AITE teachers and students protest to protect block schedule at smallest high school in Stamford


STAMFORD — For weeks, teachers and students at the district’s smallest high school have been advocating for the preservation of the school’s current block schedule, and on Wednesday they took that message to the Government Center.

More than 50 teachers and students at the Academy of Information Technology and Engineering held signs in support of the school’s current block schedule, known as the A/B model, which has been used in the school for about 20 years.

Protesters joined in chanting against the school district’s preferred schedule, which central office administrators have dubbed the “four-by-four hybrid.”

They shouted, in unison, “No four by four, no hybrid” and “AITE, all we want is A/B.”

The demonstration was not presented as being exclusively devoted to the AITE, but it was the most represented school. There appeared to be little participation from teachers or students from the two largest secondary schools – Stamford High School and Westhill High School – whose schedules would also switch to hybrid four-by-fours as part of the district plan.

Westhill teachers, however, conducted their own internal survey, which revealed that nearly all educators at that school are against the district’s hybrid model and would prefer to implement the AITE schedule.

AITE students take up to eight lessons per school year, alternating between four 90-minute lessons one day and the other four lessons the next.

But administrators at Stamford Central Office want to change that schedule next school year for all three high schools, allowing only certain classes such as Advanced Placement and Performing Arts to remain in the A/B model. The rest of the classes would operate on a “four-by-four” schedule, meaning each class would only last for one semester — either in the fall or spring — and would meet daily.

Stamford and Westhill Highs currently run a seven-period programme, where the same seven lessons are held every day of the school year and last 48 minutes each.

Ten AITE students recently put together a virtual panel in which they detailed their reasons for preferring to keep their current schedule.

Aishwarya Sivasubramanian, senior, led efforts to set up the panel and was at the center of government protesting on Wednesday.

After the event, Sivasubramanian sent officials an email with a link to a video of the discussion. She said district officials responded that they wanted to hold a meeting, which has yet to happen.

“At some point it just feels like they don’t want to hear from us,” Sivasubramanian said. “We’re all standing here loud and clear right in front of the Government Center.”

She added: “We know what we want and we want A/B, so that’s what we’re going to keep fighting for.”

Lucas Devault, a sophomore at AITE and one of the speakers during the online panel, said students were overwhelmingly opposed to changing the school’s current structure and wanted district officials to change it. know.

“At this point, all we need to do is basically just keep pushing them because right now a lot of students feel like we’re not being listened to,” he said.

The students on the panel conducted their own survey, which found that at least 540 of AITE’s 618 students would prefer to keep the A/B model and reject the hybrid 4×4.

Devault said the timing of the schedule change will only make things more difficult for students.

“You’re going to apply this change very quickly to all students and a lot of students aren’t ready for that, especially coming out of a pandemic,” he said.

Students and teachers at the protest said the AITE model should not be changed, as the school is often lauded as one of the best educational institutions in the region. AITE has long been considered one of the best magnet schools in the state, according to Niche Rankings, which consistently places the school among the top institutions.

“Why change something that works so well? asked Ray Milo, a business professor at the school.

All the students in the online panel praised the A/B schedule to give them a break from any class as they meet every other day. They said this approach gives them time to process the material and focus more on the subject once they return to class.

Reaction to the schedule has been overwhelmingly unfavorable among Stamford high school educators. Stamford students and parents also opposed the concept.

In an email to AITE families sent last week after the panel, Principal Tina Rivera defended the district’s proposed hybrid block schedule.

“I’ve always believed that a block schedule is best for students and I think having secondary schools on similar schedules makes sense for many reasons,” a- she writes.

While AITE students do well on tests and graduate at high rates, Rivera was hesitant to attribute this to course sequencing.

“To claim that there is a correlation between the success of these measures and a particular schedule, however, is completely wrong,” she wrote, before listing schools with different schedules that also have high test scores. .

Dagny Forrester, who teaches digital art at AITE and was at Wednesday’s protest, claimed the school district was imposing the new hybrid schedule without listening to community concerns.

“It looks like they’re really trying to get us to leave,” she said.

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