New high school schedule will allow more time for classes

A new modified block scheduling system in the city’s high schools next year is expected to let students take more classes with a schedule that allows for deeper learning, one educator said.

School officials looked at a number of different scheduling formats at schools around the state before coming up with a modified version of a typical block schedule.

Fran Thompson, principal at Jonathan law High School, called it a “combination schedule” that combines elements of block scheduling with traditional scheduling.

Until now, students at Milford’s high schools have been following a schedule that has been in place many years here. They typically go to each of their seven classes each day for about 45 minutes.

With a block schedule, students do not go to each class every day of the week, but rather go to fewer classes for longer periods of time, 90 minutes, for example. The schedule rotates classes daily or weekly to incorporate all of the student’s classes.

Thompson said that when a team of Milford educators got together to start looking at different scheduling formats, they thought going to a total block schedule would be too drastic a change. Ninety-minute classes all week might be too much for some students.

“Ninety minutes is a big stretch from 45 minutes,” Thompson said.

So Milford educators modified that.

Under the new schedule, the school week will run on a six-day cycle, and students will be able to take up to eight classes, as opposed to the seven they may take now.

On four of those days, they will have six classes for 57 minutes.

On the other two days, they will have four classes for 78 minutes.

The classes will rotate through this schedule.

“This allows for longer periods of instruction,” Thompson said. “It also allows for more flexibility. Students can have labs without it taking up two periods.”

One school official added that while under the current schedule it’s correct that a lab does require two periods, the most important issue is that a student has to miss one day of another class each week to accommodate the lab. The new schedule should rectify that.

There will still be days during the week when students have common time and advisory time, which are shorter periods worked into the schedule. During common time, students get a chance to go for special help where it’s needed. During advisory, students meet with an adviser to discuss topical issues.

A committee of educators is still working out all the details of the new schedules. While it may sound confusing to adults, students should not have a problem adjusting because they’re used to responding to the school bells, Thompson said.

“I think they’re excited about it,” Thompson added. “Some of them have friends at other schools who are on this kind of schedule.”

Assistant Superintendent Michael Cummings said steps are being taken to make sure the new scheduling system is in place next school year.

“We are in the middle of preparing for the changes that must happen,” Cummings said. “The principals will be working with their staffs on the plan throughout the spring. We have groups meeting to finalize some of the details.

“The schedule change is necessary,” Cummings added. “It provides increased time in class so that lessons can explore content in more depth and with more complexity. That time increase allows for assignments to become more complex as well, and it will support collaborative groups. The extra period will also allow students to take more courses, as it reduces course conflicts and lets students explore more subjects that interest them.”