Last Updated 11 May 2021

Block Scheduling

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As administrators and educators have researched ways to use time more productively, major changes have been occurring in high school schedules. Within the context of education reform, one of the attributes of the traditional educational system that has been a focus for systemic change has been the use of time (Trenta & Newman, 2002).

In Nichols’ (2005) research, it’s noted that one of the most important concerns expressed in A Nation at Risk report was related to how effectively classroom instruction time was being utilized in America’s schools. Evans, Tokarczyk, Rice & McCray (2002) indicated that this report offered many recommendations for school reform initiatives, including restructuring for more effective use of school time and increased concentration on core academic subjects.

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According to Lawrence and McPherson (2000), administrators and teachers in America have been criticized regarding the poor use of school time since the 1980’s (p. 178). Maltese, Dexter, Tai, and Sadler (2007) found that approximately 66. 7% of high school graduates from the class of 2004 enrolled in colleges or universities, the importance of high school as a means to prepare students for a successful college experience is essential (p. 1).

According to Zepeda and Mayers (2006), “as the accountability bar rises, schools continue to explore avenues for increasing student achievement, and school leaders have examined new teaching methods, emerging technologies, and alternate scheduling patterns to improve the teaching and learning processes” (p. 137). Nichols (2005) states that in response to A Nation at Risk report, many concerned educators and community leaders at all levels argued that schools should increase the length of the school day and the school year and simultaneously restructure the traditional daily schedule.

Trenta & Newman (2002) wrote that while some efforts have focused on seeking ways to add time to the academic year and the academic day, other efforts have focused on maximizing the time already in the calendar (p. 54). As schools seek to determine the most effective teaching strategies to increase student achievement, Zepeda and Mayers (2001) says one especially attractive option has been block scheduling. This scheduling is in effect in approximately 30 percent of the nation’s secondary schools. What is block-scheduling? “Block-scheduling is a method of scheduling the six-hour school day into “blocks” of class time.

Sometimes referred to as Extended-Period Schedules, block scheduling is supported by advocates because it keeps students in class for longer periods of time, reduces the amount students spend transitioning between classes, and gives students and teachers more opportunities to get to know each other (www. education. com). ” Rettig (2005) indicated that the most common type of class schedule used in America’s secondary schools is the traditional schedule, whereby classes usually meet daily and students attend six, seven, or eight classes per day (Two Leading…, para. 1).

According to Queen (2000), there are necessary steps and they remain imperative for schools examining the possibility of moving to a block scheduling . Gruber and Onwuegbuzie (2001) reported that an increase in block scheduling in the past decade has been attributed to factors such as the input from the business community calling for “fundamental change” in education . Although block-scheduling has been discussed for a few decades, it has become a subject of considerable debate. There is a plethora of factors to impact student’s achievement but this research will focus on classroom scheduling.

The purpose of this study is to provide an assessment of the relationship with school scheduling and student’s achievement. For the purposes of this paper, I define student achievement as any positive result(s) occurring to the student because of the schooling process. Chapter 2 Literature Review According to Kienholz, Segal and Yellin (2003) changes in approaches to teaching and learning are common in schools as we strive to improve the education that we are providing our students, as well as help them to achieve higher levels of success.

In the past decade or so, block scheduling has become one of the most popular scheduling alternatives to the traditional schedule previously held by many districts. Block scheduling is not new on the block. It can be traced back to the early 1960s when J. Lloyd Trump of the Oregon department of Education urged that the school schedule be reexamined to consider longer class periods as a way of improving instruction (Kienholz et al. , 2003, p. 62). When following the block schedule, Rikard & Bannville (2005) stated that schools devote larger periods of time, often 90 minutes instead of 50 to 55 minutes, to each class period.

Block scheduling has been configured in different formats, including the 4 x 4 and AB formats. Under the AB format, students attend classes for approximately 95 minutes on alternate days, while on the 4 x 4 format students attend the same four blocked classes each day for 90 consecutive days once per year (p. 26). As a result, students have fewer classes per day or term, and teachers and students should be able to focus more deeply on the material.

While still relatively new in the world of education, block scheduling has been the cause for much debate over whether it increases student achievement or not. While the aim is to provide teachers and students with larger, uninterrupted periods of time with which to delve deeper into class content and practice. The block has the potential to increase student learning but only with effective usage of time. This will help answer the questions about the impact lock scheduling has on success (Rikard & Banville, 2005, p. 33). The main findings of the esearch for this paper present information on both sides of this argument, and discuss the block schedule with relation to students, parents and teachers perceptions, advantages and disadvantages and finally, student achievement (Rikard & Banville, 2005). Students, Parents and Teachers Perceptions As Rikard and Banville (2005) findings were “consistent with previous research findings, teacher perceptions indicated their reduced stress levels, a decline in student absenteeism and tardiness, and reduced student behavior problems after changing to block scheduling from a traditional format.

