Bearden implementing 5-period schedule in 2016-17 to accommodate new law


Madison Chan, Staff Writer

When the doors of Bearden open to admit students for the 2016-2017 school year, the schedules each student will follow will be significantly different.

Next year, the schedule will feature five periods; four of these will continue to follow the traditional block schedule, while the other will be a yearlong 45-minute “skinny” class in the middle of the day.

The schedule change is largely in response to a new federal law, which requires schools to provide 45 minutes of uninterrupted remediation time for students who need help with math and reading skills. Because the law will not take full effect into next year, ILP was a test run for scheduling options that would address this requirement. However, ILP in its current form does not meet the law’s requirements due to an inability to remove students from a math or reading class in order to offer them remediation for that same class.

“The fact is, ILP has worked, but it hasn’t worked as effective as we wanted to, and it doesn’t meet the law,” Bearden principal Dr. John Bartlett said. “So the law becomes the driving factor there.”

This schedule change will provide students across the board with more flexibility of schedule, particularly with AP and foreign language classes that tend to have conflicts. Leadership I is the first of many electives that will claim a spot in this new class time. Another idea up in the air is an AP/Honors study hall, where students with three or more AP/Honors classes would be able to use the “skinny” as a study hall to manage their homework and balance their schedules.

Incoming freshmen will be given a unique opportunity as they enter Bearden for the first time; all freshmen not taking an intervention class will take “Freshman Seminar,” a prep class on “how to be successful in high school” that is intended to build strong study skills and help students adjust to high school and the course load involved.

Although this might be considered a major change to the overall school’s schedule, students will see more similarities than differences with the new schedule. Notable changes besides the addition class are that full block classes will go from 80 minutes to 78, and lunch will be in three segments instead of four and will take place during the new 4th block.

Bearden will not be the only school turning in this new direction as far as schedules are concerned. Many of the schools in Knox County either have or are planning on changing their schedules to this adjusted format in the coming years, and will be watching Bearden’s test run to see if it produces successful results.

“I think this may be the schedule choice for almost every high school in the county,” Dr. Bartlett said.

A basic outline of the new schedule may be found below, and more information will be available soon.