Woodland Park High School students have been learning their subjects and earning academic credits in 90-minute blocks since the mid-1990s. Starting next fall, they will be using a system that most of their parents will find familiar, the seven-period day.
WPHS Principal Del Garrick explained the alternating block system having eight 90-minute teaching blocks that alternate, four blocks a day. All eight classes meet on Mondays.
“We're not the only school districts making the switch,” he said. “Some schools are still using the alternating block system but a lot of them are returning to 45-minute periods. Cheyenne Mountain and Coronado are seven-period schools.”
Garrick pointed out that scientific studies have shown no academic difference between the two systems. The change is being made for purely financial reasons.
“A block system costs more to run,” he said. “Before making the switch we looked at its efficiency in a financial sense. We'll be able to staff for seven sections instead of eight, teachers will have 45-minute instead of 90-minute planning periods and students will get about 30 more minutes of instruction time each week.”
The change is being called a “transition” but the word doesn't apply to the switch from blocks to periods. That change will start the first day of school next fall. Transition refers to the way students earn credits for graduation. This year's seniors had the opportunity to earn 32 credits and need 28 to graduate. This year's juniors could have already earned 24 credits but will only be able to earn seven more credits next year; they will need 27 credits to graduate. Today's sophomores will need 26 credits and this year's freshmen will need 25.
“Twenty-five credits to graduate puts us right in line with other area high schools, including Academy 20 and Lewis-Palmer D-38,” Garrick said. “Manitou Springs students still need 27 credits but Coronado kids only needs 23.”
Another form of transition is for teachers who, having spent decades working in 90-minute blocks, now have to learn to plan 45-minute classes.
Letters about the switch have already gone out to parents, Garrick said.