Who’s pushing 7-period day at McIntosh High School, and why?

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Citizen-Letters-3

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Why is the Board of Education trying to fix McIntosh High School, changing what is already working so well?

What is wrong with MHS? Low test scores? Low graduation rate? Low CCRPI scores? Graduates having poor success in college? Graduates having little success in the workplace? What is the reason behind forcing McIntosh to change to a mandatory seven-period class schedule?

The College and Career Readiness Performance Index (CCRPI) measures success in achieving established goals that focus on academic performance, pathway completion, graduation rate, and school climate. An annual score is calculated and reported to communicate the success of the schools and school district.

Since the inception of CCRPI, McIntosh has repeatedly attained the highest high school score in the district. The release of the 2018 CCRPI ranks MHS, not only first in the district, but first in the state among non-magnet high schools.

Listed third in the state, McIntosh’s CCRPI score is surpassed by only Davidson Magnet School and Savannah Arts Academy — two magnet schools that have selective enrollments. (See Georgia DOE website.)

When my family first came to Fayette, there was only one high school. Over the years the county and school system grew and presently there are five. Each high school is unique and establishes a school culture as defined by its students and parents.

Of course, the state board of education has certain curricular and graduation requirements. All schools have courses in mathematics, English, social studies, science, the fine arts, and physical education.

However, in the past, each school was afforded autonomy in providing for the AP, CTAE, foreign language, and PE classes offered to students based on the wants/needs of the students at each school.

The board had a choice of providing a separate vocational/technical school or putting those vocational/technical courses in each high school.

The board chose the latter, making Fayette County High and those schools that came afterward comprehensive high schools. The board did not dictate that each school would look identical.

The Fayette School System has also been unique in that the schools and leaders did not jump on the bandwagon of each new education fad that came along. Fayette County Schools led the way; we were leaders, not followers. So why are we now trying to be like everyone else instead of being unique?

For years MHS was the only high school in the county offering an optional seven-period day. No one objected. No one complained. So why the push now to make McIntosh change to a mandatory seven-period day? Why make all students take seven classes when only a few need or want the extra class?

Are academic teachers requesting a change? Does it make sense that a high performing school is being forced to change what is obviously working? How can changing the school day increase student learning, when MHS students are already at the top of the state? How does taking time from the six classes to form the seventh class improve learning?

Are students and teachers at the mandatory seven-period-day high schools pleased, or are they afraid to speak up? Why has the board, district office administration, and school principal been silent on the issue? Will we get answers?

I am not interested in name calling or finger pointing, but I am focused on what is best for students and their teachers.

Lastly, what is the board’s role and responsibility on this issue?

Marion Key
Fayetteville, Ga.

[Marion Key is a former teacher in the Fayette School System and served several terms on the Fayette County Board of Education through 2016.]