• Alternate Scheduling FAQ

    How long has alternate scheduling Been Considered?

    The Board of Education has made the exploration of alternate scheduling a District goal since September 2015.

     

    What informed the need for an alternate schedule?

    A great deal of information that has been generated over the last few years regarding how school operate. Films such as Race to Nowhere and Most Likely To Succeed have highlighted the amount of stress that students experience under their current schedules, as well as the need to change how our children are educated to give them the skills needed to succeed in the future. Additionally, the District received information from all constituent groups through the climate survey that was issued in 2015 as well as the PRIDE surveys issued by the Community Coalition that reinforce the need to change the way that teaching and learning is conducted in our District. Concerns were raised regarding running the "factory model" of learning, where students attend multiple, short-duration classes during the day. This model has been in place in the United States since the 19th century. As the District looks to promote a more modern-day method of teaching, a more contemporary scheduling model would need to be implemented as well.

     

    When did the Alternate Scheduling Committee start?

    The Alternate Scheduling Committee came into existence in January 2016. The committee originally had eleven teachers and four administrators. Within the past year the committee has expanded to seventeen teachers and six administrators.

     

    Why was the Alternate Scheduling Committee created?

    The committee was originally created to explore alternate scheduling and propose an alternate scheduling model for the Middle School and High School. The committee spent a full year on researching and visiting schools that currently employ an alternate schedule. Different models of alternate schedules were discussed with some being immediately rejected due to the extreme changes that would be required in implementing them.

     

    What are the details about the schedule that was discussed at the November 19th Board of Education meeting?

    After deliberating between various types of schedules, the Alternate Scheduling committee settled on a rotating, drop one class schedule with a common lunch per building and a 21-minute “break” period. For students this translates to a “drop two” schedule as they will only be attending six out of their eight classes daily. Each period is 54 minutes long with three minute passing intervals. One class will drop each day. Additionally, there will be a break period of 21-minutes where students will engage in activities designed to reduce stress.

     

    What would the schedule look like?

    Models of the Middle School and High School proposed schedules can be seen below.

     

    MS - Eight-Day Rotating Schedule with 54 Minute Blocks

     

     

    Day 1

    Day 2

    Day 3

    Day 4

    Day 5

    Day 6

    Day 7

    Day 8

    7:50 - 8:43

    I

    1

    4

    7

    2

    5

    8

    3

    6

    8:46 - 9:39

    II

    2

    5

    8

    3

    6

    1

    4

    7

    9:42 - 10:35

    III

    3

    6

    1

    4

    7

    2

    5

    8

    10:38 - 11:31

    IV

    4

    7

    2

    5

    8

    3

    6

    1

    11:34 - 12:27

    Lunch

                   

    12:30 - 1:23

    V

    5

    8

    1:26 - 2:19

    VI

    6

    1

    4

    7

    2

    5

    8

    3

    2:22 - 2:40

    Extra Help

    7

    2

    5

    8

    3

    6

    1

    4

     

    HS - Eight-Day Rotating Schedule with 54 Minute Blocks

     

     

    Day 1

    Day 2

    Day 3

    Day 4

    Day 5

    Day 6

    Day 7

    Day 8

    7:50 - 8:43

    I

    1

    4

    7

    2

    5

    8

    3

    6

    8:46 - 9:39

    II

    2

    5

    8

    3

    6

    1

    4

    7

    9:42 - 10:35

    III

    3

    6

    1

    4

    7

    2

    5

    8

    10:38 - 11:31

    Lunch

                   

    11:34 - 12:27

    IV

    12:30 - 1:23

    V

    5

    8

    3

    6

    1

    4

    7

    2

    1:26 - 2:19

    VI

    6

    1

    4

    7

    2

    5

    8

    3

    2:22 - 2:40

    Extra Help

    7

    2

    5

    8

    3

    6

    1

    4

     

    What are the benefits of moving to an alternate schedule?

    The schedule that is being considered would add additional time to each period. Having longer class periods would allow students to engage in more hands-on, student centered activities which would promote a deeper understanding of the material.

    Students would also get to experience all of their classes at different parts of the day. All people experience various levels of alertness during the day. Having classes rotate throughout the day allows students to experience all of their classes when they are at their strongest.

    Having a day where fewer classes meet also reduces the number of different classes per day where a student would have to focus. Instead of having to shift their focus eight times per day, they would only have to do this six times per day. There would also be fewer stops and starts to learning during the day with a reduced number of courses.

