Eminence High School soon will change its schedule, from five periods to seven, beginning with the fall 2009 semester.
“We are very excited about the new master schedule,” EHS principal said. “We are actually offering more choices, not less.”
Class length will decrease from 80 minutes to 57 minutes. Frommeyer explained students received a double block of mathematics and language arts under the five-period policy.
Eminence Independent Schools board member Tony Adams questioned the move, noting that the schedule changed several years ago.
Frommeyer said modified block scheduling made sense when it was instituted. “Kids were leaving school like rats jumping off the Titanic,” he said. Frommeyer said Eminence was not offering enough variety to keep student body numbers up. “We went to that schedule to offer more choices of courses,” he said, “and things stabilized for awhile.”
With today’s technology, a switch to shorter classes makes sense, Frommeyer said. “It’s just a different time,” he said. “We are trying to move Eminence to the next level.
Students now have access to all sorts of classes including such offerings as different foreign languages than the ones taught in-school and college courses. “Because of technology we can offer every course under the sun,” he said.
Board president Brenda Chism voiced a concern that students would be overloaded with testing at the end of the year. “The only problem I see,” she said, “is prep for finals and not having seven finals on the same day.”
Frommeyer said instructional methods differ greatly from when Eminence last utilized the seven-period schedule. “Instruction is way different,” he said. “Teachers tend to assign projects and give small tests.” Frommeyer said teachers are conscious of the potential problems and will not overload students at the end of the year.
He said the teachers all are on board for the transition. Frommeyer said the new schedule will require teachers do more preparation, less planning and spend more time teaching. “There will be substantial additional instruction time for students,” he said.
Frommeyer said all high school students also will have one hour of each school day to work one-on-one with teachers. “It’s really a great opportunity,” he said, “for them to get even more one-on-one time for their unique needs.”
The board also heard information on upcoming state testing changes.
EIS Superintendent Don Aldridge said CATS testing and portfolio scoring changes will be sweeping. While testing will continue this year in social studies, mathematics, science and reading, writing portfolios will not be graded by the state. Practical living and arts and humanities also will be eliminated from the testing program.
“It was a little disturbing to me when I heard it,” he said. “We are still scoring all portfolios. Our students deserve to get their portfolios scored. They worked so hard.”
Frommeyer said the district plans to make its curriculum even stronger. “We are going to continue all those programs,” he said. “We can create them in ways more adapted to our kids’ needs.”
Frommeyer believes there will be a little less pressure from the state as well. “We can design programs the way we think they should be,” he said. Courses in practical living and writing would not change. “Why would we drop something kids need for the 21st century?” he asked. “Practical Living is crucial. Writing is crucial.”
Aldridge said low rated schools may be relieved by the moratorium on testing while the state devises new testing strategies. “Bottom schools probably are jumping up and down,” he said, “but in our district there will still be a push to be better.”
Frommeyer worries about the state as a whole. “There are a lot of people throwing a party,” he said, “but I assure you that will not be the case in Eminence.”
“We’ll be working all spring so we’re ready to keep our mission moving forward,” he said.
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