Students filling additional slot on schedule next year, change hopes to eliminate EOC stress

Next year, students at all three high schools will be filling one more slot on their schedules as they move to an 8-period class day.
The change will increase the school day by eight minutes. Classes will start at 7:45 and end at 2:58. There will be no change in passing period length and there would still be two lunches.
Principal Judy McDonald said the reason for proposing the switch to 8-period days is so that “students can get in all classes that are required.”
“Since [EOC tests] are course specific, they will have to pass English 1, English 2,” McDonald said. “If a student fails an EOC, they are required to be in an accelerated instruction class [the next year.”]
According to Spanish teacher and committee member Lisa Williams, students will “have to take 12 EOC tests” between 9th and 12th grade.
“If we stay at the 7-period day, then there would be no chance for students who fail those tests to have remediation,” Williams said.
Williams says that for students not needing remediation, “the hope is that students will have more elective classes.”
“The hope for teachers is that the classes will get a little smaller so we can give more one on one attention,” Williams said.
While the switch benefits students who need help with various subjects, there is some concern about students who do not need help, though McDonald believes that is not a bad thing.
“[Students] will have more opportunity to choose from a variety of different things that they had to pick and choose from before,” McDonald said.
Some teachers, such as Joe Pearson, foresee potential problems with the proposed switch.
“In economics, you learn if you increase output without increasing input, you reduce quality,” Pearson said. “Students have a limited time and focus that will now be stretched over an additional class. The result is a loss in education that the students receive.”
Pearson says that although the three minutes lost per class period to make room for the additional class “isn’t a tremendous amount,” it still adds up.
“You’ll lose an hour a month,” Pearson said. “You’ll lose close to two weeks of instruction time through the year.”
McDonald said there had been some talk about changing the AP Program, such as limiting the amount of AP classes a student can take, but she doesn’t foresee any changes.
“I’m just one voice,” McDonald said. “It seems like [limiting classes] would be limiting students.”
Williams thinks a pitfall to the switch is that the already driven Pre-AP and AP students will “end up taking an additional AP class, which will kill them.”
Junior Lindsey Taing is currently number one in her class and is taking seven AP classes. Next year, she will take eight.
“I need eight to make sure my rank and GPA stay up there,” Taing said. “Eight classes of homework [won’t be] fun.”