Why did we change the schedule?Goals for St. Mark’s IV
called for a comprehensive review and assessment of the current daily schedule. Following an extensive internal assessment, we identified that the current schedule would not continue to best support program growth and priorities.
We identified four outcome goals for the new schedule: maintain excellence, increase flexibility, increase collaboration, and support the health and wellness of the boys. The new schedule will provide opportunities to realize these four priorities.
Is this a Block Schedule?
No. A traditional Block schedule meets classes every other day. The schedule we have designed includes both 45-minute classes and 70-minute classes, and classes will meet three days out of four in Upper and Middle School. We refer to this model as a “modified” block schedule.
How does the 8-day, rotating schedule work?
The days will be numbered 1-8, and after day 8, the numbering of days returns to day 1. Students in Middle and Upper School will meet in a given class for 6 of the 8 days, which means they will not meet with every class every day as is true in our current schedule. Classes will also rotate vertically over the eight days. This means that if English class is the first class on day 1, it will be the second class on day 2, and so on.
What are the benefits to the new schedule?
Additional programming: The new schedule allows boys to have increased flexibility in their day and in the courses we offer to them. The new schedule provides opportunity for the School to add programs that we have identified in Goals for St. Mark’s IV, including expanded Computer Science offerings and comprehensive Health and Wellness Education.
Health and Wellness: The new schedule gives boys additional time in the day to manage their classes, relieves the responsibility of preparing for every class every day, extends the start of School to 8:30 a.m. in Middle and Upper School, and includes Divisional lunchtime so that boys eat lunch with their peers and teachers in that Division.
Semesters: With the new schedule, we will divide the year by Semesters instead of Trimesters. This change allows academic departments to offer the boys a greater variety of elective courses and to build upon the strength of program we currently offer.
How will the schedule impact lunch?
Each Division will have a designated time to eat lunch with classmates and teachers. For Middle and Upper School students, classes will no longer be scheduled during a lunch period.
What is “community time?”
Community time is currently designated in Middle and Upper School as the time we use for Advisory, Chapel, Assemblies, and Class Meetings. In the new schedule, all Divisions will have the same time designated for “community time,” and our current activities such as those listed above will take place at this time. The added benefit in the new schedule is that all Divisions share a community time, so all-school convocations and pep rallies can be scheduled during this time.
What time do the boys have to arrive at school and when does the school day end?
Beginning of the day: Classes begin for Middle and Upper School students at 8:30 a.m. Lower School classes begin at 8:00 a.m.
End of the day: Lower School day will end at 2:55 p.m. The school day for Middle School and Upper School will end at 3:25 p.m. 7th and 8th grade Middle School Athletic practice will go from 3:30-4:45 p.m., and Upper School Athletics practice will be scheduled from 4:45-6:30 p.m., making the day the same length as the current schedule since Middle and Upper School will begin school at 8:30 a.m.
What are the new course offerings that will be available because of the new schedule?
Across the departments, boys will have semester elective courses that are not currently available. This will allow boys to combine their interests across the academic areas by choosing an elective course in History for one semester and to combine it with a semester course in Science, for example. Specific course offerings for 2020-2021 will be published in February, so boys and families can make plans in time for the course selection process.
Will teachers assign additional homework for the day when the class does not meet?
No. As a faculty, we continue to discuss strategies for ensuring that homework advances learning. And, we are mindful of the demands placed on the boys. In the new schedule, boys will not have a double assignment between the days when their class does not meet. As we prepare for 2020-2021 and beyond, we will continue to review and assess the role of homework and the cumulative time it requires of the boys.
If boys want to meet with teachers, can they come before school?
Yes. With the later start time in Middle and Upper School, boys will be able to meet with teachers until classes begin at 8:30 a.m.
What are examples of new courses that will be available to the boys?
Semester courses in Science and History and Social Science will be added to the options for students beginning in the 2020-2021 school year. Planning is underway to develop additional electives in Computer Science, Engineering, and Fine Arts.
What changes to the current program will result from the new schedule?
In Middle School, boys will have the opportunity to select Chinese, Spanish, or Latin beginning in the 5th grade. The current program provides an exploratory approach to Chinese and Spanish, integrating both languages for less time over the year.
In the Middle School, boys will continue to have choices in the Fine Arts; however, they will have room in their schedule for two Fine Arts courses instead of three, and if they choose choir, band, or strings that will be a boy’s Fine Arts course for the year.
The Middle School computer science curriculum is expanded to include a 7th-grade course in the Maker Space in the Winn Science Center. The course will focus on design, computer science, engineering, prototyping, and fabrication.
With the switch to Semesters, how will the grade reporting structure change?
Comments will be written for all Middle School and Upper School students at the end of the 1st quarter and end of the 3rd quarter. Advisor Comments will be written at the end of the year.
Grades for students in 7th – 12th grade will be issued at the end of each quarter, semester, and end of the year.