For the past year, a committee of Newton South and North faculty members, as well as leaders from the Newton Public Schools, has been meeting to redesign our school’s class schedule. This work is a part of NPS’ effort to shift to later high school start times, which based on research, would provide students with the opportunity for sleep at more developmentally appropriate times. Based on extensive feedback from faculty, students, and families during the 2016-17 school year, the district determined that updating our high school class schedules would facilitate the shift in start times while minimizing impact on student, family, and community life.
During the 2017-18 school year, a joint working group from both high schools began the process of reviewing the current high school class schedules and gathering input from students. The current class schedules at NNHS and NSHS were designed more than 20 years ago. Since that time, many new models for scheduling have emerged that reflect the needs of today’s students and support best practice in teaching and learning. Key elements of those new models include: more embedded time for social and emotional learning as well as academic support, fewer transitions, more flexible times, and more student choice.
We spent time visiting peer districts and comparing their schedules to ours. Interestingly, we found that our current schedules are on the low end of our peer districts for creating flexible times for academic interventions, student choice periods, and social and emotional learning. When reviewing possible new schedules, we also saw the potential to consider increasing our longer instruction blocks during the week to allow for more in depth learning and student-centered, interactive teaching. Rather than emphasizing total time on learning, optimal schedules focus on meaningful chunks of time in the right frequency to support student learning and engagement.
Now, we would like to hear from you about how the current class schedule works for you and your student. What do you like? What could be improved? We encourage you to provide your thoughts and opinions via this survey. Our next step is to take your feedback, as well as that of our students, and consider it together with the work done by our high school administrators, faculty, and staff. You will hear from us within the next few months as we prepare and share with you a proposed new schedule.
We are committed to developing schedules that maintain the academic excellence and breadth at both high schools while acknowledging the social and emotional needs of our students, as well as staff. Thank you in advance for sharing your thoughts and opinions.