Andrew and his schedule predicament

Andrew came home from school yesterday and announced that Klein Oak High School had managed to completely screw up the scheduling of most of the IB (International Baccalaureate) Juniors and Seniors. This included him. I just looked at him with my mouth open as he proceeded to tell me just how bad it was. The story that was unfolding was enough to make anyone’s head spin. It was unreal. How can any school manage to screw things up that badly? I am not entirely sure, but they managed to do it.

For Andrew, the damage was pretty isolated but it was pretty severe. For him it was isolated to two distinct and precise problems. First, his schedule did not include a 3rd period class. It just did not have one at all. It clearly went straight from 2nd to 4th period. Now what exactly was he supposed to do for 3rd period every day for the rest of the year? That is a problem folks! Pretty obvious problem. Second, a pretty critical core subject was missing from his schedule. He was missing a History class. It was not anywhere to be seen. Must have gone missing with his his 3rd period. This is a pretty critical core subject because in the State of Texas the Juniors have to take an EOC (End of Course) Exam at the end of the year over American History which is what they take their Junior year. It is pretty important that you cover the material for the exam you are supposed to take before you take the exam, right? I think those are pretty important things to address pretty quickly.

These problems were not unique to Andrew and unfortunately from what he was telling me, they were not the most severe of the problems. At least his were pretty isolated and mostly controlled. The biggest problem with the IB kids that are in these situations are that their classes are pretty limited. There are not many teachers and the classes are typically only offered during certain class periods. The kids typically know which courses they need to take to graduate and to complete the different courses that correspond with their particular IB Diploma declarations. They know what they are doing and unlike your typical student body they know how they are going to get there. When you screw up their plan they suddenly go into “clean up the mess” mode.

I have to say that I am very proud of Andrew and his IB friends. They quickly adapted, adjusted, and overcame the mountain we will call the scheduling nightmare in front of them. They quickly started to figure out how to fix their own scheduling problems. They had to stand in line to talk to their IB Counselor just like every other student had to stand in line to talk to their counselors but unlike your typical students, the IB students started concocting their own solutions while they were waiting for what was seemingly endless hours in lines. They went to each of the IB teachers that they needed to take courses from and found out when each of the corresponding courses were scheduled during the day. They took it upon themselves to get permission to take the course during a particular period slot as they needed it to work out in their schedule based around other scheduled classes they could not change (for example Chamber Orchestra). They then took those proposals to their IB Counselor and IB Coordinator to discuss it and work through the various scenarios until they got something that worked.

It was through this process that Andrew ended up with the working schedule that he has today. Yesterday he had a schedule that did not work and had two blatant errors. Today he has a working schedule. This does not mean that it is an ideal schedule, but it is a schedule that allows him to do the IB plan that he wants to do and still get everything done that he needs to get done. It does mean that he will have to take his Senior year History class (the IB History of the Americas) this year as a Junior and take his Junior year History class next year as a Senior. The catch to that is that he will not cover any of the material that is on the required State of Texas EOC exam for his Junior year. He will have to independently study for that exam so that he will pass that exam. The stuff for the exam is covered in the Junior level History of the Americas class, but he will not take that until he’s a Senior.

I am still very proud of them for taking the initiative and going after their own solutions and taking care of their own problems. This will help them in the future when they get to college and they are scheduling those fun college classes that are only offered during certain semesters. I always loved that. This is a good experience for them. It might not have been fun for them yesterday or even today, but they rose above the problem. Their futures will be richer because of it.

Do not get me wrong when I am complaining about these problems, I really do like the IB program but I am truly disappointed that it is not more widespread in the district. They have had the program long enough to know that it (1) works and (2) know that there is a demand. It works effectively without fail because 96% or more of the students graduate from the program each year without fail. That is an incredible graduation rate when you look around at the average student bodies in around here. We know there is a demand because students are willing to flock to the school without means of transportation to participate. This junior class is a large class. These kids WANT to do this program. They want to be there. They would do it if it was at their home schools too. My guess is that there would be a bigger demand if it was easier to access for more students. Not every parent can get their child to and from the school every day and this is a four year commitment for their families.

My thinking is if the district would expand the program they could in turn raise the bar for other students across the board. We are constantly worried about how the standards are going downhill, but for these kids that is simply not the case. Their bar is held high and they keep it there. If you raise it, they will jump over it. They do not care if you move the bar a little bit, they will rise to the challenge. We should expect no less of our other students in our general student populations. The only difference is our expectations. We expect this of the IB students. Why do we not expect this of others?

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.