If approved, a new scheduling system at Madison County High School would expand students’ course loads to seven classes and shorten instruction periods.
Principal Chad Stone will present a plan for a modified seven-period schedule to the Madison County Board of Education (BOE) in January. The school board, which will also hold a Jan. 7 work session to discuss the proposed change, plans to vote on the schedule in February.
“Our staff is really excited about it,” Stone said. “Most of them are. We’ve still got a lot of things we’ve got to work out.”
Superintendent Mitch McGhee notified the BOE last week that MCHS was considering this change.
Madison County High School, which currently operates on a block schedule (four 90-minute classes a day per semester, then four different classes the next semester), based these changes on a recent tour of Morgan County High School, which utilizes a modified, seven-period schedule.
“We saw what they were doing down there, and they’re doing a good job,” Stone said. “And we took the gist of what they were doing and spun it into something for us.”
Under the proposal, students would attend seven, 52-minute classes Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays.
On Tuesday, students would attend their four odd-numbered classes for 80 minutes and then their three even-numbered classes on Wednesday for 80 minutes.
“We could change it either way,” Stone said. “We could go even-odd. We haven’t decided how we want to do it.”
One big change is that students wouldn’t start classes until 8:55 a.m. on Wednesdays.
The late Wednesday start time allows teachers a collaborative planning period from 7:45 to 8:45 a.m. Parents would still be able to drop students off the usual start time, however.
Another major difference with the modified seven-period schedule is a multi-purpose, 50-minute enrichment period on Wednesdays.
That time would allow students behind in their schoolwork to catch up or students taking advanced placement classes to get ahead.
It could also be used as reward time to allow students passing all their courses to take non-traditional classes.
“We’re going to do a lot of stuff in enrichment that we normally wouldn’t do,” Stone said. “We may teach a dance class, just the things that the kids are interested in.”
Stone added that students could even take online classes independently that MCHS doesn’t offer.
But the main goal in switching to a seven-period modified schedule is to increase the graduation rate, Stone said, and seven-period modified schedules are growing in popularity with graduation rules changing.
One of the major strengths of this format is that it adds 400-500 minutes of instruction time per class throughout the year.
And Stone likes offering classes for an entire year.
“We feel like the year-long classes is going to give us some continuity in our classes for our students,” he said.
The students the principal has spoken with about this appear receptive to the proposed change.
”They said it would take some getting used to ... But they feel good about the shorter class periods,” Stone said.