Missing Pieces to the Puzzle

I am a mom of 3 children in Douglas County School District (DCSD) and I am concerned about the false picture of the district being provided by some to our community. For example, several months ago a organization provided a chart meant to compare DCSD with LPS (Littleton Public Schools) yearly high school instructional hours.  The chart compared the average of all nine DCSD high schools instructional hours to two (of three) individual schools, Arapahoe High School and Heritage High School, in LPS, concluding the LPS schools have more instructional minutes per class than DCSD schools. Knowing what I know about the schedules, the comparison isn’t fair, the assumptions are erroneous, and the conclusion is false.  Let me explain:

I decided to compare a weekly schedule that a typical freshman would take for two schools, one from DCSD and the other from LPS.  I chose to compare schedules from Highlands Ranch High School (HRHS) and Arapahoe High School (AHS) since they are in close vicinity to each other. Comparing schools is much more fair than comparing the average of an entire school district to two individual schools.

A quick review of the AHS bell schedule leads one to believe every student has 6 classes that meet 5 days a week, but that isn’t accurate. The Arapahoe High School Course Guide 2012-2013 (page 6) explains that the Variable Student Scheduling was established in 1967, which means not all classes meet 5 days a week. I created a power point to thoroughly explain the two schedules and instructional minutes. The AHS schedule is an actual AHS Freshman’s schedule and the HRHS schedule is a typical HRHS Freshman schedule.

Since math class schedules at AHS vary depending on the course, the graph is misleading.  It does not list the days that the different math classes meet, which range from 3 to 5 days a week.  They used the instructional hours for a 5 day a week class, which isn’t typical for Freshman students.  The typical Freshman takes Algebra I and a typical sophomore takes Geometry. Both these classes meet 4 days a week. The math class meeting days can be found here. You can see that there are fewer 5 day a week classes than 4 day a week classes. Research and personal opinions vary on scheduling, but I feel that it is important when comparing our schools to other districts, that all the information is presented in a clear and complete manner.

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