Sometimes It Pays to Play the Game

There are way too many educators celebrating because of the passage of HB5.  As if it changes something.  It does not.  Funding has not been restored to previous levels and nothing has changed on the testing front.  All the tests that are kicking schools in the teeth are still there.  The only tests that are going away are the tests that haven’t been administered yet.  So again, what has changed?

But at the high school level, WE are in a position to make significant changes to protect both our students and our campus.  All it requires is some simple tweaks to our master schedules.  Which of course means that 99% of the campuses and districts will not considerer this a viable solution.  An ongoing phenomenon that I attribute to one-dimensional thinking.  This, on the other hand, is three-dimensional thinking.

The HB5 High Performance Schedule

There are now five End of Course exams (seven, if you are not a politician crowing about your enlightened leadership): Algebra I, Biology, U.S. History, English I (reading and writing), and English II (reading and writing).  Now most schools consider Algebra I, Biology and English I to be freshman courses, U.S. History to be a freshman or sophomore course, and English II to be a sophomore course.  This means that the most fragile, least mature and least prepared students on a campus are taking tests that impact both their ability to graduate and the “performance” of the campus.  That is, unless the campus schedules proactively.  Here is how I would schedule my students.

Algebra I is now a sophomore course.  Geometry becomes the default freshman math course. If the Geometry course has some embedded Algebra I elements (hint), so much the better.  Now students who are more mature and have had an extra year of math instruction take the Algebra I EOC. 

Biology is now a junior course for the vast majority of my students.  Chemistry becomes the default freshman science course. IPC (Integrated Physics and Chemistry) becomes the default freshman science course. The sophomore science course now becomes an environmental science focused course. If the environmental science focused course has some embedded Biology elements (hint), so much the better.  Now students who are more mature and have had two extra years of science instruction take the Biology EOC. 

U.S. History is now a junior course for the vast majority of my students.  World Geography and World History become the default freshman and sophomore social studies courses. If the World Geography and World History courses has some embedded U.S. History elements (hint), so much the better.  Now students who are more mature and have had two extra years of social studies instruction take the U.S. History EOC. 

Now this is where you double down on proactive scheduling.  English courses are driven by PEIMS numbers, not the year the course is taken.  Meaning that English IV (British Literature), which is traditionally taken by seniors, can be taken at any time, by any student.  Which means now…

English I is a sophomore course and English II is a junior course.  Either English III or English IV becomes the default freshman course (let your English Department decide what is the best fit). If the English III or English IV course has some embedded English I elements (hint), so much the better.  Now students who are more mature and have had an extra year of English instruction take the English I EOC.  And two years of extra English instruction before taking the English II EOC.

What we know is that the more mature the student, the more motivated the student, and the longer the student has been exposed to good instruction, the more successful the student will be on accountability tests.  If you take this one step further and load your freshman classes with your absolute best teachers, your EOC performance problems will become significantly less severe and your students significantly more successful.  Where’s the downside to that?

Think. Work. Achieve. Your turn…

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