Due to community concerns, committee analyzing pros and cons of
alternating periods; Resolution expected in January
Gilroy – Hector Meza doesn’t need time to formulate an opinion about Gilroy High School’s block schedule.
“I despise it,” said the 14-year-old freshman while practicing for band after school on Monday.
To Meza, GHS’ schedule of two-hour classes alternating every other day, isn’t enlightening – it’s confusing. The schedule is divided into blue and white days, with students attending odd-numbered periods or one, three and five on blue days and even-numbered periods two, four and six on white days.
Since blue and white days change on a weekly basis, Meza said he often brings the wrong books or completes homework for the wrong class.
Because of community concerns, such as those voiced by Meza, in late September the Gilroy Unified School District board asked district officials to look at the pros and cons of GHS’ schedule. In response, the district assembled a committee comprised of parents, students, teachers, district officials and GHS faculty.
The committee meets every two to three weeks to discuss how block scheduling is helping or hampering education at GHS. By January the committee plans to present a resolution to the GUSD board, said GHS Principal Jim Maxwell.
The committee has already conducted a faculty survey and is in the process of completing a parent survey. The results from the faculty survey revealed that “block scheduling is really the preferred schedule now,” said Maxwell.
But the parent survey may skew those results. Basically, the future of GHS’ schedule is a mystery.
“You’re wondering what’s going to happen,” said Maxwell. “I have no idea.”
One of the major factors in play is what’s better for student achievement, but the committee has slammed into an apparent dead-end in that area.
Through their research the committee discovered that there is no schedule that shows a distinct advantage when it comes to standardized tests, said Maxwell. That’s not to say that block scheduling hasn’t had any sort of impact at GHS.
Since its implementation in 1992, GHS has seen a decrease in discipline problems and drop-outs and boosts in attendance and graduation, said Maxwell. Discipline issues decrease because students spend more time in the classroom and less time roaming the halls between class, getting into trouble.
The block schedule also has undergone some changes during its 13-year span. Initially, students attended every class on Monday and three classes and a tutorial period during the rest of the week.
Rhoda Bress is quite familiar with the various schedules GHS has offered. The GUSD trustee’s four children have all attended GHS on a different type of schedule.
Still Bress, who also is serving on the committee, said she has yet to formulate a concrete opinion as to which schedule is the best.
“At this point my opinion of the block schedule is it needs to be studied,” she said. “For me to voice my opinion at this point would be premature.”
Bress said the board wants to assess what impact different schedules have on student learning and achievement, which is important since, “It’s an issue that really effects a lot of aspects of high school life.”
While Bress and other district officials wait for data and survey results, the students sitting in the two-hour classes know exactly what they want.
Michael Stevens thinks the schedule should be tweaked so that classes are 90 minutes long. Because the GHS junior, who is also serving on the block schedule committee, plays baseball in the spring he has to take “athletic training” during his sixth period.
That means Stevens has one less class than his classmates, simply because he plays a sport. Also, Stevens said students need to take some classes, like math, everyday.
Sarah Moore agrees.
“I don’t like it because two hours of math is like way too long,” she said.
The 17-year-old senior said students need the repetition of attending classes like math and foreign language, everyday.
But every student isn’t adverse to GHS’ block scheduling.
Will Ban Booraem, said the two-hour classes have helped him improve his grades.
The freshman said he’s a fan of block scheduling because “you have two days to do your homework and you get longer pass periods.”
But, “if someone has ADHD I can understand why they don’t like it,” he said.