THS will switch to block schedule next year

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Tupelo High School will have a new schedule next year.
Classes will be 40 minutes longer and will be completed in one semester. Students will have the opportunity to earn an additional credit every year.
The district’s school board voted unanimously a meeting Tuesday to begin the block schedule at the high school.
Under the new schedule, students will take four 90-minute classes each day. They will take four different courses during the second semester than they take during the first semester.
The school currently offers seven 50-minute classes that last the entire year. Although some students are given permission to take an eighth course instead of a lunch break, most students can only earn seven credits in a year. Under the new schedule, they will be able to earn eight.
A team of THS administrators and teachers have been studying the benefits of a block schedule since October. They also visited three schools in DeSoto County that use such schedules.
Representatives of that team said on Tuesday that the increased class time would allow teachers to increase the depth of their lessons. Teachers said they would have more time for group discussions and for students helping their peers who are struggling to grasp a concept.
Research shows that those two strategies greatly increase how well students retain new material.
“Often when we get to the point of using peer tutors, the bell rings,” said THS Advanced Placement Chair Teresa Ware. “The 50-minute class limits my ability to get to depth of knowledge.”
Ware also said that the new schedule would allow more time to offer special instruction to students who do not grasp material.
For example, students who enter ninth grade unprepared for English 1 could enroll during the first semester in a remedial course that helps them improve language skills. They could then enroll in English 1 during the second semester.
Teachers also would have a 90-minute planning period, instead of the current 50-minute period.
THS Principal Lee Stratton said with the new schedule, teachers will teach three classes and 75 to 90 kids every day. He said teachers now have up to 150 kids each day.
The school will hold “Block Nights” to share information with students and parents about the new schedule and to address concerns. Dates for those “Block Nights” will be announced in the future.
Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or chris.kieffer@journalinc.com.