Adding a period for focused work with individual students and more time for core classes are among the priorities for any changes to the middle school schedule in the Verona Area School District.

The district plans to “align” Badger Ridge and Savanna Oaks middle schools, in both scheduling and class offerings, by the 2020-21 school year. Staff presented an update on the scheduling plans to the school board’s curriculum, instruction and assessment committee Friday, May 3.

An enrichment or intervention period would provide time for staff to work directly with students on challenging subjects or offer students a chance to focus on an area of study especially interesting to them.

The challenge of making any changes, like considering the needs of the Two Way Immersion program that will be new to the middle schools next year, is that, “to put something in you must take something out,” as one of the presentation slides stated.

The goal of any changes, according to the presentation, would be “removing predictability of students’ outcomes,” which is one of the priorities identified in the district’s strategic plan created last year. That includes bringing up test scores and grades for traditionally underrepresented student groups, both by race and socioeconomic status.

Consultant Michael Rettig is working with the district on the initiative. The key questions for him from staff include:

  • The relationship between student behavior and the number of teachers a student sees each day and throughout the year
  • The appropriate balance between core subjects like math and social studies and encore classes like music
  • How many subjects a student should be enrolled in at any one time

District staff plan to review research on middle school scheduling, expand the committee making decisions to include teachers and staff and seek feedback from students and families. District director of curriculum and instruction Ann Franke wrote in an email that feedback will be gathered sometime next fall, with planning this summer.