     

    What are the possible downsides to the proposed schedule?

    One of the issues that had been brought up in the new schedule is the lack of continuity of classes. Currently every one-credit class meets every day. Under the new schedule, each class would drop once per cycle and would fall into the break period once per cycle. Some teachers have stated that this is not optimal as students will forget information if not continuously reinforced. However, students currently do not get reinforcement over weekends and vacations without a substantial loss of content retention. Additionally, many other high performing school districts run schedules that drop meeting periods and their students’ learning is not compromised.

    Another commonly stated concern is that students have a short attention span. Research often states the length of this attention span at ten to fifteen minutes. The change from forty minutes to fifty four minutes is not relevant in terms of this issue as class periods are already outside of the predicted range. Classes should currently be and will continue to have to be restructured so that student engagement is maximized. The extended class time will allow for deeper engagement with material, especially when combined with the concepts of problem-based learning which is experiential by design.

    Why fix something that isn't broken?

    It is often stated that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." Many people feel that since the current schedule appears to be providing our students with a good education, there is no reason to change it. However, it has been recognized by all constituents in the District that there is a need to change the concept of what we consider to be effective learning, particularly in our ability to implement project- and problem-based learning, which is another forward-thinking initiative in the District. Information retention and repetition no longer is sufficient. The move to a new schedule will provide students with the learning experiences necessary for them to master the twenty-first century skills that are essential in today's work place.

     

    Why should students embrace this change?

    Moving to longer class periods will allow students to spend more time focusing on content for a specific class. This will lead to a deeper understanding and a longer retention of the material. The need to cram for tests will be alleviated. Having a class drop regularly will give students the opportunity to digest and process the material that they have been learning. For upper classmen, the move to longer class periods will more closely mirror the learning environment that they will encounter in college. They will start to develop the time management skills now that will help them succeed in college and beyond.

     

    Will the school start and stop times change?

    In the proposed schedule, the school day for the Middle School and High School would start at 7:45 a.m., which is five minutes earlier than the current start time. The school day would end at 2:45 p.m., which is five minutes later than the end times for both buildings.

     

    Was there any student engagement in the process of developing the schedule?

    Students have been engaged in multiple points in the process. First, student input was generated during our Race to Nowhere discussions, from the District's Climate and Community Coalition PRIDE surveys, as well as from a High School student survey in December 2017 which focused on alternate scheduling topics. Second, alternate scheduling has been a topic of discussion at High School Congress meetings for the past three years. Feedback from those meetings was integrated into the schedule as it was developed.

     

    Will alternate day classes have enough time to meet?

    Many electives and courses, such as physical education, are currently scheduled as alternate day schedules. If these courses were scheduled in the same manner in the new schedule, they would end up meeting for three of the eight days due to either one class falling on a drop day or falling during the break period.

    It is important to note that the plan is not to schedule things as they currently are, but to schedule them appropriately in the new schedule. The principals are confident that the issue of scheduling these classes will be resolved during the upcoming scheduling discussions. Conversations have begun with teachers as to how their courses will be scheduled. 

     

    How would courses that are currently double periods work under the new schedule?

    Some classes, such as Middle School English and science classes with labs, are currently scheduled for double periods. Each of these classes will be reviewed individually during the normal scheduling process to determine the best way to schedule each one. With a new schedule it is important to look for the best way to schedule each class rather than to simply replicate what was done in the old schedule.

     

    We hear so much about children today having limited attention spans. Wouldn't extending class periods lead to more student boredom and waste class time?

    Most of the research that is referenced states that the average child's attention span is around fifteen minutes. This would result is a lack of productive educational time regardless of how long class periods were if students are doing the same activity for a full period. However, it has been a District goal to create educational experiences in the classroom that are varied and engaging for students. The District has used the problem-based learning (PBL) framework as a guideline for developing these types of lessons. This type of learning benefits from longer class periods as students take part in multiple activities during a class that are all designed to reinforce the concepts that the students are learning.

    How will students receive academic assistance under the new schedule?

    Under the current schedule, teachers are scheduled for an academic assistance period during the day and are available for extra help at the end of the day. Students who have a free period during the period where their teacher is assigned academic assistance could take advantage of their teacher's availability. Those who do not could meet with another teacher in the department who might be able to help them with the content or have to try to get to their teacher during the activity period at the end of the day.

