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Milford High Expected to Drop Block Schedule

After more than 10 years, Milford High School is preparing to drop the nearly 90-minute classes of the "block" schedule, and return to a more traditional schedule.

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."

Thomas Joseph Downing January 18, 2013 at 01:35 PM
Okay being a student at Milford high I think this ia crazy....the schedule now is fine and a lot of students agree along with the teachers....I think thay the students should have a vote on this because its affecting us...this is the whole reason why the students say that the Administration doesn't care about what we have to say because its true
Theresa January 18, 2013 at 02:59 PM
Another social experiment with our childrens education, going down in flames. Just another lost generation, as collateral damage. We like our Unions happy and children dumb as rocks. It's easier for the Democrats to get them to the polls later.
Jim O'Connor January 18, 2013 at 03:57 PM
Theresa, care to provide some objective data to back up your opinions or do you just like to spew? Ever compare the objective data, such as test scores and graduation rates, in states with unionized teachers like Massachusetts vs. the Republican/red state fantasylands like Mississippi and 'Bama?
Theresa January 18, 2013 at 05:27 PM
Jim, I don't need the statistics. I have 3 graduates from the Milford public educational system, graduating in 2001, 2007 and 2010. I have lived through the 10 years of this failure in real time, not fantastical ideological time.
Joe Kane January 18, 2013 at 06:03 PM
I also had three boys come through this system, graduating in 2005, 2008 and 2010. The one major issue that I had was that there was never any homework being brought home. They used to do it in the later part of the class, after most teachers stopped teaching the class all together or then focused on struggling students. When all three went to college, the biggest issue that they had was learning how to organize their non-class time to ensure that they could schedule their homework and down-time properly. They did adjust to it, but that was a huge challenge when they started their first semesters. I have always said that the teaching philosophy at Milford was to "teach to the middle", not to challenge these kids to "climb to the top". I hope that these changes will help Milford kids feel challenged again!
Remember When January 18, 2013 at 07:03 PM
The block class is a little long given peoples and students span of attention. Longer classes can be less productive. Even in college, some of the longer classes lost the audience after an hour. You can sit and watch a movie for 1.5-2.0 hours but many classes become boring or students tire before its over, especially if it is a class that you are less interested in. No stats or studies, just experience. The issue is not a Republican or Democrat issue, it is what I call Educrats; political meandering in the educational system. Some schools built a few decades ago are almost useless today, but were someone's new idea in Education.10's of millions later. Some new ideas are great, some have not proved their worth.

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