KISD high school students to get extra credits in longer school day

03/06/2014 1:54 PM

03/06/2014 1:55 PM

To increase student choices and align with new state mandates, Keller district high schools will go back to eight period days in a new take on the modified block schedule next year.

At the Feb. 20 school board meeting, district officials unveiled a draft of the schedule which adds six minutes to the day and shortens lunches from 48 minutes to 25 or 30 minutes, effectively increasing instructional time by about 20 minutes.

“I love the notion it will help with choice and flexibility, and it doesn’t add that much to the day,” said trustee Craig Allen. “It looks confusing to me, but kids will figure it out.”

Students go to all eight periods on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays.

First and last periods remain the same all five days. On Wednesdays, students attend third, fifth and seventh periods and go to second, fourth and sixth periods on Thursdays.

In those mid-week blocks, classes last more than 90 minutes while daily classes are about 47 minutes.

Officials wanted to have some type of block schedule to include longer class times each week for some courses. The extended periods allow for more concentrated time for career and technology classes, science labs, visual arts and other subjects.

Increasing the annual available credits from seven to eight will give students the ability to accrue 32 credits over four years instead of 28.

Adding more courses is part of the district’s response to the mandates of House Bill 5, approved by Texas legislators in the 2013 session.

Extra credits will allow Keller schools to expand career and technical offerings and give students options for multiple paths to graduation and the opportunity to collect several diploma endorsements.

In the last eight years, Keller district high school students have been on four different types of schedules, from accelerated block with different classes each semester, to a couple of variations on hybrid block schedules to the standard seven period day.

Administrators returned to the seven period day in 2010, in an effort to cut costs. The modified block schedule will cost about $2.5 million more than a traditional schedule, due to the need to hire additional teachers and purchase extra class materials.

Dustin Blank, executive director of leadership, said the schedule was developed based on input from high school administrators and educators.

Keller Middle School will pilot the schedule next year to see if it may also work for seventh and eighth grade students, Blank said.

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