?).
- Removing the minimum hours per credit/class, as recently approved by the board, could jeopardize IB (not that SPS seems to care...they hardly support it as is...but it's part of SPS's "continuum of services" for HC).
- Longer class times associated with block schedules do make it difficult for pacing and coverage of HS level math courses (having tutored in MS and HS math classes, I'd side with IA, though understand how block schedules would benefit LA/SS and lab based courses).

wary

Anonymous said...

FWIW you have a valuable perspective, but why the unlimited vitriol?

>>> IA, if you know so much, get your teaching certificate. It's expensive, time consuming and cumbersome.

Your classist notion of job grade is shining brightly. I have absolutely no desire to ever become a teacher, and frankly, I can’t imagine why any intelligent person would. Most teachers value IAs, but evidently you think any educated and knowledgeable person would never choose to be an IA. I can assure you that I am well educated and knowledgeable. That attitude can also be used against you. I could just as easily say:

“FWIW, if you know so much, get your administrator’s certificate. It's expensive, time consuming and cumbersome. You could lead whole groups of teachers and set the directions for equitable education, instead of pot stirring on blogs.”

But you’re right about “civil discourse”. What a laugh! Such tiny, prudish egos. It’s the internet, not a classroom.

IA

Melissa Westbrook said...

About Time, you and another reader exchanged some kind of cryptic back and forth that made no sense to me, sniping at each other. If I don't get it, my other readers won't.

"He quit writing on this blog when he deemed that HCC demographics were inequitable. He made his statement here and took the metaphoric beer and slide down the escape shaft."

Charlie did not stop writing on the blog because of HCC and that's a fact.

I'm not a know-it-all and I have frequently pointed out my errors. I constantly thank readers like Kellie and Eric B and Eric M and Michael Rice and others who bring a kind of thinking that I don't possess to this blog.

I don't care where you go and tell people I'm "power-hungry control freak." My record doesn't show that. "I'm going to tell on you." Really? That's pretty 4th grade stuff there.

I do care about snide remarks and especially your tiresome repeating of the same statements over and over. So yes, from here on out, I'm going to delete your remarks. You bring nothing to this discussion and it has little to do with your stance. It's your tone; I have to wonder if you reserve this for adults or bring it into your classroom as well. You seem to have some kind of grudge/vendetta against me and that's not good for any discussion.

Again, you are welcome to go elsewhere or start your own blog.

Readers, I would ask that you do not engage with About Time/FWIW. Ignoring someone is the best route to getting them to leave.

Anonymous said...


Melissa, HS parent comment is the precise framing of the 24 credit high school dilemma: if the kids are suppose to get MORE, the district can only accomplish that BY GIVING THEM MORE. And that takes MORE class time, which means a longer day and MORE teacher time/instructional hours for them. If the district isn’t going to do that, then just leave things as is and rescale the credits per course. That at least would be less damaging. Why pretend? Why not just meet the letter of the 24 credit law by doing nothing but changing the credit count on the existing structure rather than PRETENDING to meet the “spirit” of the 24 credit requirement by NOT actually giving the kids MORE, but rather just giving them the same but scrambling it all up and messing everything up as a result (actually short changing the kids and DIMINISHING their actual education)? Honestly, less chaos is the best possible outcome when faced with the 24 credit law, since we all know the district is NOT actually going to give the kids MORE.

Kellie use to say the only thing that solves a capacity problem is MORE capacity. The only thing that solves a more credit problem is MORE credit. If you can’t deliver that, then, just be honest and solve the problem disingenuously by doling our more credit for what is already delivered, but whatever you do, do NOT mess up the master schedule by chopping it up into unworkable pieces.

Yes, and actual solutions - give credit for speaking second language via a proficiency test, give PE credit for outside athletic participation, give performing art credit for outside activity, etc, and offer a zero period with a universally useful makeup class like math or LA.
-beyond exhausted

11/30/17, 8:38 AM
Students are not getting increased instruction under any plan that doesn't increase the length of the school day. They are just getting more credits for the same time investment. Smoke & mirrors. Might as well just keep the current schedule & change the number of credits awarded for each class. It would be less disruptive.
-HS Parent

Anonymous said...

