Scheduling stunts opportunity

Pathfinder Editorial Board

The counselors start coming around and teachers start conferencing with students: it’s registration time and for many students that means groans and the thought of another screwed up schedule. Everyone wonders how many of their classes or even alternate selections they will actually end up in, and the overall mood is grim. West High’s scheduling and registration processes are unnecessarily complicated, barring students from taking the classes that they actually want to be in.

Our mix of blocked and unblocked classes seems like a great idea on the surface; every class can have the time schedule that makes the most sense for its specific curriculum and nature of work. However, this hodgepodge of structures makes it more challenging—if not impossible—to give students all of the classes they want to take. It is all too common that a student has a schedule that nicely fills every period, but cannot work; two classes block on the same day, or one blocks and another does not. These sort of conflicts and barriers could be easily and permanently avoided, saving students, teachers and counselors time, if West High administration would choose to fully block the schedule.

Every other school in our district and many more in the larger St. Louis area follow a seven-class schedule as West does—with an additional built-in study hall for all students as their eighth period. Fully blocking would allow for more in-depth learning experiences within blocks and it would give students more freedom with how to manage their homework time. Teachers and students would have a new level of flexibility with their options for teaching and learning and this independence could take West to even greater academic heights. With the growing strain on our current system, fully blocking must be explored and considered to keep our education at the highest level possible.

Building in an eighth study hall would cut our educational time, yes, but other schools around our area such as Clayton, ranked 3rd in Missouri for public high schools, are clearly not affected by this lack of time. The study hall would ensure that students have ample time and resources to help them complete their work in a timely and high-quality way—and after all, West is best, we can make anything work if we commit to it.

Fully blocking the schedule at West High for the 2018-2019 school year onward would greatly streamline the scheduling process, ensure that students get the classes they want, and provide more flexibility for everyone involved in how students will learn. Our current mixture is too complicated to sustain a growing student body with more individualized wants and needs; a new structure is the answer we need to look into to alleviate these pressures.