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Middle School Scheduling

Programming Proposal

Why Change?
Review requested by parent and staff members on strategic planning team (2009) Concern that not all students had access to exploratory and elective options Curricular Changes Ongoing concerns that programming among middle schools varied too widely

Reading course differences Intervention differences Foreign language intro differences Art & Career and Technical Education (CTE) differences

Rationale for Program Change The Process and Goal Development The Proposal (with working definitions) Sample Schedule Primary Differences Concerns and Benefits Preparation for April 22 Work Session

Process for Review & Revision

After receiving request to review, held local review little consensus; decided we needed another lens Asked Dr. Michael Rettig, School Scheduling Associates for an audit (2011)

Interviewed school personnel Developed a report

Three statements were noted by FCPS administration: structure of intervention period needs attention; the district needs to decide on level of consistency..related to electives ; analysis of time for core areas vs. elective classes

Began revision options & discussions with middle school principals (principals shared ideas at their discretion with staff) Developed goals


Consistent instructional program (core, electives, and exploratory) among FCPS middle schools Increased instructional time for core areas: language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science
Current core course length: 48 minutes Goal: core course length: at least 60-65 Thirteen more minutes a day will give students one hour+ more of instruction per week in the core areas.

The full range of exploratory offerings provided for all students Maintain student teaming when possible, most important in 6th and 7th Foreign language exploration for all students prior to high school credit course Extended time for high school foreign language instruction Input Technologies (keyboarding) for every student Ability for music students to take other electives Ability to provide remediation/intervention at multiple points during the school day Ability to offer approved "local choice" options for schools Reduction in the size of PE classes

Process for Review & Revision


Developed a final concept proposal, presented to principals in Jan.-Feb. 2013 February-March 2013: shared concept with counselors; related arts teachers Continued to refine the concept based on input Provided preview to the board & continued to take input Presentation to Board, April 2013.

The Concept Proposal


Working Definitions

Core Period: time during which Language Arts, Math, Social Studies and Science are offered Encore Period: time during which PE, Music, Foreign Language and Exploratory Wheel courses are offered Exploratory Wheel: a series of required courses taken in six-week segments in 6th and 7th grade Elective: a student-selected course, such as music and foreign language; in 8th: art, music, foreign language, or other CTE in 8th grade Local Choice: a class offered on the exploratory wheel or as an elective developed and selected at the local school level from a division-approved list. These choices are based on staff availability and interest, as we do now.


All 6th graders take Language Arts; Pre-Alg. : Course 1 or Pre-Alg. : Course 2; US History II; and Science 6 [60-66 minutes] 6th graders have two (2) "Encore" Periods [ 54-62 min.]
Music students take music and PE on an alternating day schedule during one of these periods Non-music students take PE every day during one of these periods During the other period, all 6th graders (music and non-music) take keyboarding, art, family and consumer science (FACS), Tech Ed, foreign language exploration, and a "local choice" in six week rotations.

Local choice courses may be: intervention sessions, special education resource sessions, fitness, agriculture, drama, STEM Exploration. Others may be possible. Year one of implementation will determine what can be offered and approved.


All 7th graders take Language Arts 7; Pre-Alg: Course 2 or Algebra 1*, Civics/Econ; Life Science 7 [60-66 minutes] 7th graders have two (2) "Encore" Periods [ 54-62 min.] Music students take music and PE on an alternating day schedule during one of these periods Non-music students take PE every day during one of these periods During the other encore period, students electing to begin formal study of foreign language take foreign language (semester) and three exploratory courses; students not electing to take foreign language take Computer applications, art, FACS, Tech Ed, and two local choice options in six week rotations. Local choice courses are the same offered in 6th grade.



All 8th graders take Language Arts 8; Pre-Alg.: Course 3, Algebra 1, or Geometry; World Geography; Physical Science [60-66 minutes]
8th graders may continue to elect to take music:
Music students take music and PE on an alternating day during one elective period Non-music students take PE every day during one elective period

8th graders have these additional elective options:

Students may choose two semester options: art, computer applications, FACS, Tech Systems, and a local elective as offered in 6th and 7th; OR Students may take a (for high school credit) year-long foreign language course


Sample Middle School Schedule A

Grade 6
(372/ 415)*

Core 1 7:30-8:36 66

Core 2 8:39-9:45 66

Core 3 9:48-10:54 66

Lunch 10:5711:22

Core 4 11:25-12:31 66

Encore 1** 12:34-1:28

Encore 2 ** 1:31-2:25




Grade 7 (372/ 415)*

Encore 1** 7:30-8:24 54

Encore 2** 8:27-9:21 54

Core 1 9:24-10:29 65

Lunch 10:3210:57

Core 2 11:00-12:07 67

Core 3 12:10-1:16 66

Core 4 1:19-2:25 66


Grade 8 (372/ 415)*

Period 1 7:30-8:32 62

Period 2 8:35-9:37 62

Period 3*** (Elective) 9:40-10:42


Period 4*** Lunch 11:50(Elective) 10:45-11:47 12:15


Period 5 12:18-1:20 62

Period 6 1:23 -2:25 62


*According to the FCPS web site, middle schools begin the day at 7:30 am and end at 2:25 pm for a total of 415 minutes. This sample schedule allows 18 minutes for six 3-minute transitions, plus a lunch period of 25 minutes.**approximately 7 minutes longer than current exploratories *** approximately 16minutes longer than current electives

