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May 14, 2013 > Unique block schedule at Kennedy High

Unique block schedule at Kennedy High

By Simmone Shah

John F. Kennedy High School seems different when compared to other schools in Fremont Unified School District (FUSD). It's the smallest in the school district, holds classes at MVROP (Mission Valley Regional Occupational Program), and is the only school which uses a block schedule - four, eighty minute classes a day, and a new class schedule halfway through the school year.

Most schools use a traditional schedule system - the school year is divided into two semesters and students attend the same six or seven 60 minute classes all year. However, in the block schedule used by Kennedy High School, often referred to as the "4 by 4", the school year is divided into four semesters with the four eighty minute classes for half a year. The year is split into two 90-day terms; each with two semesters. At the end of the first term, students have finals for those four classes, and then receive an entirely new schedule.

Some view the block schedule as more beneficial to students in comparison to the traditional one. Students are allowed to take more classes in a year, going through eight classes a year versus six at other schools. Having two terms helps those students who wish to 'double dip' courses, and take two years worth of a class, like math. 'Double dipping' helps students who are required to repeat a course or want to finish their course requirements by taking two years of a subject in one year, one each term. With longer class periods of 80 minutes, students are also able to accomplish more in the classroom.

Others believe negatives outweigh advantages. Students have only five months to absorb a year's worth of information, and students taking a CORE class such as Math, English, or Science in the fall term are faced with state testing following a four month absence from study in that discipline. Missing school also proves to be problematic with the block schedule. Since teachers only have ninety days to teach to state standards, studies move at a fast pace; missing just one day is critical.

Students at Kennedy will enthusiastically defend the block schedule, even those enrolled in rigorous AP courses. One student says, "At any other school it would take me until my senior year to finish four years of French. At Kennedy, I can be done by my sophomore year."

However, when several students at Irvington were asked if they would prefer a block schedule, comments were unfavorable. They did not like the idea of spending eighty minutes in the same class.

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