Sixty six percent of teacher perceived that students learned more in blocked versus traditional classes but they had no documented evidence of that conclusion ”. Jones (2000) research from a high school in Southern Georgia had a one-week trial period in which students and teachers participated in block schedule. In the week subsequent to the trial period, a survey was issued to students by administration to determine the social validity of the program. Students were not required to participate in the survey.

If a student chose to do so, however, they would remain anonymous. At the time the survey was administered, 1,205 students (586 males and 609 females) elected to participate in the survey. This accounted for 57% of students that were enrolled in the high school at the time of the study. Jones’ study included various questions on the survey, with the last addressing whether or not block scheduling was an acceptable alternative to traditional scheduling. The scale by which students answered ranged from 1-5 with 1 being most agreeable and 5 strongly disagreeing.

The mean score was 2. 85, which leaned more toward students in agreement of the change. However, it was close enough to the median that it could not be considered a significant enough difference to determine the social validity of the trial period (Jones, 2000). Veal and Flinders (2001) executed a study that was conducted in a high school with three contiguous schedule types. Teachers, parents and students perceptions were ascertained to determine the impact of scheduling change on teachers and their classroom practices.

The usage of Likert scale surveys, interviews, classrooms observations, and text data were used to compile a picture of how and why teachers adjusted to the change in schedule (p. 21). Chi-square and ANOVA analyses comparing block, hybrid, and traditional teachers found significant differences in four areas:

  • changes in teaching methods,
  • opportunities for reflection,
  • relationship with students,
  • levels of anxiety.

According to responses from all surveys, interviews, and observational data, instructional methods for most of the teachers with block classes changed (Veal & Flinders, p. 6). A study by Adams and Salvaterra (1998) included 67 teachers in four block scheduled high schools in Pennsylvania to see how the teachers perceived the block schedule, and whether or not they changed their instructional practices to accommodate that schedule. Some teachers felt unprepared for the schedule change, and were worried about being able to cover all of the content that they were accustomed to covering. For some, they still felt that “the textbook drives the curriculum; a sense of urgency to cover the book persists” (Method section, para. 2).

The teachers that felt they had not received enough training for the block schedule showed some resistance to shifting from traditional schedule of content or continued to use activities that did not fit well under the new schedule (Results and Discussion section, para. 8). Adams and Salvaterra found that while some teachers felt that the block schedule was a great fit and looked for ways to use it to its fullest, one main finding was that “Teachers in all four schools identified a need for staff development, particularly in pedagogical techniques such as cooperative and integrated learning” (The Role of Staff Development, para. ). Zepeda and Mayers (2001) administered a study of 31 first-year teachers in the Midwest, all teaching on the 4 x 4 block schedule. Each of these teachers worked at a racially diverse school of 1,200 to 2,000 students and had graduated within three months of beginning to teach. Zepeda and Mayers conducted interviews with these teachers at the beginning, middle, and end of year to get their perceptions of the block schedule. Only the teachers were interviewed, so administrative and student feedback was not included.

These new teachers found that they were “having difficulties in adjusting their instruction to the extended block periods, various instructions throughout the period, and running out of materials and/or activities before the end of the period (Analysis of the Data section, para. 2). These teachers did not think that they possessed the repertoire of activities needed to successfully carry out a class on the block schedule, and they also expressed concern about student discipline and their inability to keep activities running smoothly (Adjusting Instruction section, para. 5). Later in this study, teachers also expressed feelings of being unprepared to assess students effectively on the block schedule (Zepeda & Mayers, 2001). Veldman (2002) looks at the information from Coopersville High School (CHS) as they transitioned from a traditional, 7-period a day schedule to a particular type of block schedule (A/B Block). On one day, students would attend 4 classes, while on the following day, 3 classes with study hall imbedded therein.

After four years of being on the A/B Block schedule, the school system found that there were several scheduling concerns that needed to be addressed. In response to the concerns, the school system researched and surveyed and created a new form of scheduling that combined the best aspects of both traditional and block schedules per Veldman (2002). The new schedule, known as the A/B/C Schedule allowed for more instructional time during the duration of the school year. As opposed to A/B Block Scheduling, which gives 90 days of classroom instruction, the A/B/C Schedule allows for 30 additional instructional days.

