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May 14, 2013 > High school schedule will change next year

High school schedule will change next year

By Laura Chen

Mission San Jose High School's (MSJH) staff and administration recently voted to begin first period classes on Wednesdays, one hour later for the 2013-14 school year, making it the last school in Fremont to transition to starting one weekday later than the others. Whereas school currently begins at 8 a.m., Wednesday classes will begin at 9 a.m., starting with the next school year.

As MSJHS's accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) approaches renewal next year, the later start is a motion towards providing more collaboration time for teachers. According to Principal Sandra Prairie, accreditation is the most important qualification a school can have. Without it, a school's students wouldn't be eligible for college admittance. Although MSJHS has consistently earned the maximum years of accreditation from WASC, it has also received negative marks from WASC for not having enough staff collaboration time.

Currently, the department staff meets Wednesdays after school, but since many teachers teach a seventh period class, coach sports, or administrate school clubs, the time is often not effective. During the new teacher collaboration period from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Wednesdays, teachers will have the opportunity to engage in professional development sessions and work as a team in their respective departments. "Teaching is an isolated job because you're in a classroom and you don't have a lot of time to collaborate, and you're focusing so much on your own curriculum and content that it's very difficult to step out of that world and look at what's happening. And this is that time to communicate with your colleagues, to be able to develop lesson plans. It's very exciting," said Prairie, who is retiring after this school year.

MSJHS parents are also looking forward to the change. "The teacher collaboration is very important to me because the same subjects should be in sync with each other. Also it's a good time for them to exchange ideas with each other. When they talk to each other, they also support each other, and therefore it also helps the students too," said parent Diem Tran.

Because Wednesday classes will start at 9 a.m., the morning student drop-off could be an issue for parents who go to work at an earlier time. Thus, some parents have suggested that the period of 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. could be used for other student activities, such as meditation. However, the decision will be up to the incoming principal.

Ultimately, MSJHS's later start time next school year signals movement towards even higher student achievement and a possible transition to a block schedule. "It's all about improving the academic program here and ensuring that kids are successful, and what that's going to look like under the new Common Core standards," said Prairie. "Collaboration time has been part of almost most of the more advanced high schools, so we are behind the time... it's time we take that forefront, just like we have in a lot of other areas, and take the lead again and bring that back to being part of Mission."

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