Articulate summary of 8-period day perils : Sutherland for Schools blog
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Articulate summary of 8-period day perils

by Ann Sutherland on 02/20/19

(but first, let me remind readers that Dr. Scribner refuses to allow a vote even though this is clearly a policy matter, which, by law, is the board's responsibility.)

Feb 20 at 1:06 PM
The parent writes, 

"Like so many things in FWISD, the trial balloon of adding an 8th period to the school day of our middle school and high school students was rolled out without regard for the consequences of this policy.

In a misguided attempt to help students who are "behind" in graduation have punished:

Our teachers - who do not have enough time to teach their coursework - 45 minute classes are not adequate, and they are not getting extra pay for the additional lesson planning and grading you have added to their plate

Our administrators - who were promised that this would magically lead to smaller class sizes, and who are struggling with shortened passing periods and lunches, and facilities usage

Our students - who now have yet another course to manage in their already over-packed school days, leading to endless amounts of homework, excessive stress levels and abbreviated lunches - they will be choosing to take easier classes just to manage the loads

I have two students at Arlington Heights, both are in honors, pre-AP and AP classes. WE WILL NOT BE TAKING ANY AP LEVEL CLASSES NEXT YEAR!  NOT ONE! And our family is not alone!

You heard me right...this year has been such a nightmare that we will be speaking to our academic counselors and adjusting the classes they choose to to register for downward, just to balance out the ridiculous work load. My students (and many of their high achieving classmates) will be signing up for four of the easiest electives possible and NO AP level classes just to balance out their lives! 

Not the outcome you had hoped for! There are real consequences to your decisions. 

If you keep this policy in place, over the next 5 years FWISD will lose all the momentum it had achieved in the past decade, as far as students registering for AP and Dual Credit courses. It will all disappear!

Your haphazard decision to add an 8th period (to help students who are "behind") has punished my students and has increased their workload exponentially and added to their stress level in ways you cannot even imagine. 

Neither student has time to eat lunch and socialize...instead they are forced to get to classes before school, during lunch and after school just to stay caught up and get all their work turned in on time and all their quiz and test grades brought up. They are frustrated, exhausted and running on empty...I just hope they can get through this school year. 

Please correct this policy, before FWISD reaps the devastating results. We have already decided to "dumb down" the course selections of our high achieving students, to balance out your mistake."

Comments (7)

1. Paschal parent said on 2/20/19 - 05:21PM
I don't disagree with this parent that 8 periods is not good for students, but among Paschal high achieving atudents, this is not happening. When the 8th period was introduced, most students in the top 10% added another AP class. Juniors in this top tier take 6 and 7 AP classes. a handful even 8. They all fear losing ground in their class rank. Freshman routinely take 1 AP, some 2. Sophomores in the top ten percent take 4-5 and as I said juniors a minimum of 6 or 7 to remain competitive. It's killing our kids. This is not all kids. But the top ten percent is very common (60-70) kids.
2. David said on 2/25/19 - 11:21AM
I don't have a dog in this fight but...on what basis are you defining scheduling as a policy and not a procedure? Can you identify any other districts who have put bell schedules into their policy? My understanding was that policies are akin to law--the large overarching parameters for running a country, state, or system such as a school district, and that procedures are the "how" of enacting the policy... Are you suggesting that the number of courses in a student's schedule should be defined in the policy?
3. Ann replies to David said on 2/25/19 - 05:16PM
You make a good point; however, this is an issue that makes a big difference to some high school students. I don't know what the cutoff is between policy and administration but it is true that this will be a major issue in the school board race.
4. Curiouser said on 2/25/19 - 09:49PM
Hey Ann - why does fwisd post things like, “Voting for the 2019-20 school calendar has ended. Results will be shared Monday, February 25 after 3 p.m.,” but then not share the results? They are supposed to be voted on tomorrow at the board meeting and not posting results either makes me think someone can’t do their job or something shady is going on.
5. A reader responds said on 2/27/19 - 07:39AM
Hello! My daughter is in 7th grade at McLean Middle School. I am writing you today to let you know that after experiencing eight periods per day vs. six periods that I am concerned and not sure it is the best schedule for students or for teachers. I wanted to give it some time before sharing my concerns but after several month, I truly think each class is rushed and teachers and students can’t get deep into learning before it’s time to change classes again. I prefer a deeper understanding in core classes vs. additional electives. I understand this is the schedule for 2019-2020 but would like to share this feedback in hopes that you will consider going back to six periods per day in 2020-2021.
6. Middle school teacher writes said on 3/2/19 - 07:40AM
This has been the most difficult year for my classes on the current 8 period day. I have been here at this campus for 17 years and believe we have tried every schedule imaginable in that time period. I would even prefer to go back to block scheduling in comparison to what we are currently using. I spent some time this week to draft a proposed 7 period day for a middle school with three (3) lunch times. This would give morning classes 55 minutes of instructional time and afternoon classes 50 minutes of class time. My students seem to be more focused, alert and responsive during the morning classes anyway. In the afternoon after lunch, they are more involved in items and campus social things not pertaining to the instructional materials for my classes. By eighth period, they are just ready to go home, etc. I trust this finds you well and in good spirits. Thank you for your service to our district and our campus. [MSTappends proposed 7-period day schedule with three lunch periods.]
7. Parent writes 3/8/2019 said on 3/8/19 - 12:03PM
I would like to voice my opinion regarding the current 8 period day structure in FWISD. I just had a conference with one of my daughter's middle school teachers in a class where she has been struggling. She graciously met with me before school to discuss how we can help my daughter. After our meeting, it is even more clear to me how the 8 period day is detrimental to our students. Instruction time has been cut too short. The teacher says that by the time the students come in, take attendance, get out their supplies, deal with having to redirect students, etc, there is really only 30 minutes of instruction time. This is not enough time for core classes, especially those that are advanced or pre-AP type courses. The teachers have been hindered by adding an additional class, more students, more papers to grade, but shortening their planning periods. This particular teacher has 180 students she sees on a daily basis and only 45 minutes of a planning period. It has also affected my son who is a junior taking a heavy load of AP classes. 45 minutes is again not enough time to cover this very difficult content. AP class should give students at least 45 minutes for exams, but again with time to pass out test, take attendance, etc., their testing time had been cut short. I've heard there is an option to go to a block schedule, but I think this plan has flaws too when considering AP classes as well as foreign languages. Students, especially in middle school, benefit from seeing their teacher every day. Please reconsider going back to the 7 period day for the benefit of all of our students and teacher.

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