Block schedule gone, new AP courses added
by Danny Wade
When students return to school in a few days, they will notice changes at Humboldt Jr./Sr. High School. The school is moving away from a block schedule in favor of the more traditional schedule.
Last week, HJSHS Principal Jason Newman and Assistant Principal Dr. Lindsey Bradford talked about the difference between block schedule and a regular schedule.
“Block schedule is around 90 minutes,” Newman explained. “There are four classes the first semester. The next semester, there are four more classes. Students earn eight credits per year.”
On a block schedule, students complete the entire course during the first semester. After the Christmas break, students begin a brand new course.
The new school day will now have eight periods—seven will be academic and the other will be split with half for lunch and the other half for intervention. Each period will last 48 minutes.
“Interventions are mandated by the state,” Bradford said. “There are three tiers. Tier-1 is for everyone. Tier-2 is for those students needing help in math and English. Tier-3 students need more intense instruction.”
There are pros and cons for both regular schedule and block schedule. One of the pros of a typical schedule is that students will have the same class the entire school year and not have to learn a new routine with new courses after the Christmas break. Another pro is the end of course tests. Now EOC will only be tested at the end of the school year.
“On a block schedule, we start (EOC) testing 10 day before Christmas break,” Newman noted. “That’s 10 days of lost instructional time. Then we test again at the end of the year.”
One of the pros for a block schedule is longer classroom time is helpful for classes that include labs or hands-on CTE (career and technical education) courses.
Prior to implementing the traditional schedule, Newman and Bradford surveyed the teachers in order to get their input. Dr. Bradford said a big majority of the teachers were for changing to a regular schedule.
One thing teachers and staff will like when the regular schedule is implemented this school year is that now, both the high school and junior high will be on the same schedules. In previous years, the high school used a block schedule (four periods per day) while the junior high had seven periods per day. School bells were ringing throughout the day, half for the high school and the other half for the junior high.
Dr. Bradford said the change to a regular schedule will not change the requirements for students to graduate. Students must still have a minimum of 24 credits including four English, four math, three science, three social studies and one fine art. Personal finance class, P.E. and CTE courses can also factor in.
Incoming freshmen this year will get a jumpstart in English-1, Newman and Bradford noted. Freshmen will have an English-1 in the morning and another in the afternoon. Students will have the same classmates and teacher in both classes. The principals want to get these new high school students on track and increase literacy.
“We’re also adding more honors classes,” Newman said of the new school year. “We’re offering more opportunities.”
“We’re setting the bar a little higher,” Dr. Bradford added.
New advanced placement (AP) courses include U.S. history, AP seminar, and English language and composition. Students will receive credits for completing the courses. At the end of each of the AP courses, students will be tested. Students that pass the test will earn college credits as well.
Newman said not all students will pass the AP test, which he said is extremely detailed and difficult.
Bradford said even if a student does not pass the college credit exam, just passing the course for high school credit looks good on their college applications.
Also new this year are three dual enrollment courses—wellness, art appreciation and music appreciation. Students will earn both high school credit and college credit for these classes. These courses are through a partnership with Jackson State Community College.
There are new state dual credit courses offered to Humboldt students this year. Courses include plant & soil science, introduction to business, criminal justice and speech.
Industry certification courses offered include production technician, certified production technician, coding, auto precision measurement instruments certification and automotive service excellence student certification. Students passing any of these courses and tests will earn their certification and be work-ready immediately after high school.
With the new school year just days away, Humboldt students will have opportunities to excel in the classroom while becoming job-ready or college-ready after they leave the hallowed halls of Humboldt Jr./Sr. High School.