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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Opposition stirring to proposed schedule change at Lakewood?



Andrea Carvill, a teacher in the Center for Advanced Technologies at Lakewood High (and the parent of a CAT student) sent us the following note about proposed schedule changes at Lakewood High. She plans to read it at tomorrow's Pinellas County School Board meeting and says a handful of other parents will be there, too.

We've heard other rumblings from Lakewood but wondered how folks at the other three schools potentially affected by schedule and start time changes - Gibbs, Boca Ciega and Dixie Hollins - are viewing the proposal. Everybody okay with it? By all means, chime in. In the meantime, here is Carvill's piece:

I am here to speak against the 8-course schedule at Lakewood High and to propose a better solution to the achievement problem.  My son, Danny, is a typical freshman at the Center for Advanced Technologies or CAT magnet program at Lakewood High which makes up about 25% of the student body.  He takes four honors classes, does about 1.5 hours of homework per night, and earns all A’s and B’s.  When Danny found out about the proposed 8-course schedule next year he told me he wanted to transfer to his zoned school or back to private school.  I can’t say I blame him as this schedule will stress him out with a heavier work load and a longer school day.   Both CAT and advanced Lakewood students would have to take an additional upper-level course in order to maintain their competitive GPA’s.   I fear many other CAT students will also transfer to other schools and our incoming freshman class will be the smallest class ever. I fail to understand how this schedule will benefit our lowest 35% of the student body who are already struggling with their current work load.  Research shows that stressed-out students are often not engaged in learning and they focus more on getting the grades-by any means possible-instead of learning the material. 

So, I think we could look to the CAT program which has been in successful operation for the last 20 years for a solution to this dilemma.   If we must extend the school day to meet the requirements of the SIG grant why don’t we add an “academic support” period to the school day.Academic support has always been a valuable part of CAT as it provides time where teachers and students meet to discuss organizational and study skills, college goals, standardized testing, or even get classwork help.  Research shows that students who believe their teachers listen to them, want to get to know them and are willing to help with homework, are more engaged with learning, less likely to cheat, and show fewer signs of stress.  Everyone in our school from our lowest 35% to our National Merit Finalists can benefit from this.

Adding another class without changing the graduation credit requirement just sends the message that students do not need to try as hard to do well in their courses (they will get 32 chances to earn 24 credits).  This message not only hurts the lowest 35% but those just above them, lowering the bar for everyone.  At Lakewood High we want to establish a “culture of high expectations” where you are expected to pass the seven academic courses you take each year to earn a minimum of 24 credits by graduation.  We can extend the existing school day by adding academic support for all students.

[Last modified: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 12:13pm]


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