Written by STEVE OSTERMANN
Wednesday, 01 October 2014 18:36
Group continues exploring alternatives to 7-period day that may give students more credits and electives, longer class times
Could Grafton High School students be better served by changing their daily schedule to provide more credits, elective courses and class time?
Officials are continuing to explore that possibility this fall by studying the advantages and disadvantages of other schedules, including those used by neighboring districts.
“I think some of our Grafton High School programs are slowly losing kids,” Supt. Mel Lightner told the School Board on Sept. 22.
“We need to look at other scheduling options.”
Grafton High School currently has a seven-period daily schedule that allows students to earn seven credits annually while they receive nearly 154 hours of instruction. However, students, parents and staff members have voiced concern that other schools offer more credits, longer times in lab courses and more electives.
“The question is, ‘Does this put our students at a competitive disadvantage in getting into college or competing for scholarships?’” Grafton High School Principal Ken McCormick asked the board.
McCormick said an advisory group formed in fall 2013 to study scheduling options has visited other schools to see what they are doing, including a trimester system at Homestead, 10-period day at Arrowhead and mode schedule at Milwaukee Pius. The group has also worked with Michael Rettig, a nationally recognized expert on school scheduling.
McCormick said an increased emphasis on core subjects and AP courses has resulted in fewer students taking elective courses.
“Are students missing an opportunity to explore learning in a more creative or practical discipline?” he asked.
Another concern, McCormick said, is that the current schedule doesn’t provide enough time for intervention, reinstruction and extended study.
Grafton High School currently offers 13 advanced-placement courses to help students prepare for college-level instruction. However, Lightner said curriculum should also be focused on life-enrichment classes.
“We want to have well-rounded students. We want to prepare students for life as well as college,” he said.
“Student achievement should not be the top priority in any change.”
McCormick said the advisory group has narrowed its research to three options: a block schedule with traditional and alternate days, a trimester schedule and a six-day cycle. The next step, he said, is for the group to identity what schedule best meets the needs of Grafton students and develop a plan to implement it, including a cost analysis.
This fall, a district survey will be distributed to obtain input on schedule preferences from parents, students and teachers.
McCormick said the group expects to bring a recommendation to the board in late November or early December. The board’s decision would go into effect in the 2015-16 school year.