Peach officials propose schedule change of seven classes a day for high school students

jmink@macon.comApril 30, 2013 

FORT VALLEY -- Since the mid-1990s, Peach County High School students have taken their classes on a block schedule. But, that schedule might change next school year if the board of education approves a new plan.

Principal Bruce Mackey presented Tuesday at the board work session a new schedule of seven classes a day, the entire school year.

Currently, high school students take four classes a day and switch classes each semester. If approved by the board during its regular meeting on May 7, students will begin taking seven classes each day during the 2013-2014 school year.

“It’s about the kids, and what’s in their best interest moving forward,” Mackey said. “I have really wanted us to take a look at this option.”

It’s an option that most surrounding school districts have taken, which will make the transfer process less difficult for new students, Mackey said. And that’s just the tip of the benefits of a seven-period schedule, he said.

It would ease the scheduling process because students would only sign up for classes once instead of twice a year. And, most importantly, it would give students and teachers an entire year in their classes, as opposed to a few months, he said.

Currently, students spend more than 90 minutes in each class during the day, which many believe is too long, Mackey said. Students become restless and teachers are often forced to give them breaks for homework or computer time. With seven classes a day -- at no more than 55 minutes each -- students would get constant instruction in each class. Furthermore, they would have more time to prepare for End of Course and Advanced Placement tests, he said.

Mackey used U.S. history as an example of how hurried instruction is currently.

“We try to cram 1865 to 2013 in 13 weeks,” he said. “It’s tough on our teachers, and it’s tough on our kids.”

A yearlong schedule also would give teachers more time with their students, which is important as state assessments change to evaluate teachers on student growth, Mackey said.

If approved, next school year’s new schedule would not impact graduation requirements for seniors, officials said.

“With the new evaluation system ... we have to give ourselves a fighting chance. This is the last piece of the puzzle,” Superintendent Joe Ann Denning said. “We’re going to sail in the right direction after we get that piece.”

To contact writer Jenna Mink, call 256-9751.

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