Frequently Asked Questions

Will Honors and AP classes be eliminated?

This is not part of this proposal. The honors and AP courses are on the mock schedule that was first released to staff in November of 2015 when the first proposal for studying this schedule was formally presented. Questions regarding the low level of enrollment in AP courses and the low number of students achieving high scores on testing have been raised due to a desire for improving the overall program. We are actually looking to add an AP class to our course offerings. Mr. Kurovski has been asked to attend AP training this summer in hopes of offering AP European History as one of the electives in our Social Science Department.

Why are core courses only two terms (120 days) long and will colleges accept that?

There are a number of other schedule formats currently being used by schools around the state. Many of these schedules have semesters which are less than 90 days in length. One of the most popular schedule models is the 4x4 block schedule. In this model a traditional year long class is taught in just 90 days and colleges are very accepting of this. Colleges have come to realize that a credit issued by a high school is not representative of the number of days a child spends in a seat in the classroom. NOTE: There are some core courses that are being recommended to be all three semesters the freshman year but additional topics will be added to these courses. AP courses are also a year long under the current proposal due to the structure of the courses and the limited window available to take the AP exam.

Is this schedule change proposal just to help the failing students?

The proposal is made based on an observation of the system as a whole. Adding more choice in how each child spends their learning time is beneficial and motivational to all students. Allowing our gifted or more motivated students some flexibility in how they spend their time learning is just as important as providing this same opportunity for students who are less motivated in the traditional school setting. In scholarship selection processes, advanced level coursework is noted during a review of a transcript and thus a schedule that provides room for more of these opportunities is beneficial for our students. The proposed schedule also allows room in a student’s schedule for exciting capstone courses which will be multiple periods in length for our juniors and seniors.

Are we moving to this schedule just to allow students to have a better opportunity to retake courses?

Although this schedule does allow a student to have the opportunity to immediately retake a course, this option is not the driving factor. The driving factor is freeing up time for students to have choice in what areas they spend more time learning.

Are we teaching students that it is ok to fail when we give them an immediate opportunity to retake a class?

Students are already provided the opportunity to retake a class under the current system, but currently they must wait until the following school year to retake a failed course. The advantage is not just for the students who have failed the class but it can also be very helpful to a student who has passed the class but at a level not really preparing them for success at the next level. If a student receives a low C or D in a math class, they either have to wait until the next year to retake the class or they enroll in the second half of this class being inadequately prepared for future success. Even if they are able to pass the second semester, their level of understanding is too low for application of the concepts or success in the next level of the course. Under the trimester system a teacher can have them retake the first semester again (even though they have already passed) to strengthen the foundation they need prior to building more advanced skills addressed in the second semester. This can occur immediately rather than 9 months later.

Philosophically, it is ok to fail as long as one learns from their failure.  Many of our most famous people failed a number of times in their lives prior to finally realizing success. Failure is part of learning and the opportunity, even the expectation, to try again and seek mastery is a condition of an excellent learning environment. We need to establish an environment where students understand that the answer to failure is additional effort not giving up.

Are there other schools on this system and what level of success are they having. Do their teachers and students like the schedule.

See Feedback from Ft. Dodge and Grinnell

Will teachers have enough time to rework the curriculum?  

Curriculum should be reviewed annually and adjustments made based on its effectiveness. The adjustments can be made over the course of the year next year. Time will be available this spring for curriculum revisions needed to begin the school year as well as professional development time over the course of the 16-17 school year.  Although some revisions may be necessary, most of what is currently in place will be used. Some of what is removed from our current required core courses will be used in elective courses offered in those same core areas.

Will every freshman student be required to take the proposed transition course that is included in the schedule change proposal?

This course will be an integral part of the new transition process for our high school freshman. If there are students who have the skills this course is designed to develop, they can demonstrate these skills through a brief assessment and opt out of the course. After parents become aware of the advantages this course will offer their students it is unlikely many will choose this option.

Will graduation requirements be increased?

The only additional courses being proposed are the freshman transition course and a financial literacy requirement which will also come with an assessment opt out option as well. It would be up to the board of education as to whether these be adopted and if they would be merely part of the current 48 credits necessary to graduate or the total credits for graduation would be increased.  The two schools who have adopted this schedule model we visited increased their graduation credit requirements over the course of several years to 52 and 53 credits. The board of education will be encouraged to engage in a study of graduation requirements including which courses should and will be required as well as the total credits necessary for earning a diploma. Currently there are some departments which require specific courses while other departments only stipulate a minimum number of credits.