Stephen Zadravec, Superintendent
1 Junkins Avenue, Suite 402., Portsmouth, NH 038017
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018
Media Contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Portsmouth High School Launches TASC Block to Increase Student Learning, Enrichment Opportunities
PORTSMOUTH — Students’ schedules at Portsmouth High School look a little different this year, as they now have a dedicated amount of time carved out in their day to extend learning and increase enrichment opportunities.
In September, in an effort to give students more opportunities to augment specific areas of their education, PHS school officials implemented a teachers in academic support centers (TASC) block. The 40-minute period occurs every day at 11:20 a.m. (right before lunch) and frees up students and faculty from their regularly scheduled classes and activities.
During TASC block, students can get together with teachers in specific subjects where they need additional learning time, study for tests or quizzes, schedule college and career meetings, try out new classes and participate in activities, like debate and yoga. School-wide or grade level assemblies can also be scheduled during that time.
“What’s great about the TASC block is that instead of pulling students out of class for meetings or having them stay after school for extra help, we now have a period in the day where all of this can be accomplished,” Principal Mary Lyons said. “Teachers who are offering enrichment opportunities do so as an extension of their curriculum, and although we’re still in the beginning phases of TASC block, we’ve seen them come up with some really creative activities and programs that directly align with classroom learning.”
PHS first heard of this new scheduling from ConVal Regional High School, which successfully launched the model a few years ago.
“Members of our scheduling committee got really enthusiastic about this the more we looked into it,” Principal Lyons said. “Since we were already planning on implementing a later start time in the district, we established a scheduling committee to look at our internal scheduling, which hadn’t been changed since the 1990s, to see if and how it could be improved.”
To make the change work, PHS moved the 90-minute class blocks to 81 minutes and slightly decreased the passing time between periods from 10 minutes to seven minutes.
Every Mentor Monday, groups of about 13-15 students meet with their faculty mentor to plan and schedule their week of TASC activities. The mentor and student identify specific courses and subject areas for supplemental work and enter the schedule into software dedicated to managing TASC enrollments and activities.
“I really like TASC block. I think it allows me to better manage my time and get a lot of work done,” said sophomore Anna Bergeron. “It is also extremely helpful to get extra help and catch up on work if you miss a day of school, instead of staying after school, which is often difficult with extracurricular activities.”
In a survey given to students and staff after the first quarter, 75 percent of students said TASC block gives them time to improve their learning and 80 percent noted that more of their work gets completed. Additionally, more than 60 percent of students reported feeling less stressed.
“TASC is very, very helpful for me and without it I think I would be getting less sleep, be more stressed and get worse grades,” said sophomore Anna Smith.