Eight is eight.
That’s what Principal Todd Marshall said students should remember when the schedule moves from a modified block to an eight-period day this fall.
Instead of having five classes a day — two 50-minute classes and three 90-minute classes, students will go through their entire schedule each day, attending all eight classes.
“We’ve been having conversation about this for awhile now but decided to table it when COVID hit,” Mr. Marshall said. “We looked at it again and did the research. This isn’t a change for change sake. We want what’s best for the kids.”
Classes will be 45-50 minutes instead of the current 90 minutes, allowing students to see each teacher every day. Mr. Marshall said that research shows the attention span of a 16 year old is 32-48 minutes, which is much shorter than the current class periods.
“Sitting in the same class first period and then going to that same class third period, you notice the student engagement is different,” Mr. Marshall said.“Things fight more for our attention. It’s a different world than it was even ten years ago and that’s why I think this change is needed.”
Mr. Marshall said that administrators ran data from the high school campus and discovered that students in first and eighth periods (the shorter class periods that meet every day) in the modified block schedule have scores that are significantly higher than those that meet every other day.
On an eight-period day students can be in the classroom every day, five days a week. That’s almost double the time a student is in the classroom on the modified block.
“Teachers aren’t seeing their kids as much. Those students aren’t getting that core content before their AP tests and EOCs [end of course exams],” Mr. Marshall said. “I think if you have a chance to see your teacher every day before your test, it makes sense that you’ll have a chance to do better.”
Mr. Marshall said he hopes an eight-period day will not only improve scores, but also promote better connections between teachers and students.
“There’s the social aspect and potential to build relationships, which is huge,” Mr. Marshall said. “Teachers say they have stronger relationships with students who they meet with everyday.”
Change on this scale can make students feel uneasy. There are concerns teachers will hand out double the workload at a faster pace, but Mr. Marshall said teachers will have to adjust as well.
“You can’t take an old system and make it fit into the new system,” he said. “Teachers will have to adjust because they may have to cover the material in a new way, and they may have to adjust the length of their tests. Students may not have homework every night.”
Mr. Marshall explained that the district’s mission statement is to ensure high levels of learning for all students.
“The data shows this is a change that needs to happen to achieve that mission statement,” Mr. Marshall said. “The impact of this change ensures students can learn at high levels. What it’s about, truly, is learning.”
Because this new schedule is different from the current one, Mr. Marshall said there’s going to be an adjustment period.
“I know change is hard and scary, but I believe in the leadership of this campus,” Mr. Marshall said. “I do understand how hard it is to change when you are accustomed to something. [But] I believe in the hearts of our teachers because they want what’s best for the students.”