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Fort Worth ISD Adopts Common Secondary School Schedule

Fort Worth, Texas - Beginning with the 2018-2019 school year, all secondary schools in the Fort Worth ISD will adopt a common schedule of eight class periods. This change will provide more opportunities to students while allowing the District to operate more efficiently.

The introduction of the common schedule follows an in-depth study performed by the 33-member Common Schedule Task Force comprise of principals, assistant principals, teachers, athletic, and central office representatives.

The team identified the following benefits for the change: 

  • High school students will now have the opportunity to gain up to 32 credits. This will also support students who need additional credits to graduate
  • Students can accelerate courses such as dual credit, CTE certifications and early graduation
  • Class for CTE programs can be double blocked utilizing distance learning and providing equity for all students
  • There will be a common time for distance learning and sharing of teacher resources
  • Middle school students will be able to accelerate and take high school courses
  • Campuses will have the option of incorporating athletics into middle school allowing coaches to better align athletics for high school, as well as to monitor team performance and support program development

Teacher worktime will not increase even though a student’s daily instructional day will be increased by 15 minutes. This will have a significant impact for the District over the course of the school year. 

In adopting the 8-period day, Fort Worth ISD joins districts in Arlington, Austin, Crowley, Cypress-Fairbanks, Dallas, Fort Bend, H-E-B, Houston, Irving, Katy, Keller, Lake Worth, North Side and San Antonio with a longer school day.

 

Common Schedule 8 Period Day FAQs

  1. Why should we move to an eight-period day?
  • A common schedule will give students an opportunity to gain 32 credits.
  • The additional credits will allow students to retake important EOC courses such as English I, English II, Algebra I, Biology, and U.S. History needed for graduation without sacrificing electives important to each student.
  • This will also increase access to accelerated courses and the ability to enroll in CTE and Advanced Placement courses.
  • The common schedule also improves access to dual enrollment distance learning.
  • Ideally it will provide instructional staff both a daily conference period and a PLC/Team planning period.

 

  1. If I am in Pre-AP or AP classes, does that mean I will have to take additional classes?
  • No.  High school principals will have options for early dismissal, late arrival, and high school enrichment (homework assistance) period.  
  • The additional class periods provide opportunities for students to engage in classes of interest and to extend learning in areas they might not have been able to address in a schedule without eight periods.
  • Students meeting or on track to meet the required 26 credits for graduation will have multiple options annually, based on campus course availability.

 

  1. Will the passing period be changed?
  • The passing period/transition time will remain 5 minutes.
  1. Will PD for teachers be provided in the summer to compact lessons to 45 minutes?
  • Yes. Curriculum and Instruction will assist in transitioning to 45-minute instructional period.
  1. Will the Learning Model be implemented in addition to the common schedule?
  • Learning Model implementation will assist the transition to an eight-period day.
  1. If teachers are teaching six classes but students are taking eight, will we now require more teachers and more funding for schools that currently teach seven classes?
  • No.  We will continue to follow staffing ratios. We will also continue our practice of reviewing master schedule as driven by student course requests. This will better enable us to implement distance learning; more students will have access to a greater number of courses. 
  1. With the extended school time, will there be an advisory period?
  • Campuses still have the ability to have a zero-period and 9th period as needed.
  • Campuses also have the flexibility to build in activity schedules as needed for special events.
  1. Can middle schools start earlier to better align with high schools?
  • We will convene a future focus group to consider this.
  1. If we want to have eight periods, can we have a block or modified block schedule?
  • No. Building principals will have the option to build master schedules with double block classes where they are programmatically necessary and in the best interest of students.

For example, a cosmetology CTE class can be scheduled back-to-back or double-blocked in order to meet required minutes for certification.

  1. Will EOC teachers receive a teaming or extra planning period?
  • No.  EOC teachers will teach six out of eight periods. Elective teachers will teach seven out of eight periods. 
  1. What if a student needs to travel for an internship?
  • Under the eight-period day the student schedule can be adjusted under double-blocking to accommodate allow for travel time.
  1. How will an eight-period help students if he or she is behind on credits?
  • Classes can be scheduled during the school day to recapture lost credits instead of before or after school.
  1. What implications does the eight-period day have for students who are in athletics and/or band?
  • Having a common schedule helps align high schools and middle schools for increased opportunities for middle school students to develop in both fine arts and athletics.
  1. How will the eight-period help middle school students prepare for high school and college?
  • The eight-period day opens sections for college prep courses for all middle school students.  This allows to begin dual credit work as early as the ninth grade.  The District does not currently allow this.
  1. What is the bottom line – why are we doing this?
  • So a greater number of our students can go to college without having to take remedial courses.
  1. Is the District making this decision just to save money?
  • The guiding principle for this decision is to empower students by offering them more opportunities and an increased number of course offerings.  However, it is possible the District may realize potential cost savings.
  1. Has the District developed sample bell schedules for campuses to use in planning for the 2018-19 school year?