Students to get extra help in new ‘e-blocks’

JAFFREY — Conant High School will implement scheduling changes this fall that will include 31 minutes each school day for students to meet with a teacher for additional academic support.

E-block, or enrichment block, is new to the district, but not to the Monadnock region, Conant Principal John Barth said in a recent interview. The Conant initiative was inspired by a similar program in the ConVal School District called TASC, or Teams in Academic Service Centers, which provides intervention and support for struggling students in a 40-minute or so class period.

By implementing an e-block into every Conant students’ school day, Barth said the school plans to limit the number of study halls and to provide increased opportunities for the student body to get help from its teachers, Barth said.

Conant will still operate on a block schedule, with four 84-minute class periods scheduled each day, in addition to an e-block. The students’ regular four classes will be reduced by three minutes from the 2013-13 academic year to accommodate the introduction of an e-block, Barth said.

Students will choose to go to an English, math, history, art, language or other class during each e-block a week in advance with their advisors, according to Barth. New software will aid teachers in those class placements by providing students’ most current grades. Low grades indicate subject areas in which students could benefit from additional help during e-block, Barth said.

Unless a student is really struggling in a particular subject area, they will be limited to two e-block sessions in any one academic subject per week, Barth said. Teachers will also place a cap on the number of students they see in an e-block, which will resemble a typical class setting. For those students with strong grades, Barth said, they can serve as mentors and work with their peers during the e-block sessions.

“It’s a tried-and-true form of intervention for our students,” he said, adding that how students score on standardized tests may also influence their e-block placements.

At a School Board meeting at Rindge Memorial School on June 3, Mark Bernard of Fitzwilliam spoke about the scheduling software he developed to help teachers at ConVal and other schools with the enrichment program. Conant teachers will use the same software this fall to schedule students to e-blocks. According to Barth, the start up cost for the program is about $4,000. Bernard said students have the option of being notified by email of their e-block schedule for the week, after they have signed up for classes with their advisor. Students will not have access to the system themselves.

Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228 or adandrea@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @alyssadandrea.

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