Change in schedule affects students

Tom Tom Staff, Editorial

East administration has recently been working on finalizing a new school day schedule for all students. Among these changes comes the implementation of advisory three times a week (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday) which gives the opportunity for the junior class to take ACT preparation courses twice a week.

While the usefulness of the ACT prep courses cannot be denied, we believe that there are other alternatives that should have been considered when deciding to change the schedule of all of the students.

The first thing that needs to be considered is the impact that such a change will have on other students. For example, students of all grades currently utilize Guided Personal Study (GPS) time every day except for Wednesdays to seek help from their teachers, work on their homework, or catch up on their missing work or tests.

Limiting this time down to only two times a week will significantly decrease the amount of time that students have to keep themselves on top of their grades which can potentially negatively impact the students’ grades.

If we approximate the current GPS time to 30 minutes and it is offered four times a week, then that gives a student currently 120 minutes (two hours) of in-school time per week that they can use in many ways to help themselves improve.

Under the system that will be implemented next semester, a student would get 45 minutes of GPS time twice a week, which only equals 90 minutes. A student would have approximately a half an hour less time a week to work on their school work.

Many students are in after school activities or have other responsibilities that take up much of their time outside of school, so they may not have any other time outside of school to be able to adequately work on their homework.

Limiting the amount of time a student has to work on their class work can significantly hinder them compared to their peers. A study by the Journal of Experimental Education reports that the average student has three hours of homework a night.

By decreasing the amount of time a student has in school to work on their homework, it just makes a student spend more time at home on their work – time that they may not have.

Another change that could drastically affect students has to do with the students that have early out. Some students are excused for 6th or 7th hour, which means that with the adjusted schedule and class periods being shorter, these students would just be let out of school sooner.

Deciding to limit some students’ educational time in favor of allowing only some students to have an advantage on a standardized test seems like favoring one class of students over others.

Additionally, giving students less actual instruction time is counter-productive to the goal of school as a whole.

Even if the schedules of other students were in consideration when these decisions were made, a problem still exists regarding the teachers that are junior advisory teachers.

With the new changes to come, the teachers that are in charge of junior class advisories now will still have junior advisories next semester.

While this is great for the junior class because they most likely will not have to adapt to a new advisory class and teacher, unfortunately for other students, most of the teachers that are in charge of junior advisories also teach other grade levels.

This means that those teachers will be unavailable on the Tuesdays and Thursdays that their non-junior students might want to use to receive help or make up work.

Giving students less time with their teachers actually significantly disadvantages all students in the building. Even though juniors will be having the time to prepare for taking the ACT, this just gives them less time that they would be able to use to do their work for their classes.

Additional things that need to be considered when deciding to change the schedule of all the students is the impact that the ACT preparation classes might have on the students.

For students that actually want to get a better score on the ACT, the course could definitely benefit them. According to the ACT webiste, students that take a preparation course tend to be more successful on the ACT than those that do not.

While this would seem to support the idea that the implementation of the ACT test preparation program at East would benefit students, the only benefit would really come to the students that were interested in receiving a higher score. Forcing students to learn the techniques and to actually apply the techniques on a future test simply is not possible, and could potentially result in the program seeming ineffective.

In addition to the students that do not want to learn and improve, there are going to be the students that have gone above and beyond what is expected of them and received a very high score. With the students that have achieved scores of 30 or above, spending 90 minutes a week in an ACT prep course is not going to help them too much.

If a student gets to a point where they are scoring way above average on the ACT, then test preparation courses are going to be functionally useless. At that point, it is clear that the student does not need much, if any, additional help. It is also doubtful that the level of help they need is the same as a student that is scoring much lower than them.

There are also many students at East that are not planning on attending college after high school, so is there a justification for making students who are going straignt into the workforce or the military attend the ACT preparation sessions? Outside of the college academic world, or even courses for trade certifications, the ACT is functionally useless. If a student is not planning on furthuring their education, then scoring well on the ACT is not a high priority to them.

While it has been mentioned of splitting up students into various sessions based on their ACT score, whatever preparation they can be given will most likely not be as helpful to them as it would be to other students that have more room to improve.

Finally, putting this much emphasis on a standardized tests like the ACT seems counterproductive to how the college world is moving. Many colleges are beginning to become “test optional” which means that it is not required that a student would send their standardized test score.

Even local colleges like Creighton have adapted the “test optional” status, which can draw into question how important the ACT actually is to colleges. If many colleges are beginning to not require that a student send a standardized test score, then putting such an emphasis on all students taking an ACT preparation course could be unnecessary.

Overall, even though the opportunity for students to take ACT preparation classes at no expense to students is a benefit, the inconveniences it will cause to other students and even teachers, in addition to real world application of such tests,  should have been taken into more consideration when making this decision.