Two schools plan 7-credit schedules

March 10, 1994|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Sun Staff Writer

Two more high schools have decided to adopt seven-credit schedules next school year that would let students meet new state graduation requirements while still having plenty of time for electives.

Glenelg and Mount Hebron high schools plan to follow a model that schedules three 90-minute classes every other day and one class of about 50 minutes every day, similar to the model used at Atholton High School.

By April, Glenelg and Mount Hebron expect to seek approval for the move from the Board of Education and are working on curriculum and other changes.

"Right now, we're getting the floor plans," said Connie Lewis, a Mount Hebron assistant principal, speaking figuratively. "Nothing is concrete at this point."

Howard County schools and other districts are looking into alternative schedules because of new state graduation requirements that went into effect for the ninth-grade class that entered in the 1993-94 school year.

Under those requirements, ninth- graders will have to take four credits of English, three credits each of social studies, math and science, a half-credit of health, a half-credit of physical education, one credit of fine arts and one credit of a technology class.

They also will have to take two credits of a foreign language, or two of an advanced technology or two from the Howard School of Technology, among other requirements.

That means 21 of the 24 credits necessary for graduation come from courses mandated by the state.

At schools with six-period schedules, however, students can take a maximum of 24 credits. That means they have the opportunity for only three elective courses throughout their high school career.

Howard and Atholton both switched to new schedules in the fall of 1993 to give students more flexibility.

Howard follows a model that allows students to take four classes the first half of the school year and four different classes the second half, instead of six yearlong courses.

Atholton's schedule lets students earn seven credits each year. The schedule alternates three 90-minute classes one day with three different ones the next. Students attend one 55-minute class daily.

Other schools still are polling students and parents on various scheduling changes.

Oakland Mills High School, for example, is sending out a survey with students' course registration packets that asks families to help decide what schedule would work best next year.

Oakland Mills students are asked to sign up for six courses as well for an additional course that they would take if the school decides to follow Atholton's seven-credit schedule, according to David Bruzga, the principal.

"What we're trying to accomplish is to have people have an enlightened decision based on the particular needs of their students," he said. "We're trying to provide everyone . . . with input with the scheduling model."

Mr. Bruzga said the school would decide by spring break whether to change the schedule for next school year. Oakland Mills is looking at which classes students would choose under a seven-credit schedule and what impact their decisions would have on class sizes and teaching assignments.

"If there is a clear mandate from our students and parents, [if] they would like to change to a seven-course selection, we would have to determine the impact before making a final decision," he said.

Hammond High School is taking a wait-and-see position on the seven-credit schedule.

The school expects to begin a new schedule starting in the 1995-96 school year and is weighing the educational benefits and disadvantages of various alternatives.

"We would like to see the results of the efforts of the Howard and Atholton [models] play out for a longer time," Principal Marshall Peterson said.

Mr. Peterson and Hammond's PTSA executive board had numerous concerns, including the effect on middle-schoolers going from 45-minute classes to 90-minute classes and the possibility that students won't do as well on Advanced Placement tests.

Wilde Lake has a flexible schedule that allows students to take as many as 12 credits each year, and Centennial has a model that allows students to take seven courses a year by skipping lunch.

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