In preparation for the implementation of the new schedule, Coopersville High School (CHS) provided professional development to faculty that enriched instructional techniques and teaching strategies and focused on learning styles. CHS attributed much of the success of the program to an outpouring of communication among all stakeholders. Although test scores were not available at the time of the study, Veldman states that the new schedule was proving to be a success with teachers and students alike.

According to Jenkins, Queen and Algozzine (2002), it can be argued that because of the additional instructional time received on a block schedule, teachers have more of an opportunity to utilize an assortment of instructional strategies and techniques in the classroom. In order to determine if this was true, a study was conducted to inquire of teachers the types of instructional strategies used in their classrooms. Teachers from both block and traditional schedules were surveyed and responses were compared (p. 196).

Jenkins et al. findings also revealed that there were no real similarities in the opinions of teachers on both block and traditional schedules in regards to teaching strategies. According to the survey responses, teachers from both sides of the spectrum maintain the same types and varieties of teaching strategies, regardless of the schedule in which curriculum is being taught. Another study conducted by Payne (1996) involved a questionnaire for faculty and students whose school was on an “alternating day” block schedule.

This schedule allowed for students to attend a scheduled set of classes, on a block schedule, one day with a different set of classes on the following day. The results of the questionnaire showed that faculty felt that more instructional time allowed for more material to be presented in the classroom. They were not pressed to get a certain amount of material and/or standards presented in smaller increments in the day. Payne concluded that both faculty and students were satisfied with the schedule and felt that it was a success.

In a study of students with different academic profiles, Marchant and Paulson (2001) focused on the student perceptions of their alternating, A/B block schedule. Marchant and Paulson gave questionnaires to 2191 high school students in an upper class Midwest suburban high school. They wanted to know what the students perceptions of the block were in relation to areas such as behavior, student-teacher relationships, success, and their support for the block schedule. Students were broken up into clusters relating to whether they were high or low-achieving in school, and hether they were happy, displeased, or apathetic about their success. Marchant and Paulson finding suggest that those who were happy and already successful, responded more positively in all categories on the questionnaire, while nearly the opposite was true for the lower-achieving students, “In particular, students who were average or high achievers, were satisfied with their achievement, and believes school is important had the highest levels of school functioning and the highest support for block scheduling” (Discussion section, para. ), while, in contrast, “Students who were the lowest achievers had the lowest support for block scheduling, worst teacher relations, and worst perceptions of student behavior” (Discussion section, para. 1). According to Shortt and Thayer (1998/1999), a survey was conducted by the Virginia Department of Education, only 1 percent of the responding teachers and 5 percent of the responding administrators indicated that block scheduling had a negative impact on standardized test scores. Shortt and Thayer stated that the data they collected indicated that teachers, administrators, and students were positive toward block scheduling.

Rikard and Banville (2005) interviewed fifteen physical education teachers at their school sites from eight high schools located in a southeastern school district in the United States (pg. 26). Consistent with previous research findings, teacher perceptions indicated their reduced stress levels, a decline in student absenteeism and tardiness, and reduced student behavior problems after changing to block scheduling from a traditional format. Sixty six percent of teachers perceived that students learned more in blocked versus traditional classes but they had no documented evidence of that conclusion per Rikard and Banville (pg. 6). In Persin’s (2002) research, he researched student attitudes toward web-assisted instruction or usage of computer animations and graphics versus text-based or mental models. The students responded to questions with answer options ranging from (1) strongly agree to (4) strongly disagree. “The participant’s overall attitude toward internet-assisted instruction was 1. 93, which is slightly higher than an “agree” response since “strongly agree” is rated at 1. 00. Also, attitudes based on gender were computed with female students having a slightly more positive attitude toward internet-assisted nstruction than males, although the difference in gender group attitudes was not considered significant at alpha = . 05 (Persin, 2002, p. 65)”. Jenkins, Queen and Algozzine’s (2002) research, “To block or not to block: That’s not the Question, was to compare teachers’ opinions about their preparation for using various instructional practices as well as their use of those practices and the appropriateness of employing them as part of block and traditional teaching schedules.

