NAUGATUCK — Naugatuck High School will make the change to block scheduling in the 2018-19 school year.
Under the new schedule, there will be eight, 81-minute periods. Students will have four periods each day that rotate on a two-day cycle.
Currently, the schedule consists of seven periods each day, six that last for about 40 minutes and one extended period, or “super block,” that runs for roughly 75 minutes. The classes are on a seven-day rotation, so the extended period students have each day is different.
This schedule was implemented this school year so science teachers could roll labs into the super block instead having them occupy another period in students’ schedules. Connecticut has adopted the Next Generation Science Standards, which require science courses to have labs.
Before this year, when a student had a class with a lab, it would only take place once a week. This meant students had study halls the other four days they didn’t have a lab.
Naugatuck High School Principal Janice Saam said the extended-period schedule isn’t perfect — teachers have to wait eight days to get through their entire cycle of students — but it allowed students to take seven courses.
However, some questioned the effect the change could have on the ability of some students to accrue credits needed for graduation due to the loss of a period.
Previously, the schedule was eight periods. However, Saam said that violated language in the teachers’ contract that stated educators may only instruct for a certain number of periods each day.
“When we were finalizing some of our plans, it came to our attention that there was language in the teachers’ contract that we were violating,” Saam said.
Under block scheduling, students are required to take at least six courses but can take eight.
“Going into next year, students will truly be able to select eight courses if they choose to do so,” Saam said. “There are many of our students who want to take a full eight-credit course load.”
Beth Lancaster, the science department head at Naugatuck High, said the block schedule is going to provide an opportunity for teachers to offer science lab activities more consistently.
“The existing rotating block hasn’t offered science teachers with the opportunity to implement lab investigations where appropriate,” Lancaster said. “Whereas with the block scheduling, because we’re seeing students for a longer period of time more frequently, the teachers will be able to do that.”
Edward DeCosta, the English department head at Naugatuck High, said the current schedule is acting as a transition for next school year’s schedule.
“It’s only six more minutes,” said DeCosta about the block schedule compared to the current extend period when asked if the English department would make any adjustments to the way teachers instruct.
Students’ opinions on block scheduling are mixed, and some students prefer the current schedule.
“There are some people … that can’t stay in a classroom for more than we have for a block now,” senior Katherine Benalcazar-Nieves said. “It’s hard to maintain so much attention for that long.”
“I don’t think that teachers would have that many things to do,” senior Adriano Moura added. “They need that break of 45 minutes.”
Junior Benjamin Healy felt there are positives and negatives with block scheduling.
“It does help teachers by giving them extra time for a lesson,” Healy said. “Overall, I am intrigued to see how it goes for next year.”