From the Sheboygan Press:
The Sheboygan School Board is weighing the possibility of implementing a flexible schedule in the high schools.
Mark Holzman, assistant superintendent of student and instructional services, explained the system to the School Board’s curriculum and instruction committee Tuesday night.
A flexible schedule, which is already being done in roughly 5 percent of school districts in Wisconsin, changes class periods into 20- or 30-minute “mods” and allows schools to create classes for large, medium and small groups depending on need, Holzman said.
A flexible schedule solves two problems that are occurring in high schools: a lack of time for teachers to collaborate, and the lack of a system to address struggling students before they begin to fail.
“We can look at ourselves and say our structure does not provide an opportunity for intervention for kids unless you have an exceptional need,” Holzman said. “There’s no formal system until you get D’s or F’s to support you so we’re trying to provide that prior to D’s or F’s.”
That’s not the case in the lower grades, however. In elementary and middle schools there is time built into the schedule for teachers to work together to plan courses for students, he said, and also for interventions for students who need a boost.
“At the high school level, we really struggled trying to do that,” Holzman said.
The flexible schedule, which would not be implemented before the 2013-14 school year and might even take longer, resembles a college schedule because it includes large lecture classes that would combine, for example, several science or English classes together for large group instruction, as well as regular class sizes and small groups.
“It’s similar to a college-structured program, yet (not all) of our students learn well in large groups,” said board member Barb Tuszynski said. “If both high schools are moving toward this, I’m just wondering how parents are going to react to these options. I feel as if, in a large setting, students already can get lost.”
Both Tuszynski and board member Mark Mancl questioned whether the high schools can even accommodate groups as large as 200 students, and Holzman said that right now that is a problem to be solved.
“We don’t have ideal space, that’s something you’ll be hearing,” Holzman said. “Right now, what I heard from both principals is they’re very passionate about it and what we have physically is not ideal but the pros so far outweigh the cons ... that they’re willing to give it a shot in any different way.”
The full board will talk about it again Aug. 27, when principals Mike Trimberger from South and Jason Bull from North will be on hand to share their views.
—Reach Janet Ortegon at 920-453-5121.