Eric B, good point about the impact of block schedule on running start. AS Kellie points out, RS relieves a lot of pressure on SPS's overcrowded high schools.

I wonder if they have considered this impact.

asdf

Melissa Westbrook said...

Parents, please tell the Board your thoughts, especially the new Board members.

kellie said...

I have been at this long enough to notice that there is a pretty regular cycle to advocacy work.

There are windows where thoughtful people give thoughtful input and help to make thoughtful decisions. Then there are windows where the only way to describe it, is that a collective madness washes through the system.

I regularly comment on the closures because that time period is recent enough to be directly relevant and distant enough that the vast majority of current advocates and current SPS staff were not deeply involved in that issue. The closures started as a fiscal reality measure in the wake of the Olschefski financial scandal in 2002. By the time these closures were truly enacted in 2007 and 2009, Seattle had been the fastest growing city in the United States for multiple years.

Over the 5-7 years from idea to implementation, a lot had changed but ... it became an us-vs-them issue. Downtown was going to close schools for the simple reason, that there was a closure process. In the end, it really was that simple. There was no amount of parent or community generated input that was going to stop the process.

We all paid a huge price for that. The BEX IV price tag was almost exclusively the price of re-opening and renovating all the schools that were closed.

It seems that we are in the same place once again with regard to high school. There is this collective madness about the 24 credits. We are long past the thoughtful conversation piece and now the district feels tremendous pressure to "do-something" because for 5 years now, there has been a plan to "do-something." The "plan" to re-distribute HCC to 5 high schools is another part of that madness. It will do nothing to improve high school. But it looks good on paper.


NESeattleMom said...

Speaking of instructional time, my GHS 9th grader said that this year classes are 5 minutes less per day (not counting the two block days). The shortening of the class time was done because of schedule changes from 75 minute early dismissal Wed. and addition of Advisory. Anyway, he said that his seasoned teacher who has his instructional plan figured out for the year, misses the five minutes. So 50 minutes does not equal 55 minutes.

NESeattleMom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kellie said...

I have also been around long enough to have heard the phrase "non-negotiable" with regard to the teacher's contract. That has never been true and I sincerely doubt that it is anything other than a negotiating tactic for the upcoming contract negotiations.

This current proposal is essentially a proposal to have current high school staff increase their work load from 150 students to 180 students, with no change in pay. That is a huge change in work description and frankly if the union were to agree to that, then it would still most likely be in the best interest of everyone to simply keep with 6 periods and just have class sizes of up to 40 students. That would be more truthful, minimize disruption and support student learning.

Here is the some institutional memory. A very similar proposal was floated as a capacity management measure in 2010-11 as part of that contract re-negotiation. At that time, the district proposed lifting ALL classroom size caps at all grade levels for capacity management.

The union actually considered it, because downtown said the capacity problem was serious enough to warrant it. The union then asked a brilliant question. "For how long do we need to lift the class size limits?" The answer was "Indefinitely." The union wisely refused.

kellie said...

When I learned Project Management, I was taught that Project Management is the art of solving the problem. Therefore, the most important part of the process was defining the problem to be solved and constantly measuring solutions against the defined problem.

The "problem" as far as I can tell, is that there are multiple categories of students who are "unable" to obtain 24 credits. These are students who fall into a few categories.

* students who simply are not assigned 6 classes.
* students who need access to credit retrieval.
* sped students who take non-credit earning classes.

A massive change in schedule to either this 3x5, or this 4x4, will impact every single student in the district. These proposed schedule changes will ensure that every single student in the district receives LESS INSTRUCTION per credit hour. That cost is clear.

The benefit is less clear. Where is the information that shows that these schedules solve the problem. This proposal asked students and teachers to pay a substantial and defined cost, without any guarantee that the credit earning problem is solved.

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute. The point of the change to a 24 credit requirement was that the state wants students to learn more than was previously required before they graduate. If students need more instructional time than we currently provide to meet that 24 credit goal, and we can’t afford a longer school day, why aren’t we talking about the obvious solution? More students are going to require more than four years to complete high school.

