How Block Scheduling Effects Academic Success
Wayne Fitzgerald Jr.
In partial fulfillment of the requirements for CI610
In recent years many educators have voiced their concern about as losing our edge in the global marketplace as well as an apparent decline in American students' achievements. This has become a recurring belief for many teachers, parents, and school districts throughout the United States. As a result, many states have begun to increase the amount of units necessary to fulfill graduation requirements in hope to enhance education and make American students more globally competitive.
As many districts have found, it is not feasible to add more subjects to the already demanding 6-or 7-period days. The problem in doing so is that there was little time for electives. At the same time they began to find that adding classes only took away time from other parts of the curriculum already established. While some districts fumbled with the idea of adding classes and minimizing losses in other areas, a large number of schools, more specifically 25-40 percent of U.S. high schools adopted block scheduling (American Federation of Teachers, 1999). It is apparent the block scheduling craze is thought to be a fix all solution to the problem, at least for those districts and individuals looking for anything to help increase the status quo.
In a nutshell, block scheduling is the practice of breaking up school time into blocks or units of classroom time. More recently we have seen this practice redefined to stand for a restructuring movement for longer classroom periods. Typically average class periods ranged from 45-50 minutes long. Block scheduling has taken this traditional style of time management and have increases class periods anywhere from two to four times longer. As one might be amazed at the novelty of more time in the classroom, it is vital to understand that number of class periods are correspondingly decreased, thus the overall length of time is virtually the same. The majority of information gathered and the studies reviewed tend to overwhelmingly represent the results derived from the two we are describing. Hence from this point forward the term "block scheduling", as used in this paper shall consider the first two categories one and the same. It has been taken into consideration and concurred that there are many variations of block scheduling, however all research, testimonials, cases, and opinions taken into consideration are of the specific type of block scheduling mentioned above. It has also been taken into consideration that there may be many uncontrollable variables that directly and indirectly skew the results of some of the studies. We have no control over parental involvement, student motivation, and faculty participation, socioeconomic factors or specific demographics that may contrast from one study to another. We do feel however, that all the controlled variables held constant, we can get a great feel about block scheduling and its effects on academic success at the high school level from both proponents and the opposition. There are basically four different four categories of block scheduling: (4x4), (4x4 A, B), Copernican Plan, and the San Francisco Urban Plan. For the purpose of the research study we will focus on the first two categories. In the 4x4 plan, all the traditional year long classes are converted into half-year long courses of 90-minute classes. A student takes two classes in the morning, usually followed by a break and then two classes in the afternoon for a total of four classes a day. The teachers cover three classes a day with a 90-minute prep period or a 45-minute prep period and a duty. This carries on half way through the year at which time students and teachers receive a new schedule....