Teachers working in block-scheduled high schools surveys were compared with those of their peers teaching in traditional schedule classes. Jenkins et al. study included 2,000 teachers (N = 2,167) North Carolina high school teachers participated in this research; 1,031 taught in block-schedule programs and the remainder taught on the traditional schedule for at least three years. Comparisons were made between their opinions on instructional practices, appropriateness of those methods, and their level of training in those methods (p. 98). Responses to the level of use of various instructional methods showed very similar answers, except that for peer coaching/peer tutoring, “teachers on the block schedule reported a higher use of this strategy than id their peers teaching with a traditional schedule” (p. 198). When answering questions about the appropriateness of instructional methods, again, answers were very similar. However, “teachers on the block schedule reported a higher appropriateness of” (p. 98) using projects than teachers on the traditional schedule. In terms of training for using different instructional practices, there were no significant differences in the answers (Jenkins, et al. 2002) A study involving student perception of the block schedule was conducted by Slate and Jones (2000). This study used 1205 southern Georgia high school students and asked them what they thought of the block schedule after a one week trial period.

Although this was a brief introduction to the schedule, this study provided data for those considering moving a school to the block schedule from students who had actually had a taste of the schedule, instead of simply having it explained to them. Participation was on a voluntary basis, and data could only be taken from those who chose to participate, making the sample less representative. One disadvantage noted by the students was that they had “difficulty paying attention through the longer class periods” (Overall Results section, para. 1).

The study had a positive outcome, as many more students reported advantages than reported disadvantages (Overall Results section, para. 2). However, some interesting information was that while “Students reported that the block schedule had important advantages, especially increase time for study, and relatively few disadvantages, they reported that block scheduling was only a slightly acceptable alternative to traditional scheduling. Some expressed a slight preference for traditional scheduling (Slate & Jones, 2000, Discussion section, para. 1).

Santos and Rettig addressed special education teachers’ perceptions of block scheduling which included the A/B block and the 4/4 semester plan. They interviewed 18 special education teachers operating as department chairs in Virginia high schools. Nine of these teachers were serving in alternate-day (A/B) schools and nine in 4/4 schools. These schools had operated on this scheduling between 1 and 3 years. (What about Special education…section, para 2). The block scheduling was chosen over the traditional schedules in which the department chairs had worked.

All nine 4/4 department heads expressed a preference and six of nine department chairs operating in the A/B plan preferred this variation of block scheduling over the single-period schedules (Santos & Rettig, 1999, Special Educators Speak Out section, para. 1) . Advantages and Disadvantages Despite its advantages, as Bryant & Bryant (2000) mentioned, block scheduling remains only another time-management tool unless classroom teaching/learning interactions also change. Block scheduling does provide more time with few students per classroom.

It requires different instructional approaches and allows teachers to use various strategies in a single period (p. 9) Weller & McLeskey (2000) writes that teachers agreed that within the context of a block schedule, team teaching aids greatly in including students with high incidence disabilities in general education classrooms, and assists in meeting the educational needs of all students (p. 213). Maltese, Dexter, Tai, and Sadler (2007) studied how traditional and block schedules prepared students for science in college classes.

Referencing the numerical data in the form of student scores, and collecting qualitative data and opinions through student surveys, their study concluded that there were points to be made for both schedules, but that neither was proven to be noticeably more successful than the other in terms of the students’ level of preparation. Advantages and disadvantages are discussed in research conducted by Kenney (2003), as she looks at the decisions of some schools to abandon the block schedule in favor of returning to the traditional schedule. She quotes R. B.

Cobb, a professor at Colorado State University, as saying that the block schedule is “a grassroots movement. It seems to build its momentum based on the logic of it and a judgment call by community and educational leaders hat it just looks like it ought to do better” (para. 7). This statement relates both to the reasons for schools keeping and leaving the block schedule in this article. Schools continuing with the block schedule made that judgment call and felt that the schedule fit their needs better, and they recognized advantages in the block schedule.

A student can complete 32 credits over the course of a four-year high school career. This allows four more than is possible with the seven-period day” (para. 9). These schools also felt that students were less stressed on the block schedule “”what the block does is create a climate in which the kids feel a lot less stress…not worrying about seven different classes, seven different sets of rules, and the possibility of several different tests a day” (para. 7). However, Kenney also discusses disadvantages to the block schedule, and reasons that schools and districts have moved away from this schedule.

While extra time can be very beneficial in class, some administrators feel that “many teachers used the additional minutes as busy time” (Quick Abandonment section, para. 3). Additionally, there can be staffing issues in smaller schools, “when you go to the block, you have to hire more teachers, that’s what it boils down to” (A Money Decision section, para. 3), and then there is the fact that at this point, there is no conclusive proof that the block schedule is the more successful of the two schedules, “I’ve never really seen any clear, quantitative evidence that proved block scheduling was superior to the traditional schedule.

