Berkeley High Beat: Advisory Program Created At Berkeley High School

By Rio Bauce
Friday February 16, 2007

On Wednesday, the Berkeley High School’s (BHS) School Governance Committee discussed the creation of a schoolwide advisory program for all students. Under the BHS Western Association of Schools and Colleges Action Plan, the school agreed to implement such a program, which would create a mandatory advisory class for students starting for the 2007-2008 school year.  

“We had a productive half-day meeting on the plan,” said BHS Principal Slemp.”We’re getting a lot of constructive feedback from the community.”  

If enacted as planned for next year, students will be randomly assigned a staff advisor for their entire four years at BHS. Groups will include an equal number from each grade in each class. The class will be between 22 and 24 students. Students will be graded on a pass or a fail basis, and the grade will be based on attendance and participation.  

The stated purpose of the advisory program is to: 1) personalize the BHS experience by providing a safe and caring community that evolves over four years; 2) empower students to be their own advocates; 3) develop habits of successful students; 4) provide students with information on policies, resources, opportunities, etc; 5) provide every student with an adult advocate.  

To accomplish these goals, the students will have an advisory program, of which there are four possible scenarios on the table. In Option #1, every Wednesday (excluding the one late start day per month), periods one through six would be shortened to 46-48 minutes per class to accommodate the advisory period, which would be 41 minutes between periods two and three. In Option #2, all the class periods would be extended to 58 minutes to account for required instructional time and school would let out at 3:28. However, every Wednesday there would be a late start day (school would start at 10 AM), which would include a 41 minute advisory between periods one and two.  

“I think Option #2 is the most feasible option for the student body,” said BHS Junior Flor Juarez. “I don’t object to spending 13 more minutes in class if I get a late start day every Wednesday ... I don’t think the options with block scheduling would work very well.”  

In Option #3, BHS would implement block scheduling: Periods 1, 2, 3 would alternate every other day with Periods 2, 4, 6, where each period would last 103 minutes. Under this option, the advisory class would be on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday for 31 minutes. There would be a late start day every Wednesday and 10-minute passing periods.  

In Option #4, there would be block scheduling, but the periods would only be 97 minutes. In this scenario, school would let out at the same time. Advisory would take place Tuesday and Thursday for 45 minutes, but there would only be one late start day per month.  

BHS Junior Joanna Cheney likes option #4 the best: “It breaks up the advisory time, so you don’t have it every  

day and unlike the others, it doesn’t stick the advisory spot randomly between classes.”  

The possible scenarios are scheduled to be presented to the BHS staff on Wednesday, March 7, before the School Governance Committee takes its final vote on the proposal on Tuesday, March 20th. Slemp said that the school is receiving feedback from the community and that it really helps the decision-making process.  

“We’re trying to get through this with enough support and feedback,” commented Slemp.”I think it is important to help all students be successful.”