Wilson County schools will make the switch to a seven-period day, beginning next year.
Schools announced the change Thursday, touting it as a way to be more prepared for the upcoming changes to state-required testing.
Beginning with the 2014-15 school year, all public high schools in Tennessee will begin administering a new state assessment designed by The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness and College Careers, or PARCC, which differs from the current end of course assessment.
The PARCC assessment will assess students twice a year, as opposed to once a year, in math and English. In addition, students will be required to take these assessments electronically instead of the paper and pencil method currently in place.
Officials said the new schedule will decrease the number of days high schools will have to reserve for required state testing, and it will also increase the number of instructional hours in the classroom.
The new high school schedules will offer seven credits each year, resulting in 28 course opportunities throughout a high school student's career. Tennessee currently requires 22 credits to graduate.
Officials cited the following additional benefits to the new high school schedules:
• Daily Intervention and Enrichment
Currently, not all students have the ability to receive daily intervention and enrichment due to the confines of traditional block scheduling. By moving to a different schedule, intervention and enrichment will be built into the daily schedule at each high school and every student will have the ability to advance learning within the school day.
• Fewer gaps between core courses
On a traditional block schedule, students may have large gaps in core instruction. For example: if a student takes English I in the Fall term and English II the Spring term of the following year the student would have a 12-month gap in core English language arts instruction.
• More opportunities for advanced placement courses and higher success rates on advanced placement exams
Currently, some advanced placement courses are offered as two credit courses, limiting the number of AP classes a student can take. All AP courses will now be offered as one-credit courses, allowing students the opportunity to take more AP courses. In addition, AP classes that are currently one semester may have to be offered in the fall semester, while the AP test is not given until the spring semester. With the revised schedule all AP classes will have direct instruction up to the day before the AP test date.
• Retention of material
Students will be given smaller doses of information more often instead of large doses of information that they must retain at one time. Currently, students take a full-year course in 18 weeks. The new schedule will allow the material to be spread over a 36-week period.
• Increased instructional time in core classes
180 days of a traditional 55-minute period amount to 165 hours of instruction, while 90 days of a 90-minute period total 135 hours.
School officials said that not only will the change not increase costs, but preliminary research indicates it will actually save money for the district.