When Ardmore High School students return to classes next month, they will be met with a seven-period day.
Tuesday night, the Ardmore Board of Education voted 4-0 — with board member Scott Carpenter absent — to approve Principal Jake Falvey’s recommendation, which alters the way the high school has operated for the past two school years.
The ninth- through 12th-grade school has run on a daily schedule that featured four 90-minute classes each day, with students alternating between A-day and B-day schedules. The decision by the board reverts back to the traditional schedule featuring the same seven periods each school day.
Prior to the vote, Falvey told the board and the 50-person crowd he believed a return to a traditional schedule would allow the school to boost academics by helping students who achieve in advanced courses and students who struggle in remedial courses.
A seven-period day allows more flexibility and the opportunity for a student to continue the learning in a specific subject day-to-day, he said.
“Some of our kids need help. Some of our kids did not pass English II. Some of our kids struggled in Algebra I,” Falvey said. “With the seven-period schedule and the cooperation of everybody and central office, we can embed in our daily schedule help for those kids.”
Falvey said students who struggle in core subject areas will receive additional instruction, since a seven-period day allows for a student to enroll in an additional course on the subject in which they are struggling. This assists students with meeting the Achieving Classroom Excellence graduation requirements. All public high school students must pass Algebra I and English II to receive a diploma.
For the coming school year, Falvey also noted new programs to help students who enroll in advanced coursework. There will be nine advance placement classes offered at AHS this fall, and a goal of Falvey’s is to increase student enrollment in those advance placement courses.
“Oftentimes, you will have an AP class with three kids, and next door there is a class that has 36,” Falvey said. “We have to grow our AP program, and this schedule allows for that flexibility.”
Falvey also reported he had explored the option and was on board for pursuing the National Math and Science Initiative program to come to the school. The high-quality program provides teacher training and support for advance placement courses. The program improves teacher effectiveness and student success in advance placement and pre-advance placement classes, according to the initiative organization.
The presentation focused entirely on academics.
In May 2012, when the school board approved the change to a block schedule, the reasons for the switch were stated to increase attendance, reduce discipline referrals and improve academic achievement.
Falvey said he began the task of exploring the two scheduling options the morning following his hire as high school principal. Since then, he has met extensively with teachers, staff and the athletic director to discuss what schedule option would be best for the high school in making his recommendation.
“We visited because anytime you change something for a teacher, it is significant,” Falvey said. “I asked them for scenarios and input. I also relied on my 20-plus years (in education), and I’ve done it all. I had some prior knowledge, and I felt very comfortable. I also had six years at this high school with different schedules. But the No. 1 thing I need to wrap my brain around, and I told Mr. Bates I needed some time, was what is the impact on the kids? That’s the No. 1 priority for me.”
Falvey said students should expect to see schedules ready by enrollment days on Aug. 5-7.