PE Schedule Is Discussed

Published 4:21 pm Thursday, May 19, 2011

PRINCE EDWARD – A new master schedule for the high school aims to offer common planning time for teachers, consistency and structure, increased learning time and in-school remediation.

“…What this does is simply make a couple of minor modifications to the current schedule, it evens out the length of the class period and still maintains an eight-class based schedule and I know of no other high school in the state that uses this kind of schedule,” Division Superintendent Dr. David Smith said at the May 4 school board meeting. “This is unique.”

High School Internal Lead Partner Michelle Hairston detailed that she, Paul Cosway a consultant from Cambridge Education, Principal Craig Reed and a team of people have been working diligently over the last four months “to really delve into the actual master schedule and take a look at it and see how we can really ensure that we're doing the things that we need to be doing for the students at the high school now.”

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What developed is a plan to start the school day at 7:55 a.m. and end at 3:10 p.m.-or add five minutes to the start of the school day and ten minutes at the end.

“This is actually a requirement on us as a school in transformation that we do gain back more teaching time and it's not something we really have any choice over,” Cosway said.

The plan factors rotating eight class periods spanning the school year. Monday and Tuesdays would have seven periods 50 minutes each; Wednesday-Friday would have six periods of 65 minutes each. Students, under a sample schedule presented to the board, would take each of their eight courses four days per week (see related graphic).

The proposal also offers some consistency with class start times; the current schedule varies time and length of classes.

“It is very confusing for the teachers, still,” Cosway said. “Most teachers still don't know when classes are going to start and finish because every day, every class, every period is starting a different time and finishing a different time. It causes a lot of confusion.”

School Board member Dr. Ellery Sedgwick asked if they considered extending the time in the afternoon rather than the morning. Cosway cited that they tried to make as little difference at each end of the day that they could.

Adding the five minutes at the beginning and ten at the end, he would also offer, seemed a good compromise.

“…Really, I think the only thing that…we need board approval on is the extension of the time-the starting and ending time-and a question then to be resolved of whether it's 7:55 or 8 o'clock or 3:10 or 3:15,” Dr. Smith said.

He also noted that they need to work it out “between the other two principals and transportation because it's got some implications on after school activities, but also the morning bus…routes as well.”

Graduation Requirements

Prince Edward currently requires 28 credits for a standard diploma and 30 for an advanced diploma. The state requires 22 credits for a standard diploma and 24 for an advanced diploma (although that is anticipated to change to 22 credits for a standard diploma and 26 for an advanced studies diploma next year for incoming freshmen).

The high school factors 10 elective credits for a standard diploma and six verified credits; the advanced studies diploma factors nine verified credits with seven electives.

“…In order for us to meet the very high requirements, we have to have an eight class period class schedule because, otherwise, our students would not be able to have an opportunity to earn so many credits,” Ms. Hairston explained.

Still, there has been some discussion on lowering the school's credit requirements and the proposed schedule offers a transition of sorts. Dr. Smith noted that when they have the transition in place to reduce the amount of credit requirements more in line with the state, they will need to transition to a different kind of schedule.

“And so we felt like instead of trying to introduce a new schedule now for next year and another one two years from now, if we would make these modifications to the schedule, it will cut down on the turmoil until that transition plan goes into place to a seven…class based schedule,” he said.

The proposed schedule could accommodate double blocking for students, for example, for nursing students.

School officials are also aiming to improve on-time graduation. The goal is to reach state expectations of 85 percent or more.

There was also the question if the lower the number of electives would students be able to be completer at the career tech center and also an advanced diploma.

It's something, Ms. Hairston cited, they will have to look into, although Cosway noted they could add another elective class, if that is necessary.

Still, Cosway highlighted that the drop-out rate is “crucifying us because we're losing students in ninth grade, tenth grade, eleventh grade-students who get discouraged and never think they're going to ever finish up with the 28 credits they need for a standard diploma.”