Feb 4, 2016

New School Schedules Will Increase Flexibility, Improve Instruction

Image of the Pickerington Schools logo

Beginning this fall, Pickerington Schools is making some important changes to our schedules that will include new start and stop times and increased instruction.

One significant change for this fall is that our junior high schools will start earlier than our high schools. These changes also will include new approaches to class schedules at the high schools and junior high schools, which will provide greater scheduling flexibility, more electives, and improved collaboration for teachers.

Depending on grade level, these changes will result in approximately 30 minutes more instructional time each day.

The schedule for this fall will be:

  • Junior high schools: 7:20 a.m. to 2:15 p.m.
  • High schools: 7:55 a.m. to 2:55 p.m.
  • Middle schools: 8:40 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • Elementary schools: 9:15 a.m. to 4:05 p.m.

Schedules for our kindergartens are still being evaluated and will be communicated as soon as they are finalized.

Here are answers to questions you may have about these changes:

Why are Pickerington Schools making these changes?

In 2015, the district and Pickerington Education Association approved a contract that extended teacher work days by about 30 minutes.

This additional time allowed our scheduling committee to look at a variety of options that would improve the education we provide to our students. The committee first considered ways to improve the integrity and quality of our instructional program. It also evaluated transportation, lunch schedules, student safety, and afterschool activities.

The final plan will have significant benefits at every grade level.

High school: Our high schools currently start classes at 7:20 a.m. and will shift to a 7:55 a.m. start this fall. There is significant research that shows students in those grades benefit academically from more sleep and a later start time than younger students.

This schedule also reflects the greater number of afterschool sports and other activities at the high school. The later start will allow teachers at the high school to have their collaborative time before the school day begins.

Along with the later start, we will have a new approach to the daily high school class schedule. Rather than have eight periods, the school day will be split into twenty-six 15-minute modules. This will give us significant flexibility to make some classes, such as lab sciences and advanced placement, longer than others. Classes will be three modules (45 minutes) or four (60 minutes) long.

The longer day and changes to schedules will allow us to incorporate enrichment and intervention into the instructional day. It will create common teacher collaboration opportunities, increase teacher availability to students and parents, allow for daily teacher professional time, and increase the amount of direct teacher instruction.

Because of this added flexibility, lunches will now be 30 minutes instead of 45 minutes. This will be sufficient thanks to the staggered lunch start times the 15-minute modules provide.

Junior high schools: Starting earlier and extending the school day will allow for significant educational enhancements at the junior high level. It also is an opportunity to make changes to the junior high schedule.

We anticipate that these changes will improve student achievement by allowing the school to incorporate a “team teaching” approach, more teacher collaboration and planning. Classes will now be 60 minutes, with more opportunity for enrichment and intervention activities. Most electives will become trimester classes, which will increase the number of elective opportunities for students. Some electives, such as band, will continue to be year-long classes.

These changes will allow a better adjustment from the 90-minute English and math periods the current middle school schedule allows and increase teacher availability.

Middle schools and elementary schools: Adding 25 minutes of class time will allow for more instruction. It will give teachers more time for enrichment and intervention, particularly at the middle schools and in the areas of science and social studies.

This will allow us to increase the amount of time we can devote to English language arts and math, which are critical at these early grades.

This also should allow us to increase art, music and physical education, while integrating technology more seamlessly across the curriculum.

What areas are we still assessing?

The initial proposal presented to the Board of Education in December identified a few other key improvements to our schedules and instruction. The district’s scheduling committee is still considering extending the morning and afternoon kindergarten sessions, providing the Kindergarten Literacy Intervention Program (KLIP) at all elementary schools, and providing daily physical education year-round at all K-6 buildings. We will communicate information about these topics as they are finalized. 

Where can you get more information?

A presentation about these changes was made to the Board of Education in December. That meeting can be viewed online at http://livestream.com/accounts/8452262/events/4514087. Discussion about scheduling begins about 25 minutes into the meeting.