A Better Schedule For A Better High School Experience?

PARENTS: SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH US

Have an idea, thought or question about this proposal that you’d like to share with DMPS? Please click here and complete the form. Thanks for your interest!

The first priority of a class schedule should be to do the most good for the most students to succeed in school. The current high school block schedule at Des Moines Public Schools leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to meeting that goal.

That’s why, over the past five years, ideas for a new schedule have been proposed and talked about at both the district and building levels.

The current schedule results in too infrequent, irregular contact between teachers and students. This has a range of negative impacts, such as causing absences to impact students more severely due to the every other day nature of the blocks.

This page compares the current high school schedule with a proposed plan, citing the pros and cons of each, and why a change next August might be for the better.

PARENT TOWN HALL MEETINGS

As the district is considering a change in the class schedule starting next school year, we’d like to invite parents of high school students to learn more. DMPS is holding two town halls for parents:

MONDAY, DECEMBER 10
5:30 to 7:00 PM

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 11
11:00 AM to 12:30 PM

Both meetings are at the downtown Public Library at 1000 Grand Avenue.

(Click here to download a copy of the meeting presentation)

INCREASING INSTRUCTION TIME

The current high school A/B block schedule results in infrequent student/teacher contact, which negatively impacts students’ academic, social and emotional development. Moving to the same 7-period schedule currently used at the middle schools will increase the number of instructional minutes and positively impact student academic, social and emotional learning by increasing the frequency by which students interact with their teachers and peers in the classroom setting.

Screen Shot 2018 12 07 at 3.39.42 PM

Switching from a 4×4 A/B schedule to a 7-period modified-block schedule increases DMPS teacher utilization by 11%.

DMPS believes in the development of the whole child and therefore is actively integrating social and emotional learning (SEL) in to our curriculum and instruction. The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) defines social and emotional learning as “the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.” In the current 8-period A/B block schedule, students take 8 courses at once, with 4 each on alternating days. In the proposed 7-period modified block, students will have fewer teachers and see the same teachers almost every day, giving more time for each teacher to work with students on content and academic, social and emotional learning standards over the course of the school year. At a time when DMPS finances are tight, we need to continue to think creatively about how to best serve students within the constraints of the resources we have. This change benefits students, and also helps the district avoid making more substantial reductions to programming.

CURRENT SCHEDULE

The current high school schedule at DMPS is an eight-period rotating block, with approximately 85-minute class periods, meeting every other school day:

A Day  B Day 
Period 1 (85 minutes) Period 5 (85 minutes)
Period 2 (85 minutes) Period 6 (85 minutes)
MTSS (35 minutes) MTSS (35 minutes)
Period 3 (85 minutes) Period 7 (85 minutes)
Period 4 (85 minutes) Period 8 (85 minutes)

Pros 

  • Students can earn up to 32 credits over 4 years.
  • Fewer classes to focus on per day
  • Fewer student transitions (passing periods)

Cons 

  • Instructional minutes every two-weeks totals 425 minutes
  • Lack of frequency of instruction for students due to day-rotation
  • Long class periods not aligned with student attention spans

PROPOSED SCHEDULE

The proposed high school schedule would be a seven-period modified block, comprised of three days per week with all seven periods meeting for approximately 45-minute classes and two block days per week with half of the periods meeting for approximately 90-minute classes:

Monday  Tuesday  Wednesday  Thursday  Friday 
Period 1
(45 minutes)
Period 1
(45 minutes)
Period 1
(50 minutes)
Period 1
(50 minutes)
Period 1
(45 minutes)
Period 2
(45 minutes)
Period 2
(45 minutes)
Period 2
(95 minutes)
Period 3
(95 minutes)
Period 2
(45 minutes)
Period 3
(45 minutes)
Period 3
(45 minutes)
Period 3
(45 minutes)
MTSS
(35 minutes)
MTSS
(35 minutes)
Period 4
(95 minutes)
Period 5
(95 minutes)
MTSS
(35 minutes)
Period 4
(45 minutes)
Period 4
(45 minutes)
Period 4
(45 minutes)
Period 5
(45 minutes)
Period 5
(45 minutes)
MTSS
(35 minutes)
MTSS
(35 minutes)
Period 5
(45 minutes)
Period 6
(45 minutes)
Period 6
(45 minutes)
Period 6
(95 minutes)
Period 7
(95 minutes)
Period 6
(45 minutes)
Period 7
(45 minutes)
Period 7
(45 minutes)
Period 7
(45 minutes)

Pros 

  • Instructional minutes every two-weeks totaling 460 minutes
  • Consistency of student interactions each week
  • Increase in planning time for teachers currently teaching 7 of 8 periods
  • Provides mechanism to mitigate effects of budget cuts on class sizes

Cons 

  • Decrease in planning time for teachers currently teaching 6 of 8 periods.
  • Students may earn up to 28 credits in 4 years (4 fewer credits than in the current schedule)
  • Increased number of transitions (passing periods)