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Improving High School Schedules

As CPS has studied ways to address concerns about school schedules, the district has not been contemplating a significant change to the length of the school day at CRLS or High School Extension Program. Instead, a parallel process has focused on ways to address the concerns of students, educators and families about the CRLS schedule by improving the current block schedule.

Based on the work of last year’s Joint Labor / Management Group and recent conversations with educators, families, and students in the CRLS community - including December 2018 conversations at the CRLS School Council meeting, a CRLS faculty forum, and the Cambridge Youth Policy Council - potential areas of improvement fall into a few general categories:

  • Attending to the human and social-emotional needs of students and staff: Students, educators and families have suggested the possibility of longer transitions to make the day feel less rushed and provide time for “bio breaks,” short breaks during long instructional blocks, and more time to attend to social-emotional needs.

  • Strengthening community and relationships: Students, educators and families have suggested exploring ways to improve and maximize community meeting and x-blocks, as well other ways to strengthen relationships within the CRLS community

  • More flexibility to better serve students’ academic needs: Students, educators and families have suggested building in more opportunities for students to meet one-on-one with staff to check in about classwork, advising, and college recommendations. Greater flexibility is also desired in terms of increasing student choice and electives. Finally, some have suggested creating more flexibility within the block schedule model by rotating which classes occur in which block, to provide the opportunity for students to be at their best during class periods that might otherwise always fall during a time of day when it is harder for them to focus.

  • Improving time for collaboration among faculty: Educators have suggested exploring schedule changes that would provide more common planning and collaboration time with peers.

We will continue this conversation over the next few months to develop some actionable ideas for improvement. Discussions with the high school community will continue, including through upcoming faculty meetings and surveys of students and staff. We are in the process of establishing a working group to build on the work to-date and develop actionable proposals. Educators who are interested in joining this committee may submit your name to the Cambridge Education Association using this form 

Please keep in mind that some changes to the schedule might require approval by the School Committee and collective bargaining with CEA. Significant changes that would need a planning year would not be implemented until the 2020-2021 school year.