We can solve this problem for some students by awarding credit for proof of mastery, most likely by passing the final exam for a class. Some students who just have a rough semester at some point can catch up by taking Running Start classes where they can earn 4.5 credits in a single quarter. We can invest whatever funds are available for this change into summer school and zero period classes for students who’ve fallen behind.

There are many students who fail classes in high school because they’re academically unprepared when they enter the 9th grade. Isn’t the most ethical response to this to provide them with another semester or two to complete their graduation requirements?

As for the 8 period block schedule, that will make part time running start enrollment pretty much impossible. How are schools going to respond to that?

Fairmount Parent

Anonymous said...

Hale has had block classes for a long time. My kid liked it because it wasn't the same schedule day after day. Also at Hale, they are already required to have 23.5 credits to graduate which is very close to the 24 credits.

HP

Anonymous said...

7 or 8 periods, run as block periods, are what many parochial and private schools use. Students tend to like it a lot because it means two days to do homework and no schedule monotony. Teachers like it because it gives them more time to grade and plan between seeing cohorts. It also gives them some breathing room in class to do hands-on or small group activities.

Looked at this way, SPS is about to offer kids a benefit. However, there are a couple of drawbacks to using a block period schedule specifically in public schools, some of which readers have already noted:

The schedule doesn't align well with Running Start. Not so much a concern for parochial and private...big concern for overcrowded SPS.

The schedule doesn't always work optimally for kids needing intensive academic support.

The schedule doesn't work well with cohorts who have in-class discipline challenges. A double-length class period with out of control classrooms is excruciating.

The schedule doesn't work well for kids who have ADHD diagnoses. Again, for these students, a block period can be an eternity.

As many will note: the previous 3 items are not ones private and parochial schools have to take on, unless they choose to do so.

My take, as always, is that public schools do yeoman's work and our first priority should be getting more teachers into our classrooms, not figuring out "on paper" ways to game the system. (And SPS has had a couple of years to work on this issue, so why we are at yet another "emergency" solution point does not reflect well on management.) Does this mean hard choices about where to cut elsewhere? I guess so. But teachers can only be stretched so far, and it seems that once again our staff is close to the breaking point, which in turn impacts every one of our students.

EdVoter

Anonymous said...

My high school daughter also has block classes (Mon, Tues, Thurs & Fri) and then on Wed. each of the six classes for a short period. She prefers the longer block days - even though there is an hour less school on Wed, she says she is more mentally drained at the end of the day from having to keep up with six different subjects. You also gain instructional time because there are 3 less passing periods - that's an hour a week more time in class, which is a fair amount over the course of a year.

Going to a 4-block schedule would only work if the early-dismissal Wed went away and all days were the same length, and this would definitely be a burden on teachers vs. a 3-blcok schedule. Another possibility would be to have 3 longer block classes, plus one shorter class at the end of the day (make the advisory period that schools have longer and use it as an actual class).

Finally, if Sped students can't get enough credits because the district requires them to take a non-credit class, then that is easily corrected by the district changing this requirement, which seems totally unreasonable in the first place. Kids either get credit for the class, or they don't take it. Frankly, I find the idea that you automatically have to take a particular no-credit class because you have an IEP - regardless of what the IEP addresses - to be utterly bizarre (and probably illegal). They have probably been able to get away with this up until now as students could still get enough credits to graduate, but if it now prevents students from meeting graduation requirements, then it will have to change. Hopefully voluntarily on the district's part & not only when they get sued.

Mom of 4

Anonymous said...

What is an example of a non-credit earning class for a student with an IEP?



Reader

kellie said...

Many high schools offer blocked classes or a blocked schedule day. It is important to note that this proposal is nothing like anything that current exists.

The 3x5 schedule was the official proposal of the 24 credit task force, because it looked good on paper. Once the “unintended consequences” of that plan came to light, the proposal quietly died. I don’t think anyone has examined the crystal clear consequences of this proposal.