There was a general feeling it was better but no one could prove it” (Kenney, 2003, A Money Decision, para. 5). Santos and Rettig (1999) says “The rapid spread of this innovation brings with it both benefits and concerns with regard to programming for students with disabilities. Despite the amount of information available on block scheduling, little research exists on the benefits and drawbacks for special education (What about special education and block scheduling section, para. 1)”. One particular study focused on this exact issue: Is any one schedule better for students with disabilities?

The study focused on a total of 620 students (160 students with disabilities and 460 students without disabilities) from schools on traditional schedules and schools on block schedules. The schools involved had to have been on a particular schedule for a minimum of 4 years. During the first year of the study, there were 8 traditional scheduled schools and 8 block scheduled schools (4 large schools, 2 medium-sized schools, and 2 small schools). At the end of the study, a total of 12 schools participated in the study. All schools involved were 9-12 grade high schools with similar attendance and graduation rates.

All traditional scheduled schools had the same amount of time in a school day and the same student/teacher ratio. The same applies for the schools on block scheduling (Santos & Rettig, 1999). Santos and Rettig surveyed 281 teachers regarding the satisfaction of the schedule on which they taught. State mandated assessment test scores in reading, language, math, science, and social studies, GPA’s, ACT test scores were reviewed from all schools to assist in determining a difference in achievement of students on block and traditional schedules.

After reviewing test scores and records, it was found that there was no difference between students with disabilities and students without disabilities between either block nor traditional schedules. According to the study, this may be due to the fact that teachers on both schedule types were highly satisfied with the schedule on which their school was established. It was also discovered that teaching strategies were very similar and there was very little, if any, difference between teaching strategies.

This information showed that what works for one student, may not work for another, and that it may be possible for the high achieving students to be successful in any environment. While this may not be a specific disadvantage for the block schedule, the fact that it does not always reach the low achieving student population is something to be considered when looking at the effectiveness of the schedule, or when there is the possibility of making the change to the block schedule (Santos & Rettig, 1999, Recommendations section, para. ) Student Achievement According to Queen (2000), the implementation of block scheduling was not initiated to affect student achievement directly. However, in many studies conducted nationally, the focus has been on how block scheduling influenced the academic achievement in students (p. 218). Shortt and Thayer (1998/1999) concluded that the test of any reform effort is a positive change in student achievement, in this age of accountability (p. 78).

Effects on academics have been investigated primarily by studying the following: grade point average, honor roll achievement, numbers of failures and dropout rates and student’s performance on standardized tests (p. 80). Gruber and Onwuegbuzie (2001) conducted a study of student scores on the Georgia High School Graduation Test (GHSGT) at a school that made the transition from traditional to block scheduling. Scores were taken from before the schedule change in 1996-1997. The scores were then compared to after the schedule change of 1999-2000.

While the comparison was hoped to be in favor of block schedule, the findings of the study was “no significant difference in GPA between the two groups”. Significantly higher scores were noted for students on the traditional schedule in all four core academic areas per Gruber and Onwuegbuzie. In 2005, Nichols conducted a study comparing the academic success of students in five high schools in a large urban area in English and Language arts. Over the course of this study, Nichols noted that the block schedule did not have a noticeable impact on the achievement of students in this content area.

The schools went into the block schedule transition with noticeable GPA differences between them, and in “the 1998-1999 school year (several years after all schools converted to block formats), an overall mean difference in GPAs among the five schools remained” (p. 301). Similarly, GPA in the individual schools themselves did not differ greatly from year to year, and after the schedule transition. “Student GPAs for River High School and South High School were initially lower than for other high schools in the district and after block conversions, the students generally maintained the lower achievement” (p. 02). Unfortunately, the same was true for higher scoring students, “Oak High School and North High School were initially two of the higher achieving high schools in the district, and their conversion to block scheduling appeared to have little or no impact on student achievement in English or language arts courses” (p. 303). The one noticeable area of change that Nichols does notice is that the number of students taking English and language arts increased substantially after these schools changed to block schedule (p. 207).

Lawrence and McPherson (2000) conducted a study comparing the traditional and block scheduling scores of students in two high schools in the same district on the North Carolina end of course tests in the core subjects. The two schools used were chosen because they were some of the first to adopt the block scheduling model. Data were taken on the traditional schedule from 1992 – 1994 and on the block schedule from 1994 – 1996. While evidence was expected to be found to support the success of the block schedule, this was not the case.

