Bridgeville Events
Thursday, February 2nd, 2000
 
Next year, WHS to go to block schedule
By Bill McCauley
At its regular meeting Tuesday, Jan. 18, the Woodbridge School Board voted 4-0 to implement block scheduling in the high school grades starting in September. Classes will meet every other day for one full year. (For example, a student taking an English class will have that class on Monday, Wednesday and Friday during one week and on Tuesday and Thursday the next week.)
Periods will be about 90 minutes long, or double the present length of classes.
The new schedule will be implemented during the last two months of this school year, in order to allow students and teachers to become familiar with it.
Following the meeting, members of the board had the following comments:
President Deborah Stogner: "I'm in favor of the schedule so that students have core subjects all year long, which is important. We have had several exchange students whose schools have block scheduling. [With the short classes we have now,] by the time the teacher gets everyone settled down the class time is really cut down to a smaller time frame. Active learning is very important. Different kids learn different ways.
"Looking at it from the teachers' perspective, the more time they can spend with the kids the better they get to know them and their different learning styles. The majority of the teachers are in favor of block scheduling. It's not something that has come upon us suddenly. We've been talking about it for two years."
Coulter Passwaters: "The AB block schedule will be used the last two months of this school year, and we have all summer to prepare. Other schools in Sussex County have block scheduling. Cape Henlopen, Central Sussex and Sussex Tech all have it. It's worked well in other districts and I hope it works well here too. Kids really like a hands-on approach to learning."
Edith Vincent: "We need to look at other alternatives for our children, and we need to look at their basic needs. Do we keep things ad infinitum just because we did them the year before or 50 years ago? We always need to look at new things in the light of changing society and the changing needs of young people. There is more opportunity for learning now. We need to look beyond the traditional setting of classrooms with desks and chairs. Children are exposed to technology that we did not have earlier."
Vice president Ruth Ann Isaacs: "After considering it for two or three years and reviewing how it would work for us, we feel it's the way to go. Two new administrators have used it before and they are familiar with it. They have worked with Kay Lewis [director of curriculum] on it."
Board member Milton Morozowich was not at the meeting. He had the following comments: "The 1996 Oregon Study 'Student Performance and Alternative Schedules' concluded there was insufficient empirical data to accurately measure the effect of alternative schedules on student performance. The study stated that there were significant problems associated with small rural schools relative to capability and available personnel, facilities and financial resources.
"Additionally, the July 1999 American School Board Journal article by Gordon Cawelti entitled 'Improving Achievement - Research Based Practices and Programs…' lists 'changes in schedules or organization' as one of the practices that 'rarely or never show improved student achievement.'
"Before we decide to implement block scheduling we need to address the specific curriculum problems associated with the large numbers of students who consistently fail our required and elective courses. Further, we need to expand the existing curriculum to better meet the wide-range of individual student needs by offering accelerated courses for those students able to achieve, and remedial courses for those students at risk of failure.
"Had I been there I would have voted against it."