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New High School Schedule Recommendation; Input Wanted

Dear Families and Community,

I recently received a set of recommendations from the High School Schedule Implementation Advisory Group and wanted to share my current thinking and next steps regarding our new high school schedule, which will go into effect next school year, 2017-18.

I realize that for some of you, high school, registration and credits are part of your everyday vernacular, while for others (particularly elementary parents and staff), high school schedule updates may not seem as pertinent. Because all of our students will eventually experience high school, I feel it’s important to send this update to all of our families and staff.

You may remember we sent this update from the advisory group in December as they were digging into many different aspects of the new high school schedule. And hopefully you watched our videos. (Thanks again, students Jace and Eric!)

The advisory group finalized their collective process and recommendations earlier this month and you can view the entire document here. It’s clear that this was a collaborative process, and I appreciate that the group sought and incorporated input from many stakeholders, especially students and high school staff.

Here are some the most significant changes they recommend for next year and beyond:

  • New graduation requirements: Starting with the class of 2021, students can earn up to 32 credits, and the advisory group recommends requiring 30 credits to graduate. Credit requirements will be different for the next three graduating classes (2018, 2019 and 2020) because those students will be transitioning from a six-period schedule to an eight-period schedule. Under the recommendation, starting with the class of 2021, students will be required to earn additional credits in art, science, career and technical education ( CTE) and electives. (Note: additional art and science requirements are based on new state requirements.) You can see a full chart of graduation requirements for the class of 2021 and beyond, as well as an explanation for the changes here.
  • Support time for students: The committee is recommending two 30-minute support classes (currently called THOR, SSR/RtI, Anchor, etc.), be offered every Wednesday and Thursday. The advisory group surveyed students and staff about support time, and results were mixed. Students expressed strong interest in having student support time embedded in the schedule, either daily or twice a week. Staff offered an important perspective about how students actually used the time (not all students want or use this time as intended) and keenly understand the advantages and disadvantages of embedding such time into the schedule. We are not only considering students’ perspectives, but also instructional time for courses and alternative ways to offer student support in an expanded schedule. For example, we are currently developing optional academic workshop classes for students as part of our course offerings, as well as expanding AVID, a class that supports students in graduating and preparing for college.

These recommendations are some of the first big steps in a complex process, and I’m excited to move forward with the advisory group’s recommendations. I truly believe students will benefit from the eight-period schedule, from its flexibility to the additional capacity for electives offered across all subject areas. I’m grateful for the work of the advisory group to make thoughtful recommendations on how to implement this new schedule.

That said, there is still much to figure out as we move forward, and we’d love to hear from you. As always, I appreciate any comments or questions you may have on my blog related to the new high school schedule or the advisory group’s recommendations.

We’ve developed this FAQ to address some of the most common inquiries, including questions about homework, stress, Advanced Placement (AP) classes, physical education (P.E.) waivers and zero hour.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Greg Baker