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Since 2013, staff at Legacy High School (LHS) in Bismarck, North Dakota, have been committed to helping students successfully transition from high school to college by teaching self-advocacy, self-directed learning, and time management skills. One way students can develop these skills is by using flexible time, or unscheduled time during the school day, to improve academically with on-campus supports. For example, students can use flexible time to review course content with teachers, participate in study groups, or meet with counselors.

As members of the North Dakota Innovative Schools Research Partnership, LHS staff partnered with REL Central to develop an online time log that students complete at the end of the school day in order to track their use of flexible time. Data collected from the logs include information about the types of activities students participate in during their flexible time. In 2018, LHS partners and REL Central launched the descriptive study Examination of Students’ Use of Flexible Time at Legacy High School , which will help LHS partners better understand how students are using their flexible time.

“Since students’ needs inform LHS staff members’ decisions about academic programs, results from the study will be used to better understand who the flexible schedule is helping,” explained LHS Principal Tom Schmidt. Specifically, this study will help stakeholders better understand what kinds of supports students are utilizing during their flexible time and whether or how their flexible-time use relates to academic standing.

With the data collected from the online time logs, researchers will examine the specific class-related activities students engaged in and academic subjects they pursued. Following the study, REL Central will meet with LHS partners to collaboratively interpret the study findings and discuss strategies LHS could implement to address findings raised by the study.

Now that the students’ online time logs for the 2018/19 school year are complete, Schmidt and Assistant Superintendent of Bismarck Public Schools Ben Johnson are “excited to get the feedback and to move forward.” For example, the study results may inform professional development on how teachers can best advise students in using their flexible time or how they can identify student groups who need additional academic support. They also look forward to using the time logs in the future to learn about other aspects of their flexible-time model.