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  • Talon Staff

the Opportunity in a New Bell Schedule

Clayton Valley Charter High School, quite frankly, is no stranger to a new bell schedule. Seniors have faced a different one every school year, and under the influence of new state law affecting start time and instructional minutes, the bell schedule of an upcoming school year may be new as well. However, if CVCHS adopts an eight period schedule, students trade off greater workloads than years past with increased flexibility in course selection and more competitive course completion.

An eight-period schedule would lower the stakes of elective course selection. Linear course pathways, such as English 1 to English 2 and so on, would be largely unaffected by the expanded schedule, but elective course selection could flourish. For instance, the participation of some students in academies and the necessity of foreign language courses often narrows their course selection in the interest of academy membership and graduation requirements. However, a freshman entering into this schedule would now face a baseline of thirty-two required courses where classes past faced a baseline of twenty-four courses padded by zero period, Eaglei, community college enrollment, and so on. With more space in the schedule overall, students would have the opportunity to be more adventurous in their elective course selection without endangering their path to graduation.

Also, greater course completion could increase the competitiveness of CVCHS students in college applications. With a larger schedule, there is more space to fit in AP and general elective courses, and those students that challenge themselves in this fashion will appear academically to have taken well-rounded, rigorous courses. Participation in extracurriculars continues to hold significant sway over college decisions, though completing eight more courses in your high school career than other applicants is unlikely to hurt.

That being said, the addition of two periods to the main bell schedule could overwhelm some students. It can be difficult to balance family and extracurricular responsibilities with just six classes—compounding that workload may only worsen student stress and overall performance. On the other hand, students may manage their classes successfully, but at the expense of engaging in extracurricular activities that interest them and advance their competitiveness in college applications.

Yet students may also survive, if not excel. The implementation of the eight period schedule (each class, every day, as opposed to the division of the classes into regular blocks, or some other model) would hold significant influence over its impact, but as the above points have noted, the most noticeable effect of expanding the schedule would likely be in elective enrollment. Many CVCHS students take AP courses, and they sign an agreement acknowledging the inherent rigor of the courses to do so; many CVCHS students play sports, but their participation is conditional to a certain GPA; and so on.

Altogether, expanding the bell schedule might significantly increase student workload, but it is likely that the work will originate from electives of interest to the students that could increase their competitiveness in college applications. CVCHS has policies in place to ensure students are aware of the rigor they encounter with certain academic choices, and it seeks student success; an eight period schedule might be a change well-suited for this goal.

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