During the Thursday, March 7 meeting of the board, held at Centre Middle School, Dewayne Pierce, coordinator of curriculum and instruction for Cherokee County Schools, said moving back to the traditional four-period block schedule would ensure less disruption than some of the other alternatives.
The action is necessary, Pierce said, because of national and state mandates coming down requiring changes in the schools’ core curriculum requirements.
“We have been meeting several times over the past couple of months about what we want to do with our schedule for the next year and what we have kind of set up is the traditional four by four block,” said Pierce.
“There is going to be a four block day with 96 minutes per block. That includes transition time. That is the entire day, four blocks with 96 minutes per block included.
“What we wanted to do with the schedule is maximize the amount of minutes that each teacher has to teach those students.
“It is a different conversation than it was five or 10 years ago.
“The block schedule now is different,” said Pierce. “Standards have changed for every core subject. What we want to do is give our teachers the maximum amount of time to teach these standards.”
“The other reason we want to go with the four blocks is there are so many unknowns at the state department level right now that we just don’t know the answers to,” said Pierce.
“A lot of the state department people still don’t know the answers to what we need right now. Because of all the changes that are coming down the line with the state department, with implementation of common core, the end of course assessments, the new diploma, there are just so many changes coming at us and to a whole change of schedule, and throw that in with all of our teachers and everything else they have to adjust to, a wholesale schedule change, in my opinion, would just be catastrophic.
“It would be rough for teachers to have to adjust to all of that at one time.”
According to Pierce, all they are doing is taking out an hour of resource time, which they now have under the Modified Block Schedule, and absorbing those minutes back into the four by four block, which the system was under before going to the Modified Block Schedule.
“That is going to give our teachers more time to teach the standards, and will also give our career tech students more time at the career tech school which is also a big thing for college and career movement,” said Pierce.
This year, Pierce said, they implemented four assessments including English 9, English 10, Algebra I and Geometry. In 2013-2014, Pierce said, they will administer and implement English II, Algebra II, Biology, Chemistry and U.S. History.
“Next year will also be the first year that all 11 graders will take the ACT,” said Pierce.
“No longer will it be a test they can choose to take on Saturday.”
“The following year, supposedly, this will complete implementation of the end of the course assessments with English 12, Pre-Calculus and Physics,” said Pierce
“So that is 12 assessments two years from now. That is a lot.”
“We want to make a good decision with our schedule,” said Pierce.
“We don’t want to talk about a schedule change for the next five years.”
“We did kick around the idea of going to a seven period day, an eight block rotation where everything goes a year long,” said Pierce.
“That is a huge adjustment. It would also be a lot more expensive to do that as well. So that is our reasons for wanting to go to the four by four block.
“It is the smallest change we could make to get our teachers in every school more minutes to teach the national standards because all we do is take that resource time and spread those minutes out.”
Pierce said the committee that researched this matter included himself, Gaylesville School Principal Scott Hays, Spring Garden School Principal Mike Welsh, Sand Rock School Principal Ben East, Cherokee County Career and Technology Principal Brett Keasler, Cherokee County Special Education Coordinator Dr. Trina Wood, English Representative Jennifer Sliger, Science Contact Representative Lindsey Oliver and Counselors Penney Grimes and Andreanna Clifton.
“We had at least one representative from every school from the administration to the classroom,” said Pierce.
“They wanted to stay with something familiar because of all the changes,” said Pierce.
“Our system schedule is something we can control. This is a very small change from what we are doing now that ultimately will help us.”
The board approved moving to the Traditional Block Schedule.