Jordan High School is no stranger to the hybrid schedule. Starting in 2007, Jordan functioned on this type of schedule for four years- 2011’s graduating class knew nothing different. In 2011, however, the school switched to what current students are most familiar with: the “A-B” block schedule. Nine years later, Jordan is returning to the hybrid-style schedule for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year. Many students initially reacted to the news of the change with confusion and some amount of pushback, but that reaction has evolved to more of a curiosity about what the new schedule will hold. Over the past two weeks, several teachers agreed to be interviewed about their personal opinions on the matter and what they think the change will entail for the students and teachers of Jordan.
One of the first things mentioned by all the teachers interviewed was the inconvenience the A-B schedule has on students transferring in half-way through the school year. A Biology and AP Environmental Science teacher, Mrs. Finger is a strong advocate for the schedule change. “[Students transferring in start] off with two 50s for the first quarters of the school year, so we have to go backwards to try and make up for a lot of that missing work. I think [the hybrid schedule] will be beneficial to them.” French Teacher, Madame Harrison elaborated on this: “Currently with our system, if students transfer out before May, they leave with 0 credits, because they have not finished a course.” Rather than having to retake a class, with the hybrid schedule in place, Jordan would offer a more welcoming environment to new students. Transfers would be given equal opportunity in their academic pursuits as their peers who began at the start of the year.
As well as preventing students from having to repeat a course, the hybrid schedule would allow those seeking to further their education in a particular subject to have access to more advanced classes. As a French teacher, Madame Harrison finds this a compelling benefit to the hybrid schedule. “Students can reach higher levels of sequential courses. Right now, we don’t have AP French because students aren’t able to finish 5 courses in four years.” Unfortunately with the A-B schedule, many of those passionate about the French language miss out on the opportunity to stretch their education to a collegiate level in high school.
A promising advantage of the hybrid schedule is a change in workload, something that students and teachers will benefit from. To be precise, many students will see a significant decrease in their workload. Every student at Jordan is expected to take and pass eight classes throughout the entire year. “Eight classes are that much more challenging,” said social studies teacher Mr. McDonald, “especially for students who struggle already in school.” Juggling an overload of classes is not exclusive to students, however. As Mr. McDonald puts it: “I have 180 kids over the course of a year. If I teach just semester-based classes, I’ll have 90 kids every semester. I have the same number of students over the course of the year, but I get to work with 90 in the fall and then 90 in the spring…hopefully, we can be more proactive and keep up with grading and give the right feedback.” Over the course of a school year, teachers will manage the same number of students but only half the number at a time. This decision will, in turn, allow teachers to improve upon their own methods and improve education at Jordan as a whole.
At its core, the hybrid schedule is just that- a hybrid. Many benefits of the change come from the semester-based classes, but it is important to note exactly what classes are exclusively remaining A-B, and what that entails for schedules next year. As the chair of the AP program at Jordan, Mr. McDonald offered insight into the most considerable disadvantage: “…most of the AP classes will remain on the A-B schedule–and that’s intentionally done. All the research that exists about AP courses and staying in those courses up until the exam you will take in May makes more sense.” Due to this, AP classes will have to be paired with another A-B course, not necessarily an AP. The question is if this “catch” in the hybrid schedule will deter students from taking one or more AP classes if they can not find a course they want to pair it with. Despite this, Mr. McDonald remains confident. “People are going to have to try and find a good balance of courses, but I don’t think we’ll see a decrease in [enrollment in] AP classes.”
Circling back to Madame Harrison and sequential courses, the hybrid schedule does leave room for problems. “The disadvantage of having a semester schedule is that sometimes students will put off continuing their sequences, like they’ll take French 1 in the fall and then won’t take French 2 until their junior year. In my opinion, it’s better to schedule sequence type courses back to back.”
Overall, the change from an A-B schedule to a hybrid one seems to offer more advantages than disadvantages. Transfer students will not need to retake classes they have already completed, AP French (and other AP language courses) will likely see a boost in enrollment, and both teacher and student workload will become more manageable. However, because most AP classes will remain on an A-B schedule, students may be discouraged from taking APs. Why now is this change occurring? Why did the hybrid initially end? Mr. McDonald offered a hopeful conclusion: “We’ve run this hybrid schedule before, from 2007 to 2011. The reason we stopped doing it was because we couldn’t staff it and we didn’t have smart people to make it work, and now we have smart people that can make it work”.
Jordan’s future with the hybrid schedule is a positive one, for both teachers and students alike.