Guided Learning

Breaking Down Barriers

A Multiphase Approach to Transforming Your Scheduling Practices and Unlocking Lifelong Opportunity for Students

Steven Gering, EdD and Wendy Watson, EdD


“The master schedule is how you drive reform in a school. Although people tend to think about it as a technical process, it really is the leadership process of the school.”1
Clay, Andrea, Elizabeth Chu, Audrey Altieri, Yvette Deane, Alex Lis-Perlis, Armando Lizarraga, Lauren Monz, Jalil Muhammad, Denise Recinos, Julia Alexandra Tache, and Marot Wolters. “About Time: Master Scheduling and Equity.” Center for Public Research and Leadership, 2020, New York, NY.

Strategic scheduling requires a fundamental shift and a new mindset. If school leaders simply view the schedule as a technical task to complete each spring, they miss a massive opportunity. The vast majority of resources for schools and districts are invested in people. Eighty percent of the budget is tied to teaching and support staff. How the school deploys staff, allocates resources, and manages course enrollments are some of the most important decisions that school and district administrators will make with their resources. They cannot afford to delegate these decisions to other staff members in the building or think the schedule only deserves a tune-up or a quick pass from a mechanic. 

On the contrary, the schedule lies at the heart of school and district improvement efforts. It is possible to see what a school believes by looking at the schedule. It is a window into the school, and it warrants full engagement and understanding that this is a critical, strategic year-round process. 

At the center of this work is a commitment to having clear goals related to student CCR outcomes. When leaders develop a point of view on what they are trying to achieve and accomplish with their schedule, then it can no longer remain a technical task. In many secondary schools across the country, millions of dollars are invested in passive, traditional scheduling practices that are not advancing the most vulnerable students and the nation’s interests. 

The research is clear; it is not enough to move students toward high school graduation. School leaders must have high expectations for all students and provide them with access to an intense set of core and elective courses to prepare them for a variety of careers and opportunities. Every student deserves an education that accounts for their unique passions, past experiences, and future ambitions. And every student deserves district and school leaders who are strategic schedulers.

Ready to take action?

Connect with the Abl team today to begin your strategic scheduling journey to unlock lifelong opportunity for your students.