Four-period consultant meets islanders

"The new study of the high school's four-period day was kick-started Thursday when a consultant from Northwest Regional Laboratories visited the school.Roy Kreuger spend the day meeting with various interest groups and ended it by appearing at a special afternoon meeting of the South Whidbey School Board.Present at the board meeting held at the high school were Jim Adsley, Barbara Schneeman and Ray Gabelein, as well as Kreuger and Superintendent Martin Laster. Because there was a quorum it was a public meeting though no members of the public were present. Not attending were board members Bob Riggs and Wendy Alexander.Kreuger said his company would take the data collected that day, plus public input in written form, and produce a series of surveys to be given to students, staff, graduates and parents who have experienced the four-period day. Plans are to present the draft surveys at a May 3 meeting of the school board.The four-period day began in 1992, replacing the old six-period day. The change was adopted under the slogan, Fewer classes taught more intensively.School board members, none of whom were on the board in 1992, want to see if the slogan was carried out, and if the four-period day has been effective.Whatever they set out to accomplish we definitely should be measuring, Adsley said.Krueger told the board he spent the day asking such questions as:* How was the change to a four-period day made?* How are barriers in the schedule addressed?* What's been the impact on teachers and students?* How can the four-period day be improved?Laster said the district received great response from articles in this newspaper asking for public input on the four-period day, and that those responses will be used in formulating the upcoming surveys.Besides community comments, Kreueger said his company will look at performance indicators, such as test scores, attendance rates and dropout rates. The final report will come out next fall. Gabelein asked if the report will include recommendations, and Kreuger replied that it will include a variety of strategies to consider.Schneeman indicated the present board has long been interested in examining the four-period day, and had it in mind when hiring a new superintendent last summer. We told Marty (Laster) he'd have to do it before we hired him as superintendent, she said.Schneeman said the study has had a mixed reception in the community: It makes some people extremely nervous, others joyous.The study is expected to cost $20,000 to $25,000. Adsley expressed regret that, according to his research, the state hasn't done any thorough studies on the effectiveness of the four-period day. I'm a bit offended we have to invent this wheel, he said. We shouldn't have to be funding that at the local level. But he said it's worth the money because it's such an important issue. "

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