In the school year of 2021, Omaha Central High School plans on changing the current scheduling for honors science classes. This would include classes such as biology, chemistry, physics and many others, and the same time now will be allowed to AP classes but not honors classes.
“This change increases equity on the time available for students in honors courses versus our standard science course,” Ms. Eliot said. Eliot is Central’s science department head and has explained that currently honors science classes are given 1.5 periods, but next year they will have one period along with standard science classes.
There are many students who find themselves without enough time in their day to participate in science classes they want. An example is Advanced science research, which is currently only offered as a zero hour because there isn’t enough time to fit it in during the day.
“The change will create flexibility in scheduling to offer courses to students when the students are available during the day,” Eliot said. It’s an opportunity for Central students to take advantage of everything the science department has to offer, in a more condensed amount of time.
In contrast, science teachers tend to give labs or longer assignments for those extend periods.
“Students will miss out on extra time in an already difficult subject and they’ll have less lab time,” Junior Jordan Saxton said. There are certain labs done throughout these science classes that take both periods for both instruction, demonstration, and completion. Making a single period for these classes may cause difficulties, but there are more benefits overall.
Eliot mentioned lab time and explained that now matter how lab related sciences appear on a schedule, they are still accept by colleges as labs.
“Central will continue to meet and exceed the lab requirements and all college admissions requirements for science,” Eliot said.
There are multiple Omaha public middle schools that do not offer a physical science course. This class is required in order to graduate high school. This new schedule change will allow those students to complete the class in one period and have extra room to take something else.
“Perhaps these students in the future could take both honors physical science and honors biology in the same year.” Eliot said. Fitting those two classes in three periods has proved to difficult due to other required classes, but in the near future that shouldn’t be a problem.
Other schools within the Omaha public schools district have already applied this scheduling, and Central is the last school to do so.
“The program has always been unique to Central, which I think is one of the positives,” Science teacher Tracy Rumbaugh said. Central has been the only school in OPS to give double periods, every other day, to honor classes for students to complete labs and learn more content.
It is normal for Central high school students, throughout the past, to take four years of science, required courses and those that are not.
“It is our hope that this change can create the opportunity for even more students to be able to take advanced coursework in science,” Eliot said.
A goal of the change, is to shorten periods, in order to create more periods, allowing more classes. This could encourage more students to sign up for an honors class, knowing it won’t be crammed and there is a possibility to have a smaller class size because the students are stretched across more periods.
“Room flexibility, smaller class size, and staff availability should allow Central to continue to excel in sciences,” Eliot said.
In the end, there are many arguments, like most issues, that have their pros and cons. Central has a tradition of providing high quality science instruction, and no matter what plans on continuing to do so.