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Poll: Are Middle School Schedule Changes a Good Idea?

Weigh in on the proposed changes at Central Bucks middle schools.

Central Bucks administrators and school board members may think that recently proposed schedule changes at the district's middle schools are a positive move, but a growing coalition of parents decidedly do not.

Administrators on Feb. 14 proposed changing the middle school day so students will take six classes instead of seven, and each class will last 56 minutes rather than the current 46 minutes.

The move would eliminate one of the students' current two daily "special"  periods. It also would eliminate one course offering, computer applications, thereby eliminating the eight jobs of the teachers who now teach those classes.

The school board members approved the schedule change the same night it was proposed to the public.

Administrators touted the move as a way to increase the amount of time students spend on core academic subjects. They also said it would offer students more choices in the electives they take, since the only "special" class that would be required would be health and physical education in seventh grade.

But a group of parents deeply concerned about the changes are calling for board members to rescind their approval to give the policy change more time for study.

They've formed a Facebook page, Save our CB Middle Schools, and plan to attend Tuesday night's school board meeting.

So today, we're giving you a chance to sound off on the proposed plan. Do you think it's a good idea to change the middle school schedule? Vote in the poll, and feel free to explain your reasoning in the comment section.

Want to attend the school board meeting? It starts at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 28 at the Educational Services Center, 16 Welden Dr.

