Santa Cruz High School is the only school in the area using the Excel Block Schedule. Under this model, students take three ninety-minute classes each day for eighteen weeks in the fall, and three different classes for eighteen weeks in the spring. The ninety-minute classes,which meet daily over the eighteen weeks, are equivalent to year-long classes in the more traditional two-semester system. This system allows students to concentrate on three courses instead of six, providing more time for concentrated study in any given subject. Freshman and sophomore students have the option of selecting a fourth class each semester. Specific fourth class options are also available for juniors and seniors. This intensive block system was implemented at SCHS in 1995to provide more opportunities to students and to enhance student success. This program has proven to be highly effective throughout the nation, California and here at SCHS.
Use the following links to obtain more information about the Excel Schedule:
How does the Excel Schedule benefit students pursuing a competitive college?
The SCHS Excel Block Schedule allows students to focus on special areas of interest, taking course sequences that would be difficult to accommodate under a traditional schedule. Since the Excel schedule allows students to double up in a subject area during a single school year (e.g. Spanish 1 and Spanish 2 in the same year), students have the opportunity to take more classes in a specific discipline and to reach honors and AP levels within that discipline, enabling them to have the benefit of the extra honor grade point on their college applications.In addition, extra course sequences can be pursued in areas such as mathematics, supporting better preparation and performance on AP Tests.Refer to the Math Academy Page for information on how this program takes advantage of Excel’s scheduling benefits.
How does the Excel Schedule result in additional course offerings for students?
In a typical six period day or A/B schedule, each teacher is responsible for five courses during the year. In contrast, with the SCHS Excel schedule, teachers teach three courses each semester or six over the year. This enables Santa Cruz High to offer an additional class for each full time equivalent teacher. This results in 3 additional classes for every one hundred enrolled students. These additional classes have enabled us to offer additional sections of impacted classes as well as courses that we might not otherwise be able to offer. These additional classes include courses at all levels and in all disciplines. Examples of additional courses include: Video Production, AP Statistics, English Literacy Development, AP Chemistry, Honors US History, and English Composition.
How does the Excel Schedule benefit students with special needs?
Students with learning disorders and English learners have the opportunity to take tutorial support classes or English Language Development classes in addition to the full six classes required of all students. This enables students to focus on high school graduation and/or “A-G” requirements while getting support for their specific educational needs.
Is it a problem for students to have a gap between sequential courses?
While students have the opportunity to double up on classes in a particular year (e.g. Spanish 1 and Spanish 2 in the same year), this cannot be done in all areas. As a result, students will often have a time gap between courses. This may be anywhere from a summer to a full year gap. Research in this area has indicated that these gaps do not cause significant disadvantages beyond those that normally occur during a summer break. Educational research indicates that there is alogarithmic “forgetting curve”. The majority of forgotten information occurs within the first three weeks after something is learned. Beyond the first month, there is little change in what is remembered and what is forgotten. Analysis of actual student achievement at Santa Cruz High School seems to corroborate this. In sequential courses, student success, as measured by grades, does not significantly differ in students with a summer time gap to those with a full year gap.Never-the-less, SCHS tries to minimize this concern by:
Scheduling courses sequentially whenever possible: Counselors and administrators make every effort to have sequential courses scheduled in the spring and then fall of students’ schedules rather than have the longer break that occurs when they are scheduled for spring and spring (or fall followed by spring the following year).
Course review: Teachers of sequential courses include a review of the previous course material at the beginning of the term.
Tutoring and Homework Club: Students may seek additional help during homework club to review material.
Does the accelerated schedule present problems for some students?
The accelerated nature of the courses, particularly in areas such as mathematics, can be difficult for some students. To assist students, SCHS offers the following:
Additional Math Sequences: Two term courses such as Intro to HS Algebra/Algebra can be scheduled.
Math Tutoring: Free lunch and after school tutoring is often available. In addition, student tutors from SC High, Cabrillo and UCSC can be hired at moderate rates.
Homework Club: The Homework Club provides free after school tutoring in mathematics and other subjects. Homework club is generally available Monday through Thursday for one hour after school (3:30PM – 4:30PM) in the library.
Has there ever been a survey of the program?
A parent group sponsored a survey of the program in the 2005/2006 school year.