12142017 Headline:

HPS postpones considered schedule changes in response to new WA CORE 24

Trimesters, 4x8 block, 7-period days among rejected options

By Phoenix Flyer

Beginning with the class of 2020, Washington state will require 24 credits for high-school graduation (CORE 24), an increase from the previous 20-credit requirement. Highline Public Schools (HPS) already require 24 credits for high-school graduation, which, for many students, means passing four years of six-period days.

 

There is concern that this increase in statewide requirements will pose challenges with graduation rates, as it means students that don’t earn any of their credits outside the 6-period day must pass all of their classes for four years in order to graduate on time.

 

“We’ll remain with our six periods,” said RAHS Principal Therese Tipton. “We’ll have zero-hour opportunities, we’ll have after school opportunities, P.E. contracts, art contracts, and we’ll continue to make sure that all of our students graduate.”

 

Like other districts across the state, HPS has received an exemption for the class of 2020, so the 24-credit state requirement will affect all HPS students starting with the class of 2021. After considering a schedule change, the district opted to stick to the current 6-period schedule indefinitely.

 

In an effort to offer more credits to students over four years, increasing their opportunities to earn enough credit to graduate, the HPS considered several schedule changes, such as switching to a 5-period trimester schedule or 7-period days.

 

At RAHS, the community raised concerns about fixing a problem that doesn’t seem apparent in the school. Based on the 98% graduation rate and additional opportunities to earn credit, which include Advisory, before- and after-school teams, P.E. and art contracts, internships, and credits from middle school, many argue that the school doesn’t need changes.

 

“That is the sentiment that I’ve heard: you can’t argue with success,” said Carper. “I worry about putting something in place that we really don’t show that we need.”

 

To gather this feedback and inform the community of options for potential changes, district administration held community meetings at each of the main campuses during the spring of the 2015-2016 school year.

 

Former Mount Rainier High School Principal and Director of Secondary Initiatives Julie Hunter is part of the College & Career Readiness team, which facilitated meetings and community focus groups.

 

“They looked at all of that input from last year,” said Hunter, “and the board gave some direction around some different options they wanted us to consider.”

 

Though the group made its recommendation of the 5-period trimester schedule to Superintendent Enfield, she decided to gather more input before making a final decision. In this second round of feedback, the community voiced opposition to a schedule change.

 

“The feedback was very loud and clear that we would really like to stay with the six periods and think of alternate ways to provide more credit opportunities instead of changing the schedule,” said Tipton. “She really heard that loud and clear. She was really thoughtful in that process.”

 

The involved decision-making process is a testament to the dedication of the school community. Over 50 people, from students and parents to faculty and staff, turned up to the RAHS site meeting to give their input.

 

“I am grateful for the families, staff and students who invested time in reviewing schedule options and giving input,” said Superintendent Susan Enfield. “I especially want to thank the members of the College & Career Readiness Committee for their willingness to innovate and think outside the box. Their work will guide us as we develop strategies to ensure that all students meet new graduation requirements.”

 

Though Highline Schools won’t be reinventing their schedules in the next few years, Enfield still foresees ways the district will support its students to graduation.

 

“The reasons for considering a schedule change are still very real for our students,” said Enfield. “Our students will have far fewer elective choices and no leeway for failing credits. We must find ways to address these issues, and we will.”

 

However, some on the school-level feel that the necessary leeway is already available to students.

 

“I would just love to hear that all of the opportunities to get credits are part of the conversation,” said Carper. “What I’m hearing right now is this comparison between the requirement and the appearance that they have only 24 opportunities to earn credit.”

 

Administration on both the district- and school-level is looking to solidify current programs and ensure thorough preparation before undertaking a massive schedule overhaul.

 

“At some point we probably will change the schedule,” said Tipton, “but let’s make sure we have some really good things in place first and then ease into that.”

 

“We need to make sure our system is ready and that we have the appropriate resources and time for training before we make any kind of change,” said Hunter.

 

Students can rest assured that their world won’t be turned upside-down by trimesters in the next couple years, but the district intends to keep pursuing the possibility of redesigning schedules as an avenue to offer students more opportunities to earn credit.

 

“We weren’t ready to move forward with a change,” said Hunter, “but we’re going to continue looking at it, researching it, and that’s why there’s no timeline in place. That’s an ongoing project.”

 

 

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