The school day will begin to have a different look next fall at Weyauwega-Fremont’s middle and high schools.
Extending Learning Time (ELT) will be implemented at the beginning of the 2014-15 school year.
“ELT is an academic period scheduled at the end of the day for all students,” said Ellen Storck, who is a guidance counselor in the district.
Storck and Jeremy Schroeder, the district’s middle and high school principal, explained the idea during a recent meeting of the School Board.
Storck said it is not uncommon for middle and high schools to have a resource hour.
“There are many variations of the program. This has been the most successful,” Schroeder said of the ELT being implemented in the district.
The goal of ELT is to focus on academics, he said.
“This is not a prep time for teachers,” Schroeder said.
The purpose of ELT is to increase teacher-student academic contact time, address student academic needs in a consistent way, build relationships between students and staff, improve student academic success and graduation rates, provide intervention and reward appropriate student behavior.
In addition to Schroeder and Storck, the group involved in studying and planning for ELT has included Melinda Brace, Amanda Brill, Sandy Dykes, Julie Hendricks, Renee Hunkins, Jessica Kernen, Joanne Miller, Adrienne Rice and Jenna Zeutzius.
Members of the group toured two school districts where ELT has already been implemented – Adams-Friendship and Seymour.
Before being hired last year to be W-F’s new middle and high school principal, Schroeder taught in the Seymour School District and is thus familiar with ELT.
In the W-F district, the Extended Learning Time will be a 25-minute period, from 2:40-3:05 p.m.
This time period will be implemented at the middle and high schools by:
• Beginning the school day five minutes earlier – at 7:55 a.m. instead of 8 a.m.
• No longer having homeroom at the high school (currently first hour).
• Reducing middle school homeroom to two days a week (Monday and Friday).
• Having one lunch period at the high school.
• Changing the passing time between classes from four minutes to three minutes.
Schroeder addressed the planned changes by saying that at the high school level, homeroom is not a structured time and that one lunch period can accommodate the current number of high school students.
These changes mean the length of the class periods will remain the same, while allowing space at the end of the school day for ELT.
ELT will allow for several possibilities.
Teachers will request students to report to their classrooms for the 25-minute period.
“This is a bonus time,” Schroeder said.
The focus will be purely on academics, such as to finish class or missed work, do enrichment activities or receive tutoring, he said.
Students who are not requested to go to a classroom will have two options.
Those options will include reporting to privileged areas, which will include the gym, cafeteria, computer lab and a silent study hall, and for upper classmen, the ability to leave the building, if they apply and meet eligibility requirements.
“Within the ELT timeframe, there is not a student in the hallway,” Schroeder said. “It is 25 minutes of pure instruction.”
Teachers will not be able to request students for ELT to punish them for misbehavior, make them serve time for a classroom infraction, let them hang out in the teacher’s room or to provide social time for students.
“Once the students get this, they will be wanting the time. A student can also request it,” Schroeder said.
During ELT, attendance will be taken in the classrooms and privileged areas, and students will not be allowed to move to other locations.
The privileges that are part of the program are options. Students will have to show ID to go there, and those privileges can be lost is a student has a bad attitude, chronic tardiness or an unexcused absence.
Schroeder said students will learn to be responsible and respectful.
The program will be evaluated.
Schroeder said if a student does have to leave school before the end of the school day for extracurricular activities, that student will not miss class periods.
“We’re pretty excited about it,” Storck said of the implementation of ELT.