Milford High School is expected to introduce a traditional six class-a-day schedule for students this coming school year, if negotiations between the school committee and teachers are completed soon.
The schedule would reintroduce a more traditional 57-minute class period, with students taking six classes a day. The schedule would rotate every few days, so they wouldn't be taking the same six classes each week. And the classes would be a year long, stretching out over the two semesters. [See attached PDF for a sample schedule]
What is now in place at Milford High is a four-by-four "block schedule," in which students take just four classes a day, but the classes are nearly 90 minutes long, and most are completed in a single semester.
Block schedules were popularized in American high schools about 15 years ago, as advocates argued that the longer periods would allow more hands-on work by students and extended study of material.
But in recent years, many high schools have reverted to the more traditional schedules, in part because the block schedule can create as much as a year-long gap for students who take sequential classes, such as in foreign languages and math. And some people have criticized the length of the classes as being too much for teens.
The change in schedule is something that has to be negotiated between the Milford teachers union and the School Committee, said Superintendent Robert Tremblay, but he said he felt confident an agreement would be reached soon.
"There seems to be a general consensus at the high school that this works better," he said, following the Milford School Committee meeting Thursday.
Milford High School Principal Michael Tempesta said the high school faculty and staff had been working on the new schedule, and specific class offerings, for more than two years.
In the School Commitee meeting Thursday, Tempesta discussed some of the new classes that could be offered to students starting next fall, and said a series of meetings with parents and students to explain the new schedule could begin as soon as early February.
Some of the new elective classes expected to be offered starting in 2013-14 include a fitness class, cooperative music, a Red Cross certification class and an Italian exchange class, as well as contemporary American history.
Patrick Holland, the School Committee chairman, said he wanted to make sure that the change is explained clearly to students and parents, and that staff are consistent in answering any questions about the switch.
"This is seen as a pretty big change," he said.
Donald Quattrochio, a School Committee member who previously worked in the high school as a substitute teacher, said he thought the new schedule would be a better fit for teens.
"I've seen it from both ends," he said. "I think it's going to be a great fit."