ROCK SPRINGS– Rock Springs High School will be implementing an eighth period into the bell schedule in the 2019-2020 school year, whether or not the district moves to a four-day week or stays with the five-day week.
Students began choosing their eighth period class on Friday, March 22, which will either be an extra course or a study hall period.
RSHS Principal Annie Fletcher explained that the goal of the eighth period class is to address graduation rates, test scores, allow students more choice, and allow teachers to work collaboratively.
“RSHS has struggled with academic markers like graduation rate and test scores for a long time. We might see a slight increase or decrease, but no significant change,” Fletcher said. “As an administrative team we have been looking at research and what other schools are doing to see what options we might have.”
Fletcher explained that students are facing increased demands of college prep curriculum, as well as Hathaway curriculum, and that has limited student choice.
“The [eight period] schedule will allow students to select an extra course, but we also know some students cannot take ‘one more thing’. So, we will also be offering a study period for any student who wishes to take part,” Fletcher said.
RSHS is also continuing their efforts to make education less solitary and more collaborative, in which teachers have quality time to work together in collaborative teams.
“In systems where these collaborative teams are well supported, student learning soars,” Fletcher said. “The eight period day will be structured so teachers have a team prep and a personal prep. Our current schedule does not do that.”
The Funding Finally Came Through
Fletcher said the administrative team has been looking to make this change for a while, but it has been dependent on extra staffing, and with state and legislative funding, it has not been a possibility in the past.
However, due to district level support and some funding coming through, they were able to implement the eighth period.
“We know the timing has been quick, even sudden,” Fletcher acknowledged. “The funding was put in place last Friday (March 15).”
District wide administrative input lasted through Wednesday (March 20), and staff was notified of the schedule change on Thursday (March 21).
Several Rock Springs High School parents expressed concerns on social media when the high school announced the eight-period schedule on their Facebook page.
Students signed up for an additional class on Friday, March 22, which brought forth several complaints from parents.
One concern was that with the short notice, parents were not able to discuss with their kids what additional class would be best to take.
Another concern was that students who left early for spring break or were absent on Friday due to athletic participation, as well as incoming Freshman, did not get to choose their classes on Friday like the rest of the student body. Parents were worried their kids would not have equal opportunity to choose classes.
Fletcher addressed the concerns, saying the school wants to make sure schedules are ready by the first day of school, and therefore they needed to get started as soon as possible.
“We will continue to offer students choice for the first few days after the break, and we will also rely on student registration forms. When they registered for classes in February, all students and parents provided four alternative classes. Those approved selections will be used,” Fletcher said.
Another concern was that the eight period day was being implemented so the district could move forward with a four-day school week. Fletcher assured that the eight-period day is being implemented regardless of a four-day week.
The four-day week decision will be made at the Sweetwater County School District #1 Board of Trustees meeting on April 8.
RSHS will hold an information meeting for the RSHS students and parents in April, though the specific date has not yet been determined.
The school’s leadership team will meet to determine the exact bell schedule for the 2019-2020 school year, which is dependent on the four-day week decision.
“As a leadership team, we are very excited to have so much support from central office and our teachers in making these changes,” Fletcher said.