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Janesville Craig High School students Bella Ruosch, left, and Morgan Blaser work on an assignment during a freshman biology class Tuesday at Craig. Tuesday is a ‘B day,’ meaning students have four class periods of 86 minutes each.

JANESVILLE

A new schedule will make it easier for Janesville high school students to take college courses and pursue internships, the principals at Craig and Parker high schools say.

On Tuesday, Craig Principal Alison Bjoin and Parker Principal Chris Laue proposed a schedule change to the Janesville School Board’s Personnel, Policy and Curriculum Committee that replaces the current “modified block” schedule with a more traditional eight-period day for the 2020-21 school year.

For six years, Craig and Parker students have followed a schedule with A, B, and C days.

An A day has eight periods of 47 minutes each, while B and C days have four periods of 86 minutes each. The longer classes were supposed to benefit students taking art, music and science classes because students had extra time to work on labs, create art and rehearse their music.

In a memo to the committee, Brian Babbitts, assistant director of secondary education, wrote that officials had hoped the modified block schedule would permit “more engaging activities” on days with longer class periods.

“However, there were unintended consequences to this change,” Babbitts wrote. “First, the schedule made it difficult to near impossible for student to take courses at Blackhawk Technical College or a COOP and not miss their high school courses.”

A COOP is a class that allows students to learn while working in the community.

If the new schedule is approved by the school board, students will have an eight-period day with 47-minute classes and five minutes of passing time on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

Wednesdays would be an eight-period day with 44-minute classes, five minutes of passing time and a 20-minute homeroom meeting with teachers checking in with their assigned students. The homeroom meetings would be called “PRIDE” or “academic and career planning.”

The switch to a consistent eight-period day would give teachers in each course another 175 minutes of instructional time—or about three class periods, according to district documents.

Because the block schedule is so different from the middle school schedule, it is difficult for middle and high schools to share teachers, Babbitts wrote.

Board member Dale Thompson asked for the reason behind the change. When block scheduling was introduced, it was considered an innovation in education, he said.

Bjoin, Craig’s principal, explained that block scheduling worked in many ways, but the district now is more focused on encouraging students to take college-level courses or pursue internships while in high school.

Teachers and students were surveyed about class schedules.

About 200 teachers responded to the survey—55% from Craig and 44% from Parker. Only 26% of responding teachers supported the modified block schedule, with the remainder supporting some variation of the eight-period day.

About 1,792 Craig and Parker students responded to the survey—60% from Craig and about 40% from Parker.

About 40% of students who responded said they would like a more consistent schedule with daily class periods of less than an hour.

Another 30% said they preferred the schedule the way it is now.

The proposal still must be approved by the full board. The next meeting is Tuesday.

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