FARMINGTON — Adding a period to the school day — the principals of Farmington and Piedra Vista high schools say — would provide students who have fallen behind because of a failed class or a dropped credit a chance to catch up.
The additional period also would give students more flexibility in scheduling elective courses, they said. And, ultimately, students would be better prepared to enter college.
Piedra Vista Principal Ann Gattis said her students are required to have 25 credits for graduation and Farmington requires 24 credits. The extra credit for Piedra Vista students comes from their senior project.
"So the students take six periods a year for four years, it doesn't give them any room," Gattis said. "If they lose a credit or fail or they don't pick up all 24 credits, they are behind."
The proposed school day will have seven class periods approximately 52 or 51 minutes long and end 15 minutes later at 3:15 p.m.
Farmington Principal Tim Kienitz said the discussion about adding a period started even before the school district enacted closed-campus policies for the high schools two years ago.
In his first year as principal, Kienitz said he saw an immediate need for action.
The options for struggling students are not providing the success rate that Kienitz would like to see.
"I feel like we need to build in time for credit recovery, support for students struggling with classes and interventions," he said.
Kienitz said ninth-grade math and English would be a focus should the class schedule change, and if students are struggling with those subjects or other core classes, they could attend an intervention course to boost their skills.
"From our eighth-grade classes into our ninth grade, our students are already below proficiency or nearing proficiency," Kienitz said, speaking of the New Mexico State Based Assessment scores. "We want to take them to the level of proficiency."
Gattis said the seven-period day would open up more opportunities for students to take courses they failed and more opportunities to take more electives courses.
"It will allow us to develop our electives and give more students an opportunity to take them," Gattis said. "If they like music and want to take more than one music class, if they want two periods of band, it gives them opportunities."
Core subjects like math, English, social studies and science will see a slight decrease in class size as the same number of students are spread out through the day.
Kienitz said that in the A to F School Grading System established by the state last year, Farmington High received its lowest marks in college readiness and has seen the attendance numbers dropping in the Career-Tech education courses.
"It's not because students don't want to take culinary arts or don't want to take welding," Kienitz said. "It's they don't have enough room in their schedule for it. This will give them that."
A seven-period day will also correct an issue some students face in their fourth period-classes, as their lunch period splits up their time in class.
Students attend class for 30 minutes then go to lunch and return for the final 30 minutes, Gattis said this is hard on the teachers and the students.
Gattis and Kienitz will be making a more detailed presentation to the Farmington Board of Education Thursday evening.
Both principals are working toward a deadline with pre-registration for high school starting in February.
At that time, counselors will start visiting eighth-grade classes across the district and signing them up.
"This will enable us to have classes were we can focus more on the fundamentals or the things they are lacking," Gattis said. "We are just always thinking about how we can make things better, we're trying to do the most we can for the kids."