High School Schedule Change

Student Achievement and
High School Schedules

Good afternoon families.

As I shared with you in a letter dated April 9, as the Superintendent it is my job to make sure that we are doing everything in our power to ensure that students are receiving the best education possible in order to reach their highest personal potentials and compete in a global economy. It is also my job to listen.

Based on the research that has been shared, my administrative team, our high school principals and I still firmly believe that adding time to the high school day and increasing instructional contact time will greatly benefit all students. I also firmly believe that over the course of the next few months the concerns brought forth about the changes we were recommending would have been worked out to the satisfaction of many of our parents and students.

However, I also understand the challenge of the time that we are in and have read and listened to the communication coming into the District about making these changes now.

As a result, the School District will not implement extending the school day, nor changing the schedule for the 2020-21 school year. Instead we will work to add minutes to the school day while increasing instructional contact time per class for the 2021-22 school year. Over the next six months, we will better explain the reasons we are advocating for these changes with our families, as well as thoroughly work through the concerns that have been expressed.

We appreciate all you are doing to support your students during this unconventional time, and we look forward to seeing them back in our hallways and classrooms as soon as it is safely possible.

Respectfully,
Gregory K. Adkins
Superintendent

High School Students walking in the hallway

During the summer of the 2019-2020 school-year, the Academic Services Division reviewed the achievement and growth data for every school in the district. The data was disaggregated several ways, one of which was specific to level; elementary schools (grades 3-5), middle schools (grades 6-8), combination schools (grades 3-8) and high schools (grades 9-12). In addition, part of the data review process included comparing District progress against the Big 10 Districts (Brevard, Broward, Duval, Hillsborough, Lee, Miami-Dade, Orange, Palm Beach, Pinellas, and Polk) in the State of Florida in addition to two neighboring districts, Collier and Charlotte counties.

For this comparative analysis, two major sources of data were utilized. The first source was the value-added data which compares each school’s expected progress against like schools throughout the state. “Value-Add” data gives us a clear opportunity to see the occasions where our students are not growing at the same rate as other learners. This is particularly important if we see an entire school level, geographical zone, or student subgroup under-performing at a statistically significant level. The second source was the school grade points earned compared to the Big 10 Districts in the State of Florida along with Collier and Charlotte counties. The data analysis revealed that School District of Lee County (SDLC) elementary and middle schools were outperforming most Florida School Districts in both the value-added and school grade points earned while SDLC high schools were performing in the bottom quartile. When comparing high school grade points earned in the Big 10 and neighboring districts (Collier and Charlotte), Lee County ranked 11 out of 12 districts.

Concerns regarding the lack of high school progress prompted staff to review all aspects of SDLC systems. This review included an evaluation of class time, schedules, pacing guides, academic plans and teacher contact time with students. Through this evaluation, it was determined that Lee County was the only district compared to the Big 10 districts and our neighbors that had a 6 hour and 30 minute student day for high school students. All the other districts have a 7 hour student day with the exception of Collier County which has a 6 hour and 55 minute student day. It was also determined that teachers in the SDLC current high school 4 by 4 schedule are in contact with students only 56% of their work day compared to 75% in SDLC elementary schools and 62% in SDLC middle schools.

As a result of the high school system review, it is recommended that the SDLC high school student day be extended and that instructional contact time be increased for the 2021-2022 school year.

These recommendations will be more fully communicated to stakeholders over the next six months culminating in a decision in the Fall of 2020, before the Student Open Enrollment period for the 2021-22 school year.

High School Scheduling Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the District looking at changing high school schedules?

Of the Big 10 Districts in the State of Florida and Collier and Charlotte counties, Lee County, in 2018-2019, ranked 11 of 12 or second to last in total school grade points earned by the high schools.

On our current 4 by 4 schedule teachers have student contact time 56% of their day. Moving to a 7 period day will increase teacher student contact time to 65%. The 5 by 5 schedule will increase teacher student contact time to 71%.

Why is the District seeking to add additional minutes to the school day?

Of the Big 10 Districts in the State of Florida in addition to Collier and Charlotte counties, Lee County is the only district in which students are in school for 6 hours and 30 minutes.

2018 - 2019 School Grade Data - High Schools ONLY

District Name Student Time Spent in School Average of Total Points Earned Average of Percent of Total Points Earned
Collier 6 hours 55 minutes 613 62
Miami-Dade 7 hours 610 61
Palm Beach 7 hours 601 60
Duval 7 hours 591 59
Brevard 7 hours 584 58
Broward 7 hours 584 58
Charlotte 7 hours 580 58
Orange 7 hours 574 57
Hillsborough 7 hours 570 57
Pinellas 7 hours 563 56
Lee 6 hours 30 minutes 531 53
Polk 7 hours 495 50

 

How will adjusted student hours impact school building hours and teacher work schedules?

There will not be an impact to the building hours as only student hours are being adjusted. The teacher workday and planning time will adhere to the Teachers Association of Lee County (TALC) Collective Bargaining Agreement.

