School Beat – August 13, 2009

by RYAN KELLEY, Ed.D.
Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum

If you are the parent of a high school student, you are aware that the State of Michigan has increased the number of courses that are required to graduate—the new requirements are known as the Michigan Merit Curriculum (MMC). Among these new requirements are four years of math, four years of English, three years of social studies, and three years of science, including geometry, algebra II, and chemistry/physics. With the addition of these requirements, many being in the core subject areas, there will obviously be a reduction in the number of elective courses available to our students. Additionally, with the increased rigor of many of the requirements, there is a fear across the state that the dropout rate may skyrocket. As a result, many schools have begun to study alternative master schedules.

Rockford High School decided to implement the trimester schedule, the goal being that we wanted a schedule that would provide students the best opportunity to be successful with the MMC, still be able to take relevant electives courses, and allow every student to be pushed to their personal best. To determine the effectiveness of the schedule, the following components were to be studied on an annual basis: attendance, behavior, grade-point average, standardized test scores, course failure rates, graduation rate, college admission data, and survey results from students, parents and teachers.

The data collected for the first year has been encouraging. We have maintained and/or improved in every measurable area—attendance, behavior, grade-point average, ACT scores, course failure rates, graduation rates, etc. Also, the following survey results indicate that most of the parents, students and teachers are pleased with the trimester schedule:

• Over 91% of the students found the additional elective courses to be valuable.

• The majority of the students found no change in the amount of homework.

• Of the students who had a preference, 70% prefer the trimester schedule.

• Nearly all teachers agree that our students must be able to take elective courses and still meet the MMC requirements.

• Of the teachers who had a preference, 61% prefer the trimester schedule.

• Of the parents who had a preference, nearly 60% prefer the trimester schedule.

In summary, “thank you” to the parents, students, teachers and administrators for their willingness to experience the trimester schedule. Although the first year appears to have been successful, we are committed to making improvements for the second year. If you have any questions or comments, please contact me at (616) 863-6556.

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