New Calendar and 7 Period Schedule Approved
The Watchdogs are reporting that the new calendar for the 2011-2012 year was approved last night by the school board. In addition, the high school format will change from the 4 block style to a 7 period school day.
On a personal note, my high school student and I sat down last night and reviewed what her schedule will look like with the new 7 Period format. She was not pleased, as she was on track to max out the math offerings at. However, now she will miss out on Pre-Calculus as well as AP Calculus. It will be interesting to note how this process develops, and how students who wish to advance will be allowed to do just that.
Update: Here are two Ashland City Times articles regarding this school board meeting. From what the first article states, it appears a committee was formed to explore which high school system is better: a four block system, or a 7 period system. That committee reportedly held off on a recommendation, pending the hiring of Webb. But it appears that committee never got the chance to make a recommendation, as Webb decided to pursue this change and approached the board.
In addition, one board member attempted to put off the calendar change for one academic year, giving parents time to plan their schedules accordingly. That attempt reportedly failed.
Here is one serious flaw in moving from a block system to a period system. With the block system, a student had the ability to gain 8 credits per year. Now, the maximum credits a student may gain will be reduced to 7 credits per year. So, a student will lose the ability to gain 4 credits. Will that mean that the graduation requirements for numbers of credits will be reduced? In addition, a 7 period system limits a student to a certain number of classes he/she may be able to take, as many classes have as a prerequisite that classes must be taken in a certain order. So, for students who wish to take the highest levels of math and science, for example, the way the classes are configured now would mean that incoming freshman next year would not be able to take dual enrollment courses their senior year. Isn’t dual enrollment something that makes students competitive? Isn’t that something that Webb has encouraged in earlier weekly updates?
Let’s look at math at HHS, for example [and of course our household has, because this issue directly affects our student]. Math offerings at HHS include:
- Algebra I
- Algebra II
- Advanced Algebra with Trigonometry
- Calculus I
- AP/Dual Enrollment Calculus
So, in summary, 7 math classes are offered at HHS. In the block system, if a student was diligent, then those 7 credits may be achieved [Please note that Algebra I is offered to qualified students in 8th grade in middle school. So, if a student took Algebra I in middle school, then 6 classes would be available to them in high school.]. This means, that even if a student passes each math class offered, only the first four classes may be gained [Again, please note, students who took Algebra I in middle school would be able to gain entry into the first 5 classes.]. These are sequential classes, meaning that the student must take each class, in order, for advancement through the math offerings.
Science has a similar sequential order with regards to class offerings:
- Biology I
- Physical Science
- Chemistry I
- Chemistry II
- Biology II
- Environmental Science
- AP Biology
In summary, Science has 8 offerings. How is a student to gain access to these classes, and gain access to the final AP/Dual Enrollment classes?
I would hope that the school board and Dr. Webb would look at how students would be allowed to advance if the student shows the ability and motivation to do so.
The school calendar change also poses plenty more questions. The time off surrounding Christmas Break will be shortened, the start date of school will be pushed back in August, Fall Break has been eliminated, Columbus Day will still be observed as a holiday, and school will end earlier in May. This appears to mean that school days are compressed together, and the time off for Summer Break will increase. Doesn’t student retention decrease during the Summer? Isn’t that one reason we changed the school calendar in the first place, namely shortening the Summer Break, so students could retain more of their knowledge, thus making students more competitive and prepared to learn the next academic year?
Stickman has contacted Dr. Webb personally, and has asked for his clarification on issues surrounding the calendar and 7 period high school schedule. Dr. Webb has shown in the past that he responds quickly to such inquiries. When he responds, we’ll post his reply here.
Update/February 18: From news that we have received from school officials, the number of credits that a student will need to graduate will eventually be dropped from the current 28 credits to 22 credits. This drop in credits is reportedly either going to occur next year, or will be a gradual drop in credits requirements over a period of 3 years [i.e., dropping to 26 credits next year, 24 credits the year after that, and then to 22 credits the third year]. The person to make the decision on when to drop the number of credit hours required to graduate will be Dr. Webb. The State of Tennessee currently asks that graduating students earn at least 22 credits to graduate. Our county will reportedly drop graduate credit requirements to meet that state minimum standard.
We also have not found an official school calendar for this next academic year. Hopefully, this will be rectified ASAP, as many families need that information to plan for child custody and visitation issues, as well as simply planning for vacations and doctor’s appointments.