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posted: 9/23/2012 8:00 AM

Change: Some say new class periods aren't long enough

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Dundee-Crown High School junior Genevieve Goelz says the new high school schedule Community Unit District 300 adopted this year is stressing her out.

The 16-year-old Algonquin student said the eight-period day has doubled the number of classes she is taking over the previous four-block schedule and also doubled the amount of homework.

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"I have the same amount of higher-level classes as last year, but I had half as much homework as I do this year," Genevieve said. "With after school activities, I have been staying up past two o'clock in the morning. The latest I have stayed up to finish homework is 3 a.m. and the earliest I have gone to bed is 11:30 ... There's just a lot more to handle. There's more binders, more folders and more textbooks."

Genevieve isn't the only one struggling since the district moved from a four-by-four block schedule made up of four, 90-minute blocks per day over a 4-term year, to a schedule of eight, 45-minute periods per day. The school year is now composed of two semesters and adds up to 60 hours of instruction over the school year in some subjects.

Administrators said the new school day would provide students with the best educational experiences and promote continuity in learning. Under the previous schedule, some students would have gaps up to a yearlong between courses, Jacobs Principal Ami Engel said.

"One of the biggest issues was continuity in content," Engel said. "Students taking English or math or a foreign language on the four-block would take class in the fall semester and finish sometime in December and not take it again until January the full year later. They lost a lot of language and writing skills and the practice that goes with that. Math was one of the biggest areas where it was (a problem)."

Some, though, say the class periods are not long enough.

"It feels like a very rushed day," said Matt Wolf, a sophomore from Carpentersville. "We get very little done in a lot of classes."

Sirena Galvan, a 17-year-old senior from Carpentersville, said the short classes are particularly frustrating for electives.

"You want to spend more time doing what you want to do," Sirena said. "For example, I am in autos because I am a hands-on type of person. It feels like as soon as we get in to working on an engine the bell rings."

A positive outcome of the schedule is the testing timetable, said Hari Manikandan, 16, from Carpentersville.

"One thing I really like ... is that tests are more spaced out now," said Hari, a junior. "As long as you don't get too much homework in all of your classes, just a little bit each, that allows you time to study for those tests."

Engel said teachers and administrators would also more effectively track student progress under the new schedule.

"Considering the direction the state and nation are going with No Child Left Behind and possibly toward growth assessment models, how nice is it to have continuity with classes so that we can measure at the beginning, middle and end of the year and see growth over time," Engel said. "It will be cool when we do see that growth data coming our way. That will be really rewarding, and until that point in time it will probably be a little frustrating as we go through the usual growing pains."

Change: School officials say schedule helps continuity of learning, track progress

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