Both high schools in the Jackson County School System have begun the transition from a “block” schedule back to the traditional seven-period day.
Meetings are being held with students and parents this month at East Jackson Comprehensive High School and Jackson County Comprehensive High School to go over planning for next year’s class schedules.
Because the units needed to graduate are different between the two schedules, the system plans to phase in the units needed between 2015 and 2018, leaders told the Jackson County Board of Education at a meeting last week.
The block schedule at high schools came into vogue during the 1980s and 1990s at many high schools across the country. In a block system, students generally take only four classes per semester in 90-minute blocks. The classes are essentially a year’s worth of work in half a year.
Supporters of the block system say it gives students more time in class on a subject and is especially good for lab classes, which often require more time.
But critics have long said that 90-minute classes are too long for either students or teachers to concentrate. In addition, it’s often difficult for a student to schedule successive classes, for example having to skip a semester between math classes that build on each other.
In recent years, there has been a trend back to the 7-day schedule, in part because some school systems can save money with that system. JCSS leaders believe moving to the 7-day schedule will generate financial savings for the system.
But the move may be just an interim step as high schools begin moving toward a more open campus and flexible schedule. Many school leaders believe the traditional structure of fixed classes will decline as high schools allow students to do more accelerate work online and to work a their own pace. That kind of system would force schools to rethink everything from how classes are structured and scheduled to how new high schools are constructed.