For each of the four core subject test, “the mean score for the traditional schedule was consistently higher than the mean scores for the block schedule” (hypothesis 4, para. 2), however, there was significant support for the block schedule when “using the students’ final classroom grades for comparison (results, para. 4). The outcome could be based on many factors, such as tests being more closely tied to curriculum, or the standardized tests covering more material than students are used to on classroom tests (Lawrence & McPherson, 2000).

While looking at standardized testing, the College Board Office of Research and Development did a study in 1998 that compared advanced placement test scores of students on both the block and the traditional schedule, and found that students on the traditional schedule scored better. Lawrence and McPherson noted that there were also differences in performance between students that study the coursework on the block schedule in the spring versus the fall semester, as they were more removed from the course at the time of the test, or had not yet completed the course when the test was administered.

Zepeda and Mayers (2006) data favored those students on the traditional schedule. These studies indicate that research shows that pros exists for both types of schedules and more data needs to be gathered and analyzed in order to find a conclusive answer. The purpose of this project was to collect data from two different school districts operating on the block schedule at the high school level to obtain personal perceptions and opinions of the block schedule from both students and staff. These perceptions and opinions focused on whether or not the block schedule is seen as a positive class structure.

Using a survey that was administered to both 10th grade students and staff at the participating schools, this data was collected and analyzed to make comparisons between student and staff perceptions, as well as noting any correlation between positive views and feelings of success on the block schedule. “The analysis of this study was completed in three phases: an extensive search of the research concerning block scheduling, construction of a matrix depicting the results of the search, and analysis of the studies included in the matrix. ”. The goal of this study was to collect and analyze both quantitative and qualitative data in the form of responses obtained through survey questionnaires. It was expected that the data would lean in favor of the block schedule, and would show trends or specific areas in which teachers and/or students feel that the block schedule is helping them to be successful, as well as reasons, methods, or activities that the survey participants feel are particularly beneficial or effective with regard to the block schedule (Zepeda & Mayers, 2006).

As Kenny (2003) mentioned in her article, Watauga High School located in North Carolina is using a schedule that combines the traditional and block schedule, and they have found similar advantages to the block classes. Watauga schedule includes both traditional and block length courses, and the number of classes that a student has each term depends upon how many blocks they choose to take. It is possible for them to take between four, all block, and eight, all traditional, classes at any given time.

This schedule has been implemented because the school decided that their “philosophical position was that neither all block nor all traditional schedules best serve all students, teachers, and subjects…we review student performance, teacher opinion, and available research annually to determine how to best offer the particular course under review” (p. 49). Through this schedule, the school is showing that their intent is the best interest of their students and teachers, and the learning process.

As they continue to work with the block schedule, they note that some of its advantages are “less homework each night because of a lighter course load” (p. 48), that it can help “at-risk students because they usually have two major academic blocks each semester, allowing them to focus more on academics because they have fewer courses” (p. 48), also that “block courses are taught in a more hands-on-way” (p. 48). In a detail evaluation of the Copernican plan, Carroll (1994) focused on the letter grades that students earned in their classes, and finds support for the block schedule looking at this end result for students in a course.

The 2007 research done by Hynes-Hunter and Avery, focused on the effects of block scheduling on physical education although this topic has been neglected. Four high schools and one middle school located in the Northeast, and one high school and one middle school located on the West Coast United States, were selected to participate in this study. When compared with exceptional physical education classes, students in this study spent more time in waiting and management, and less time receiving information and in daily activities (p. 174). Block scheduling creates enough time for students to develop physical skill and for teachers to measure and document skill development. Also, this scheduling allows students to spend adequate time on fitness development to actually experience improved physical fitness per researchers (p. 178). ” Hynes-Hunter and Avery (2007) referenced the research from Claxton and Bryant (1996) clarified that it is a possibility that the ideal place for physical education in the new block will rely on the reputation of the existing physical education program.

The authors felt that if physical education was regarded as a class which met no worthwhile objectives, the transition to block may be a convenient time to eliminate it. But if it was seen as a vital part of the school program, it has a good chance of assuming an equal role with other subjects (p. 175). Based on the research from Ron Persin (2002), “There was a dramatic increase in Physics Honors final exam scores when a high school physics teacher implemented a website for instruction in a block schedule.

