AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WJBF) – The Aiken County School District will transition to block scheduling next school year.

With Block Scheduling, the District’s high school classes will transition from the traditional 50-minute period to 90 minutes.

Benefits of the Block for students and educators, with just four courses per semester versus seven in a traditional schedule, seemed to far outweigh any challenges which were discussed in several open session School Board Meetings.

Traditional seven-period day schedules allow for 28 credits over four years. With the 4×4 Block, ACPSD students will have an opportunity to earn 32 high school credits over their four years in high school, a shift which should make earning the 24 high school credits required for graduation much more attainable.

The transition will also allow for an additional elective choice each year, a benefit Career and Technical Education instructors believe is big for the Block.

“This lets the kids try something like welding. It’s just a semester; they don’t have to commit to it for a whole year,” Mr. Richie Bailey, Welding Instructor at Wagener-Salley, explained to the Board during their Saturday, February 25, work study.

With more electives, students will no longer have to choose one pathway such as JROTC or Band over another, and they’ll also be able to complete a Career & Technical Education pathway in one or two years, while pursuing other academic interests, such as Advanced Placement (AP) courses or dual enrollment. The Block Schedule itself aligns well for dual enrollment and prepares college-bound students for their future schedule.

Teacher proponents of the 90-minute Block appreciate the extended period which allows time to fully implement the Instructional Framework. This teaching strategy, summed up as “I do, we do, you do,” gradually releases students to independent practice and is sometimes rushed in shorter class periods.

Other educator advantages of the Block are a reduced caseload; 75 to 90 students, compared to 125 to 150 with a traditional schedule. A longer 90-minute planning period, instead of the two 45-minute planning periods of a traditional day, were also positives for Block teacher advocates.

Transitions in the school day account for the majority of student behavioral referrals on high school campuses, and tardiness is a top three referral reason. Principals estimate the potential of a more than 40% reduction in student referrals with a four-block schedule which eliminates several class change transitions each day.

“Less time teachers spend writing referrals is more time teaching and supporting student learning,” Mr. John Murphy, North Augusta High School Principal, explained to the Board.