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Dublin High School Planning to Extend School Day by 32 Minutes, Make 7th Period Mandatory

April 16, 2015

Dublin High SchoolDublin High School’s plan to extend the school day by 32 minutes by adding a mandatory 7th period is currently being debated by the Dublin Unified School District Board of Trustees. The plan, delayed one year due to a lack of parent support last year, is back on the table for implementation in the 2015-16 school year. The primary motivations for the change are to strengthen the freshman program to include a Freshman Seminar, provide struggling students with more support opportunities and to provide more flexibility with existing classroom space as Dublin High School’s student population continues to grow by 100-200 students per year.

The Dublin Unified School District will be holding a pair of Town Hall meetings to discuss the proposal on Thursday, April 23 and Monday, April 27 at 6:30 p.m. in the Dublin High School Library. The sessions will include a presentation from District and Dublin High officials, and most importantly a question and answer session to hear community concerns. Parents and students are strongly encouraged to attend one of the two sessions.

Dublin High School and District staff presented the proposal at the Dublin Unified School District Board of Trustees meeting on March 24. Presentation available here… On demand video replay of the Board meeting available here… (select agenda item J-1).

Based on our review of the material provided the changes can be summarized as follows:

  • Proposed bell schedule: day ends for all students 32 minutes later at 3:41 pm
  • Current bell schedule: day ends for all students at 3:09pm; day ends for students in 7th period program 4:10pm
  • Each class shortened by 3 minutes (from 56 to 53 minutes)
  • Passing period shortened by 1 minute (from 6 minutes to 5 minutes)
  • Lunch unchanged (55 minutes)
  • Freshmen have a mandatory program in the extra period including a semester of health and are to stay on campus during lunch
  • Sophomores, juniors and seniors have a free (GAEL) period and can leave the campus at lunch
  • Seniors can choose to have the GAEL period as their first or last period (allowing them to arrive later or leave earlier)

Also being proposed is a change in the collaboration schedule, making every Wednesday a collaboration day resulting in a later start to the school day on Wednesdays.

According to the Dublin High School summary presentation, the schedule change:

  • enables an increased focus on freshmen. Freshmen will be required to take two one semester courses – Freshmen Seminar and the state-mandated Health course (which will become a dual enrollment class that earns three community college credits). The Freshmen Mentoring Program (FMP) will continue. The Freshmen Seminar will focus on building foundational skills such as time management, goal setting, career research, self-analysis, decision-making, financial literacy, and planning for the future.
  • provides the opportunity to offer tutoring support throughout the day. Students in grades 10-12 will continue to take 6 classes. The extra period will be known as a “GAEL”(Great Academically Engaged Learning) period. Sophomores and Juniors who have more than one D or F will be assigned to tutoring during their GAEL period.  Students who are in Good Academic Standing will be in designated areas and may either work on homework, receive tutoring or have a stress break. Seniors in Good Academic Standing may schedule their GAEL period as a 1st or 7th period allowing them a late start or early dismissal.
  • provides additional classroom scheduling flexibility as Dublin High School’s population continues to grow by 100-200 students per year. 

Note that students will not be allowed to take an additional course during the GAEL period and that student athletes would have preferred (but not guaranteed) scheduling to have the GAEL period during 7th period to minimize the impact of away games. has many questions regarding this proposal based on discussions with parents, school board members and students. The email below was sent to the DUSD administration, DUSD Board Trustees and DHS administration earlier this week. DUSD and DHS have committed to responding to the questions in advance of and/or at the Town Hall meetings.

TO: Superintendent Dr. Stephen Hanke, Principal Carol Shimizu, DUSD Board of Trustees President Amy Miller

The proposed change to the Dublin High School schedule inherently prioritizes academics over extracurricular activities by lengthening the academic school day. It is not clear from the proposal, however, that DUSD or Dublin High School has considered the impact on the whole school day including extracurricular activities and homework time, not just periods 0-7.

Questions regarding the proposal:

  • How will the school guarantee that students are done with school – including extracurricular activities – no later than they are today?
    • Have athletics, drama and music (and other after school activities managed by DHS such as the Robotics Club) bought into this change and made a commitment to shorten their programs by the extra 32 minutes being dedicated to academics? According to responses received so far from the athletics, music and drama departments no changes are planned to accommodate the new schedule.
    • For each extracurricular activity, what processes does DUSD and DHS have in place re: oversight for how long students are at school – academic periods + extracurriculars?
    • What are the DUSD policies, if any, that govern total time at school – academics + extracurricular activities?
  • There is a strong belief inherent in the slides and the presentation made at the WASC event that students will use the free period for homework and studying, therefore requiring less time at home
    • What data does the school have to validate this belief?
    • What processes and oversight will the school have in place to ensure this discipline (that is comparable to the oversight provided by parents for students at home?)
    • What affordances will be provided for students that need a quiet space by themselves, similar to a home environment, for homework and studying? During the town hall meetings last year at least one student raised this as a concern.
    • Will students have guaranteed access to a computer (Chromebook) during the GAEL period for completing their coursework? Since there are no lockers on campus, it is not practical for students to bring a notebook computer to school (and furthermore not all students are fortunate enough to own a notebook computer).
    • Will students have access to their textbooks?
    • What percentage of homework can be accomplished with no computer for typing essays and no textbooks?
  • Will the new schedule guarantee that students athletes will miss no more academic time than is currently the case given that league schedules will not move out 32 minutes to accommodate the proposed DHS schedule?
    • For each sport how many instructional periods were lost in 2014-15 due to games?
    • If the same athletic schedule for 2014-15 was repeated in 2015-16 how many instructional periods would be lost? Would students ever miss more than one period (and how does that differ from 2014-15?)
    • How are those assumptions changed by DHS becoming a Division I school in the future?
  • What is the current student-reported average night’s sleep? If this data is available, how has this changed over time? If this data isn’t available, does DUSD / DHS have a plan in place to capture this data (as was the case when students were surveyed a few years ago).
  • Regarding the change in collaboration days, making every Wednesday morning collaboration time with a later start to the school day has DUSD coordinated with WHEELS and/or assessed the impact on parents who transport their children to the DHS campus?
    • Does this increase the amount of collaboration time and if so what is the reduction in teaching time?
    • How will students be supervised if they have no other option but to arrive on campus early (this will impact in particular younger students that are not yet able to drive).
  • Has there been consideration given to student athletes who will miss more instructional time with the collaboration period moved to the morning (for away games/meets on Wednesdays)?

The questions above can really be wrapped under the banner of DUSD and DHS creating an environment where students are able to complete their work with quality, participate in extracurricular activities, and have a full night’s sleep every night which is critical to learning, mental and physical health.

In addition to all of the questions above, does DUSD and DHS have a strategy to enable and provide students with life skills around a full night’s sleep that they can take with them into post-high school life?

Note the following literature on the importance of sleep:

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  1. Ben permalink
    April 2, 2016 7:56 am

    Some schools already give students a 7 period option every day, and include daily collaboration for teachers, an intervention period for struggling students and an optional free period. Mountain House High School in Mountain House and El Capitan high school in Merced both do this already. Check out MHHS website at Teachers and students LOVE the schedule and it is creating great opportunities for both students and teachers.

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