This past nine weeks, however, I finally got it right. The second quarter officially ends tomorrow but many students have been completing all the nine-weeks assignments as early as yesterday. By the end of the class today, at least 80% of the students were done with everything, giving them a solid day (and a weekend) to complete any bonus, make-up, or 20% work before grades are due. It's not much time, true, but it's finally comfortable.
I think the biggest difference is cutting out all the little things as required steps. In the past, I would have had 8-10 "quests" per mission, while now I have that number down to 3-4. While students are practically doing the same amount of work, there is a bit less required bureaucracy to cut through. All the steps are still available, but as instructions, or recommendations, rather than required elements. I haven't seen a decrease in work, and the timing has been much quicker.
The say any new changes like this take three years to fully work. It's been a year and half, which means after six more quarters, we'll be done with the school year by March.