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ESJ’s switch to block scheduling ‘should make difference for all’

REBECCA BURK ELLIS / L’Observateur / August 14, 1998

RESERVE – After months of planning, research and input on the part of teachers and administrators, students at East St. John will enter into anew scheduling format.

The block schedule or 4 by 4 is what many high schools are switching to from the regular six hour day.

It gives students more time to learn in each class because the classes are an hour and a half each; and it will cut down on arguments in the halls while students change classes.

“Basically I think it’s going to make a big difference for everyone,” Principal Debbie Schum said. “It’s going to be a plus for students becausethey will only have to focus on four subjects at a time and teachers can use more involved teaching methods.”She added that the new day will allow teachers more planning time to meet with other teachers.

“Based on the information that we have looked at from looking at other schools you have a little more positive climate because there is less transition time,” Schum said. “Students are more focused in class and youdon’t lose as much class time switching classes.”Students will take four classes the first semester and four different classes the second semester. This will allow students to earn up to eightcredits in a year as opposed to the current six credits students can earn.

But students won’t be allowed to graduate in three year’s time when they earn their required 23 units – students still have to spend eight semesters in high school.

What will happen is certain required classes such as English and math will only be offered at certain times, causing students no other alternative but to continue to go to school and wait to take the class. In the meantime,they will take electives.

Schum said one new required course that they never had time in their schedule to offer is keyboarding. They will also require freshmen to take afreshmen orientation course, which will teach the ninth-graders about the school’s computers, educate them on how to deal with communicating with others, work with them on study skills and help them make wise career choices.

Schum said they are discussing getting several teachers certified to teach classes using college guidelines and some students can take those for college credit while still in high school.

Eventually the required amount of credits to graduate from high school may be boosted in the parish, administrators say. “That’s something thatwe may look at but we haven’t yet.” Schum said.The switch will be a big step for East St. John, Schum said. “It will givestudents the opportunity to get additional skills to get them prepared to leave high school,” she said. “It will give them a better chance toexperience success. It will be easier for them to focus on four subjects.”