8 period schedule, 4x4

Pros and Cons


For more information, please see: 8 period schedule, 4x4 .

For alternatives in school restructuring, please visit: School improvement


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Pros

  • Students: more schedule flexibility for students. Students seem solidly behind the schedule (ozequeira).
  • More flexibility to schedule: facilitates innovation in school curriculum, course offerings (ozequeira)
  • 50 percent more planning time for teachers, less contact time: 3 hours every 2 days instead of 2 for 2. Consequently, 1 hour less of contact time every two days. Only 75% of time is spent in contact with students v 83% in a 5 classes out of 6 schedule (ozequeira).
  • Planning usually every day for teachers on block schedules.
  • (Coral Gables Senior High) Marketing plus for the International Baccalaureate program: more flexible schedule for IB students (ozequeira).
  • Prevents dropouts?: People who do not graduate with their class are considered dropouts? Students like the extra opportunities to pass required courses (ozequeira).

Cons

What you are actually voting for is to give up your right to a sixth period supplement. Once you are teaching the six periods there is no reason to give a seventh period supplement unless you have a self-contained ESE class. If they wanted to they could have the 4x4 implemented. You would teach 5 periods and the elective teachers would still have a full class load and anyone who needed a sixth period supplement would get it. The district would still have to pay for that sixth period supplement.

Quality
  • The 8 period schedule creates what many have termed a "shopping mall high school" (Sizer, Horace's School), which reduces the rigor of education and increases student segregation.
  • The 8 period schedule was sold in part on the tradeoff between reduced contact time and increased planning. It has been argued that the increased planning time should be more than enough to handle the paperwork. What is not discussed is that, for the students, the real tradeoff is between reduced contact time and increased teacher paperwork. If what Deming says is true, that quotas like the grades per week requirement reduce quality, then we have taken away from the students what they really need, the opportunity for quality instruction from a teacher, and replaced it with paperwork, a low-quality product. What if, by increasing paperwork and student loads for teachers, we have further reinforced mediocrity at our schools? See Grades requirements. (ozequeira)
  • Quality control: if the 8 period schedule is truly improving school quality, where are the quality control measures to see that the 8 period schedule actually works? (ozequeira)
  • Doubts that 8 period schools are not showing improvement, and actually lowered in school grades disproportionately (ozequeira).
  • Makes room for ineffective remedial reading and math classes
  • If the 8 period schedule is an adjustment for these ineffective requirements, schools could pursue waivers for those requirements through their EESAC committees. (ozequeira)
  • No solid research supporting 8 periods.
  • If an 8 period schedule is so great for students, why wasn't it used before? Can students handle the 8 classes? (ozequeira)

Class size amendment v contact time
Why is less contact with students a selling point? (ozequeira)

Does meeting your students every other day create a problem for you and what you teach, as in foreign language? Does giving away 25% of your contact time increase the likelihood that your students will leave you well prepared?

On the 4x4, over two school weeks you would meet your students 5 times for 90 minutes every other day. The total class time for two weeks is 450 minutes or 7.5 hours. If you teach on a standard schedule you meet your classes 10 times for 60 minutes each or 600 minutes or 10 hours over two school weeks. Can you give away 2.5 hours every other week and get done what you need to have done? I can't! I want back the time taken away for FCAT tests and for Interim tests, not give away class time.

The school system is being disingenious. They say that you can increase electives for Level I and Level II students, but who took away those electives? Who required those students to take an extra reading or extra math class or both?

The school system also kills two birds with one stone: if you have 150 students in 5 periods on a standard schedule your class load is 30 students per class. If they get teachers to teach the same 150 students on a 4x4 schedule, you teach your 150 students in six classes and the class size is now 25 per class. That solves their problem of reducing class size (which they certainly will brag about), but they won't be telling the whole story that to achieve this they reduced contact time with the most important person in the system, you, the teacher.

My friends tell me that FCAT scores have fallen in all the 4x4 high schools, and that AP teachers scheduled Saturday meetings with their students to cover their material adequately (Anonymous user).



Saves the district money on teachers?
How many teachers at the school would teach a sixth period for free?

If it is between 60 and 300 times the sixth period supplement which should range between 6 and 12 thousand dollars, then $360,000 - $3,600,000 is the range of what the teachers have given up, and Dr. Crew gives the school from $300,000 - $1,500,000.

How much do you really think it's costing him to run SSR?

8 supplements, extra classes teachers agree to teach for pay = 1 teacher that MDCPS does not have to pay benefits for.

8 periods and surplusing in 2008
Does 8 periods allow schools to surplus more teachers during budget cuts?

8 periods and teacher shortages
Not even the 4x4, (every 5 core teachers that teach a free 6th period equals 1 less new hire) will save them from the critical shortage crisis (Anonymous).

Once it's in, it stays?
Newly-hired teachers will vote to keep it?

