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New Schedule: Updating the Community

bannersPhillips Academy is providing the community with the below, introductory FAQ on the new schedule, which will take effect at the start of the 2017–2018 academic year. As additional information becomes available, follow-up FAQs will be distributed to explain in greater detail how the new schedule and its implementation will enhance the Andover experience. The short answers are that the implementation is expected to be smooth and that Andover will maintain its rigorous curriculum and diploma requirements, while providing more flexibility in how learning is structured and opportunities to teach students in greater depth.

Currently the 4×5 Implementation Committee—charged with examining the elements of the new schedule and calendar to be finalized by faculty vote, and determining which recommendations to bring to faculty for debate and final decision-making—is gathering feedback from faculty about their preferences for the rhythm of the school week in the new schedule. During the most recent faculty meeting, the 4×5 Implementation Committee, led by Yasmine Allen, presented an update on the committee’s work and some of the key items up for discussion. The meeting concluded with a “straw poll” that posed questions on topics such as the flow of class periods and the timing of department meetings. There will be more information about this collaborative process as it progresses.

If you have further questions, please contact Rachel Skiffer at rskiffer@andover.edu, or continue to check for updates on the Strategic Plan website (http://sp2014.andover.edu/).

Introductory FAQ

as of March 30, 2016

Connecting Our Strengths: Andover’s New Schedule

Our academic program has embraced an approach to teaching and learning that fosters collaboration, experiential engagement, and incorporates new tools and methods that complement in-class meetings. As the delivery of Andover’s curriculum has evolved to help prepare students for the world that awaits them, so must the structures that support it. The new schedule will maintain Andover’s rigorous curriculum, while opening up additional possibilities for teachers and students. With the new arrangement of time we have created a learning-centered schedule that:

  • Allows students and teachers to engage more deeply in each subject.
  • Creates more time for interdisciplinary learning experiences.
  • Provides extra time for experiential learning opportunities, on and off campus.
  • Provides additional time for students to be with teachers in class, which strengthens support structures for students.
  • Facilitates the roll-out of a comprehensive, multi-year health curriculum that augments social and emotional learning on campus.
  • Creates time for teachers to introduce new connected learning experiences that tie together student learning inside and outside of the classroom.

What is Andover introducing?

Beginning in the fall of 2017, Phillips Academy will transition to a new schedule that serves two major goals: supporting student learning and supporting student well-being. It arose as part of the strategic planning process that began in the fall of 2013 with faculty proposals after our Head of School’s listening tour the previous year, and continued more recently with significant faculty research, input, and debate as part of the Strategic Plan implementation.

How will the new schedule work?

In the new schedule, there will be four terms. Each term will be eight weeks long, and students will generally take four classes per term. Each class meeting will be 75 minutes long, and students will take 2 to 3 classes a day. Classes will be held as usual from Monday to Friday. Courses that previously met for three terms (the entire academic year) will now meet for three of four terms. Courses that previously met for one term will continue to do so.

What is the existing schedule?

Currently, there are three terms in a year. Students take five or six classes per term. A term is 10 weeks long with an additional week for exams and final assessments. The typical class length is 45 minutes, although students sometimes have 75-minute classes.

Why is Andover moving to a new schedule?

The new schedule will maintain Andover’s rigorous academic program, while supporting students and faculty in new ways. Developing the updated schedule is a direct outgrowth of our Strategic Plan, which seeks “to redefine excellence for our contemporary school by reinterpreting Phillips Academy’s foundational values in fresh and inspiring ways.” From the Strategic Planning process, there emerged a call from the faculty for the time to teach students in greater depth, while helping them to draw connections among their various learning experiences. Another priority was to help students  find balance among academic co-curricular and extracurricular commitments.

Our new schedule will allow us to devote more time to a fewer number of classes each day. As a result, we expect that students will be better able to prepare for each day’s classes in-depth discussions. Another significant benefit is the later start time: classes will begin at 8:30 a.m., 30 minutes later than they do now. This later start aligns  with recommendations made by the American Academy of Pediatrics and other experts on adolescent sleep. The new schedule will also enable students to take a four-year health and wellness curriculum, which is a central to the Empathy & Balance pillar of the Strategic Plan.

In addition, faculty will share common free time for professional development and interdisciplinary inquiry. With the new schedule, faculty will have more opportunities for collaboration, whether with colleagues on campus or with others beyond our doors.

When will the new schedule take effect?

At the start of the 2017–2018 academic year.

When will the school day start and end?

The school day will begin at 8:30 a.m. and conclude at 2:55 p.m., except on Wednesdays, when classes end at 1 p.m.

When will the academic year start and end?

The academic year will start and end at the same times as the current schedule. The year will begin in late August or early September and end in early June.

How does the new schedule impact school breaks?

Andover’s breaks will continue in a similar format with Thanksgiving break, winter break, spring break, and summer break. We will also continue to observe major holidays.

How and when are courses selected?

Courses will be selected in the spring for the next school year.

How will the transition happen?

A faculty committee led by Assistant Dean of Faculty and Spanish Instructor Yasmine Allen is planning the transition to the new schedule. This committee is finalizing details (such as department meeting times and exam times) and will consider other policies connected to the new schedule.

Ongoing faculty development is central to teaching at Andover. During the current academic year, faculty are reflecting in a sustained way about the best ways to support student learning in longer periods. This coming fall, our first faculty meeting will be led by Dr. Denise Pope from the Graduate School of Education at Stanford who has written extensively about student success, schedules, homework, and stress. Her research was a central influence on the new schedule and calendar.

Is there anything else I should know right now?

As a community, we are excited about how the new schedule will influence the way we teach, the way we learn, and the way we use our time. It sustains our commitment to what we do best here: close relationships, intellectual inquiry, and opportunities in the arts and athletics. It also enables us to continue advancing new approaches to connected learning and to respond thoughtfully to research about adolescent learning and stress. Our aim is to best support the individuals to whom we dedicate ourselves: our students.

How can I learn more?

More details will be forthcoming from our Implementation Committee. Updates will be posted to Andover’s Strategic Plan Web site http://sp2014.andover.edu/ and to other community resources.

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