Since this proposal does not come with additional funding, that means that the vast majority of students will still be receiving six credits in a schedule that calls for 8 time slots to be filled. Priority for additional courses will be given to students who need that course for graduation. Other students will have access to additional classes on a space available basis and well .. there isn’t much wiggle room in the current schedule and this not going to create more flex space.

The current situation is that students who do not receive a 6th full credit course, are typically enrolled as a TA in another class. The most probable outcome of this schedule is that thousands of high schools students will suddenly become TAs in 1-2 classes, every week.

There is no official reports on the number of current TA slots at high school. Based on unofficial research, there seems to be about 100-200 TA slots current at the high schools. This new schedule would mean that every single student will be looking for a TA slot.

Does anyone have any information about “the plan” for students who ONLY have six credits and these two empty slots?

Anonymous said...

Mom of 4 doesn’t have the problem exactly right. Students with disabilities do get credit for all of their classes, but the new requirements are that they have to meet a a significant number of distribution requirements. Previously these IEP based credits counted as electives (even though nobody really thought of those classes as electives.) Now, with the extra requirements and credits, there are hardly any electives. The only way to meet the IEP needs and provide distributions is the 8 period split, or something similar. Students with disabilities also need some electives too, btw. Seattle Council PTSA and Ramona Hattendorf fought hard to get this idiotic Core 24 through the legislature. What a hideous mistake. Biggly Bad.

Spedvocate

Anonymous said...

@HP, with more credits offered and more time spent in non-academic classes like advisory and mentorship, the number of minutes on core classes must be lower at Hale.

HF

Anonymous said...

It doesn't seem we could simply award more credits for what we have now. Well, we COULD, but shouldn't.

Say we increase the credit count by 50 percent. That means a student would meet their 3 yrs of social studies requirement after only 2yrs of class. The school could then say they're done and de-prioritize them for future spots (hello, TA-ship!). Colleges, however, still want to see three actual years' worth (if not more).

Kellie is right there are lots of hidden consequences, and I'd bet a fair sum the district had not bothered to fully consider how this will impact different students. We saw it with the 3x5 recommendation, which faded away after we drew their attention to all the problems. You'd think SPS admin would learn that we parents can add value to discussions like this early on, but apparently not. They'd rather put forth their unvetted ideas and watch the frenzy ensue.

Core24

Anonymous said...

I now work in a city and school district that does the A/B day with an "intervention" period built in. So the periods are 75 mins long and the kids still have to make up credits so hence the "intervention"

High school starts here at 7am ends a 2 and they have heavy STEM emphasis as well as Academies that are voc tech supposedly in emphasis.

We also currently have not one, not two, not three Title IX suits but 5. Only one is about a Teacher with a student however and she is currently being extradited from another State to face charges, so there is more than ample time to get things done!

We are also 45 out of 50 states with graduation rates and 30% going to college but hey its free if you go to community college for the first two years!

We got it all.. the question is what

-Former SPS'er

Just sayin said...

Regarding the notation of 230 minutes per week... is this to account for the number of minutes per week that this change would make in comparison to the current minutes of instructional time per week (offered per period). If so, this change would require that each iep be amended to reflect this change for any student who spends a period in a special education setting.

Just sayin said...

Regarding the notation of 230 minutes per week... is this to account for the number of minutes per week that this change would make in comparison to the current minutes of instructional time per week (offered per period). If so, this change would require that each iep be amended to reflect this change for any student who spends a period in a special education setting.

Anonymous said...

I don't find block schedules to be useful, as a high school math teacher. I don't think kids with unstable home lives benefit from the schedule instability. While the 0 or 7 period thing seems to make sense for credit retrieval, how many of you have worked at a 70% FRL school, for over 5 years? There is a lot more going on with a lot of the struggling kids than no class at 8 in the morning or 4 in the afternoon.
FUD (Fear Uncertainty Doubt) is the district's standard operating procedure (SOP), and the current maelstrom makes perfect sense - this is Tolley's Big Job Application! After 30 June his reference, Larry, ain't picking up the phone at JSCEE anymore. This is Tolley's time to show the reformie world how he reigned in alll those lowly unaccountable lazy teachers, and the other union dead weights watching t.v. all day. With this cred boost in reformie district world, he'll be in a good position at job interviews this spring and summer!
While our student's learning environment isn't helped by over worked, exhausted teachers, the top paid "leaders" of SEA / WEA are laser focused on having big shots on their speed dial. They can be counted on if you need "leaders" who are distracted by empty promises, toothless agreements, and stirring politically pathetic protest.