Bob Powell February 25, 2012 at 02:55 PM
Absolutely NOT! Leave well enough alone, if students can not get what they need in the the allotted time that they have, it wont make a difference but the students will only tire out and they will not put forth the effort and quit worrying about numbers and your funding, having a heart teaching is what we see!!!
Elaine February 25, 2012 at 05:36 PM
I think they should change the middle school schedule. Block scheduling in high school has proven that it works. Both of my children liked the high school scheduling better than the middle school schedule.
a concerned citizen and educator February 25, 2012 at 07:11 PM
As a school administrator for twenty five years - not in the CB school district - I am disheartened by the decision to significantly reduce student exposure to enrichment opportunities. Perhaps this is a budgetary necessity, but to attempt to spin this as a move that is in the best interest of the students smacks of dishonesty. These enrichment opportunities provide balance to the day, invigorate students, help them to develop interests that can positively shape them for the rest of their lives, initiate the pursuit of hobbies, etc. Students also find a lot of personal success in the enrichment classes that then gives them the confidence to tackle the core subjects. More than this, while the block schedule may work well for high school students (and there are definitely some cons to this as well) a junior high student is not the same developmentally as the older, more mature high school student. The notion that more can be packed into a child's head during a longer class period works on paper but not necessarily in reality. Students' attention spans will be tested, and many students will suffer even in the core classes. In the end, I doubt very much that an increase of about 18% time in each core class will translate into an increase in standardized test scores of an equal gain. I would not be be surprised, in fact, if results on standardized tests remain the same or drop as a result of such a move.
cbmom3 February 25, 2012 at 07:48 PM
Elaine, this is not block scheduling. The small bit of information CB has released will show you that. It is adding 10 minutes to each period and limiting electives.
John Magura February 25, 2012 at 08:36 PM
Adding to the point, even if you believe that more time in the core classes might help some kids (which many believe will not be the case) what impact will it have on the kids who already do well on tests? Answer: the longer class periods will be a waste of time at the cost of less enrichment! These kids are already seeking more challenge and enrichment. Longer classes that rehash or "concentrate" on the same subject matter will turn these kids off from school (and their parents will seek alternative places to send their kids if they can afford it)! Sounds like the demise of public schools in big cities. What a shame.
Neal Carson February 25, 2012 at 10:25 PM
The elephant in the room here is the why this was implemented so urgently right as our 12, 13, and 14 year olds are being asked to hand in their course requests? The educators, parents, and counselors that are supposed to be able to advise them don’t understand the consequences of this major change and therefore all stakeholders are confused and stressed. How, also, is it possible that the school board, which voted unanimously, had time for due diligence? We have four new board members who have barely had time to get trained let alone be prepared to analyze a major policy change like this. Finally, why are we making this significant change just months before we will be ushering in new leadership with Dr. Laws’ retirement looming in June? None of this makes logical sense and this policy should be tabled immediately for further discussion and review.
a concerned citizen and educator February 25, 2012 at 11:01 PM
Neal makes several good points - particularly his last one. Can we say "lame duck administration?"
Cynthia Gerling February 26, 2012 at 12:00 AM
My child is not her test score. She and her middle school friends are so much more. Even if you buy into the premise that increasing time in core subjects will result in higher test scores, which I don't, is this really worth it? Nobody can say what the world will look like in 20, 30 or 40 years. We can't say for certain what skills will be necessary for success. But we can say that creativity will help kids of today adapt to whatever the world throws at them in the decades to come. To narrow their worlds to core subjects and to focus so keenly on standardized tests is short sighted and sad.
Angela Giorgione February 26, 2012 at 12:01 AM
Angela Giorgione What are we really trying to accomplish? One reason is to get ready for Keystone Exams. If we look at how we already rate in standardized testing, our track record is pretty good - first in all of Bucks County for PSSA's. If we can accomlish these scores then why do we need longer class times to prepare for the Keystone tests? Why do we want to also reduce our kids opportunities by reducing their choices of electives? We're not allowing our kids to become well rounded individuals if these courses are cut. For some of them FCS is the only time that someone teaches them about cooking. And why would we cut out computer technology? They claim that students already have a good grasp of what is being taught. Two things about this 1) Computer lab in elementary school is basically going to play games. If your student's regular teacher doesn't incorporate using a lot of technology in the classroom then where are they supposed to learn it? 2) If they already know the material being taught then change the material. Introduce new topics. In the world we live in kids need to keep up with computer technology. Regarding music, if a 9th grader wants to take band and chorus they get one marking period of each due to the 2 marking period gym requirement. How will this effect school concerts? That's just the beginning of these changes,but sometimes change isn't good!
Mary191 February 26, 2012 at 04:33 AM
How could anyone not support more time in core subjects classes? European and Asian students are outperforming our kids academically.... only because they spend more time in academic classrooms.... Hasn't anyone notice jobs leaving the US for these other countries? There is still time for electives in the new scheduling... not to mention that kids and families can investigate other interests on their own time.
mommies4sweeties February 26, 2012 at 05:42 PM