Testing
The ratio of testing to instructional time increases in core classes, as testing has not been reduced, if not increased (ozequeira).

Where are the books?
Are books keeping up with the number of students in your classes?

More work for dwindling pay and benefits
  • MDCPS has the money to pay for this, but not for our health insurance (MDCPS support staff member, ozequeira)?
  • Each 8 period school costs around 1 million dollars to implement. There are at least 20 schools with 8 period schedules. There are your 20 million dollars for health insurance (ozequeira).
  • Salaries have not kept up with the rate of inflation in Miami-Dade County for the past 10 years (ozequeira based on Shawn Beightol's research).
  • Increased paperwork: More classes means more grades by School Board rule, 9 per quarter. Some schools try to force their teachers to do more. Meantime, W. Edwards Deming, who taught the Japanese to outperform us, says such quotas hurt organizations by reducing quality. Teachers respond to higher grade quotas with more meaningless grades and/or assignments. (ozequeira)
  • Increased likelihood of additional preps: a greater likelihood of this occurring. I received an additional one this year. (ozequeira)
  • More students per teacher: Does that reduce the quality of interaction? Does it make school more impersonal and less effective? (ozequeira)
  • Excessive class size for electives: At least one school EESAC wrote limits of around 30 students in electives into their School Improvement Plan. (ozequeira)


Coercion by downtown administrators to adopt this leads to doubts about the intentions behind the push.
Regarding the concerns about pressure on teachers to accept the 4x4, a comment from Financial Operations, the Office of Budget Management at the School Board planning meeting on 07-05 sent a chill through me. This would need follow-up, but my notes included a comment about 4x4 where the lady said that there are "only 12 we have to do."

Is the staggered election schedule being used to maximize downtown influence at the schools?

Actually, the new schools are opening already with the 4x4. Jorge Mas Canosa is a middle school that opened this academic year with a 4x4. By having more schools (new schools) on the 4x4 they are trying to guarantee the complete installation of the 4x4 in the district. Another school that started with the 4x4 is Ronald Reagan Senior. Does anybody know about South Dade Middle? (Ariana Garcia Minsal)

Are administrators receiving bonuses if their schools vote in favor of 8 periods? There have been many rumors about this. (ozequeira)


Accountability
Teachers are not to have a greater load due to the 4x4 than the previous year. However, there is no mechanism in place for this to be verified en masse at the school site. Thus, it is left up to individual teachers to complain. (ozequeira)

Supplement issues
Since all teachers will be teaching a 6th period by contract, the chances of supplements decrease. Usually the classes that grow are the electives, since the students get to take more electives, but if you are not an elective teacher, you will have less probabilities to teach a supplement.

Mathematically: Let's say that a science department has 20 teachers in a 3x3 schedule with all teachers teaching a 6th period supplement. That means the dept teaches 120 classes. Let's say that with a 4x4 ten more sessions of elective sciences opened up. Since all 20 teachers must teach 6 periods by contract (no supplement) only 10 teachers have the opportunity of teaching a 7th period supplement. 50% of the dept will be left without supplement. That is making the generous assumption that 10 sessions opened up. Usually students sign up for electives in business, music, arts, not in math, science or language arts. (Ariana Garcia Minsal)

Divide & conquer: supplements in tandem with the voting process can be used to leverage the 8 period schedule.

Supplements can become a slush fund for administrators to reward and punish. In contrast, Gandhi wrote that one should not wish anything onto onself that all others cannot have (ozequeira).

The district wants to save money by cutting teachers supplements. In addition to that, students will not have to attend night school or summer school to make up for their failing subjects. With the 4x4 they have 8 extra credits (graduation requirement is 24) since they will be graduating with 32. They can easily fail your class because they can take it again next year.
The 4x4 inflates GPA's. Students will be entering college with a higher GPA due to extra electives. A student with a 3.0 in a 4x4 school of 32 credits could be equivalent to a 2.8 in a 24 credit school. But the student with a 2.8 GPA may be better prepared for college. (Ariana Garcia Minsal)

Dropout prevention
http://ssr.dadeschools.net/faq.asp

I found it to be pure propaganda and filled with half-truths - if not flat out lies. The theme is to save our dropouts. The 4x4 is the answer to decreasing dropout rates.

I learned something new yesterday... shame on me for not knowing as a high school educator but... if a student does not graduate with the graduating class (May/June) and even though they make up credits during the summer session... they are still recorded as a dropout.

So, the push for the 4x4 (by the way the DISTRICT is now calling it an 8 period day... WHY?)is not reform but an effort to mask the numbers of students who are drop-outs. If a student fails a core class under the "8 period day" they can make up that credit during the
regular school day. They may not need to attend summer school in the summer after their scheduled graduation date and then statistically, they are no longer a dropout.

Here's my take... right now the 4x4 or "8 period" day is a saving grace the Crew's data driven miracle in Miami (Anonymous).