Update on the MHS Move to an Eight Period Block Schedule

Update on the MHS Move to an Eight Period Block Schedule

In order to provide students the opportunity to take a wider variety of courses, and support them in meeting increased credit requirements for graduation, Monroe High School will be shifting to an alternating 8-period block schedule beginning in the 2019-20 school year. Monroe High School staff, district leadership, the Board of Directors and the Monroe Education Association are all in agreement that an alternating 8-period block schedule will greatly benefit Monroe High School students.

Why the change?

Beginning with the class of 2019, the minimum number of credits students in Washington State are required to earn in order to graduate has increased from 20 to 24 credits. Monroe School District staff have been preparing for these increased graduation requirements since 2014 when the Washington State Legislature passed Senate Bill 6552, directing the State Board of Education to implement the 24-credit graduation requirement for the class of 2019 and beyond.

This increase in credit requirements presents a challenge for many students in Washington State, especially in high schools like Monroe High School, that have a traditional 6-period day schedule. Six periods in a day in four years of high school results in students earning exactly 24 credits if they are successful in every single class. The new 24 credit requirement means that there are more required courses that students must fit into their already tight schedules with no room for growth opportunities and very little flexibility to take a variety of elective courses.

Students at MHS currently take six, 50-minute courses per semester. The new schedule will mean that Monroe High School students will take 8 courses per semester, alternating between four, 80-minute classes every other day.

Not only will this schedule shift allow students to take more courses throughout high school but it will allow for more in-depth learning. The 80-minute periods will provide teachers with more time to take lessons further and engage students in deeper thinking and project-based learning. In addition, staff will be able to provide more support courses for those students who demonstrate a need for higher levels of support in meeting the new increased credit requirements.

What does this mean for students?

The alternating 8-period block schedule allows greater flexibility and more course opportunities for students to develop and pursue passions or areas of interest, such as additional world language, art, music or career and technical education courses students otherwise wouldn't have had room for within a 6-period day schedule. Additionally, MHS will be offering several academic support classes, such as Advanced Placement (AP) Writing Support, and advanced math & science support. They will also be offering a variety of new courses beginning next year, including American Sign Language, Genes & Ancestry, Emerging & Infectious Diseases, Bearcats Teach, History Through Sports, Wildlife Biology, Film Literature, and many more.

While the Washington State Board of Education sets the minimum credit requirements for graduation, each school district may establish additional requirements and expectations. Once a student begins high school, the total number of credits required for him/her to graduate cannot change (WAC 180-51-035), but districts have authority to determine the required number of credits in each subject area that makes up the total number of credits (see chart below). (WAC 180-51-025)

With the 8-period block schedule, students will have the opportunity to earn more than the required 24 credits in four years of high school, but the minimum credit requirement will remain at 24 for those classes that have already begun high school (classes of 2020, 2021, and 2022). Then beginning with next year's Monroe High School freshman class (class of 2023), the Monroe School District Board of Directors will set a new policy defining graduation requirements moving forward.

Monroe High School Course Requirements

Course Areas

2019

2020

2021

2022

English

4

4

4

4

Social Studies

3

3.5

3.5

4

Math

3

3

3

3

Science

3

3

3

3

Career and Technical Education

1

1

1.5

2

Physical Education

1.5

1.5

1.5

2

Health

0.5

0.5

0.5

0.5

Fine Arts**

2

2

2

2

World Language**

2

2

2

2

Electives

4

3.5

3

1.5

Total Required Credits*

24

24

24

24


*Students in the classes of 2020, 2021, and 2022 each started at MHS with a graduation requirement of 24 credits and will therefore be allowed to graduate at 24 credits. We recommend students look at their High School and Beyond Plans to determine what additional electives they should be taking to best prepare them for life after high school.

**Depending on a student's High School and Beyond Plan (HSBP), they can take less Art or World Language with replacement credits that match their HSBP.