Mount Si High School is preparing for a big shift – a bell schedule change that will move away from the traditional six-period school day.
In 2014 the state legislature ramped up the requirements to earn a high school diploma – going from 22 credits to 24 credits – in an effort to ensure all graduates were career or college ready. The class of 2019 is the first graduating class to be affected by the new increased requirements.
In a six period school day, over the course of a their high school careers, Mount Si students traditionally take 24 credits, which can leave little flexibility to explore more courses – and little room for error if a student was to fail a course.
So last spring the Snoqualmie Valley School District launched a High School Schedule Advisory Committee to explore different bell schedule options. According to the district website, “In addition to the increased number of credits/requirements to graduate, other emerging needs make this an opportune time to review the current high school daily schedule at Mount Si High School.”
Moving away from a traditional six-period day isn’t a new concept. About two-thirds of high schools across the region are exploring or already have adjusted bell schedules in response to the new graduation requirements. Bellevue has a seven-period school day. Federal Way and Tahoma use block scheduling.
The SVSD High School Schedule Advisory Committee is composed of about 30 students, parents, high school staff, and district administrators. They have been reviewing and researching various schedule options used by other high schools, with the goal to present a recommendation to the superintendent this winter.
According to a presentation to the school board on October 27th, it is most likely the bell schedule change will happen at the start of the 2018-19 school year. It was stated, though, if a 7-period schedule was chosen, it had a slight chance of being implemented next year. Other options, though, require significant teacher professional development time, as there will be a big shift in how education is delivered.
Options being considered by the committee were:
- 6 period day with variations
- 8 period block – 4 x 4 by semester
- 8 period block – 4 x 4 alternating days
- Traditional 7 period day schedule
- 7 period day with alternating block schedule
- 5 period trimesters
Last month the committee narrowed the options and asked for more information on: 1) the 5 period trimester schedule; 2) the 7 Period Modified Block Schedule; and 3) the 8 Period, 4 x 4 Block Schedule. Principals from Kelso, Sammamish and Federal Way High Schools, whose schools currently use such schedules, presented the committee with information on structure and implementation of each model.
As recently as last week the committee held a work session with all Mount Si HS staff and also met with about 55 high school students for focus group discussions.