What’s new at CHS

Bryce+getting+used+to+the+new+year+and+all+that+comes+with+it.

Bryce getting used to the new year and all that comes with it.

Alex Landis, Staff Writer

During the 2021-22 school year, Carlisle High School piloted a new block schedule for high school students. Over the summer district officials reflected on the school year and devised a series of changes intended to improve the schedule, instruction, and student accountability.

New Bison Block and The Cycle Day System

Bison Block is an extra 40-minute period of each class which is designed to provide additional  instruction. Last year it was a full block period (90 minutes) every green day, where teachers could assign work designed to enrich and remediate, but couldn’t grade it. This school year the period is split into two 40-minute classes every “green day.” The block schedule alternates between “green” and “white” days, making Bison Block a period that occurs every other day.  This change provides more time with all teachers to enrich and expand on the topics students learn each day. The two classes students attend vary based on the corresponding cycle day, but they will cycle through their entire schedule and meet with a club once every 8 days. This extra club period allows all students to attend clubs. This opportunity comes after multiple years of not offering clubs at CHS because of the COVID-19 pandemic.  This system is intended to provide more time with all teachers to enrich and expand on the topics students learn each day. 

The cycle days don’t impact core subjects because they meet consistently throughout the year. The subjects area most positively impacted by the change in cycle days this year are gym, health, and safety education. 

“This year it is an 8 day cycle so students have it twice every 8 days, which we really like because last year it was once every 10 days. Students only have [gym] for half the year, which we think is going to be okay, and could be a good thing because they’re getting it more frequently.” Says  Sean Lehman, Swartz gym teacher.

Despite the improvements, some challenges still exist. Some students are assigned to  different lunch waves depending on the cycle day, which correspond to their period 3 or 6 class. Though every effort is made to avoid this, it still occasionally happens and creates more shifting in the schedules of the students that it impacts. 

Overall, the changes to Bison Block and the cycle days have provided more instructional time for students and teachers. 

Academic Time: What Does It Mean?

In short, academic time is any time students spend in class engaged in learning.  Thanks to a few key scheduling changes, academic time has increased at CHS this school year.  

The first increase comes as a result of altering transition time around lunch waves. It’s a common misconception that lunches have been reduced by a few minutes. Glancing at the clock may make it look like it’s been cut off by three or four minutes, but all that has been removed is the transition time given to walk to lunch, increasing academic time by a few minutes each day.

“We had a lot of students last year that actually finished their lunches before the bell rang for them to even be in lunch,” said Dr. Buffington on the topic.

Another strategy to help increase the amount of academic time is addressing phones in class.  Phones have been the subject of criticism because of the frequent distractions among students.  The flurry of notifications from texts and social media during academic time prohibits them from learning.  Students regularly stop paying attention to their teachers and instead to apps they may have on their phone, Youtube and Tiktok being the two biggest examples.  While this does provide uninterrupted time to engage with their classes, it also prohibits students from listening to their own music, which is very popular. 

To combat that, Dr. Buffington said that administration “told teachers they could play music for the entire group. We don’t want kids to play it on their phones because there’s too big of a chance of distraction.” 

E-Hallpass

E-Hallpass is an application that allows for hall passes, electronically.  This system was tested in small batches of teachers at the end of 2021-2022 school year, and was rolled out to the rest of the high school this year, after being previously used in the middle schools in the district.

The push to use e-hallpass or a similar system is happening globally, and students all over the world are pushing back against the app. They’ve review-bombed it on both Google Play on the App Store, giving it a 1.3 and 1.1 stars respectively. 

Likewise, Carlisle students have complained about the app. Reagan Rose believes “it’s not effective, because it takes too long to set up then go to the bathroom”

Teachers have has issues using the app, but feelings about the system are mixed. School counselor Amy Knapp cited, “I have had struggles with e-hallpass in terms of both teachers and students having it open to notice notifications when we send them an appointment pass to send them to the counselor’s office. So it has not been working very smoothly for our office. I also don’t love that when a student is actually walking in the hallway and you don’t know their name you can’t tell if they have a pass or not, there is no physical piece of paper they can show you.”

But, for administration, the positives outweigh the negatives because of the accountability the app provides.  Teachers and administrators know where students are all the time and are able to talk to certain students if they miss too much class.  It also allows students to hold themselves accountable because they can see how much academic time they are missing due to bathroom trips and other appointments.  It also bolsters school security.

Administrators  “hold ourselves to be accountable to make sure we can provide students everything we possibly can and provide staff with what they need. The E-Hallpass lets us know what’s happening, and where I can find those students to make sure they get everything they need,” according to Dr. Buffington

 It also provides another data point on each student’s record, which the state wants.  Dr. Buffington said in response to the criticism, “there are a lot of things behind the scenes that people don’t recognize.”

 

Carlisle High School changes every year, and this is one of the years with more changes than not.  It’s important to remember that all these decisions were made to try and benefit students, and improve educational outcomes.