With budget cuts and current economic conditions, the Baldwin County Board of Education continues to look for ways the school system can organize and improve student learning, which includes reviewing the structure of the school day.
During Monday’s work session, the school board heard a presentation from Baldwin High School Principal Dr. Jessica Swain and Assistant Principal Dr. Jeremy Dockery about the researched pros and cons of a four-by-four block schedule versus a seven-period day.
“In block scheduling, students are in class for 90 minutes per day for 90 days, which equals 8,100 instructional minutes per class. In a seven-period day, students are in class for 50 minutes per day for 180 days, which equals 9,000 instructional minutes per class,” Dockery said. “Block scheduling benefits teachers because they have more manageable schedules, fewer discipline problems, longer preparation periods, they are able to use a wide variety of teaching techniques in the classroom, can develop closer relationships with students, and are able to reduce administrative duties.”
Under the four-by-four block schedule, students take four classes in the fall and four classes in the spring, totaling 32 possible credits. Under a seven-period day, students take seven classes throughout the school year, totaling 28 possible credits. With Baldwin County schools requiring a minimum of 28 credits for graduation, students would not be able to fail a class and still graduate on time unless the school system lowered the number of credit requirements.
“Students don’t have any room for failure, so a seven-period day would impact the graduation rate and that could face students not graduating on time,” Dockery said. “About 60 percent of Georgia high schools are on a block schedule. It’s impossible to change the configuration next school year.”
A few of the concerns discussed about making a transition to a seven-period day included safety and security issues with increased volume of students in the cafeteria and more time in the halls between period transitions, increased purchase of textbooks, an extended school day by 10 minutes, and cuts to CTAE pathways, which would impact the Baldwin College and Career Academy (BCCA) charter.