For many students this school year, schedule corrections have been more chaotic than previous school years. (Wikimedia Commons)
For many students this school year, schedule corrections have been more chaotic than previous school years.

Wikimedia Commons

Why Have Schedule Changes Seemed So Hectic This Year?

Answer: They Haven't.

September 21, 2018

Now that school has been back for over a month, the hectic nature of the first days has calmed down.

Counselors have worked their way through piles of schedule change requests, and students with erroneous schedules have had them fixed.

Many students have limited understanding about how schedules are made and how change requests are handled. Many of them said the volume of scheduling problems seemed higher this year.

However, Head Counselor Allyson Carvell said that was not the case.  

Carvell said counselors didn’t see a noticeable increase compared to last year but added that a few things did make this year more hectic than normal for the counseling department.

This year, the school changed providers for dual-enrollment classes, and now offers twice as many college courses as before.

The school also has the largest online learning community in the county, said Carvell.

“These factors just make scheduling at Cambridge a lot more complicated,” she said.

Because of the complexity of scheduling, only correction requests, such as missing periods or being put in courses a student has already taken, can be changed. Schedule change requests to move a class to another period or to change an in-school class to its online version aren’t fulfilled.

Although they aren’t all accepted, Carvell said the volume of schedule correction requests is a good thing, because it means students are speaking up and advocating for themselves and making sure they are able to take the classes they want to take.

It’s each student’s right to advocate for a change.”

— Head Counselor Allyson Carvell

“It’s each student’s right to advocate for a change,” said Carvell.

She said the earlier students bring schedule problems to the counselors’ attention, the less it will affect the beginning of their school year.  

When senior Jason Scerno got his first schedule, he found out the semester-long AP Government class he had requested, which fills a graduation requirement he needed, was not being offered this year.

He hadn’t been told.

Because his issue was a graduation conflict, he went in on the first day of school with an emergency conflict and sat down to get his schedule fixed right away.

“Because I got it corrected early, I was able to actually have a normal week of school,” Scerno said.

When junior Cheney Dunwoodie got her first schedule, she was missing a lunch and a 6th-period class. She had also been put in AP Physics despite not having taken Algebra II, a prerequisite for the course.

The gaps in her schedule were fixed right away, but Dunwoodie had to file an additional form to be moved out of AP Physics. After the first week of school, she was transferred to AP Biology as she had originally requested.

Although she only missed the syllabus and some busy work, Dunwoodie said, missing those first few days made her feel lost with the class.

Junior Noor El-Gazairly’s schedule contained no errors this semester, but she said she still felt that the way scheduling worked out put her at a disadvantage to other students.

El-Gazairly, who is taking AP Comparative Government, has the class this semester because so many students requested to take it that the second-semester classes filled up. The exam for the course is only offered in the spring, regardless of which semester students took the class.

“I feel like I’m not given the same opportunity as the second-semester kids for the AP exam,” said El-Gazairly.

Having a request turned down can be disappointing, but getting a schedule changed depends on more than just whether you get a request in on time.

Carvell stressed the importance of the three rounds of course verification that students turn in throughout the spring semester. 

Those numbers? That’s our bread and butter for the master schedule.”

— Head Counselor Allyson Carvell

“Those numbers?” she said. “That’s our bread and butter for the master schedule.”

The master schedule — meaning the schedule that lays out who will teach a course and what periods that course will be offered — is based on the numbers received in those course verifications.

The school’s budget for online classes is also established based on those numbers. This means that students who request an online class after the deadline for course requests in the spring aren’t able to take those classes because the budget doesn’t allow for it.

Principal Kimberly Premoli, who worked as the curriculum assistant principal for the past two years, said making the schedule is a collaboration between the administration and the counseling department. In her previous position, Premoli spearheaded the registration process and generated the master schedule.

“My role now as principal is to support that process so we’re meeting the needs of all our students,” said Premoli.

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