New class Schedule

Beginning in September for the 2017-18 school year, St. Joseph’s Prep will have a new class schedule. The reason for this change is to ensure that the Prep’s high quality education is being delivered in the best possible format so that our students are fully equipped to learn at the highest level, based on the most up-to-date research and best educational practices.

Independent School Management (ISM) Evaluation

In fall 2016, St. Joseph’s Prep contracted with ISM, the industry leader in academic scheduling. ISM utilizes scheduling theory developed over three decades along with knowledge of students’ learning needs, while also taking into consideration specific needs of the school and our individual curriculum to provide scheduling options that best meet the needs of our school and our people (students, faculty). Roxanne Higgins, President of ISM, is the most experienced consultant at ISM. In fact, she was so highly recommended that we waited to schedule our visit so that she could be our consultant. We are confident that we are working with the highest quality of professional research available.

This past January, Mrs. Higgins led an extensive and rigorous evaluation at the Prep which included a review of: the master schedule (all teacher and student schedules), classroom schedules, course catalogue, school handbooks, etc. She also held many interviews with teachers, department chairs (representing the needs of all of their teachers), administrators, students and parents, as well as reviewed the data compiled from student surveys completed in November.

Her recommendations were brought to Academic Council in February and a decision was reached. A group of faculty and staff are working on implementation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why is the Prep changing the class schedule?

A: Utilizing the best research available, we are adopting this new schedule change because it will provide opportunities to enhance the overall student experience at St. Joseph’s Prep. The following are more specific reasons for the change (in no set order):

  • Help students find a healthy life balance
  • Mirror more of a college atmosphere, when all classes do not meet each day
  • Give students a chance to experience different classes during their peak times of performance (early morning, mid-day, afternoon) vs. our current schedule doesn’t fluctuate.
  • Maximize class time by having less interruption for special events and assemblies
  • Guarantee all students have an allotted time for lunch at a regular lunch hour
  • Allow time for guaranteed extra help from teachers or student tutors
  • Reduce the impact of early athletic dismissals (because classes at the end of the day will vary)
  • Reduce the frenetic pace of day
  • Reduce the number of bell schedules
  • Reduce the conflicts between clubs and other extracurricular activities
  • Enable time for faculty collaboration

Q: Will this impact the curriculum at St. Joseph’s Prep?

A: No, the Prep’s rigorous academic courses and their requirements will remain the same. All courses offerings remain for 2017-18.

Q: Can a student take 8 courses during a school year?

A: No, students will continue to take between 6 and 7 courses each year.

Q: Will we lose the cycle letter day after a snow day or special holiday?

A: No, the current practice will remain the same. (E.g. If Monday is a snow day off and it is a “B” Letter Day, the day we return to school will be a “B” Letter Day.)

Q: With the rotating schedule, will there still be interruptions to the class schedule?

A: The new schedule will provide fewer interruptions than we currently experience as the majority of presentations and assemblies will be held during the Community Period.

Q: What are some of the reasons for the mid-term exams being held prior to Christmas Break?

A: We felt that this change was important for several reasons. This will more clearly mirror the schedules of most colleges and universities. Also, it will enable our students to enjoy the break without the weight of needing to prepare for January exams. Mid-term exams will be the final 4 days prior to Christmas Break with two exams per day. The 1st Semester will still end in mid-January. There will continue to be 2 “NT” Review Days and that policy will remain the same.

Q: How many bell schedules will there be in the new class schedule?

A: Although this is still being reviewed, there will probably be 4 unique bell schedules:

  • Regular Schedule
  • Mass Schedule
  • Special Morning Assembly Schedule (E.g. Honors Convocation) / also serves as snow delay
  • Wednesday “Colleagues on Mission” (Faculty/Staff) Meeting Schedule

Q: Describe the sign-up process for students during the structured Community Period?

A: Each student will be required to sign-up for a community period offering by “X” time each day. A list will be generated for the Faculty or Staff Member hosting the offering. This will serve as the attendance form. Any student who fails to sign up for an offering will be defaulted to a study room. We are currently in the process of researching the best system to use for registering and tracking student involvement in community period selections. More to come on this portion of the schedule.


The new schedule will include:

  • An 8-day cycle in which classes will rotatethroughout the day and cycle
    • Generally each day will consist of one 65-minute class, five 45-minute classes, a 50-minute community period and a 30-minute lunch
    • Courses will meet at a minimum of 6 times in the 8-day cycle on a rotating schedule

  • School days will continue to start at 8:25 a.m. each day except on Wednesday when class will begin at 9:15 a.m. to allow for faculty/staff meetings

  • A 50-minute structured community period will be incorporated into each school day

  • First semester exams will take place prior to Christmas break
St. Joseph's Preparatory School
1733 West Girard Avenue Philadelphia, PA 19130
tel: 215.978.1950
fax: 215.765.1710
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