What scheduling options are being considered by the District?

For the 2020-2021 school year, 13 of the 15 traditional high schools will move to a 7 period day and 2 of our high schools will move to a 5 by 5 schedule. On a 7 period day, each class will be approximately 49 minutes in length. On a 5 by 5 schedule, each class is 80 minutes. Both schedules provide students the ability to meet with specific core academic (English, math, science, and/or social studies) teachers on a daily basis.

Why aren’t all high schools moving to a 5 by 5?

Dunbar High School and East Lee County High School are historically two of our most fragile high schools and have therefore been chosen to pilot the 5 by 5 schedule for the 2020-2021 school year. This schedule will provide students with an additional 51 minutes of instructional time, allowing for greatest maximization of teacher to student contact time. Lee County will carefully evaluate the effectiveness of the 5 by 5 schedule and its impact on student growth to determine the expansion to other high schools for the 2021-2022 school year.

Lee County has a very transient population. How will having two schedules impact curriculum and instruction?

Curriculum Maps and Instructional Guides will be adjusted to support both a 49 minute and 80 minute schedule. The two schedules allow curriculum to align every five to six days keeping with the District’s priority of having a common scope and sequence to support all learners regardless of the school in which they attend.

Will teachers and students gain or lose instructional time on a 7 period day?

By increasing the school day from 6 hours and 30 minutes to 6 hours 45 minutes and moving from a 4 by 4 to a 7 period day, teachers will increase their student contact time from 56% to 65% of their work day. For students, this change adds an additional 1,260 minutes of instruction per class or the equivalent to 26 additional days of instruction.

Will teachers and students gain or lose instructional time on a 5 by 5 schedule?

By increasing the school day from 6 hours and 30 minutes to 7 hours 21 minutes and moving from a 4 by 4 to a 5 by 5, teachers will increase their student contact time from 56% to 71% of their work day. For academic blocks (example: ELA, math, science, and/or social studies), students will gain an additional 6,840 minutes of instruction or the equivalent to 86 additional blocks of instruction.

Will advanced program (International Baccalaureate (IB), Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE)) students have elective options on a 7 period day?

Yes.

For students participating in the IB program, there are several options available that allow a student to maintain an elective in both his/her Junior and Senior years of high school. A student may take and test one or two standard level (SL) courses during his/her junior year while taking Theory of Knowledge as a seminar course. This option affords a student one elective during his/her Junior year and then one or two electives during the Senior year.

For students participating in the AICE program, there is additional flexibility as students have 25 months to meet all of the requirements. Students will have several options made available to them that allow them to both complete their coursework by either the end of their Junior or Senior year while maintaining anywhere from one to three electives.

In addition, students may extend their elective opportunities by enrolling in virtual courses while maintaining a full academic schedule.

How does a 7 period day impact career and technical academies?

Students will continue to have career and technical academy options. Rita Davis, the Director of Career and Technical Education, has been involved in the schedule discussions and will work with the high schools as they transition to the new schedule.

How does a 7 period day impact The Center for the Arts students?

The 7 period day may lead to the loss of some electives; however, offering additional virtual options for all students to take outside the school day will open up space in their schedule for elective courses.

How does a 7 period day impact Dual Enrollment opportunities?

Dual Enrollment is flexible regardless of the schedule and The School District of Lee County will continue to support Dual Enrollment opportunities.

Will students have additional homework moving to a 7 period day?

The 7 period schedule will have one less class than our current 4 by 4 schedule so there should be less overall homework. The two schools moving to a 5 by 5 schedule will double block ELA and math so there should be no increase in homework.

What is the impact on participation in athletic programs and after school activities?

Students will still be able to participate in athletic and after school activities.

How does the change in schedule impact teacher planning?

Based upon the TALC contract, Article 7 - Work Schedule:

Teachers shall have planning/conference time totaling not less than sixty (60) minutes per day or the equivalent on a weekly basis to include a minimum of forty (40) continuous minutes per teacher per day except in those cases as referenced in Article 7.01(1)(c)(4) and Article 7.04. Such time shall be used for lesson preparation and for meeting other job description responsibilities.

On a 7 period day, teachers will have 49 minutes of continuous daily planning with 30 minutes before/after school, totaling 79 minutes of daily planning.

On the 5 by 5 schedule, teachers will have 80 minutes of continuous daily planning with 9 minutes before/after school, totaling 89 minutes of daily planning.

Will moving to a 7 period day cause teachers to no longer have a position in the District?

Any teacher(s) reappointed but displaced by these schedule changes will have a position in the district.

Who was included in the decision making process?

Stakeholder input regarding schedule changes was collected through a community forum, leadership meetings at each high school, faculty meetings at each high school, social media platforms, and a School Board Briefing and Workshop. Students, families, and staff were encouraged to offer input to principals which was shared during principal meetings. In addition, each high school principal also met individually with Superintendent Dr. Adkins, Chief Academic Officer Dr. Spiro, and Executive Director Clayton Simmons.