Wilson considers implementation of seven-period day

Max Karp and Sophia Hosford

The administration is considering returning to the seven-period schedule next school year. Under the proposed schedule, first-period classes would take place every day for 45 minutes. The remaining three classes of the day would be 90 minutes, alternating daily between even-period classes and odd-period classes.

Teachers will vote on the change in the coming months. A two-thirds majority is needed for the change to pass.

Wilson followed a seven-period schedule until the 2015-2016 school year, and switched to eight periods in the 2016-2017 school year.

Local School Advisory Team Chair and Wilson parent Sam Frumkin, who originally proposed the switch at a meeting with Principal Martin and other LSAT members on February 28, strongly believes that a seven-period system will lighten the workload on both students and teachers.

“I think that an eight-period schedule forces students to enroll in too many classes, leading to an unnecessary amount of work,” said Frumkin. “The extra class [in an eight-period schedule] also results in teachers having more work and students than they should be expected to manage.”

Wilson LSAT member and English teacher Belle Belew supports the proposed class switch. “I’m for going back to the seven-period day because I had more time to cover the curriculum when we had seven periods,” she said. Belew noted that having an additional eighth-period class proved “burdensome” for many teachers given that it “boosts the number of students and cuts down on planning time and instructional time.”

Belew added that in the past, Wilson employed an alternate-day system with six 90-minute classes and one period running every day for 45 minutes. This system made classes longer and gave teachers the ability to give additional and individualized feedback to students. Additionally, the consistency of the daily “skinny period” made the class helpful for departments that found it hard to fully utilize the eight short periods under Wilson’s current Monday schedule.

Health teacher LeJanika Green thinks that a change would be unnecessary. “The switch would be to help class size and class management, but I don’t think much would change and I don’t think we need it,” Green said. Green added that the switch to the current eight-period day was instituted with class size in mind, but in reality class size rose after the switch in health classes.

DCPS’ high schools are varied in their respective schedules. Half of DCPS high schools currently have a four-period alternating system (like Wilson’s), while the rest are mixed between having a five-period block schedule and a six-period daily schedule.

Last year, the teachers’ union held a vote on whether to change the schedule to a seven-period day, but a two-thirds majority was not achieved; the vote was split 50/50.

While a large part of the rationale for modifying scheduling systems is teacher input, DCPS Central Office will demand more in terms of support and reasoning before reverting to a seven-period schedule.