Breaking the ice, cutting the first blade, getting our feet wet: phrases used to describe an exciting new start that will change the daily routine of every student. In our case RB High is jumping straight through the ice, mowing the lawn and leaping into the puddle known as the 4×4 schedule with great excitement, but well-planned aim.
The 4×4 is essentially a way to fit twice as many classes into a schedule per year. This works because a student only needs to take three to four classes a day, everyday. Less classes means more time with teachers. More time with teachers means faster learning, and faster learning means students can finish a year-long course in just a semester.
RB High Principal Dave LeMaster has been working for this change, through parent meetings, teacher conferences, and communicating with other schools that have been on the quarter system. This is not LeMaster’s first experience with a schedule change at RB High. In 2012, LeMaster’s first year at RB High, he changed the schedule from the old “tutorial” schedule to the current ELP system.
Besides the preliminary miscommunication between students and teachers about the purpose of ELP, the change was a success. LeMaster expects the transition to new 4×4 schedule to be just as successful, if not more, successful. The quarter system also means that students only have to take three to four classes a day. This lets the student focus more on each individual class without having to worry about missing credits or not taking a class. It also means that instead of doing homework for six classes every night, only three or four need to be focused on.
There are some downsides to the sudden new schedule change. Current students will be faced with adapting to the 90 minute classes that they will have every day. The curriculum will be sped up, so students will have to learn more in less time. Only four out of 85 teachers have ever taught at a 4×4 school. And in regards to AP classes, most will stay the same but some will end at the semester forcing students to constantly review for the AP test in May but not be in the class. This might make it more difficult for them to get the 5’s, 4’s, and 3’s they are expected to get. Yet, LeMaster remains positive.
When asked if there could be any problems with implementing the new schedule, LeMaster responded, “Problems, no such thing! Only opportunity.”
He believes that RB High students are skilled enough to adapt to the new change and won’t even notice the speedup in curriculum. Teachers and students will learn the new system together since it’s the first year in the quarter system for both. The school will also offer AP class reviews so that students can keep practicing for their specific AP test together.
His only concern seems to be attendance. In the current schedule missing one week of school is equivalent to missing 240 minutes. With the new schedule, missing a week of school is missing 420 minutes. That’s a lot of time to miss and can be seriously detrimental to a student’s grades. But if students show up to class everyday, they will speedup the integration of the 4×4 and the change will be more beneficial.
Another clear advantage to the 4×4 is the amount of classes students will be able to take. If a student wanted to take a class but never had enough time in their schedule, the 4×4 will allow them to do so. This works with both, classes a student wants to take, and classes a student needs to take. The 4×4 creates a balance between required classes and leisure classes since there are so many more opportunities for classes. A student might take a class that ends up being their career path because there was an extra spot in their schedule.
If students and teachers cooperate and learn the schedule together, RB High will thrive in a time of transition, give more opportunities for credits, and allow more chances to make up classes or try classes you always wanted to but never had the chance to do. (hint journalism).