White Plains Middle School Redesign Programs Revealed

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The White Plains Board of Education asked questions of the White Plains Middle School Redesign Steering Committee on Tuesday night. Photo Credit: Patrick Stapleton

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – The White Plains Middle School Redesign Steering Committee presented on Tuesday “The Next Steps” of its plan for students and teachers that will be implemented in September.

“This is very solid work, researched-based work.  We worked with some national folks on this,” said Superintendent Chris Clouet. “We think that we have something that’s really going to be good, exciting for kids and it’s going to take what is already a good program in our middle schools and make it even better.”

Starting in the fall, current White Plains fifth-grade students will go to Eastview Middle School, while Highlands Middle School will have current sixth- and seventh-grade students. Sixth-graders will be divided up into four teams, and the seventh- and eighth-grade students will each have five teams. There will be two two-team lunch periods for sixth-grade students and three lunch periods for seventh- and eighth-grade students.

The sixth-grade students will have advanced English Language Arts and Advanced Math per team, while there will be 10 sections of Earth Science 8 and seven sections of Algebra 8 for the seventh- and eighth-grade teams.

The decision to redesign the White Plains Middle School experience was made after New York State standardized English Language Arts (ELA) and math scores dropped significantly since the exams became more rigorous in 2009.

A new program that will be implemented in the sixth-grade is an advisory program called “Connections.” Half of the students in a class will be pulled out for 20 minutes to discuss various topics with a different teacher or guidance counselor. The program will take place every other day and therefore involve every student. The committee is hopeful that the program will be a success and then have it for the seventh- and eighth-grade students in the 2014-2015 school year.

“I think this is a great opportunity for sixth-grade kids,” said Board Vice President Charlie Norris. “They’re always involved in everything – I know a couple of kids like that – but there are some kids that are just sort of disenfranchised. This is a great opportunity to be active in sixth grade and to make them feel part of something.”

Mini-courses, which will be taken by seventh- and eighth-graders every other day, were also revealed at the meeting. While every student will take the four basic courses –  ELA, math, science and social studies – potential mini-course will include topics such as Current Events/Newscasters, Constitutional Law, Designing Webpages, Journeys in Film, CSI Expert (Forensics).

The mini-courses were selected by White Plains Middle School teachers.  Students will take two in a 10-week period.

At the end of the meeting, in which various team members spoke about different parts of the middle school redesign to the board and public, Clouet said parents will have the opportunity to take part in forums in February and March.

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