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Remote School Schedules: Metrics & Exemplars

Sample schedules from real districts and metrics to assess the time dimensions of your remote schedule and staffing plan

As school systems across the country prepare for remote learning 2.0 this fall, we’re seeing promising  examples of strategic remote school plans that illustrate the scheduling and staffing approaches in our Remote Learning Checklist

  • Plans are predictable, consistent, and accessible for students, families, and educators.

  • Schedules prioritize time in core subjects, including synchronous and asynchronous learning.

  • Students have regular opportunities for 1:1 and small group instructional support based on ongoing assessment of their learning needs.

  • Students benefit from dedicated support for their wellness, social-emotional learning, and relationship-building.

  • All staff members are fully leveraged throughout the day to support students’ academic and social-emotional learning.

  • Teachers benefit from a curriculum-connected professional learning approach that includes collaborative planning, cycles of observation and feedback, and leadership from instructional experts.

As always at ERS, we’re also busy quantifying resource metrics on these plans.  We’ll introduce these metrics to you so you can try them yourself — but before we dive in, here are some emerging highlights from the remote schedules we’ve reviewed:

  • The total amount of structured learning time in remote schedules varies widely from district to district, particularly at the elementary level. Some districts are planning for as much as six and a half hours daily learning time, not including lunch and breaks, while others are planning for as few as four hours. If we expect remote learning to continue through at least the winter, this difference adds up to over 225 more hours of additional lost learning time (or about 38 days of 6-hour instructional days), which will further compound lost learning students experienced this past spring. 

  • We are also seeing variation in the amount of synchronous instruction time compared to asynchronous instruction across districts. Some districts haven’t specified expectations for how much learning time should be synchronous, which may lead to widely varying student experiences based on how individual teachers decide to organize time. This is the trend that played out this past spring. According to a national survey of teachers this spring by the RAND Corporation, fewer than 12% of teachers held daily live instruction, while over 30% of teachers provided synchronous instruction only monthly or not at all. This is important because of what we’ve learned about student engagement with asynchronous learning. In a survey of over 9,000 high school students this spring, the Prichard Committee found that 65% of students reported a decrease in engagement as during remote learning. 

  • Finally, few districts have explicitly built in time to increase attention for students with the most unfinished learning

Trends across Elementary Remote Schedules (based on 17 districts)

 

Average Daily Instructional Minutes

Average Daily Minutes of Synchronous Instruction

Percent of Learning Time that is Synchronous

Minimum

240

90

25.7%

Median

330

180

53.3%

Maximum

390

270

84.4%


Trends across Secondary Remote Schedules (based on 16 districts)

 

Average Daily Instructional Minutes

Average Daily Minutes of Synchronous Instruction

Percent of Learning Time that is Synchronous

Minimum

270 

85

23.6% 

Median

360

195

57.2%

Maximum

390

315

84.0%

See appendix for a breakdown of the districts we included in this analysis

We’ve identified some key metrics that can help school and district leaders assess their remote learning strategy — specifically, how they’ve organized time and people. Even if you’ve already rolled out your remote learning plan, we expect there will be opportunities to make ongoing adjustments, given that remote or hybrid learning is likely to continue for some time, for at least some students. These metrics will also continue to be relevant as schools transition to in-person learning. Of course, it will also be crucial to measure actual student learning, as well as leading indicators such as engagement and assignment completion. This fall, we’re working with districts to define additional metrics to inform continuous improvement and will share them with you along with our insights as we go. 

We’re highlighting three categories of metrics for assessing the time dimensions of your remote schedule and staffing plan:

Time & Attention for Student Learning

  • Daily instructional minutes by content area (core academic, enrichment, and social-emotional learning)
  • Daily minutes of synchronous vs. asynchronous learning

  • Time for small group support for all students

  • Amount of targeted time and attention for students with most unfinished learning

  • Amount of time dedicated to family engagement

  • For more support on using this remote learning time well, see CCSSO’s Restart & Recovery: Considerations for Teaching and LearningAcademic Guidance (especially Appendices A-F)

Time for Teacher Collaboration & Professional Learning

  • Weekly minutes for content- and curriculum- focused collaboration
  • Weekly minutes for shared-student team planning

  • For more support on using this professional learning time well, see CCSSO’s Restart & Recovery: Considerations for Teaching and LearningAcademic Guidance (especially Appendices J-M)

Maximization of Staff Roles

  • Percent of staff who are fully scheduled
  • For more support on structuring staffing roles effectively, see CCSSO’s Restart & Recovery: Considerations for Teaching and LearningSystem Conditions Guidance, especially the section on Staffing

Example Schedules

Let’s take a look at how some schedules from districts across the country structure time and attention for student learning, create time for teacher collaboration, and maximize staff roles. 