SameAgain

Anonymous said...

Here is Hale's Block Schedule. It looks like you have all classes 4 times a week.

MONDAY & FRIDAY
1st Period 8:45-9:40 BLOCK I 8:45-10:10
2nd Period 9:45-10:40
3rd Period 10:45-11:40 BLOCK II 10:15-11:40
4th Period 11:45-12:40
Lunch 12:45-1:15
5th Period 1:20-2:15
6th Period 2:20-3:15
Reading 3:15-3:35

TUESDAY
1st Period 8:45-9:35 BLOCK I 8:45-10:05
2nd Period 9:40-10:30
3rd Period 10:35-11:25 BLOCK II 10:10-11:25
Support 11:30-12:00
4th Period 12:05-12:55
Lunch 1:00-1:30
5th Period 1:35-2:25
6th Period 2:30-3:20
Reading 3:20-3:35

WEDNESDAY - 75-minute Early Release
1st Period 8:45-10:10 BLOCK I 8:45-10:10
Mentorship 10:15-10:45
3rd Period 10:50-12:15 BLOCK II 10:50-12:15
Lunch 12:20-12:50
5th Period 12:55-2:20

THURSDAY
2nd Period 8:45-10:15 BLOCK I 8:45-9:35/BLOCK II 9:40-10:15
Mentorship 10:20-10:50
Support 10:50-11:20
4th Period 11:25-12:55
Lunch 1:00-1:30
6th Period 1:35-3:05
Reading 3:05-3:35

I don't have time to do the math to figure out instructional time at this moment.

HP

Anonymous said...

I'm also curious about the 230 and 265 minutes thing. I'm also wondering how the proposed block schedules would work for kids who have to take a study skills class. Would they spend a long time there one day, then none the next?

wundrin

Anonymous said...

@ HP, how do the blocks fit with the 1st-4th periods? They overlap. What should we be looking at--the periods or the blocks?

HF

Anonymous said...

Now that I think about it, when I went to high school (eons ago in another state), the school had a 7-period day, and one of them was used as lunch. Meaning that instead of six periods and a short lunch, like many schools do here, there were 7 equal periods, and kids had a lunch break either 4th, 5th or 6th period (or if you were an overachiever you could skip lunch & take 7 classes). That would actually be the simplest schedule change in terms of allowing more float in the schedule and being able to fit kids into classes, because the lunch period is moveable. It would shorten up each class, or course, but not drastically - only by about 3-4 minutes (or not at all if they got rid of or shortened the advisory period). I'm not sure what if any affect it would have on teachers workloads.

Spedvocate - thanks for explaining that. I have 2 kids with IEPs, but neither is in high school yet. But the district still needs to look at this - kids with IEPs should be taking the same classes as anyone else, unless there is a specific reason, per their personal IEP requirements, for them not to do so.

Mom of 4

Anonymous said...

The Blocks are the Freshman Blocks for the academies.
Sophomores through Senior don't have those larger size blocks.

10th to 12th grade have all 6 classes Monday, Tuesday, Friday.
Periods 1, 3, 5 on Wednesday
and
Periods 2, 4, 6 on Thursday

I just noticed that lunch is all over the place. I think the schedule became a little more wonky with the switch from late start Tuesday to early release Wednesday.

HP

Anonymous said...

The blocks only work if all students are taking the same courses in a given grade...but wait, students could be taking anything from Algebra to AP Calc as freshman, and science choices vary as well. Then you have classes that students of all grades take - drama, band, orchestra, etc - that can't be scheduled at the same time as the blocked classes either. Add in Running Start and it

doesn't compute

Anonymous said...

