Eastern Flex Academy, an experimental program in Michigan's Lansing Public School District, accomodates high school students’ jobs, internships and sleep schedules with a 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. schedule that includes a break for dinner, NPR reports.
The school board is watching the program to see how a mobile, flex-hours classroom can complement the typical morning-to-afternoon schedule, with the handful of students on-track with their peers and expected to graduate with the rest of their class.
Lansing School District is expanding the program to juniors and seniors in the city’s two other high schools, as well as some schools in the suburbs. Monika Kincheloe, with America’s Promise Alliance, told NPR she believes this program responds to the changing needs of students.
Many schools and districts are tweaking the traditional school day model in an effort to make it more efficient.
For example, Legacy High School in Bismarck, North Dakota, uses personalized scheduling, which breaks down the school day into 22 20-minute blocks. Teachers arrange these blocks by selecting 80-, 40 or 60-minute periods for various subjects. Eighty-minute blocks allow for more one-on-one teaching, but not all subjects need that amount of time. Students’ schedules vary daily, with breaks that allow for independent studying or working out in the gym.
As schools also shift to embrace online learning, the traditional school day model is becoming obsolete. Flexible school days are crucial in the personalized learning profile. Authors of the Center for American Progress' 2017 report "Reimagining the School Day" urge schools to reconsider their schedules to reflect the needs of the subjects, rather than stick with the rigid, old-school model.
St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Potomac, Maryland, switched up its schedule to lighten homework loads, improve student focus and reduce unproductive transitions with longer classes that meet three times a week. The goal is for the longer classes to give students and teachers more time to meet, and to reduce homework loads by giving students time to do work in class.
Some districts are even experimenting with a four-day school week, which may help districts recruit and retain teachers, as well as save money. Not everyone is happy about that schedule, however, with arguments including that it can be difficult to find childcare on Fridays, putting lower-income working families in a bind.