Congratulations to MKA Upper School Head of Campus Dr. David Flocco, who has been much in demand recently as an authority on reducing student stress due to his 2002 doctoral dissertation research and subsequent implementation and analysis of major scheduling changes at the Upper School since September 2007.
He addressed a full house on the subject at a recent NAIS conference in Seattle, WA, was a panelist on adolescent stress at Morristown Hospital in May, was invited to Skype with another school on the issue and has had a seven-page article on his findings entitled “Deeper Learning, Reduced Stress: A Daily Schedule that makes a Difference” appear in the summer issue of Independent School magazine.
The Upper School schedule change, which replaced seven 50-minute periods per day with four 75-minutes per day, resulted in quantifiable reduced academic stress, increased accessibility to faculty for extra help and significant academic gains. For the first three years after implementation, Flocco collected data and compared it to that collected in the three years prior to implementation; analyzing grade distribution, GPA change from 10th-11th grade, standardized test scores, “lost hours” for athletic dismissals and perceptions of academic stress. As Flocco notes in his article, “All measures signal that we have hit a home run.” The impressive results included a jump from 46% to 64% in GPA’s that improved from 10th to 11th grade, an 18% increase in the number of 4’s and 5’s earned on AP exams across the board, an incredible 83% reduction in lost class time for student athletes and a remarkable 93% of students reporting that their teachers are available to them – up from 70% in 2006.
“While it is always flattering to be considered an ‘expert’,” notes Flocco, “my biggest sense of pride comes from the willingness of the Upper School faculty to embrace the change and the subsequent adjustments that it required in the delivery of their instruction. And while academic stress will never be completely eliminated in an educational setting as rigorous as our Upper School, we can all take a little bit of satisfaction in seeing happier and less stressed students around us.”