NOTE: the Scheduling Exercise will conclude on April 23, 2021.
Registration for Fall Classes will begin mid-May 2021.
[Link to Scheduling Exercise Form is at the bottom of this post]
If you’ve participated in ZLO’s annual scheduling exercise in the past, you will notice a few changes to the survey this year. We are asking for a bit more information in an attempt to make it easier to design a schedule that meets the needs of the majority of families. Here we want to draw attention to the changes and explain how they’ll help us.
What is the Scheduling Exercise?
If you are new to ZLO or need a refresher, the scheduling exercise is our annual survey about class offerings. We do the scheduling exercise every spring. Your expression of possible interest in certain classes informs which classes end up on the schedule for the next school year, beginning in the fall. The classes with the most overall indicators of interest tend to be the ones that end up on the schedule. The individual teachers decide whether the survey has indicated enough interest in a class for them to teach it next year. Usually, that means at least 3 or 4 students have indicated interest on the scheduling exercise. The scheduling exercise is not registration, so you aren’t committing to sign your student up for these classes. This is a survey to see whether there’s enough interest to offer a class.
Class Selection Limit
The first change you might notice is that we ask you to select up to 4 classes for your student (and remember you fill out the scheduling exercise separately for each student in your family). In the past, you could choose up to 5, but ZLO only has 4 periods. That meant you could express interest in more classes than you could possibly register for. Of course, the scheduling exercise also lists more classes than we will ultimately be able to fit on the schedule, so allowing 5 choices was a way to account for that. But one of our other changes, ranking your subject choices, also now accounts for that.
Ranking within Subjects
For subjects where your student would be able to take more than one of the listed classes, depending on what’s offered, we have introduced a ranking where you can mark up to 3 classes in a subject area and indicate your 1st choice, 2nd choice, and 3rd choice. For example, your student may need algebra, but you could do either the one-year Algebra or the two-year Decompressed Algebra. You might prefer the one-year Algebra, so you mark that as 1st choice, but mark Decompressed Algebra Year 1 as 2nd choice. Or perhaps your student needs either American History or World History, depending on what is offered. You can use the ranking to indicate that both are a possibility. Your ranked choice only counts as 1 of your total 4 selections. When we evaluate which classes get enough interest to be on the schedule, we will give priority to classes that have been marked the most as 1st or 2nd choices, but knowing some classes have interest even as a 3rd choice might help us decide between classes with similar levels of interest.
Registration Plans and Priorities
Another new question is asking you to indicate how many classes you plan to register that student for next fall. Like the rest of the scheduling exercise, this isn’t meant to limit your future registration. This helps us build the schedule. Let’s say you know that you use ZLO for 2 classes every year, but you could mark interest in 4 on the scheduling exercise. If all 4 of those make it on the schedule, our past approach would involve rearranging the schedule to avoid scheduling conflicts, making it possible for you to register your student for all 4 classes. This rebalancing is one of the most challenging parts of building the schedule. This new question gives you the opportunity to signal the fact that you plan to register for only 2 classes, so we don’t need to bend the schedule to fit all 4 for your student. This is where the “Priorities” entry becomes essential this year. If you indicate you plan to register for 2 classes but mark interest in 4, we need to know which 2 are the most important. Your priorities will guide our decisions on rearranging the schedule to avoid scheduling conflicts. While we will still try to minimize scheduling conflicts, we can do it in a more informed way, knowing which of the classes are most important for your student. Now, if the number you intend to register for and the number of classes you mark interest in are the same, you can use the Priorities entry to indicate which classes are the most important to you and that you’d most like to see on the schedule.
The scheduling exercise sometimes feels a bit like a black box. You put your information in, but you aren’t quite sure why or what happened to it. The goal of the exercise is for us to hear from you about what classes you need next. We are here to support you in your homeschool efforts. And so we try to create a schedule every year that meets the needs of the majority of the families who respond to the scheduling exercise. The changes this year are an attempt to make it even easier to tailor that schedule to meet your needs. These changes are a bit experimental, so there might be a few glitches. If the survey didn’t capture something unique to your needs, please let us know in the final question on the survey.
– Originally published April 3, 2021