MS is not about a test score and neither are our children! MS is also about building relationships, new experiences, & trying new things. We as a district pride ourselves in developing well rounded students and being technologically ahead of others. Studies show without a good balance of academics & purposeful activity there's less motivation to learn. Also the primary classes being deleted is technology. The boards reason for this is by the time students get to MS they'e beyond whats in the cirriculum. We should be revamping the Tech cirriculum to challenge the kids with new technoligy instead of deleting it! The world is driven by technology & in order to be leaders you need to have a strong base & understanding of technological concepts, software, & practices. How can we be helping our chilren be leaders if we are taking away one of he primary classes that help our children accomplish this? Another item is making PE an option & not a requirement. For some children the only activity that they receive on a daily basis is PE. With a high rate of childhood obesity we should be encouraging the children to be active and giving them the education to do so. Bottom line altering this schedule will coorelate into increased funds from talented teachers losing their jobs. We have to stay focused on what our children need to succeed & giving them the tools to do so as a primary goal. Maybe funds can come from other areas as in board members bonuses & reduced salaries.
Concerned Citizen February 26, 2012 at 08:48 PM
No, Mary, jobs are leaving overseas because they have lower wages, not because of their academic superiority. Not so sure about the facts stated in your comment...
Art Waite February 26, 2012 at 09:44 PM
As a retired teacher of 33 years I agree with the comment questioning the attention span of students in the longer periods. I can appreciate how the administration wants to put a positive spin on their idea, but it smacks of past experiences I have had over the years where economics apparently dictated the philosophy and quality of educational practices. These were often touted as best when in reality they were simply less expensive--until more money became available at which time those practices suddenly became inferior and were replaced by "better ones."
a concerned citizen and educator February 27, 2012 at 02:53 AM
Mary191 - Middle school is not the time to specialize, and doing better on standardized tests is not going to be the skill that causes our students to "rise to the top" in today's job market. Developing a student's love for learning, fostering skills in collaboration, strengthening students' ability to speak well in public, providing them with the tools to navigate successfully in our global and local community, and the list goes on. None of these are measured on a standardized test, but these - far more than mastery of core subjects - are what is highly sought after when looking for leaders in the job market. Many of these are "caught" in the electives/enrichments although they can certainly be caught or taught in the core classes as well. Sadly, a school that is focused on teaching to the tests often sacrifices these valuable pieces of what should be part of every child's education.
cbmom3 February 27, 2012 at 02:58 AM
Anyone here in CB feeling their property values deflate as we debate this insane plan? We'll quickly be known as the district without arts and music! Hatboro-Horsham's property values are probably already on the rise!
Mary191 February 27, 2012 at 04:35 AM
Concerned Citizen..... lower wages are part of jobs leaving US, especially in slowly developing countries..... a better educated pool is also part of it.... Ireland, India, Taiwan, Korea., others, hopefully we can get our "house in order" before the lists is even greater.
Mary191 February 27, 2012 at 04:43 AM
concerned citizen & educator Everything you listed can be taught in a core subject classroom. Standardized tests don't cover everything..... but a school teaching English, math, Science, Social Studies and also providing room for some electives is providing a good education opportunity. Students and families can investigate other interests on their own..... Schools are not responsible for providing everything, In the new plan... there is still room for electives.
Nate Balsham February 28, 2012 at 01:51 AM
The correlation between music and mathematics has been shown in numerous studies. Our children are the the most prepared in the state because of what happens in the Middle Schools now. I am a mathematic and physics teacher in another district, and I have seen the destructive work of an intensive schedule implemented just to reduce costs. The cardboard box I live in is worth a fortune because of the wonderful schools we have here. A change here would need to be followed by a change in the School Board.
Mary191 February 29, 2012 at 01:48 AM
I respect the fact that the CB Board is trying to keep the program updated to meet the needs of the future.... you are right.... using school time to teach driving, cooking, and typing is a poor use of time and money. My kids learned keyboarding in elementary school. It can only help kids for them to spend more time in core subjects.... and there is still time in the electives to have music and art.
Mike February 29, 2012 at 11:30 AM
What about health and physical education Mary???? Currently students receive this every other day the entire year. With the new system, not only can students opt out of it, but those that take it get only 9 weeks! Your views are very short sighted and in the end not only hurt the child's health and well being, but more likely there ever important test scores as well. The reasons most of these kids come to school is for the unique "specials" they are exposed to.
Brian February 29, 2012 at 10:58 PM
You are talking apples and oranges-The middle school schedule is not "block scheduling" -block scheduling is a double period- an hour and a half long class period. Although high school students only take four classes at a time they are still taking the equivalent of EIGHT classes a year, which I think is better than the seven classes a year in most high schools. I think It is nice for the kids to just focus on four classes at a time in high school. In middle school students will only have one less class- The middle school classes will be extended by ten minutes. Students will take one "special" class a day. Right now, middle school students have two "specials" period a day. They have a music and gym/health rotation every day for the whole year for one class period. The other class period they rotate through art, computer apps, family consumer science and technology.
frustrated freshman February 29, 2012 at 11:53 PM
as a ninth grade student in CB at Tohickon Middle School, i strongly go against this. without the opportunity to take more then one elective in middle school, i would have never had the opportunity to find out how much i love sewing, art, and choir. and i am able to take ALL THREE of these electives in ONE YEAR. that to me is the best program of all. no, i was not a fan of tech or computer apps, but my friend LOVES computer apps. and my other friend would never have realized his love for tech and his wanting to be an engineer if it werent for tech and woodshop. PLEASE keep the old schedule, i want my little sister to have the same opportunities me and my friends did.

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