DCPS to adopt a 4×4 schedule for the upcoming school year

Madison Dias

All DCPS high schools will use a new four by four schedule for the 2020-2021 school year. This schedule is being implemented in order to accommodate all students during the at-home learning period for term one. This arrangement was chosen based on feedback that was received from parents in online surveys taken over the summer. Students will take four classes during the first semester (18 weeks) and four classes in the second semester, earning one credit for each semester class (for a total of 8), and .5 for each former half-year elective (9 weeks).
All odd-period classes have been moved to semester one and all even-period classes to semester two. According to Principal Martin in an online Newsletter, “EVERY CLASS that was on the 8-period schedule previously will still be offered.” Rather than the 120 hour requirement of last year, students will now have 100 hours of contact time for each class.
Classes will meet with live learning four times a week, on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Live learning entails 90 minute Microsoft Team calls per class, every period. Wednesday will be a school day where students may receive extra help from their teachers and catch up on their studies. Assignments may still be due on Wednesdays, and teachers may hold required meetings for students who need assistance. Martin says that “teachers will be available on Wednesdays for support, remediation or extension activities.” This time may be used for community service as well.
All DCPS high schools will be on the same bell schedule, to accommodate cross-enrollment and transfer students. All courses will begin with a concurrent instruction block, with expectations of students to be logged in at the start time of each period. Students must login for live sessions two to three minutes prior to the beginning of class with their cameras on and microphones muted. Failure to perform these actions may impact one’s “engagement” grade.
The new bell schedule for all DCPS high schools will be the following:
Period 1: 9:35 am – 10:55 am
Period 2: 11:00 am – 12:20 pm
Lunch: 12:25 pm – 1:10 pm
Period 3: 1:15 pm – 2:35 pm
Period 4: 2:40 pm – 4:00 pm
To address student apathy, attendance will be taken daily during at-home learning in order to ensure students are staying motivated. Martin confirms that “Microsoft Teams and Canvas” will be the two primary learning platforms that teachers will use.
A revised grading policy will comprise Student Engagement as 20% (attendance and engagement during live sessions), Practice and Application as 40% (completion of assignments, class activities), and Assessments as 40% of a student’s grade. Teachers are required to enter a minimum of two grades every 10 days and at least nine assignments for each term.
According to Martin, the homework load “won’t necessarily increase” due to the fixation of contact time. Students will “see teachers 4 times a week for 90 minute [classes]” instead of “twice a week” for 90 minute classes, Martin explained.
Additionally, students who earn a “C” or “D” in a class will get a grade of “P” for passing. If received, this grade will not be factored into the gradebook and or their transcript unless requested by the student. Requests must be made to their counselor in order to have the grade posted.
Teachers may only give assignments that have the following point totals: 10, 20, 25, 50, or 100. Single assignments that are worth more than 100, or less than 10 points may not be given. This is in response to many parent complaints received.
Central Office curriculum teams have been creating engaging and interactive lessons for most core content areas. Canvas Course Companions (CCC) are assignments, activities, or projects that support the core content and grade-level standards. In addition, at least once each term, teachers will give students formative activities known as Required Curricular Tasks (RCT). These same tasks will be given to students in all high schools, so that performance can be compared from classroom to classroom and from school to school.
The week of August 24, course schedules will be available. Schedules may be accessed in the Student and Family Aspen Portals. Before August 31, students and parents will receive emails from teachers with details about their classes along with information on how to access the Canvas and Microsoft Teams sites for classes.
Schedule changes will take place from August 31 through September 4. Students will be able to submit an online schedule-change form to their assigned counselor by email until 3:30 pm on September 4. Students will only have the opportunity to change their electives if one is available. Counselors will complete schedule changes in Aspen by the end of the day on September 14 and will notify students via email of the schedule change.
Advanced Placement (AP) classes will still be offered for both semesters. “Refresher courses” will be offered prior to AP tests for students in AP classes during semester one. A possible mid-year slate of AP exams for students taking AP classes in Semester One is still undergoing negotiation with the College Board.
In addition to the schedule change, Wilson plans to offer new staff, clubs, and experiences. There will be monthly Virtual Parent Coffees and weekly eNewsletters sent out by Principal Martin.