Published 12:00 am Monday, March 3, 2008

High school student lobbies for block scheduling

FRANKLIN—Franklin High School student Christopher McNeil let the city school board know that he is in favor of 4-by-4 block scheduling.

&uot;The schedule allows students to take eight classes each year without the stress of taking eight courses at the same time,&uot; he said to the board.

The system allows students to take four subjects each semester, with core classes being offered both semesters.

&uot;The research shows that moving toward this schedule will increase students’ grade point averages, earn higher scores on state tests, more students will be on honor roll, and more electives can be offered,&uot; McNeil said.

He said that attendance improves, as well, due to the fact that students enjoy coming to school more.

&uot;Not to mention the fact that when a student is absent, they report directly to that same class the following day, as compared to the current schedule, where I can be absent and won’t see that teacher again for a week or even more,&uot; he said.

The students are currently on an A/B schedule, taking the same classes all year long, but on alternate days.

McNeil also pointed out that the 4-by-4 schedule would present the opportunity to help students who are struggling with remediation classes and study skills classes offered during the school day, rather than on Saturdays or after school.

He said, &uot;Further research shows that decreasing the number of classes students take and teachers teach is less stressful and more productive, and improvements can be seen in student behavior, attitudes and academic achievement, because students are more focused on their four classes, teachers get to know us better, so our individual needs are better addressed, and some students can be either challenged or offered extra help depending on what they need.&uot;

McNeil said that if additional courses were to be offered at Southampton County schools or Paul D. Camp Community College, the 4-by-4 block schedule would alleviate scheduling conflicts.

&uot;We realize there may be an increased expense for the school board and the city, but isn’t it worth the trade off for better schools, more excited students and a better reputation as a district?&uot; He asked.

During a work session in November, Superintendent Bill Pruett and Director of Instruction Bev Rabil discussed the change in scheduling with the school board members.

A list of potential costs was put together by the Finance Department that does not include any costs associated with any elective courses that may have to be added to the curriculum.

Costs could total a little more than $235,250—about $183, 250 of that would be personnel costs that include an additional full-time reading specialist, one more math teacher, possibly a part-time math teacher and possibly a part-time history teacher.

The total reflects those personnel costs, with some possible personnel training, plus dual enrollment and Advanced Placement course costs.

This month, Dr. Robert Lynn Canady, who is professor emeritus at the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education and well known for his expertise in block scheduling, grading methods and student at-risk programs, gave a presentation on the 4-by-4 block scheduling method to school board and administration.

Pruett had said that the shift in scheduling is &uot;something we all want to move toward.&uot;