    Under the new schedule, teachers will be scheduling their academic assistance time throughout the day. Teachers can schedule time during the break period (HS only), the student lunch period, free periods during the day or before or after school. Giving teachers this flexibility allows them to set up times when their students are more likely to be available for extra help, rather than assigning a random period where students may have other classes scheduled.

     

    I have heard that students will receive more homework in a class on the day that it drops. Is this accurate?

    The concern here is that teachers will be missing a day of class and will want students to continue work that would have gone on during the missing period. This should not be the case. Assuming the total amount of homework that would be assigned is a constant number, then one of two scenarios would occur. In the first scenario, teachers would give extra homework every night to match the extra work. This would mean that no additional work would need to be given during the drop day as all homework needs would be met on regular class days. The other scenario would be where the amount of work assigned per night would remain the same as is currently given. In this case, the amount of work assigned would be exactly what is assigned now. This is a “worst-case” scenario as the work that teachers are doing with PBL and active learner classrooms will provide alternate options for assessing student learning. Homework will change with the change in pedagogy.

     

    Can the cafeteria handle serving an entire school building at once? Where Will Students Eat If There Is a Common Lunch Period?

    Under the proposed schedule, all High School students will have lunch during one period and all Middle School students will have lunch during the following period. It has been confirmed that there is sufficient room in the Middle School cafeteria, Commons and Senior locker area for all Middle School students and all High School students to eat in these spaces during each school’s common lunch time. Some minor renovations will have to be made. Additional furniture will have to be purchased in order to accommodate all students. Students can also use the patio area outside of the Middle School cafeteria when weather permits.

    The District's Food Service Director, Patricia Dilluvio, has been looking into ways of changing food service under the common lunch. Some ideas that have developed are the purchasing of a pre-ordering system for some food as well as setting up kiosks in various locations for the purchase of snacks.

     

    I heard that the seniors will have to give up their locker area to make room for students during the common lunch periods. Is this true?

    No. Students will have to sit in that area during lunch time, but there are no plans to remove the lockers or alter the space.

     

    The few times that there have been a common dismissal for the Middle School and High School, it has led to backups in the parking lot. How will this be addressed with the new schedule?

    A concern has been raised regarding having a common dismissal time for both the Middle School and High School. The concern is that the common dismissal will cause traffic backups and potentially dangerous situations in the parking lot during dismissal. This has been confirmed with the experiences that the Middle School/High School security monitors have had during early dismissals when both schools are dismissed at the same time. The main issue that has caused this delay is the traffic light at the exit of the Middle School/High School property. During regular dismissal this light is timed to allow more cars to exit the property more quickly. During the rest of the day, including at early dismissal times, the green light on the exit lasts for a shorter time which causes a backup in all traffic. Other solutions are being explored.

     

    Many High School students visit guidance counselors frequently during lunch time. This is especially true for Seniors during college application time. Will the creation of a common lunch time cause a problem for student access to counselors?

    Another recent addition to concerns is the idea that High School seniors need frequent access to guidance counselors during the early months of senior year. As many seniors have used their lunch period for this purpose, there is concern with a common lunch that counselors would not have enough available time to meet with all of the students who need to see them. In the new schedule there are other times, such as the break period, when students could meet with counselors. It should be noted that the High School currently has four guidance counselors with a student-to-counselor ratio of 118:1 expected next year. 

     

    Will the gyms be double booked more frequently due to the new schedule?

    There was a misconception, in looking at the current schedules of the Middle School and High School physical education teachers, that there would be much more “doubling up” of gym spaces due to overlapping courses. Administration has reviewed all current schedules and found that the actual occurrence of two physical education courses was very low. In the cases where this does happen, it is possible to have the classes alternate between using an alternate location (outside fields, fitness room) and using the gym.

     

    What other local districts are using or are planning to go to a form of block scheduling?

    Many school districts in the area have already changed their schedules from the traditional version to a schedule with expanded time periods. Changes vary from the radical 4x4 model to extended teaching periods throughout the day. A list of local school districts that have moved to a more flexible schedule include:

    • Bedford
    • Briarcliff
    • Bronxville
    • Byram Hills
    • Chappaqua
    • Croton-Harmon
    • Dobbs Ferry
    • Greenwich
    • Hastings
    • Mamaroneck
    • Scarsdale

     Additionally, the Rye and Somers school districts announced this year that they will be moving to a drop block schedule as well.