Perkiomen Valley School District Annual Report 2015-16 | Page 11

Middle School Schedule Revised Based on Academic Growth Data

Academic growth data , as tracked through the Pennsylvania Value Added Assessment System ( PVAAS ), was the impetus behind a change to the middle school schedule that went into effect in the 2015-16 school year . While student achievement is consistently high district-wide , PVAAS data has indicated that PV ’ s proficient and advanced middle level students are not growing as expected in reading and math .
In response to this data , the middle school schedule was adjusted so that class periods would be longer for core instruction ( from 45 minutes to 55 minutes ), and a remediation / enrichment / music period , known as the Viking Block , was added to the beginning of the school day . These changes were based upon research and visits made to area high-performing school districts .

Behind the Data

In the year since the schedule changes were made , the middle schools have noticed some positive results , including a decrease in disciplinary issues , improved attendance , a more intentional use of classroom time , and increased connections among students and teachers through the Viking Block .
Perkiomen Valley Middle School East teacher Kim McFadden , who has run a Pay It Forward Club and a Creative Writing Club as Viking Block offerings , said starting the day with an enrichment period has been a terrific way for her to interact with students in a way that is different from her classroom teaching .
“ I really think it ’ s a great and positive way for me to be involved with more students , since typically I just work with the students I ’ m supporting ,” she said . “ You get to know students in a different way . You get to know them a little more personally and they get to see you in a different light as well .”
Students enjoy the chance to pursue activities that interest them and provide a creative outlet that is different from their core classes . Eighth-graders like Makayla McKiernan and Lillian Fenzil said they like being able to have a bit more freedom with their writing through Ms . McFadden ’ s club .
“ I get to create my own stories and think of my own ideas instead of like in English , where you get a task ,” said Makayla . “ In [ Creative Writing
Club ], you get to write whatever you want . You get a topic and can go along your own way .”
Some of the club activities included writing a TV script , creating another world and then writing stories about characters from that world , and playing “ Roll a Story ,” where students roll dice to get a combination of characters , settings and other narrative elements upon which they have to write a story .
The students also enjoy having more time in their core classes as a result of the schedule changes .
“ I kind of like the longer periods because we get more time to do things in class ,” said Lillian .
While middle school administrators have noted positive outcomes of the schedule through feedback from students and parents and through their own tracking of disciplinary incidents and attendance , it will take a little more time to determine if the longer class periods contribute to improved student growth scores . Reflection and analysis will continue so the district can evaluate how effective the middle school changes have been .
www . pvsd . org PVSD Annual Report 2015-16 • 11