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High school period survey splits parents, teachers

Fayette parents generally like the current six-period high school day, while teachers generally don’t.

Those are the results of a survey by the Fayette County School System on potentially changing the high school day schedule to allow students to earn more credits for graduation, announced at the Oct. 3 meeting of the Fayette County Board of Education.

Of the three models included in the survey, parents were largely split between either the trimester or seven-period schedule while a majority of teachers preferred the trimester. Offsetting those numbers somewhat was the view by the majority of parents that the current six-period day is working well while a large majority of teachers said a change to another schedule is needed.

Both school board members and Superintendent Jeff Bearden in previous meetings have noted that increased graduation requirements by the state have made it more difficult for students to take elective courses of interest or ones that can bolster their competitiveness for college. The three alternatives included on the survey would be expected to provide the means to earn those additional credits.

The three options that surfaced in July would increase the number of classes that could be taken during the school year, thereby earning more than the 24 credits encompassed in the traditional six-period school day. Georgia requires 24 credits to graduate.

The three proposals in the survey included a trimester schedule, a seven-period schedule or a seven-period hybrid.

The trimester schedule would include five classes in each of three semesters in the school year and provide the ability for students to earn up to 30 credits.

The seven-period day would allow students to earn 28 credits, as would the seven-period hybrid. The difference in the two is that students under the hybrid schedule would have seven classes on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays and four classes of 90 minutes each on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Asked if the current six-day period met their child’s academic needs, more than 550 parents taking the survey said those needs were met “very well” and more than 700 said those needs were met “somewhat well” while more than 800 respondents were “neutral” on the issue. Of the remaining parents, more than 450 said the current six-period day “somewhat does not meet” the child’s academic needs while approximately 250 said the current arrangement “definitely does not meet” the needs.

Asked if their child has taken courses outside the traditional six-period day in order to have more space in his/her schedule, nearly 2,250 parents said “no” while approximately 350 said “yes.”

And of the three schedules being considered, more than 1,300 parents said the trimester schedule would best meet their child’s needs while approximately 1,150 preferred the seven-period day and approximately 350 preferred the seven-period hybrid.

While students taking the survey showed a large degree of mixed results, the same could not be said for teachers.

Responding to the question about the need to change from a six-period day to an alternative schedule, approximately 175 of the teachers said they strongly agreed and approximately 135 said they agreed. Other results showed that approximately 50 were neutral on the question while nearly 40 disagreed and nearly 40 strongly disagreed.

Noting the response of teachers to the question of which alternative schedule they preferred, approximately 260 said they preferred the trimester schedule while 140 preferred the seven-period approach and 40 preferred the seven-period hybrid.



When I was in high school, in another state and many years ago, we had the choice to take our history/government class the summer before the school year it was required. I took advantage of this option. I started the summer after 8th grade, taking my 9th grade history class, and did it every summer until my senior year. I could have graduated a year early due to my total number of credits, but my school system didn't do that (nor did they advance students a grade). We had to pay a fee and took the class, I believe, for six weeks. (This was back when we didn't start school until after Labor Day and got out at the end of May.) The teachers were going to be there teaching summer school classes anyway, so this option helped fill classes, give students an open period to take another class of interest during the year, and helped bring money into the system.

I'm sure there are now thousands of reasons and excuses why nothing remotely like this option could be offered, but it worked for my school system back then.

Maybe the reporter should call the board of education and request the results of the campus by campus vote asking teachers which schedule they preferred and report those as well, rather than just summarizing the power point from the FCBOE E-board website.

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