Schenectady County

Draper School adds math time for struggling students

Draper Middle School students who are struggling in math will get an extra 40 minutes of instruction

Draper Middle School students who are struggling in math will get an extra 40 minutes of instruction every other day under a revised schedule for this fall.

The math teachers recommended changing the schedule because only 47 percent of eighth-graders passed the state standardized test in math.

The school currently has 80-minute periods. An earlier version of the proposal would have significantly changed the schedule to require daily 40-minute math and foreign language instruction. However, making that change would have caused too much disruption to the schedule, according to Christopher Ruberti, administrator for student and operational support services at Mohonasen.

Students in the middle school are grouped by teams of teachers for their core subject. The old plan would have required some students to be spread across different teams. Also, some staff would have to split their time between the middle school and high school.

“We took a step back to see if there was another way we could do it,” he said.

Under the new plan, all students will still have math for 80 minutes every other day and students who need extra help will have a 40-minute math lab on the “off” day.

“Depending on the grade level, we were able to double or triple the amount of kids we were able to give academic intervention [services] to,” he said.

Also, the students will have the same math teacher they have for the regular class during this extra period.

Students not in this math lab will have an advisory period to get help in other subjects. Students that are in music ensembles will rehearse during this period, Ruberti said. As a result of this change, there will be separate choir, band and orchestra ensembles for each grade. Previously, sixth grade was separate and seventh- and eighth-grade groups were combined. There will not be as much time for music lessons but since the groups will be smaller, the teachers will have more time with each student.

The district has tweaked the schedule during the last couple of years. The school had previously made some other changes including having 80 minutes daily of English for sixth- and seventh-graders.

Ruberti said the district plans to stay with the schedule for the middle school. One advantage is by having fewer periods, there is less time in the hallways changing classes and teachers can spend more time in depth on a subject.

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