LMS Master Schedule for 2017-18

LMS Parents for 2017-18:

Good morning.

The following is more detailed information regarding our master schedule for the 2017-18 school year.  This communication follows a presentation to our LMS faculty on Monday, October 17 and a subsequent presentation to the Board of Education on Monday, October 24.  This message is also being sent to parents of current Fifth Grade Center students.  

INTRODUCTION

As we look ahead to 2017-18, three factors will impact our schedule:
  • The need to increase instructional minutes in the Core content areas (English/Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies) for grades 7 and 8.  We meet state requirements in this area in grade 6, but barely meet or exceed these in the latter two grades.  
  • The need to increase combined instructional minutes in Physical Education and Health.  We meet state requirements in this area in grade 6, but do not meet these in our semester-based sections in grades 7 or 8.
  • The desire to expand the current grade 6 English/Language Arts workshop model into grades 7 and 8.

Increasing Core time in grades 7 and 8:
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) requires 900 minutes of Core instructional time per week.  We currently exceed this standard in grade 6 with 1,125 minutes, while barely meeting it in grades 7 and 8 at 900 minutes exactly.  The primary goal of making this change is to increase the time students spend in Core content instruction so they are as prepared as possible in these foundational disciplines as they enter high school.

Increasing instructional time in Physical Education/Health:
DESE requires 4,500 minutes of combined instructional time in PE and Health per year, for each of our three grade levels.  In grade 6, we exceed this standard with approximately 4,922 minutes.  We also exceed this standard in grade 7 and 8 for those students taking year-long PE/Health with approximately 7,875 minutes, but fall short for those students only taking our semester-long sections at 3,938 minutes.

Expanding the English/Language Arts (ELA) Workshop model to grades 7 and 8:
As we currently do in grade 6, most students in grades 7 and 8 would take two periods of English/Language Arts - one period of Reading and a second period of Writing.  This process will allow more targeted, individualized instruction in both areas and will provide benefits to students in all curricular areas.  Students identified and served through our Gifted program would take one period of “Compacted” ELA and their fifth Core class would be Apogee.

MASTER SCHEDULE 2017-18

Following is a description of the new schedule, along with information about how this schedule compares with the current schedule in terms of instructional minutes.  

Core Content Instructional Time:
In order to increase daily instructional time in the Core subject areas, these classes will meet daily for approximately fifty-three (53) minutes each.  This will provide a significant increase in instructional minutes from what we have currently:
  • Grade 6 - from 1,125 to 1,325 (+ 17.8%)
  • Grades 7 & 8 - from 900 to 1,325 (+ 47.2%)

Student Schedules:
All students will have seven classes each day with eight courses in their overall schedule, as follows:    
  • 5 Daily Core Content Classes (53 minutes each).  English/Language Arts Reading, English/Language Arts Writing, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies will meet daily.  
  • 3 Additional Class Periods/2 Attended Each Day (53 minutes each).  On a rotating basis, students will attend two classes daily out of the three additional courses on their schedule.  One of these three courses will be Physical Education/Health.  The remaining two periods will be elective choices and/or intervention classes.

Sample Student Schedule:
1
Mathematics
Daily for 53 minutes
2
ELA Reading
Daily for 53 minutes
3
Science
Daily for 53 minutes
4
ELA Writing
Daily for 53 minutes
5
Social Studies
Daily for 53 minutes

Three non-core classes meet for 53 minutes each, two out of every three days.  

Example - A student taking PE/Health along with German and Orchestra would have:

A/B day:
A - Physical Education/Health
B - German

B/C day:
B - German
C - Orchestra

A/C day:
A - Physical Education/Health
C - Orchestra

Example - A student taking PE/Health along with French and Art/Industrial Technology would have:

A/B day:
A - Physical Education/Health (year-long)
B - French (year-long)

B/C day:
B - French (year-long)
C - Art (semester 1)/Ind Tech (semester 2)

A/C day:
A - Physical Education/Health (year-long)
C - Art (semester 1)/Ind Tech (semester 2)

Elective Comparison Between Current and New Model:
Exploration of other areas of interest remain an important part of the middle school experience, and we are committed to maintaining these opportunities for our students.  Therefore, it is important to note that we have attempted to preserve as much student/parent choice as possible within our Electives program.  
  • World Languages.  Language-specific instruction in French, German or Spanish will begin the first semester of grade 6, instead of the current Exploratory Rotation in grade 6.  In the new model, foreign language courses will meet two out of every three days in grades 6 - 8, for longer periods of time.  This represents an overall decrease of 5.7% in foreign language instructional minutes over three (3) years.
  • Music.  Currently, music courses meet every other day in grade 6, and daily in grades 7 and 8.  In the new model, music courses will meet two out of every three days in grades 6 - 8, for longer periods of time.  This represents an overall decrease of 5.7% in music instructional minutes over three (3) years.
  • Gifted/Apogee.  Students identified in our Gifted program will take one (1) Compacted English Reading/Writing, and their fifth core class will be Apogee.  Apogee will meet daily for 53 minutes which represents a 17.8% increase in Gifted instructional minutes compared to 2016-17.
  • All Other Non-Core/Elective/Intervention classes.  Current grade 6 Exploratory classes, which are grouped together, would transition to independent semester-based classes, meeting two out of every three days.  Instructional minutes in grade 6 classes would increase from 984 minutes to 3,092 minutes, an increase of 214%.  Semester-long classes in grades 7 and 8 would remain semester-based, going from 3,938 minutes to 3,092 minutes, a decrease of 21%.  These classes would also meet two out of every three days.

CONCLUSION

The schedule model above provides us the opportunity to meet the three objectives listed at the beginning of this communication:
  • The need to increase instructional minutes in the Core content areas (English/Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies) for grades 7 and 8 to meet or exceed DESE standards.   
  • The need to increase combined instructional minutes in Physical Education and Health to meet or exceed DESE standards.  
  • The goal of expanding the current grade 6 English/Language Arts workshop model into grades 7 and 8.

Over the past 2+ years, our administration, counselors, faculty, staff and parents have examined an extensive number of schedules with the goal of meeting these objectives.  We have done so with the understanding that we also wish to continue to offer a comprehensive array of Elective/Exploratory choices for students.  

Although no master schedule is perfect for everyone involved, I feel the model outlined above is the best possible option for retaining as much student/parent choice as possible, while also meeting our overall objectives.

I realize this is a lot of information to absorb.  However, once you have had an opportunity to review and process it, there will be two opportunities for parents to provide feedback and ask questions during evening meetings at LMS.  
  • Monday, November 7; LMS Cafeteria; 7 p.m.
  • Wednesday, November 16; LMS Library; 7 p.m.
We will also make every effort to address any questions during our upcoming Parents to Lunch dates (following the lunch shift with students).
  • Wednesday, November 9 (Grade 6).
  • Thursday, November 10 (Grade 7).

Thank you for your time,

Greg

Gregory Baber, Principal
Ladue Middle School




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