Time and Attention for Student Learning - Elementary

Schedule
District scheduling guidance provided by San Antonio Independent School District prioritizes core instructional time, while defining how students engage in learning through a mix of synchronous and asynchronous learning and small group instruction. 

Metric Assessment

  • Daily instructional minutes by content area: The schedule includes 6.5 

  • hours of structured learning time each day, with roughly 40% of that time allocated to core ELA and math instruction and another 10% allocated to science and social studies. There is daily time for an SEL-focused morning meeting.

  • Daily minutes of synchronous vs. asynchronous learning: While students spent about half of the day (53%) learning asynchronously, there is a substantial portion dedicated to synchronous small group instruction. 

     
  • Time for small group support for all students: Students receive 80 minutes (21% of the school day) of differentiated synchronous small group instruction. 

  • Amount of targeted time and attention for students with most unfinished learning: We cannot glean the amount of targeted time and attention for students with the most unfinished learning from this schedule. Strategic schools use small group interventions to provide just-in-time support to these students throughout the day.

  • Amount of time dedicated to family engagement: During student breaks, teachers are provided with Teacher Conference time, which may be used for family engagement. 

Additional Considerations
Districts may decide to provide additional remote guidance on the mix of synchronous and asynchronous time. Montgomery County outlined how a single class block may transition between the two modalities. 

Longer blocks of class time enables teachers to alternate between whole class, small group, and asynchronous learning. In this 75 minute class block, students in this class spend 60% of their time in synchronous instruction, split nearly evenly between small groups and whole group. 

     

 

Time and Attention for Student Learning - Secondary

Schedule
Many of the secondary remote schedules we sampled reflected in-person structures. Nevertheless, District of Columbia Public Schools illustrates how a traditional block schedule can be modified to allow for additional teacher planning time and academic student support.

 

Metric Assessment

  • Daily instructional minutes by content area: Four days a week, students receive 5.75 hours of instructional time, with 12% of that time allocated to core instruction (ELA, math, science and social studies), ~36% to electives, and ~10% to SEL. On Wednesdays students participate in office hours with core instructional teachers, small group instruction, independent learning, and supplemental programming (e.g., intervention, college and career exploration, advisory, and community building), such that over the course of the week students receive 1,500 minutes of instruction.
  • Daily minutes of synchronous vs. asynchronous learning & time for small group support for all students: DCPS students spend most of their time (58%) in synchronous instruction; 11% of their total instructional time is in small groups. 

  • Amount of targeted time and attention for students with most unfinished learning: The sample schedule has a 3 hour block that can be used for intervention support; we assumed that an individual student spends about one third of this time receiving targeted instruction. Adding this time to weekly check-ins with core teachers, students spend about 6% of their weekly time receiving individualized support. 

  • Amount of time dedicated to family engagement: While we cannot glean this information from the schedule, strategic schools provide staff with time during the day to engage with families. 

     

     


Time for Teacher Collaboration & Professional Learning and Maximization of Staff Roles

Schedule
To meet diverse student needs, strategic schools provide time for teacher collaboration and use staff roles effectively and efficiently. These sample teacher schedules from one of our partner districts illustrate how a teacher’s day can be organized between instructional and planning time. They also highlight how a school can increase opportunities for small group instruction by leveraging all instructional staff during remote learning. 

Metrics Assessment

  • Weekly minutes for content- and curriculum- focused collaboration: Once a week, intervention time for students is used as a collaborative planning block for teachers. While students work asynchronously, teachers use 90 minutes for content- and curriculum- focused collaboration.

     
  • Weekly minutes for shared-student team planning: All teachers get 25 minutes for planning and prep before each school day. Four days per week, teachers use that time to meet to identify students who may be struggling socially or emotionally and coordinate support. Those meetings include all teachers in the grade level, including Special Education and English Learner staff. One day a week, teachers have a 90 minute content-focused collaboration meeting with the support of a PLC coach.
  • Percent of staff who are fully scheduled: Because some specials and enrichment learning is asynchronous, specials teachers have time in their day when they are not teaching their specialty. In this example, those staff members provide supplemental support during core, intervention, and SEL blocks to increase opportunities for small group instruction. Schedules for Teaching Assistants (TA), Coaches, and Interventionists are similarly organized to provide this push-in support. 


Next Steps

Whether your school year has already started or you’re preparing to return in the coming weeks, we hope these metrics help you make adjustments to your remote learning strategy to ensure students and teachers get the time they need. As more and more districts begin the year fully remote, we will continue to share what we’re learning about promising school models and how schools and districts are organizing their people, time, and money to implement them. 

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