Now I see how Hale awards more credits, even though they also have all those extra classes--support, mentorship, and reading--interwoven. Basically, they cover two classes during each freshman block and then award a semester worth of credit for each, but the blocks themselves are not twice as long as regular classes. In other words, your student may have a block that includes LA the first qtr, but then they don't have LA the second quarter. During the quarter they have the class, they get 385 hrs/wk of it, whereas 10th-12th graders at Hale take about 245 hrs/wk...but they take it for twice as long. If a quarter is 45 days (which I assume it is since that means 90 per semester, 180 per year), the kids in the 9th grade blocks take about 58hrs of a particular blocked subject, vs. about 74 hrs for those on the regular schedule. The traditional schedule at Hale gives you almost 30% more instructional time compared to the blocks, but you get the same credit.

I was surprised to see that the blocked classes are quarter-long only. I suppose you may be able to go deeper during the longer periods, but it's still hard to believe that they manage to cover as much when they're only at if for 9 weeks instead of 18. It would be interesting to see how the Hale LA 9th grade curriculum compares to what other north-end 9th grade LA classes cover.

HF

Anonymous said...

Mom of 4. Almost assuredly, your kids with IEPs will not be taking the same classes as everyone else. By the time they get to middle school, nearly all students who get their sped services from the resource room, will get a resource period. Usually, it is called "study skills". At a minimum, this period eats into their electives. (That happens now.) Clearly, they will be missing something when they are in the resource room. In middle school it doesn't matter much since the electives are pretty poor as is. Sometimes you can get out of PE in middle school - which is often pretty awful (unfortunately). But now - there are very few electives allowed because of the 24 credits. I think the new requirements are 4 electives required. You can hardly count a special ed class, that you are forced to take as an elective. It isn't. Students certainly would never choose it. And, there's extra science and foreign language - as new requirements. Study skills will be more necessary than ever. And for students with disabilities, the electives are probably the most important classes they take. Which really means there needs to be more than 6 periods, or there needs to be an extended day for students with disabilities. I can't see the district springing for that. Study skills as a period 7? I think that might be great, if you could get the special ed teachers to agree.

Spedvocate

Anonymous said...

Don't disagree with Spedvocate but that's not how it works in public and private schools I've seen. Study skills is always an elective and always takes away from other electives. Defended from school point of view that they view elective periods as enrichment and 'other' schedule slots. Kids end up with TA time, independent study, study hall, mentorship, leaving campus entirely, on and on. Kids are often mandi assigned to these options. Schools will defend study skills time as one of those mandi assignments and with funding so bad fat chance a family will win the battle of all scheduling based around IEP electives.

Seen It

Anonymous said...

9th graders at Hale take 2 quarters of SS/LA and 2 quarters of Health/Science. The 2 quarters of each is supposed to be equal to a year of that subject. There are 3 academies. Half of each academy is on the same schedule. There are set teachers for each academy so a science teacher would teach half of their academy 1st and 3rd quarter and the other half 2nd and 4th quarter. The teachers at Hale seem to like the set up. The teachers in the academy collaborate with each other.

HP

Anonymous said...

At Hale the transition from 9th to 10th is huge and overwhelming as the amount of work increases by a class/credit. Students find it difficult to manage all the work when those core classes that were divided into five 115 hr credits become six full length 150 hour courses. However, the ninth graders do earn more credits than typical SPS 9th graders. With the Board removing the 150 hour requirement for earning credit, it seems as if they have cleared the way for more classes to earn full "credit" for fewer seat hours, thus the 8 period day or a modified six, such as Hale's 9th grade.

The big issues are still very unresolved: how to ensure all students earn enough credits to graduate with the new requirements; what are the "personalized pathway" requirements, specifically; how do we incorporate the science scope and sequence shift; will the union stand up against 180 students as a maximum with the 8 period day(since elementary school teachers will be voting for a contract, too- I fear what will be held hostage in elementary if the secondary lid on case-loads isn't increased), and so much more.

-Exhausted Just Thinking About It

RLF said...

Central to this entire issue is the fact that we have mistaken education for banking.

RLF said...

Central to this entire issue is the fact that we have mistaken education for banking.