Seven-period days harmful to learning and student well-being

The Palo Alto High School administration released a letter last week discussing ways it plans to reduce student stress, bringing up discussions regarding possibly eliminating, or at least applying homework policies to, the seven period Monday “C day” schedule. The letter, written by Principal Kim Diorio, in collaboration with Paly’s Associated Student Body, asked students, parents and teachers to rate the effectiveness of the C day and whether they wished to continue them. While the letter is no longer available on, a revised letter is set to be released in the near future in partnership with Superintendent Max McGee and the Henry M. Gunn High School administration.

In the survey, a vast majority of students and parents said they found C days to be ineffective and wished for them to be discontinued, with over 80 percent stating their dislike. A lesser, but still significant, percentage of teachers also said that they preferred to eliminate the C day schedule. Students and parents dislike that all periods can require homework due on the same day and that students have to bring all of their materials on the same day. Teachers and parents also dislike that class periods are shorter than on alternative A, B and T block days, so class material is brief, and students have little time to settle.

“You can’t get into any real depth with 50 minutes,” science teacher Erik Olah said. “When you consider the five minutes for the introduction and the five minutes at the end for clean up, it leaves you with little time to actually get things done.”

The Campanile believes that C days should be eliminated completely from the Paly schedule and Mondays should alternate between A, T and B days every other week. This would allow for each period to have an equal amount of class time in every two-week cycle, eliminating the inherently short classes in seven-period days.

Currently, the major resistance to this change comes from teachers who appreciate the abbreviated periods. There are obvious advantages to meeting three days of the week as opposed to two, but while the weekly frequency of class periods would alternate, the total hours students would meet with teachers would not change by the end of the two-week cycle. In addition, if students need more class time with teachers during the week, tutorial is already an established period and would become more frequent. This would also eliminate the need to regulate teacher’s assignment of homework, which was previously suggested as an alternative to completely eliminating the C day. This alternative neither solves the brevity of the seven-periods nor the issue students face of transporting materials needed for all their classes, which were both issues voiced in the survey. Transporting class materials on C days is a commonly voiced issue on campus and takes a physical toll on students and should be seriously considered by the administration.

We applaud the administration for listening to student concerns, and we hope that in the new letter to students, the administration will make a concrete plan regarding C days.