Silver Spring International Middle School will remain on an eight-period schedule next academic year, Montgomery County public schools announced Monday.
The decision came after a months-long reconsideration of the middle school’s plan to move to a seven-period schedule while keeping the same length of school day. Parents had claimed the scheduling change would limit student opportunities to seek academic help or take an additional elective, potentially reversing hard-fought progress toward narrowing the achievement gap at the middle school.
Margy O’Herron, a parent who organized a rally against the seven-period schedule in June, said she was “thrilled” that the district took parents’ concerns seriously.
“Just to feel that our voices were heard ... that was really gratifying,” she said.
The middle school decided last year to transition to a seven-period schedule starting with 2014-15 academic year. The decision met opposition from parents who claimed an eight-period schedule, which was introduced for the 2006-07 academic year, has been essential to student success.
“It really helped turn things around,” O’Herron said, citing a rise in the percentage of students at the middle school who have passed algebra by the eighth grade with a C or higher, among other promising statistics.
In May, parents appealed the decision to the Board of Education, which formed a committee of school leaders, staff members and parents to reconsider the issue and make recommendations to a leadership group. The leadership group, known as the Associations-Deputies-Chief Operating Officer (ADC) group, met Jan. 31 and decided to keep the eight-period schedule, according to district and school officials.
Darryl Williams, the district’s associate superintendent for middle schools, presented the committee’s recommendations to the ADC group.
“What was compelling was ... that there was an interest in having support and intervention classes for students as well as a variety of electives, so that was a common thread,” Williams said.
John Haas, principal of the middle school, had maintained in a May letter that effective instruction has the “most impact by far” on student achievement, regardless of schedule structure. He said Monday afternoon he was “happy and pleased” with the latest decision, adding the reconsideration process gave school officials the opportunity to see an eight-period schedule is a “model that works” for student growth.
District Superintendent Joshua P. Starr announced the decision Monday in a memo to the Board of Education.