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Variable Schedule FAQs

As we move into our second year of implementation of the Variable Schedule we are still refining many things for the 2018-2019 school year. We have had to discover the answer to many questions along the way and are working to continuously improve. Read the FAQ's below, and if you still have questions, you can submit them online.

Q: During the "Elective" schedule, won't kids forget what they learned during the "Core" schedule? A: Usually that is not the case as the break is only for two weeks (same amount of time as Christmas break), however, we are including the "Continuous" period to provide continuing tutoring, support and time for make-up work for students who need the extra support. The "Continuous" period is a shorter class that runs through both Land ("Core")and Aurora ("Elective") schedules. 

Q: How does grading work? A: Grading works the same as it does now. PowerSchool will look the same too - students will have 6 to 7 classes listed. During the Elective cycle, nothing will be happening with the Core class grades, unless a student is re-doing work, or doing make up work for those classes during the Continuous period. Core class grades start being active again when the Core cycle resumes. Just because a cycle ends does not mean the class ends! Classes start at the beginning of the semester and end at the end of the semester, just as they do now! Kids just get a two week "break" from their Cores at monthly intervals. If needed, they can continue to work on their Cores during that time. 

Q: How does this affect eligibility for sports? A: Eligibility will work the same as it does now - it's taken each Monday. However, when the Land cycle ends, a student still has opportunities to catch up or get help in that Land class to bring up a low grade. 

Q: What happens during the "Continuous" period? A: If students have a low grade or are failing, if they are behind or struggling, in ANY class, Land or Aurora, the Continuous period is a time teachers schedule students in to see them for tutoring and support. This period will allow students to keep up with classes they are struggling in, even when the class isn't meeting, because they are in a different cycle. So, for example, if a student is failing English during the Land, they can meet with their English teacher as often as necessary during the Aurora cycle to catch up in their English class. 

Q: What about absences (sports absences too)? Since classes are longer, won't a student miss more if they miss one class? A: Yes, they will. Absences are never easy, even in a traditional  school schedule. In the Variable Schedule, it will be important that teachers provide students and parents with clear and consistent expectations about make-up work, and also post assignments and resources online whenever possible. We are exploring one idea of altering the absence policy to specify a certain amount of absences allowed for Land classes and a certain amount during Aurora classes. We will continue to keep everyone apprised of our progress on this. 

Q: Will all schools in the district be on the Variable Schedule? A: We would love it if that could happen! And it's fair to say that is a long-term goal. During first year 2017-2018, Tok and Tetlin ran the schedule and participated together during the Aurora, with Tetlin students coming in to Tok. During the 2018-2019 school year, Northway ran their own Variable Schedule, but did not participate with other schools.We hope to continue to provide these opportunities for schools across the district whenever we can. The benefit of outlying sites participating is that high school students at smaller schools can have the option of coming into Tok for two weeks at a time during the Elective schedule to participate in the electives offered there. They could be transported in daily. This is possible, it's just a matter of working out some logistics. We will keep everyone apprised of our progress on this. 

Q: Is this just for high school? Or will middle school be a part of it? A: In Tok, middle and high school have both been a part of the Variable Schedule. However, for the 2019-2020 school year, the middle school will change to be on a modified version of the Variable Schedule. When outlying schools participate in Tok's Aurora schedule, only high school students would be allowed to come in. However, outlying sites can run their own variable schedule (as Northway did during the 2018-2019 year) at their site with middle schoolers if they choose. 

Q: Will middle schoolers be in the same classes with high schoolers? A: At outlying sites this usually happens to some degree. At Tok School, we are working to keep these classes separate. 

Q: How will it be decided what Elective courses are offered? A: In several ways - one is polling our students. We have already done that this year, and grouped their answers into categories - they had great ideas for electives! Another is to tap into the knowledge, expertise, and talents that our staff has outside of the content courses they teach. The third is through opportunities provided to us through our ever-expanding community partnerships. These have allowed us to bring in local experts and opportunities through the university with a focus on community-based careers for our Aurora. This is an exciting way to approach an elective schedule for students, teachers, and our communities!  

Q: What are the courses being offered next year? A: Course offerings for the coming school year are posted near the end of each school year, but are subject to change when necessary.

Q: When will teachers plan? A: Rather than remove a teacher from the schedule for a period each day, teachers will have a common prep time before and after school. The new schedule shortens the school day for the students a bit (we are still well within the mandated contact time), so teachers can have more time before and after school to plan. We are also exploring the idea of giving our teachers some extra contract time this summer if they are planning brand new elective courses. 

Q: How does credit recovery or online coursework fit into this schedule? A: Students can still have those courses in their schedule just as they have in the past. 

Q: Since Land classes are "off" for two weeks at a time while the Aurora schedule is happening, do teachers need to re-teach at the beginning of each Land cycle? A: Teachers will need to plan lessons so that units or concepts of study wrap up at the end of each four-week Land cycle, and nothing is left hanging. If a student really struggles with this break-in time, they can receive continuous support in their class through the "Continuous" period that goes through the Aurora schedule. 

Q: What will students do for 2 1/2 hours of an elective class? A: This is a great question, because with that kind of time, what CAN'T they do!! This is a fantastic opportunity to dive deeply into projects, real-life applications, field trips, and interact with our many community resources. 

Q: What about special education students receiving services? How will they fit into the Variable Schedule? A: We currently have all kinds of solutions to help these students receive their services during a traditional schedule, and will continue to find solutions to make it happen during the Variable Schedule as well.

Q: Can REACH Academy students still participate in selected classes from Tok School? A: Yes - and the more intensive schedule for electives and cores, broken up into two-week and four-week cycles may actually work much better for homeschool families!