Today is Monday, August 21, 2017

DoS favors return of block scheduling

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Dr. Donna Wright

Wilson County Schools Director Dr. Donna Wright told county commissioners on Monday night the system was "investigating" the seven-period schedule implemented at the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year.

She explained during a follow-up interview with The Wilson Post on Tuesday that it goes "a little deeper than just investigating."

Dr. Wright has plans in motion for the county high schools to return to a modified block schedule in the 2015-2016 school year.

She said that it is too late to change the schedule this year, but that each school is working on schedules for next year.

"Moving from a block schedule, which they had for 10 years, to a seven period schedule has increased teacher workload this year. Under a block schedule teachers looked at three class periods and would have at most 90 kids. Now they are faced with 170-180 kids a day, plus grading and preparation," Wright explained.

She said it takes about 5 minutes to begin each lesson and 5 minutes to "wind down" at the end of class - leaving teachers with only 35 minutes of instructional time under current design. "It puts stress on teachers and on students who need more individual assistance. It has been a huge adjustment."

Dr. Wright said the seven-period schedule also only allows students to earn seven credits per school year. With a block schedule, they were able to earn eight credits.

Under a modified block schedule, students would be able to earn eight credits in a new way. Wright said that the old block schedule model had students earning a year's worth of credits in one semester. "It would look like a rotation, such as 1, 2, 3 and 4 on Mondays and Wednesdays, and 5, 6, 7, 8 on Tuesdays and Thursdays and on Friday all classes could meet on a modified basis. The courses would run all year long. It isn't like the old block where they completed a year in one semester," she said.

"Classes would be in between the old 90-minute classes on block schedule and the current 45-minute classes they have on seven period schedules. These classes would be 75-minutes."

Dr. Wright is still meeting with principals and getting teacher input to formulate a new plan. In the meantime, they are looking at ways to help students maximize their opportunity to learn and not get overloaded.

"This is a hard year. Parents have been getting in touch with me because their kids have increased homework. There is not enough time in the day for it, so we are looking into what the teachers are doing with the homework. We have to find a happy medium."

Staff Writer Sabrina Garrett may be contacted at sgarrett@wilsonpost.com.

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