The site was used to deliver weekly lecture notes, plans, and assignments while also providing links to other sources of information in physics. More time in class was available for demonstrations, group lab activities, and multimedia presentations. The research involved comparing the final exam scores in honors physics during three consecutive four-year periods from 1991-2002. Class means showed that the exam scores decreased when the school switched from the seven period-day to the 4 by 4 block, and then increased when the block schedule was enhanced with Web-Assisted Instruction (p. 1)”. In yet another study, two types of block schedules (4x4 and A/B) and traditional schedules were compared and examined. Ninth grade mathematics and reading standardized test scores were evaluated under each schedule, along with the ACT, which was administered during the students’ junior year of high school. Scheduling types, gender, and ethnicity were observed to determine what, if any, influence they had on test scores. Participants involved came from 7 junior high and high schools in Colorado Spring, Colorado.

After the data were reviewed, findings of this study suggests that the 4x4 block schedule maintained significant gains in the areas of mathematics and reading on the standardized test administered in the 9th grade. ACT scores also revealed that students on a 4x4 block schedule exceed those on the A/B block and traditional schedules. Gender and ethnicity had no influence on the outcome of test scores. Because of the findings, this study slightly backs the idea of block scheduling (Lewis, 2005).

When questions are asked or surveys are completed regarding the use of technology in the curriculum, the overwhelming majority of instructors would say that they are utilizing available technology. Based on the success of this author, it seems that Web-Assisted instruction can be used to enhance learning physics by students in the block schedule. The rudiments of using technology effectively to increase teaching methods must be masters and implemented by all (p. 68). “Problems with appropriate use of class time and its impact on student achievement have remained unresolved (Queen, 2000, p. 218). Ten of his fifteen recommendations for the future that he believes are important to maximize the positive impact of block scheduling are: “

  1. Teachers must develop and follow monthly, weekly, and daily pacing guides.
  2. Teachers must master a minimum of five instructional strategies to engage students directly in the learning process and should aim to master seven or eight.
  3. Teachers should pace each lesson by changing grouping patterns, varying presentations, and using different instructional activities every 10 to 15 minutes. In most cases a teacher should use a minimum of three instructional strategies during any class period.
  4. Teachers should incorporate alternative and authentic assessment practices when evaluating students.
  5. Teachers must use the entire class period for instruction. Every day.
  6. Teachers should strive to be creative and flexible in assigning activities and should incorporate outside assignments in to regular classroom activities.
  7. Teachers should monitor individual student’s participation in small and large groups.
  8. Successful block teachers should mentor, formally or informally, beginning teachers and veteran teachers having difficulty with instruction in block scheduling.
  9. Principals or staff development personnel must provide initial and continuing staff development for all teachers throughout the year on the topics of curriculum and instructional alignment, instructional pacing and strategies, and time management.
  10. Principals must develop a monitoring team to verify that all teachers are using pacing guides and various instructional strategies effectively (Queen, 2000, p. 221). ” In essence, the success is very dependent on the professional that implement the scheduling.

It is important that the principals, teachers, students, and parents give the same level of attentions and effort to block scheduling as other scheduling options (Queen 2000, p. 222). Veal and Flinders (2001) discloses that in the state of Massachusetts, it is mandatory for a student to pass (or score proficient) on language arts and mathematics portions of the MCAS during the spring semester of their sophomore year in order to graduate with a high school diploma. In 2001, one Massachusetts school, North Reading High School converted to block scheduling.

A study was conducted to determine if achievement, as it pertains to the MCAS, increased after the implementation of the new scheduling system (Veal & Flinders, 2001). Participants of this study consisted of 762 students who took the MCAS during their sophomore year in high school. The years in which data were collected are as follows: 1998-1999 mathematics and language arts scores (one year prior to the conversion to block scheduling); 1999-2000 and 2000-2001 mathematics and language arts scores (two years after block scheduling was implemented). Results showed that in 2001 study, students on the traditional schedule, 73. 3% of the 290 students tested passed the mathematics and language arts portions of the MCAS. In the years following the conversion to block scheduling, 472 students participated in the exam, with 89. 19% of students obtaining a passing score. The outcome provides evidence that there was a significant increase in passing grades for the MCAS at North Reading High School. Veal and Flinders believed that the investment of professional development for teachers prior to the instatement of block schedule may have contributed to the improvement of test scores.

Implementation of the block scheduling system can be a costly change for any school, this school found it to be an effective change (Veal & Flinders, 2001). The purpose of Trenta and Newman’s (2002) study was to determine the impact block schedules had on students’ grade point averages (GPA’s) in required English/language arts courses. Data were collected from five high schools several years prior to the block schedule conversion. Each school’s population varied in student socio-economic status and ethnicity.

