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New 4J high school schedule brings concerns for parents

(File/Eugene School District 4J)
(File/Eugene School District 4J)
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Following the pandemic, the 4J school district is looking for ways to increase their in-classroom time for students and teachers.

With that in mind, a soon-to-be-implemented schedule change will begin in the fall at 4J high schools.

“Kids have more time within each class to be able to engage in their learning as opposed to having to carry a load independently outside of class," says Greg Borgerging, 4J's Director of Secondary Education.

The new schedule format will use semesters in lieu of trimesters, with each student having 8 classes per term.

The classes will be split between 'A' days and 'B' days, which alternate every other day. Then, a third 'C' day will be used as a way for students to get assistance or supplemental education.

4J Superintendent Andy Dey says they are mirroring other districts in their approach.

“There are programs across the state and across the country that have the exact same schedule," Dr. Dey says. "Students are very successful in their pursuit of the IB diploma and very successful in AP and college style classes.”

Some parents in the district believe the decision is, at best, rushed, or at worst, completely unnecessary.

They’ve spoken with teachers, who wish to remain anonymous, who share those concerns.

Parents worry an already strained group of teachers may not stay around to see the how the new plan works.

“If they are not on board and if they feel like this is going to really damage student outcomes," says Maile Urbancic, "that's a problem.”

Like those educators, some parents want more time. They want to see proof from the school district that this change will be beneficial to all students.

“If it's a good idea this year it will still be a good idea next year," says Marty Wilde, "and by then we will have had the chance to fully develop the plan.”

Superintendent Dey points to the International Baccalaureate Organization. They say students need 150 teaching hours over two years for standard high school level classes.

This new schedule will nearly double that.

“We're designing a schedule that gives us the most opportunities to meet students at their rate and level," says Dr. Dey, "and ensures that more students take advantage of the things that are in our high schools and successfully graduate with a diploma in four years.”

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