Changes set for next school year

Written by Dick Mason, The Observer April 29, 2013 01:12 pm

 

Schedule changes are planned for the 2013-14 school year at La Grande High School. The changes are designed to boost student performance and make it easier for students to meet the state’s escalating graduation standards. (Chris Baxter/The Observer)
Schedule changes are planned for the 2013-14 school year at La Grande High School. The changes are designed to boost student performance and make it easier for students to meet the state’s escalating graduation standards. (Chris Baxter/The Observer)

New schedule changes intended to boost teacher access and reduce student free time 

Editors note: A number of changes will go into effect in 2013-14 at La Grande High School to better prepare students to meet rising graduation standards the state is implementing. The following story is the first of two outlining the changes set to be made at LHS.

By Dick Mason/The Observer

Schedule changes are on the horizon for La Grande High School — alterations  that will boost teacher access and reduce the free time some students have.

The alterations are designed to boost student performance and make it easier  for students to meet the state’s escalating graduation standards, said La Grande School District Superintendent Larry Glaze. He noted that students who will benefit from increased teacher access time will include those involved in extracurricular activities like athletics.

“These students may have a hard time meeting with teachers after school,” Glaze said. “Having more teacher access time built into the school day will help them.”

A 10-minute delay in the starting time of school days is one change that will boost teacher access. Classes on most days, beginning in 2013-14, will start at 8:20 a.m. rather than the current start time of 8:10 a.m. The change is meant to expand the time students can meet with their teachers for help before school starts. Teachers arrive at LHS by 7:30 each morning and are available to meet with students from then until the seven-period school day starts. 

La Grande Principal Andrea Waldrop said the later starting time will be particularly helpful to students who are bused to school, some of whom do not arrive at LHS until about 7:55 a.m. Waldrop also said starting 10 minutes later will make the time between when teachers arrive and classes start a better opportunity for students to re-take tests.

“It will make it more like a class period type of time,” Waldrop said.

LHS Assistant Principal Brett Baxter believes this change will be welcomed by students. 

“The No. 1 thing we hear about the seven-period day is that many students say they have no time to get to their teachers,” Baxter said. 

The school day now ends at 3:10 p.m. and will continue to do so in 2013-14 despite the later start. The lunch period and the time for daily announcements will each be cut five minutes to make up for the later start.

The teacher access time before school will be in addition to the two full periods they now have for each class twice each quarter. Throughout the school year each teacher must have two non-instruction periods for each of their classes each quarter. Students can meet with teachers during these periods or catch up on their school work. 

Previously these teacher access days were all on the same day during the fourth week of each quarter and the next to last week of the quarter. Under the new schedule, the teacher access periods will be during the same weeks but not all on the same day. This is meant to increase the effectiveness of teacher access periods, Waldrop said.  

Teacher access time will expand overall in 2013-14, but free time for some students will diminish because of a new rule change involving scheduling. Students, starting in 2013-14, will no longer be allowed to have open periods in their schedules unless they are seniors who have passed the Essential Skills Test, the test all students must pass before they can be eligible to receive a standard diploma. Presently all juniors and seniors can have open periods during the school day. 

Not letting seniors have open periods until they pass the Essential Skills Test will encourage them to do the additional coursework needed to prepare for the state exam, Waldrop said. It will also give them added incentive to take the classes needed to help them pass the test early.

“The stakes are too high. We can’t let them wait until the last minute to pass the test, or to figure out what classes they should have been taking,” Baxter said.