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March 23. 2014 9:08PM

Nashua school district gives high school students the gift of time

NASHUA — School administrators and staff are redesigning daily scheduling at the city’s two high schools and building in a daily block of flexible time to help students meet new academic standards and expectations.

Tonight at 7, the Board of Education will hold a workshop at Nashua High School North’s lecture hall on the district’s new E-Block, 35 minutes of prime school-day time that students can use to receive extra help from teachers, make up credits, attend extra-curricular activities and club meetings, and participate in group, community and career-based projects.
 E-Block, which is slated to start next year, is part of a broad range of school reforms that are raising the stakes and standards for students to better prepare them for college and careers.

A draft of the new E-Block strategy that will be presented to the board moves up many of the traditional things students stay after school to accomplish to 10:09 to 10:44 a.m. Students who need extra help extra with course work or want some advice on college choices and application essays will able to be able to work with teachers and counselors without worrying about interfering with after-school commitments. They will also have time for more enrichment activities and to pursue individual projects and interests.

Students will be assigned to an E-Block overseen by a team of two teachers who will help them schedule how to use each day’s block of time. Teachers will be available to work with individual students who need support, or to staff academic centers that offer help in different subjects. They will also develop special workshops and projects that meet different student interests and needs.

According to a survey of 261 teachers at North and South, 88 percent believe E-Block will benefit students.
And several parents who were asked about the new scheduling liked the fact that it would give students a chance to take part in planning their own strategies for improving their grades and exploring their options for their next step after graduation.
Staff and teachers who will present the new E-Block plan will also offer the board examples of schools where similar programs are already in place.

At ConVal Regional High School in Peterborough, a similar program is credited with helping cut the failure rate by 25 percent and contributing to a decrease in disciplinary referrals by 38 percent.

Administrators and staff at Hollis/Brookline High School saw their failure rate drop by 30 percent. School officials at Hollis/Brookline also credit the new scheduling for a boost in student health and wellness, which was determined by a drop in visits to the school nurse’s office.


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