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School Board Approves Changes in Middle School Course Scheduling

Time spent in math class to increase each day, social studies and science classes to alternate days.

CUSD 115 school board officials unanimously approved scheduling changes and alterations in time spent on subjects to the Yorkville Middle School curriculum last week.

Under the changes the amount of time students spend in math, science and social studies classes will increase, while time spent at lunch will decrease, according to district documents.

According to the documents math classes will increase to 60 minutes per day from the current schedule of 42 minutes. The increase, according to the district, “will allow students to problem-solve, collaborate, receive feedback, and have guided practice supported by the instructors.” The increase in math instruction requires the hiring of three new math instructors.

District officials said the additional time spent in math class will “provide a better bridge from elementary to middle school and … prepare students for the increased rigor of math courses they will experience at YHS and beyond.”

Social studies and science classes would also be extended to 60 minutes per session, but the two courses would be held on an every-other-day schedule.

The required eight-grade communications course will be eliminated due to the focus on communications in language arts classes under the new Common Core standards.

Ryan Atkins, the district director of educational technology, said middle school officials are confident in the changes and believe the time changes will maximize educational times.

Prior to voting on the curriculum change, officials questioned the reduction in time for science education from 210 minutes per week to 150 minutes. Board member Peter Athens said he was concerned about the shifting of science to every other day, even though students would be spending nearly the same amount of time in class.

“No matter how much better you’re using that time, it still doesn’t feel right to me,” he said.

Assistant Superintendent Tim Shimp said school officials will be discussing further changes in science curriculum in another year as they continue with Common Core standards. He said the new course proposals will impact all student levels and will likely require more classroom instruction and lab time.

“When we know what it looks like then we’ll have to further discuss it,” Shimp said.  

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