Beginning next fall, Mobile County Public School System (MCPSS) high schoolers will be placed on a “modified-period” schedule, replacing the current block system that has been in place for years.
MCPSS Superintendent Chresal Threadgill confirmed the change in a message to parents Friday, explaining he has made the executive decision to transition the scheduling structure with students’ best interests in mind. He said the decision was made after “thorough research, extensive analyzing of data, and consultation within the district and throughout the state.”
The current block system breaks up high school daily schedules into four 90-minute classes. Those classes alternate per semester. The typical period system breaks down days into shorter 40-minute periods.
“Research and experience show that students perform better academically when they study a course for a full year,” Threadgill wrote. “Additionally, periods will allow us to address significant learning losses as a result of COVID-19. With modified period scheduling, most students will be enrolled in core academic classes, such as English and Mathematics, for an entire academic year.”
According to Threadgill, the period system helps increase student engagement, creates more flexibility to rotate scheduling, boosts opportunities for education intervention, and enhances learning retention.
Threadgill assured parents that athletics, career-technical programs and extracurricular activities would not be negatively impacted by the change. He said specifics will be shared in the coming weeks.
“We realize that block scheduling has been in place for many years, and that change is sometimes difficult. However, I firmly believe that this change is in the best interest academically for our students as we work together for #TeamMCPSS,” Threadgill said.
Social media posts from former MCPSS students suggest the change happened in the 1990s, when the popularity of block scheduling swept through the nation.
The announcement came one day after Lagniappe filed an open records request with MCPSS, seeking internal memos and emails concerning the change. MCPSS Attorney Frank Taylor notified a reporter two hours before Threadgill’s Friday email that he would be producing the information this week. That distribution has not yet taken place.
Lagniappe contacted Threadgill and MCPSS spokesperson Rena Philips Thursday with questions about the change following confirmation from multiple sources and a MCPSS board member that a possible change was in the works. That email was unanswered. Threadgill did not make himself available for questions following a special called MCPSS board meeting Thursday afternoon.