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The City Journals

Late Start Leads to Great Start, Administrators Claim

Oct 08, 2015 12:59PM ● By Bryan Scott

English teachers at West Jordan Middle School collaborate in their professional learning community on a Friday morning. Late start Fridays give teachers time to collaborate and institute new programs within their classrooms.

By Tori Jorgensen  

West Jordan - Several years ago, Jordan School District implemented late-start bell schedules on Fridays in all West Jordan middle and high schools, to allow teachers and administration built-in collaboration time. 

West Jordan schools use Friday mornings for professional development and for professional learning communities (PLC), which are divided by grade level and/or department. The PLCs have altered the way teachers deliver education to their students because they give teachers a time to evaluate individual students’ needs, according to Dixie Crowther, principal at West Jordan Middle School. 

Last year the ninth grade teachers at WJMS created a freshman credit recovery program. Teachers collaborated Friday mornings to create custom curriculum packets for each student in the program. At the end of the 2014-15 school year, only 164 total classes were failed at WJMS, compared to 445 from the previous year. 

“Prior to late-start, we didn’t have time for meetings like this,” Crowther said. “It is as if we changed from performing surgery with an ax to a scalpel.”

Test scores have improved at Sunset Ridge Middle School since the late-start Fridays began. Larry Urry, SRMS principal, said students are getting a better education from late-start, even though they are losing a couple hours of class time. 

“Teacher preparation trickles into student learning,” he said. “Teachers need a time to learn, too.” 

Bryan Leggat, Joel P. Jensen Middle School principal, said teachers at JPJMS learn from each other and occasional guest speakers in Friday morning meetings. He said these guest speakers help teachers gain new skills and perspectives.

According to Rebecca Hagen, a teacher at Copper Hills High School, the most effective thing about her PLC is sharing data with fellow math teachers. Computerized quizzes are administered to students course-wide. The teachers then review student understanding breakdowns during the Friday morning collaboration and can ask for suggestions from their colleagues. 

Although late-start school is favorited by West Jordan administration and teachers, it poses complications for some parents. One mother rushed into the WJMS office in a frenzy around 8:15 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 28 trying to locate her son. She had dropped her son off at 7:30 a.m., expecting school to start at 7:50 a.m. Unbeknownst to her, Friday classes would not begin until 9:50 a.m. Her son had decided to walk home, bored of waiting for class to start. 

Lowey Spencer and Abby Dierks, students at WJMS, said they get excited to be early to school on Friday mornings because it gives them time to goof around.  They could be seen atop the overpass by WJMS over Redwood Rd. on Friday, Aug. 28, trying to get as many cars to honk at them as possible. Afterward, they still had time to socialize with friends in the hallway before class. 

For high school student Ashlynn Schmidt, late-start Fridays mean more time dancing. She and the rest of the CHHS dance company get together to practice at 5:30 a.m. every morning. Dance company is the first period of their day, so on some Fridays the team dances from 5:30 a.m. to 9:45 a.m., over four hours, because of the late start. Schmidt said she doesn’t really like or dislike Friday late-start days, they just make her tired. 

For Aspen Drown, a student at WJMS, late-start Fridays do just the opposite. Drown said she and her friends love late-start because they can sleep in if they want to. She said she is a fan of late-start Fridays and hopes they never get taken away.