By Gelacio Cruz-Alvarado
North Eugene has felt the effects of the change from the 4×4 small school schedule to the three trimesters and five seventy-minute classes a day schedule. The five classes a day allows students to make up credits that weren’t gained in a failed class and gives more control to students about their schedule and what they want to explore. North Eugene joined the other high schools in the district that share the common schedule for this school year. That makes it easier for students to transfer to other schools in the district and every student earns the same amount of credits.
This is the first year for North Eugene with the new 3×5 schedule, although they did have a five-period daily schedule in years past, before returning to four periods in recent years. Judging from student and community member reactions, the change was better on paper. The 2012-2013 school year gave more of a sense of community, the small schools gave students a home, Especially to the students who don’t fit in the the “regular” model.
The 2013-2014 school year feels like more of a struggle not only academically for students but at a personal level and for teachers too. Students are more stressed and it has left some unenthusiastic about school. NEHS senior Hunter Briggs said “There’s no time for kids to sit down and enjoy the education they’re getting. Teachers are stressed because of shortened classes and one more class added… . They are teaching super fast and not ensuring we get the content.” Which brings up the two questions: Who made the decision on switching from 4×4 to the 3×5? Who is actually benefitting from the change?
In describing the beginning of the year, NEHS junior Mason Boudreaux described it as “unorganized” and when asked about the changing of schedule, Boudreaux said, “There’s no negative or positive outcome that’s been seen.” Last year students had hopes for the change and were excited about the opportunities to follow when the new 4j Superintendent Sheldon Berman announced and pushed for the change. For instance, adding one more class to welcome more electives would make NEHS more of a traditional school and help students graduate on time.
Elective classes such as yearbook, which is a student led organization run as a class have been affected greatly. Classes have been shortened by 15 minutes which doesn’t give students enough class time to reach strict deadlines which are important in order to produce a spring yearbook.
Students are having to work during their free time just like teachers who are working past their pay hours.
In a recent survey given to 4j High school certified staff, results published at the 4J School Board meeting on December 18th showed that 92% of teachers felt that they are working either “somewhat” or “many more” hours this year compared to last year. And from that same survey, 97% of teachers feel that this year is either somewhat or much more stressful than last year.
Also according to documents dispersed to staff in a meeting on January 8th, 2014, in two of the three small schools, specifically IHS and IDEAS, roughly 27% freshman and 26% sophomores last year failed Language Arts first term compared to 47% of freshman and 46% sophomores who received a failing grade or incomplete for the first trimester this year, which is an approximate 20% increase in failure rates. It is difficult to compare failure rates between last year and this year due to the difference in schedules. It may be similar to comparing apples and oranges. But despite the differences in data between the two years, it appears that NEHS students may be enjoying less academic success this year than last year.
With the change of the schedule also came a new requirement for 11th and 12th graders, to take IB ( International Baccalaureate) classes. NEHS senior Ryan Pierce likes the idea of of the change saying “…We get the opportunity for better education.”