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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Focused Fridays

Question: I'm having an issue with "Focused Fridays" in the middle school. Isn't this taking "teaching to the test" to the extreme? What about those students who don't need all of the extra assistance, such as those in advanced math or English? Why not offer them enrichment classes or advanced classes instead of boring them with the same old, same old? Lastly, is my child really getting targeted ELA and math instruction if it is being taught by someone who isn't an ELA or math teacher?

Answer: Earlier this year, our middle school was identified as a "School in Need of Improvement" under the federal No Child Left Behind law. If we continued to do the same things we'd always done in the middle school, we could expect to get the same results -- and those results are not acceptable. Put simply, we've had to think out of the box, and "Focused Fridays" are part of that thinking.

In general, Focused Fridays are designed to let us provide direct instruction to students according to their needs. The format allows us to provide enrichment to high-level learners and prescriptive instruction to lower-leverl learners. There are also some students who are near proficiency, and this extra focus might be enough to push them over the line.

As a district, we're doing the best we can to provide quality instruction to our students with limited resources, and Focused Fridays are just one part of that.
- answered by Stephen Tomlinson, Superintendent of Schools


  1. I agree, the fact that our kids are spending 20% of their time reviewing for State testing is rediculous. As an "adult learner" at FMCC, I see the product of our educational system first hand and it's troublesome to say the least. Many of these kids have been pushed through the system with skill levels that wouldn't have made their high school graduation possible "back in my day." No Child Left Behind is hurting our kids, lowered academic standards shouldn't be "the norm." The state of public education is a shame. This is not meant to be a dig at BPCSD, it's just a sign of the times in this "everyone who plays gets a trophy" world we live in now.

  2. The students don't value or appreciate Focus Fridays. They talk as if it is a big joke. There are some students who are in a class TWICE in one day, and others who aren't in that same class at all. The students who go twice are also mixed in with students who have it for the first time that day. It seems to me that makes it difficult for the TEACHERS themselves since they can't just continue a lesson. Also, what good is it to have the student sit through the same lesson twice? It is bad enough when those doubled classes are a Core Class- but how about when it is a Homework Hall? By the second homework hall, they have nothing to do. Providing work in the homework halls is good in theory, but the students realize it doesn't get graded or count for anything. The students who do need extra help should be able to stay after for the help they need on a daily or regular basis.

  3. Personally I LOVE Focus Fridays! My child is able to check through all upcoming projects with this teachers, get help in any class he may need help in and further, this is a fun and exciting time for the students show how responsible and self-sufficient they are in getting what they need for their classes. I think there is way more student support for Focus Fridays than non-support. Most of the students are getting a lot out of these days. It has my vote! Our Middle School Team works very hard to come up with new and innovative ways to help our students do better each year! I am all for new and exciting ways to enrich our children's learning experience! The children of our district are very excited about Focus Fridays! A day of learning that our children are excited about is ALWAYS a good idea!