SPHS may get block schedule

Published 10:12 am Friday, March 24, 2017

SPHS may get block schedule

South Panola High School Principal Rodney Flowers (left) and Assistant Principal David Odom (right) presented information in favor of the school using the 4X4 block schedule that would allow students to enroll in eight classes during a school year but only four at one time. School board attorney Ryan Revere (seated left) and school trustee Dr. Leigh Taylor Unruh were among those who heard the presentation during Tuesday’s monthly board meeting. (Please see related story)
The Panolian photo by Rupert Howell

By Rupert Howell
South Panola High School may well be on a block schedule this coming school year after school district trustees heard Principal Rodney Flowers and Asst. Principal David Odom explain advantages they have learned while doing research for the proposal.
The high school administrators took up most of Tuesday’s monthly meeting with a power point presentation and answering questions from individual school board members, some of whom thought the school had been using the block schedule already.
A block schedule previously used at the high school had students going to different classes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday than on Tuesday and Thursday with students able to take seven courses.
The 4X4 Block Schedule described by Flowers and Odom would have four classes per day of 96 minutes with a class completed at the end of a semester. At semester, a year-long class is complete. Students will take four different subjects the following semester.
Teachers will have three classes per day with the empty period dedicated to planning.
Flowers explained advantages such as students can take four courses per semester for a total of eight courses per year compared to seven under the present system.
Another advantage for students is they would have twice as many opportunities to complete required courses should they fail a subject, and subject area tests will be administered each semester.
Flowers also pointed to a limited number of class changes which should cut down on disruptions and disorderly conduct in the halls while allowing more instructional time in the classroom.
He also cited fewer tests and homework and reduced study load as subjects drop from seven to four courses.
Advantages listed for teachers included fewer preparations and more planning time as a teacher will have 25 percent of their day for planning. Teachers would also have fewer students per semester translating to fewer papers to grade.
Principal Flowers stated, “We are not reinventing the wheel,” and clarified using numbers that revealed of 24 “A” ranking high schools in the state, 23 are on block schedules. Also 40 of 55 “D” schools are not on a block schedule. SPHS was rated “D” last year.
The biggest challenge with changing to the block system Flowers said is training teachers. He explained the change would require extensive amount of training for teachers indicating that 96 minutes was a long time to hold a student’s attention.
Flowers said the plan would include using teachers from successful block schedule schools to share how they structure class time to keep students productive.
Although a vote of the trustees was not thought to be required by board attorney Ryan Revere, Superintendent Tim Wilder asked for one to show the board’s support for his recommendation for the block schedule.
“Bottom line is student achievement,” Wilder said, adding, “The block schedule gives us the best opportunity for student achievement.

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