After a year of planning, Evergreen High School will toss its 20-year-old block schedule in favor of traditional class scheduling beginning with the 2021-22 school year.
Superintendent Eric Smola said the decision is part of the district’s strategic planning process, which favors giving students more class periods and greater educational opportunities. The Evergreen school district and Northwood Local Schools are the only northwest Ohio school districts still using the outdated block schedule, a movement which began in the 1990s but gradually lost favor.
“With today’s state requirements and academic competition, the block schedule is proving detrimental to our children’s academic success while handicapping their educational achievements,” a statement released by the school district said.
A traditional seven- or eight-class schedule will offer students a greater variety of classes and align with the Evergreen Middle School schedule, offering those students an opportunity to take high school courses, Smola said. Instead of the current 90-minute class blocks that allow for only four classes each day, a traditional schedule will introduce students to 45-minute classes and include new areas of study.
Two dozen potential new classes could include AP classes in American government, computer science A- JAVA, and computer science principles; art history; environmental biology; French I; Google and Microsoft digital skills; interior design; modern U.S. history; songwriting; jazz band; and textile design, construction, and maintenance.
The change will allow high school students new choices they can use as a springboard for a college major, the superintendent said. It will also open up agriculture-vocational classes to eighth grade students, an opportunity they didn’t have before.
Switching to traditional classes will also eliminate problems experienced by students transferring in or out of the district. “(For) a student who transfers it is very difficult to align credits for graduation with two different systems,” Smola said.
And the new schedule will eliminate continuity gaps some students may be getting with the block schedule. “With only four classes a semester, everything doesn’t always flow for that continuous instruction,” Smola said. “With a traditional schedule you have more options and continue the flow of studies, such as languages.”
At least as important to consider is the fact that state testing is based on a traditional schedule, he added.
Neither the school district’s finances nor its College Credit Plan will be affected by the transition.
Discussions about changing to traditional classes began in December of 2019. Parents, students, and district staff members completed surveys about the change before school administrators made the decision to implement traditional classes. Smola said those completing the survey “just supported the move to the more traditional schedule.”
The move, however, won’t be easy. It will involve an entirely new schedule that introduces new classes and will force teachers to adjust their instruction planning. In turn, students will have more subjects to prepare for daily.
Evergreen Board of Education President Nora Kiefer said the surveys indicated a common desire. “Our community wanted to see a change in the variety of classes Evergreen had to offer,” she said. “Not all of our students are on the same track for their future. Many are preparing themselves for a trade or reaching for a college degree, while others are heading to serve and protect our country.”
Kiefer said once the district’s administrators looked at the scheduling they found potential benefits to changing the schedule to a traditional eight-period day.
Because Evergreen Middle School operates on an eight-period day, the change to a traditional high school schedule would allow advanced eighth grade students to take high school credits. Kiefer said a traditional schedule also aligns with state testing requirements.
“With a traditional schedule, the student gets more opportunity in how their high school career will shape their future,” she said.
The school district will hold public meetings in January about the transition but Smola said a majority of parents already approve. “It was clear they wanted more opportunities for their kids academically,” he said.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.