Sample Middle School Schedule B

Grade 6 (372/ 415)* Grade 7 (372/ 415)* Grade 8 (372/ 415)* Core 1 7:30-8:32 62 Core 2 8:35-9:37 62 Core 3 9:40-10:42 62
Lunch 10:4511:10

Core 4 11:13-12:15 62

Encore 1** 12:18-1:20 62**

Encore 2** 1:23-2:25 62**


Encore 1** 7:30-8:32 62

Encore 2** 8:35-9:37 62

Core 1 9:40-10:42 62

Core 2

Lunch 11:17 11:42

Core 2

Core 3 12:18-1:20 62

Core 4 1:23-2:25 62




Period 1 7:30-8:32 62

Period 2 8:35-9:37 62

Period 3** (Elective) 9:40-10:42 62

Period 4** (Elective) 10:45-11:47 62

Lunch 11:5012:15

Period 5 12:18-1:20 62

Period 6 1:23-2:25 62


*According to the FCPS web site, middle schools begin the day at 7:30 am and end at 2:25 pm for a total of 415 minutes. This sample schedule allows 18 minutes for six or seven transitions, plus a lunch period of 25 minutes. **approximately 15 minutes longer than current exploratory/elective periods


Current Schedule
Core Subjects : ~45-49 minutes Non-music students take IT*/keyboarding CTE courses - different lengths (4, 6, 9 wks) 7 or 8 period day Music in 7th and 8th daily PE for music students, daily High school foreign language 1 yr
Remed./Inter./ Enrich . period

Proposed Schedule
Core Subjects : 60 minutes or more All students take IT/keyboarding All CTE courses six weeks 6 period day Music in 7th and 8th on alternating day PE for music students, alternating day High school foreign language 1.5 yr
Remed./Inter./ Enrich . for

-- ALL

those who need it

Part-time teachers must travel during day

PT teachers can travel on alternating day

*IT=input technologies

Primary Differences

Reduced instructional time for music Reduced instructional time in PE for music students Reduced instructional time in exploratory classes (9 weeks to 6 weeks
for some)

Insufficient time for implementation Will require transitional adjustments: accommodate changes in IT/keyboarding and foreign language; professional development; staffing adjustments; on-going adjustments with new implementation.


Concerns -- Comments
Music teachers will not be able to cover the full content.
[music teacher in 3/13/13 meeting with S. Mitchell]

Why reduce PE time [for music students] when we are fighting a teenage obesity problem?
[PE teacher in 3/13/13 meeting with S. Mitchell]

How will they perform when they go to competition? The quality will be reduced.
[parent in music parent forum on 4/3/13]


Concerns Comments (continued)

This [change] would cut instruction time and cripple our ability to maintain our very successful music programs. Every good music program walks a tightrope of "If my group sounds good and scores well at competitions, more students will join. If more students join, my group will sound good and score well at competitions." We have seen Shenandoah County make similar changes, as well as Loudoun County, and both have seen serious declines in numbers, in scores at competitions, in participation at competitions, and in pride in their music programs. It affects their high school programs as well, with less students being selected for All-Virginia music groups, and less music scholarships for college-bound seniors.
[Music teacher , Facebook, sent by a parent to S. Mitchell]


Consistent programming in all middle schools Ability for middle schools to continue to have some uniqueness based on student population and staff expertise Music students no longer have to choose between music and exploratory coursework in 6th and 7th a fundamental feature of middle school Has built in opportunity for various approaches to intervention for students who need it (e.g., on-going academic help in local choice time; use
of the alternate PE schedule for high-needs students; flexibility within core time to have reading specialists, math specialists, special education teachers and assistants to work with small groups of students)

More time for initial formal foreign language study (increasing proficiency in foreign language) Increased time to deepen learning in core academic subjects
(increase of about an hour a week)


Benefits - Comments

I have both A/B classes and non-A/B classes and I find no loss in the ability to learn and retain information in my classes, especially since most classes start with a few minutes of review. In my opinion, we need to focus on the purpose and meaning of the exploratory courses; students will be introduced to the possible subjects that will be offered to them in 8th grade through high school.. I agree with the [change] because it allows students to explore more options for their future consideration.
[ an FCPS CTE Teacher]

I would rather my child be proficient in Math and English. She is very musical, plays numerous instruments, sings beautifully, but studies come first.
[Parent, Delaplane, e-mail to S Mitchell, 2/20/13]


Benefits: Comments (continued)

I cannot thank you enough for your part in getting expanded time to teach the first year [of foreign language] on the new schedule. It is wonderful. Not only is it great to get 61 minute classes, we have an extra semester to teach it in. I think that sixth graders will enjoy having the exploratory class. I think the new schedule is very creative, especially with the six-week exploratories. Core teachers are also excited about having more time to teach the students material for their [standards]. [a FCPS foreign language teacher in e-mail to L. Hoover] I know what you are talking about. It was difficult for me to choose between orchestra and the wheelit was a choice I didnt want to make. [ 8th grade student at School Support Council meeting, 4/4/13]


Whats Next for School Board?

Scheduling not in policy, but transparency is our intent Requesting the Boards approval of concept on May 13, 2013 Work Session on April 22, 2013

Curricular changes Timing of this change; timeline Your questions