MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) – The Madison City Board of Education approved a plan that alters the instructional day for middle schools from a four to a five-block schedule Thursday evening.
“Our middle schools are a crucial time in the education of our children as they make the transition from elementary school to high school. We must be innovative to keep their interest and provide well-rounded instruction. Flexible scheduling with more electives will help us better prepare them,” said Dr. Dee Fowler, superintendent of Education for Madison City Schools.
The change from four to five-blocks will increase the opportunities for electives and also include a course catalog, according to the board.
The school board claims weekly rotations of the block sequence will benefit students and teachers who perform differently at different times of the day. It points to research that shows that flexible scheduling, versus traditional fixed time schedules, is a hallmark of high achieving schools.
The third block, which is the lunch block, will remain fixed in the schedule and not rotate.
The principal and counselor from Discovery and Liberty middle schools will soon visit sixth grade classes of their respective elementary feeder schools to share with students information about electives and the registration process.
Discovery Middle will hold a meeting for parents of rising 7th and 8th graders next Tuesday, April 8, at 7 p.m. in the Bob Jones High School auditorium.
Liberty Middle’s parent meeting will be split. For rising 8th graders, that meeting will be Monday, April 21, at 6 p.m. in the Liberty Middle gym. The meeting for rising 7th graders to Liberty will be Tuesday, April 29, at 6 p.m. in the Liberty Middle gym.
This schedule and curriculum reorganization will mean more course options for students in nine-weeks and semester offerings, the school board says, in addition to smaller class sizes in the core courses.
Examples of new nine-week electives include personal finance, public speaking, more arts options and others. Examples of new semester class offerings are creative writing, more science electives, computer programming, academic teams and others.
The new scheduling format also breaks PE into 9-week rotations of a specific elective such as an indoor or outdoor sports option, health and wellness, weight-training/cardiovascular endurance, aerobics/dance/yoga. Another major change is offering Spanish 1 in eighth grade as a year-long elective for high school credit.
The middle school changes stem from recommendations by a broad-based task force that met for months to devise a plan. The committee was comprised of administrators, Central Office staff, teachers, parents of middle and elementary school students, business representatives and others.
Madison City BOE member Ranae Bartlett said, “This is a game changer and something new in the state of Alabama.”
Fowler added, “We never want to be complacent in the City of Madison. We always want to keep our expectations high.”