ANDOVER HIGH SCHOOL
80 SHAWSHEEN ROAD
ANDOVER, MA 01810
November 11, 2016
It’s hard to believe that it’s already November. The fall sports season is coming to a close, daylight savings time has ended, and we are nearing the holidays. I hope your student has had a successful first term and is comfortably settled in at school. As we begin our second-term, I wanted to let you know that we are already looking towards the 2017 - 2018 school year and our transition to the 7+H schedule. As we transition, it will be important for us to answer all of your questions. This letter is an attempt to get us off on the right foot.
After a number of years of discussion, preparation, planning, and deliberation, AHS is moving to the 7 + H schedule. AHS is joining the dramatically increasing number of high schools adopting a personalized year-long rotating schedule. All schedules have benefits and challenges and our current schedule is no exception. Our hope is that by moving to the 7+H schedule we will be able to meet the needs of a broader range of students and provide a more in-depth educational experience for our student body.
What are the benefits of moving to the 7 + H schedule?
The 7 + H high school schedule promotes yearlong continuity of instruction.
Yearlong courses will minimize gaps in content continuity as students will take one course after another with no delay.
Yearlong courses allow students time to process and retain information.
The schedule includes varied instructional time periods (60 minutes, 75 minutes, and 80 minutes) that provide flexibility in instruction.
Rotating time periods means classes are offered at different hours of the day thereby optimizing learning for all classes.
The schedule incorporates a personalization period which will provide opportunities for students to:
Deepen their relationships with teachers
Participate in activities designed to improve students’ social-emotional learning
Stay on track in their learning and maximum their learning potential through individualized support and enrichment during the H block
Cultivate a culture of curiosity that enables teachers and students to explore areas of mutual interest
The schedule incorporates teacher to teacher collaboration time within the school day. It provides time for:
Common planning within a department or content strand to discuss curriculum, instruction, and assessment
Collaborative data analysis of student work
Planning interdisciplinary teaching, project based units, and other district initiatives
The schedule allows Andover to join other competitive school districts who have adopted a personalized year-long rotating schedule.
The current semesterized block schedule has become obsolete. Its emphasis on the quantity of courses is no longer what colleges and universities are looking for in successful applicants. Instead they are looking for students with a quality program that focuses on varied courses and individualized study programs that include original research, teamwork, and effective communication.
The current schedule can create gaps in student learning of up to a year. If a student takes French I fall of freshman year and French II the spring of sophomore year 12 months will have elapsed since the student has studied the language. We also know that students who take Physical Science in the fall semester score (on average) 10 points lower on the MCAS exam than do students who are taking Physical Science in the spring semester. Most important, the current schedule does not build time into the school day for personalized academic, social, or emotional support.
In the coming months, we will be piloting various aspects of the schedule, hosting meetings for parents, students, and families to familiarize you with the schedule. We will also be putting resources on-line so that you can review the information at your own pace. In the coming weeks we will again pilot H1 and H2. H1 is an advisory period where students will work with one teacher for four years on topics such as goal setting, career and college planning, course selection, executive functioning skills, self-management, self-awareness, decision-making, and problem solving skills. H1 is also where students will personalize their H2 - H5 experiences. This pilot will include making a choice for an H2 block. Later in the year, we will pilot the rotation of blocks in the new schedule. We will run our current courses within the 7+H bell schedule of five periods of various lengths per day. That pilot will happen over an eight day rotation so that all of the classes meet for the same number of minutes.
I am excited that we will be working on the schedule this year in preparation for the 2017 - 2018 school year. Thank you in advance for your participation and support as we transition our school to our new 7+H personalized year-long rotating schedule.
C.c. Dr. Sheldon Berman, Superintendent of Schools, Andover Public Schools