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Different scheduling in place at DHS, HHS; programs are in place to aid transfer students

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / August 14, 1998

LULING – Block scheduling is one of the growing trends in education, allowing more time for instruction while reducing the amount of stress both teachers and students face during a school day. Common sense woulddictate that it is easier to prepare for four courses a day rather than six.

Both Destrehan High School and Hahnville High School went to the block form of scheduling before the 1995-96 school year although the two went different routes in implementing their schedules.

“Each school was given the opportunity to research and exam different forms of block scheduling,” Ray Poplus, director of instructional support, said. “They looked at different models and looked at what would bestservice their citizens.”Interested faculty members at both schools began to accumulate information from schools throughout the United States that have implemented block schedules. Consultants from different areas of thecountry came to St. Charles Parish to make presentations. Administrators,parents and teachers made on-site visits to various schools to view the different forms of block scheduling and its advantages and disadvantages.

A survey was then given to the faculty to see if members felt their was a need to change the form of scheduling. The majority at both schoolssupported the idea.

In Destrehan’s 4 x 4 block schedule, the school day is divided into four instructional blocks of time, 90 minutes each, and the school year is divided into two semesters. During the first semester students areenrolled in four courses which meet daily. At the end of the fall semester,students receive credit for each course successfully completed and enroll in four additional courses for the spring semester. Report cards are issuedevery four and one-half weeks.

Hahnville went to a modified AB form of block scheduling. Students attendfour 90-minute classes three days a week and four different classes twice a week. For example, a student would take periods 1, 3, 5 and 7 onMonday, Wednesday and Friday and 2, 4, 6 and 8 on Tuesday in week one and vice versa the following week.

The goal of the alternative form of scheduling is to broaden educational opportunities of the students by creating an environment that promotes positive relationships and improves the quality of instruction. It promotesstudent success by focusing on fewer classes at one time, decreasing interruptions to the instructional day and creating a sense of professional renewal among the staff.

The staff at both schools felt there was a need to make a change in the type of scheduling in order to help relieve the stress for both students and teachers. The change in scheduling also allows for the implementation ofnew techniques and strategies for instruction requiring longer blocks of instructional time. The longer classes allow teachers to use a variety oflearning techniques such as performance based education, field experiences, cooperative learning and social studies simulations.

“The main reason was to provide larger sessions of instructional time where students will be more actively involved in the lesson,” Poplus said.

Poplus pointed to science labs where under the old 50-minute period schedule, there was limited time for a student to conduct an experiment, write a report and draw conclusions. He also pointed to health andphysical education where by the time the students got dressed out and allowing for time for them to dress back in at the end of the period, there was little time for actual instruction.

Other benefits include students being responsible for doing homework for fewer classes per day, enabling them to produce higher quality work; more time for reteaching and more time for teachers to meet for staff development.

Transfer students at Destrehan High School are handled through the Advancement and Exit Center in the WICAT Lab. Incoming transfer studentsare interviewed by a counselor who will administer a pre-test to determine the level of the student in the four major disciplines (math, English, social studies and science) and assess the student’s need to be caught up to the level of the class in which he/she is enrolling. Thestudent will then be given independent study packets as needed and sent to the WICAT Lab to work on them under the supervision of the WICAT coordinator.

The Advancement and Exit Center is also available to students transferring from Destrehan to other schools. The counselor will contactthe receiving school and obtain the student’s new schedule. If it appearsthe student will need to progress to a different level in the receiving school, the student will be given the option of the independent study packets. They will also be administered proficiency tests so that they canleave with credit in their appropriate subjects. Those who leave atmidterm will leave with four Carnegie units.

“With more schools nationwide and in the state going to block scheduling, we have had no problems with students losing credits as a result of transfers,” Poplus said.

Poplus said he sees the schools continuing to go the route of block scheduling in the future.

“Both are currently experiencing success with the schedule and plan to continue it,” Poplus said.