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Written by Mitch Maersch   
Wednesday, 21 September 2016 20:07

High school transition aims to improve academic performance and build relationships with students 

Cedar Grove-Belgium High School’s block schedule is off and running with no major glitches so far.

Principal Josh Ketterhagen told the School Board last week the transition is going well.

“Probably, the biggest comment is, ‘You know, it’s not as bad as I thought,’” he said.

The school is using an alternating A/B block schedule, meaning four 85-minute classes are held on A days and a different four courses on B days.

Study halls have been eliminated, so students have been asked to take eight classes. That, Ketterhagen said, allows them to study new subject areas.

A common time called Rocket Block allows teachers and students to build relationships, develop academic and career plans and students to experience new opportunities.

“We have already accomplished many of these things within the first two weeks of school,” Ketterhagen said in his report.

Rocket Block allows teachers to reach students who need extra help, and students have used the time to seek out teachers with questions.

“We are still working out the kinks and logistics of attendance, proper placements, and consistency, but it has been a wonderful opportunity for teachers and students alike,” Ketterhagen said in his report.

One challenge more evident in the block schedule is the single classes only offered once throughout the year. Students who want two single classes that are offered at the same time may only take one of them, Ketterhagen said.

“We’ll clean up some things and make them better,” he said.

Ketterhagen brought the idea of using a block schedule to the School Board last spring.

“I do have a passion for it because I think it’s what’s right,” he said.

His research began in January 2015, with an evaluation of the high school’s schedule.

Improving student achievement was the primary reason the new schedule was adopted.

The block schedule allows teachers more prep time, and Ketterhagen said his research shows students come to class more often.

Given that classes run longer, “They don’t want to miss,” he said.

Supt. Jean Courneene last spring said that the change could vault the district to new heights.

“We haven’t had this model at the high school,” she said. “We haven’t pushed the outstanding talent in this building, and I think it’s time.”

Similarly sized schools in the area running block schedules include Oostburg, Ozaukee, Random Lake, Howards Grove, Mishicot and Reedsville. From Ketterhagen’s discussion with teachers, principals and students at those schools, all support the block schedule, he said.

Several Cedar Grove-Belgium High School teachers have also visited other districts in the area using the block schedule.

The school ran a trial block schedule from May 9 to 12.

The board approved switching to the block schedule on April 27.

 
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