Gathering Student Feedback on the Thompson High School Schedule

December 8th, 2013 by Diane Lauer Leave a reply »
feedbac-surveyThank you for taking some time to visit this blog and share your student thoughts about the Thompson School District high school schedule and in the future, the revised graduation guidelines that will affect students in who are presently in middle school.

Who is working on the changes to the High School schedule?

dlMy name is Diane Lauer, and I am the executive director of instruction. I was a teacher and then principal at Conrad Ball Middle School for a number of years before I started working at the district office to support teachers and the subjects they teach.
mcWorking with me is Margaret Crespo, the executive director of secondary education. She is a former high school teacher, counselor and principal.  She works to support our secondary schools be the very best they can be.
Together, we have been working with a task force of about 30 teachers, parents and principals to better understand the new state graduation guidelines that were approved in May of 2013.  We are calling the group that is working on all of this the Thompson to Life task force.  
P.S. – We need students on the task force, email me if you want to be on the task force that meets after school once a month.

Why change the high school schedule?

Our district understands that there are a lot of rumors about the possible high school schedule change.  It’s been hard to get information to everyone about what is going on.  So, we are trying out an idea of putting information in this blog to see if this helps…
house-bowed-walls 2That main reason we are discussing a change to the current high school schedule is because Colorado developed some new state graduation requirements and we need to look at ways to prepare for these new state regulations that will affect the students who are now in middle school.
The high school schedule is like the foundation of a house, we need to make certain that this structure will be able to hold up the revisions to the graduation requirements when we get ready to make them.

What is working and what isn’t working with the current schedule?

It’s important to consider the benefits and issues we have with the current schedule before we make any change. We’ve heard over the years a number of issues with the current schedule, like:
  • thumbs-up-and-downwe don’t have enough sections of the classes students want to take
  • we have too many conflicts with classes and students have to choose between classes that are only offered once
  • some students have to take study hall when they don’t want to because there isn’t any other class available, or
  • students have to take other classes they don’t care about very much, or have an open block when they don’t really want one.

We are also aware that many parents are concerned about student who have too much unsupervised time during the day because of 90-long open blocks, especially when these blocks are next to lunch!

Finally, we have to figure out a way so that teachers don’t switch in the middle of the year.  Too many of our students start the year with one teacher in the fall and finish the year with a different teacher in the spring. Our new Colorado teacher evaluations make this really difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of teachers, so we need to figure out a way we can stop this.  Changing the schedule can be a way we get some of these issues resolved.

Survey-mouseYour thoughts are needed!

You have important concerns about moving away from a 4 block schedule.  We are very interested in your perspective and hope that you can provide us with more information.

Follow this link to a Survey and share your thoughts with us.  You can also leave comments on this blog!

Here are the questions we will ask in the survey…

  1. ​What are some things you like ​about having 90 minute long classes every other day?
  2. What are some of the challenges you notice about having 90 minute long classes every other day?​​
  3. ​When a 90 minute class is really engaging and you feel like the time you spend is valuable to your learning, how would you describe what class looks and feels like?
  4. When a 90 minute class is not engaging and you feel like the time could be organized better to support your learning, how would you describe what the class looks and feels like?
  5. We’ve heard that homework is a BIG concern for changing the schedule. About much time do you spend on homework nightly/per class?
  6. What classes give the most homework?
  7. What do you think about a schedule that had 8 period (about 50 minutes long) 3 days a week, and 4 blocks (about 95 minutes) two days a week?
  8. What do you think about a schedule that compacted certain classes during the day (in an 8 period schedule) that really need more time?
  9. Are there classes that must be 90 minutes? Please provide a list.
  10. Are there classes that could be offered smaller blocks of time? Give examples.
  11. What are your biggest concerns related to changing the schedule?
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9 comments

  1. Tiffany smith says:

    This will hurt the AP students. This is not fair to them and the time they need. I know first hand seen it from other schools who did these changes. Grade points dropped severly

    • Profile photo of Diane Lauer Diane Lauer says:

      Thank you Tiffany for sharing your thoughts. We are committed to develop a schedule that provides a strong foundation for learning, especially for those students who need additional supports due to the rigorous course loads found in an AP sequence.

  2. Tiffany Smith says:

    My children moved into this school system two years ago and have done so well. They were so happy to be doing so great and get into AP classes. The 90 mins has help them progress and become proud of their abilities. Changing back to what they left I know will harm this. They have stated this and their fears. I have one as a freshman striving for grades that he never thought were possible and achieving them. Now he talkes about these changes and fears that he will not accomplish all he wants before graduation. Taking the light and the drive away from him would severly taint mine and his opinion of a school system that he has done nothing but praise since he started here. I dont think you guys realize enough of what your current system does for the children. Stop ask them…this is their future that you are putting in danger.

  3. Jeanette Minnich says:

    I think this blog is a really good idea to get information and feedback from more people. I think the concerns on both sides of the issue are valid–my family has experienced some of the problems of the block schedule. My kids also are concerned with how the homework load would be adjusted to continue to allow them to do extracurricular activities that mean so much to them. I haven’t yet read “The Homework Myth”, but would be curious as to whether the volume of homework actually does benefit the kids’ learning as much as teachers hope it does. I’m inclined to think they won’t need as much homework if they meet more often during the week.

    • Profile photo of Diane Lauer Diane Lauer says:

      The Homework Myth would be a good resource for our homework subcommittee. We also need to look at the literature on homework to better understand the best practices for what should and what shouldn’t be assigned, how much should and shouldn’t be assigned and of course, the perspectives of homework from our students’ point of view.

  4. Brenda says:

    How does compressing the same number of classes into one day instead of two solve these problems?

    • Profile photo of Diane Lauer Diane Lauer says:

      Thanks for your question, it is one that is important to understand. In an 8 period day, our teachers will teach 6 of 8 periods each day, giving us, in a school with 100 teachers 75 sections open each period. In our current system, teachers teach 5 of 8 sections during one semester and 6 of 8 sections in the other semester. This gives us 11 of 16 teaching sections over the course of the year, or 68 sections available each period. If we move to an 8 period day with our current contractual agreements around planning time, we will be able to open additional sections for students and provide greatly flexibility allowing more students to get the courses they desire, with fewer scheduling conflicts and fewer unwanted open blocks.

  5. Amy Wolf says:

    I have two students in the high school level…both are in the AP classes available to them (one has 5, one has 6). One of them is Autistic. Changes are EXTREMELY detrimental to him. The thought that the schedule may change already has him stressing out !! He has more difficulties focusing this last couple of weeks because this change is consuming so much of his mind ! Last year, when Walt Clark had its crazy messed up schedule, it took almost 10 minutes into each class before he could calm himself down enough to actually focus — he was so worried that he was going to go to the wrong class… The way the schedule is now; alternating days with the class periods moving in the logical 1-4 & 5-8, has helped both my boys focus & not waste energy/time on schedule stuff !! The current schedule is actually preparing them well for college – alternating days & longer class times. The longer times are better for PE classes, too, allowing the ample time to dress out & accomplish their activities.
    In our house, keeping the current schedule is much more important than changing instructors at semester break. Thank you for doing all you are before making this monumental decision.

    • Profile photo of Diane Lauer Diane Lauer says:

      Amy, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts about the proposed schedule revisions. Know that the “snake” schedule that was used at WCMS last year is not one of the options being considered. I am sorry that the proposed changes is causing undue stress. We hope to continue to raise awareness across our community so that students, staff and families understand the potential benefits and advantages we can obtain from such a change.

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