The Roar

No FLEX Zone: An Introduction to the CORE Model

Photo by: Allie Feinberg

Photo by: Allie Feinberg

With a new principal, students and staff switch from a FLEX model study block to a CORE model

This year, Potomac Falls switched from the flex model, where students rotated through each of their classes during eighth block, to a “CORE model,” where each student has a study hall block in a designated location. This year, there is an average of six to eight CORE classes each block, each averaging 25 students. In CORE, students can see their teachers every other day, as opposed to flex’s once every eight days.

“This provides you the opportunity to get help, as you need it, that day. So, if you need to see your teacher every day until you get caught up on [an assignment], you can do that,” said principal Brandon Wolfe.

With about 1680 students enrolled, Potomac Falls is around 500 students over its capacity; the school was built to house 1200 students in 1997. Because of this, there was not enough room to hold each student in flex. Switching to a CORE model provides more available space for more students. The size challenges were not the primary factor in the decision but just one of the components.

“We didn’t physically have room in the building to do it the way that that model was designed,” said Wolfe.

Another aspect of CORE that differentiates it from flex is that teachers are expected to hold their students to a higher standard. One way of doing this is through goal setting forms and “to-do” lists that were administered to students on the first day of CORE Students are expected to fill out the goal setting forms each quarter and the to-do list each day. The increased productivity is getting positive reviews from students, including sophomore Jack Campbell.

“I feel like it’s a good opportunity to be really productive and get your work done, especially when you have extracurricular activities start to pick up,” said Campbell. While CORE is a time to do homework, it also teaches skills that will help students in the long run.

“We want it to be student driven; we want you to take the initiative for what you need to get out of that time,” said Wolfe. “It’s kind of to build these skills so you don’t have to spend time building them once you get to college. It’s just an effort to add in that level of responsibility and help you build those, some people call them, executive functioning skills, before you end up needing them and not having those supports.”

The decision to switch was not easy, and it was done through the work of a committee consisting of parents, teachers, and students who met with administration over the summer. The diverse group of people on the committee worked to come up with a solution that worked for all students; however, every student is different.

“Some students like to work in a room by themselves where it’s completely quiet, others can thrive off the group dynamic where they can sit with a few other students and work on the same thing,” said Wolfe. “There’s no way to make a place where everybody has a silent place to work, so you kind of have to come to some agreements with your peers.”

While students seemingly are productive in silence, junior Delali Nutekpor disagrees.

“We have to be completely silent, which isn’t very realistic for a high schooler. Teachers also try to force us to do our work, but when we’re done with our work, we should be allowed to have downtime,” said Nutekpor.

The CORE committee will continue to meet and possibly make minor changes throughout the school year.

“We really appreciate everyone being patient with the process. We understand, we’re not perfect, we’re not going to design something that’s absolutely 100% right each time,” said Wolfe. “We really appreciate your patience and understanding as we work through this process together to design something that’s good for you.”


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