One claim being made is that the modified 4×4 block schedule is “data driven” and addresses the high number of students receiving D’s and F’s. This is poor justification for implementing a radical change as the number of students receiving D’s and F’s is decreasing, the new schedule is likely to make it more difficult to achieve better grades, and the specific actions targeted at decreasing D’s and F’s are entirely independent of scheduling.
At the information session held at HVRHS on Thursday, Feb. 23, a number of documents were distributed. Data and quotes from some of these documents will be referenced here. Copies should be available from the school.
Students with one or more D’s in the first quarter declined from 159 in 2013-2014 to 154 the following year, then 150 and down to 115 in 2016-1027. Students with one or more D’s in the second quarter went from 178 in 2013-2014 to 184 the following year, then dropped to 167 and 143. These numbers show a decline in the number of students receiving D’s.
Students with one or more F’s in the first quarter declined from 106 in 2013-2014 to 71 last year, then increased slightly to 77 in 2016-2017. Students with one or more F’s in the second quarter declined from 130 to 96 over two years, then bumped very slightly to 99 in 2016-2017. Again, these numbers show a decline in the number of students receiving F’s. The faculty has already been making progress over recent years.
Another document (“What do we want for the students at Housatonic?“) states that there will be no acceptance of D or F grades. “Students will use time in class or during the I/E period to help students reach proficiency and all students who wish to improve a grade will be allowed ‘retakes'”. The modified 4×4 block schedule offers no more time in class over 90 days (it offers a few less hours, in total), so it offers no advantage in terms of offering “time in class” to “reach proficiency”. If anything, expecting a student who would receive a D or F in a 45 day quarter to do better while covering twice the material sounds like it would result in more low grades. The I/E (intervention/enrichment) period is actually a 5th period outside of the 4×4 schedule that incorporates PLP, and does not depend on a 4×4 block schedule. To the extent there is any value an an I/E block, it can be accommodated in the existing schedule. Finally, the majority of teachers in the school already allow retakes and this can easily be extended to all teachers without redesigning the schedule.
In summary, our objections to the 4×4 block schedule are based on negative impacts to all students, including those who receive D’s and F’s and who are being used to rationalize this radical and detrimental change.