Students, staff react to schedule change for 2023-2024 school year

March 7, 2023

After an official vote by the Local School Leadership Council (LSLC), the school will be returning to a 6-class schedule for the 2023-2024 school year, after almost two years of following the 4×4 schedule. 

In the 2021–2022 academic year, Daniel Pearl Magnet High School (DPMHS) changed from a 6-class schedule to a 4×4 schedule, which resulted in the school receiving incentives of $80,000 from the Los Angeles Unified School District. Condensed 20-week courses were designed to enable students to enroll in more classes during high school. Classes under the 4×4 schedule currently run for 90 minutes. Under the six-class schedule, classes will only last about 60 minutes. On Feb. 2, the LSLC voted in favor of going back to the six-class schedule with a final vote of 7 for the change, 1 against the change, and 1 abstain. 

“While our previous quarter system worked during a period of remote learning as a result of COVID-19, we believe the six-class schedule will provide the most consistent educational experience for our students as we return to in-person instruction,” a Los Angeles Unified School District spokesperson said. “We also found the six-class schedule appropriate for Daniel Pearl Magnet High School given our current faculty size.” 

Despite the schedule being deemed most appropriate for the school’s current faculty size, some teachers and staff do not feel satisfied with the change. 

“I think one of the huge benefits that students had was that their minds were focused only on four classes at a time,” counselor Martina Torres said. “The six-class day just makes them branch that knowledge into more categories. If anything, it will be challenging for some students to coordinate their six different classes.” 

Students will be expected to now balance a workload of six classes at once, rather than the past four. The 4×4 schedule allowed for students to take more classes over the span of a year, but have them more spaced out. The six-class schedule will ask for students to take six courses at once over the span of a year. 

The video production class allows students to develop professional skills in video, film and television pre-production, production and post-production through multiple lengthy projects during their 90-minute classes. Transitioning to shorter class times poses a challenge for students in these classes as they will have less time to appropriately work on these projects. 

“I think the 4×4 schedule is best suited for this class because we get more time to work on assignments,” said junior Leo Ordonez, who is in the video production class. “We’ve all already adjusted to having more time to do our work so by changing it, it will be hard on us.”

Limited class time poses challenges in regard to students’ homework piling up. More students who normally finish their work in class will be bringing home not just more homework in general, but more homework from six different classes. 

“Personally, I don’t do any work outside of this class on any of my projects,” junior Anthony Jimenez said. “But if we are going back to the 6-course, I won’t have time to finish my work and will have to do it at home.” 

Although most video production students believe that the schedule change will harm them, video production Teacher Mark Middlebrook believes otherwise. 

“I want my students to be in the classroom for a longer time span because it’s really caused some real problems for me,” Middlebrook said. 

Through the Career Technical Education program that video production is a part of, Middlebrook is able to offer certifications and articulation through college credit that lasts a year. Because the classes last for one semester only, students who do decide to take part in the year-long college credit certification program only remain in Middlebrook’s class for one semester. This brings up problems in regard to teaching, training, and communication for the students to continue the program. 

In contrast to Middlebrook, science teachers Timothy Hughes and James Morrison are excited about the change as they believe science courses are more suited for being taught under a six-class schedule. 

“I get to put more labs back in since I’ve had to cut things because we just haven’t had the time,” Morrison said. “I get to teach shorter classes but I get to take longer for the material to actually soak into the student’s mind.” 

Morrison explained that he won’t have to rush anymore with the six-class schedule. Under the 4×4 schedule, he is forced to assign a test per week to his AP Environmental Science class due to time constraints. With the six-class schedule, Morrison will be able to assign tests every week and a half, offering the students more time to take in the information and prepare for the exams. 

It’s like watering a plant. If I dump a bucket of water on that plant, yeah, a lot of water will go in but not all of it. If I slowly water it over time, like over an hour, the same amount of water and all of that water will soak into the plant completely.

— Science teacher James Morrison

According to past data, Morrison has been seeing more students failing with the 4×4 than passing. He believes that the reason all ties back to the time restriction of having to fit a full year into a semester. He believes that under the 4×4 schedule, it is highly unfair to the first semester kids because they have only 18 weeks while the second semester has 22 weeks.

Teachers are also expecting to have a lot more on their plates with this transition. With class periods per teacher increasing, history teacher Brenda Helfing and physics teacher Timothy Hughes are expecting to have a heavier workload. 

“I will probably be bringing more work home and planning a little bit more time on the weekend,” Helfing said. 

Hughes agreed with Helfing in that because he will have more students, he will have a lot more grading to do. 

Instead of preparing for a four to five-month class term, teachers will now be preparing for about a nine-month-long class term. Course lengths are expanding and the increase in the quantity of students will apply more pressure on teachers. 

When asked about how they feel about this change, most students are showing great support for the return of the 6-class schedule. The return of this schedule also means the re-implementation of nutrition and not having to switch classes halfway through the school term, to the delight of students. 

“I’m fine with the change because now all my classes can be year-round and the lessons won’t feel as condensed,” freshman Maya Gelb said. “Sometimes I feel like I need more time on some things.”

Gelb says that she is excited about having nutrition but will have to get used to having more work that comes with taking more classes. She recognizes both the positives and negatives, but takes a neutral standpoint on the change. As a freshman, she hasn’t had much experience with a different schedule other than the 4×4 so she’s waiting to see how things may play out. 

Although teachers may be facing a demanding workload next school year, students will generally be benefiting from the changes brought about by the 6-class schedule. 

“It’s like watering a plant,” Morrison said. “If I dump a bucket of water on that plant, yeah, a lot of water will go in but not all of it. If I slowly water it over time, like over an hour, the same amount of water and all of that water will soak into the plant completely.”

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