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
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
"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
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]
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
"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."