The hypothesis established was that GPAs in required English/language arts classes would not be impacted or affected by transition to block scheduling. The researcher used student GPAs and an ANOVA analysis of variance as methods of analysis for obtained data. Resulting from the study, it was found that the majority of schools’ scores increased the first year after the conversion to block schedule, but eventually reverted back to the pre-block average in subsequent years. Only one school maintained a steady increase in GPAs after the change to block scheduling.

Upon the request of a mid-western school board, an evaluation was conducted on the district’s high school block scheduling program. The evaluators, Trent and Newman, were asked to conduct the evaluation based on “hard data”, not opinions. Therefore, Trenta and Newman evaluation of the school consisted of finding the relationship between block scheduling and:  Student grades (based on math, English, science, & social studies GPAs)  Ohio Proficiency Test (OPT) Scores  ACT Scores  Attendance Rate.

Trenta and Newman states that subjects of the study consisted of a total of 500 students from the graduating classes of 1997, 2000, 2001, and 2002 (125 from each class) who attended the school from their freshman year through graduation. Data were collected from each student’s transcript for this study. Results of the study showed that there was a positive relationship between students’ grades and block scheduling. The same held true for the OPT scores. Although these outcomes cannot be directly attributed to block scheduling, Trenta and Newman (2002) believe that the scheduling change influenced the data concerning grades and OPT scores.

ACT scores; however, showed no significant relationship to block scheduling. In the case of attendance, the data fluctuated so much so that the relationship to block scheduling, or lack thereof, was indefinite. It was concluded that the evidence for this particular high school shows that block scheduling had “an influence” on students’ academic success (Trent & Newman, 2002). Nichols (2005) believes that there is limited support that suggests that block-scheduled schools may have a direct positive effect on improving student achievement.

Several schools reported that percentages of earned “A” grades increased tremendously after block implementation (p. 300). In 1994, a high school located in the Western portion of the United States, converted from a traditional 7-period/day schedule to a 4x4 block schedule. The intent of this conversion was to offer more course options for the students and to create a less-stressed and slower paced atmosphere for both students and teachers. Five years after implementation of block scheduling, the director of schools sought for a method by which the program could be evaluated.

In 1998, Adam and Salvaterra, assessed, among other things, whether or not block scheduling was cost-effective for this particular district. Since the concept of education and knowledge cannot be fiscally measured, the researchers had to establish several methods of evaluation in determining the value of block scheduling: collection of qualitative and quantitative data; collection of information on the perception of block scheduling by teachers and parents (in the form of surveys); and visits to the school in which observations were made and interviews conducted (parents, teachers, administrators, focus groups).

Survey instruments were analyzed by the use of descriptive and chi statistics. After reviewing data, it was determined that after the implementation of block scheduling:

Attendance remained steady (90% attendance rate)

  •  Honor Roll increased
  •  Honor Roll remained the same
  •   F scores slightly decreased
  • College entrance exams did not have any significant changes

Overall academic achievement remained stable Although academic achievement varied little, results showed that in reference to the A and B honor roll, students performed better under block scheduling.

Other areas evaluated included the professional development/training for block scheduling for faculty. Surveys showed that although there was little training was provided to teachers, in-services compensated and aided teachers in preparing to each under the block schedule. In block scheduling, teachers are allotted a planning time which is almost double that of a traditional schedule. This time was not being monitored by administration. Results from surveys and interviews showed that faculty and administration could more effectively utilize this time.

However, results also showed that teachers use this time to work more closely with students in providing additional assistance and also in preparing for the lesson/unit that is being taught. Would there be much change, if any, in the results of student achievement? Would it be worth the financial and educational costs of implementing a new type of schedule? Teachers should also be trained on how to instruct under a new scheduling type. By doing so, teachers will be equipped with the necessary tools by which they can adequately educate students under a particular type of schedule (Jenkins, 2002).

As I looked into the research, reports and articles, it is clear that there are disadvantages and certainly advantages for the use of the block schedule. When one study reports lower test scores on the block schedule in an area, it is possible to find another study with contradictory findings. The majority of the studies reviewed showed that there was no significant difference in student achievement based upon the type of scheduling. Studies where students showed improvement in block scheduling, however, had several external factors that may have impacted student achievement (i. e. xtensive research among students, teachers, and parents prior to implementing a new type of schedule, teacher in-service training as pertains to block scheduling, etc). One underlying theme throughout the literature was that the majority of, if not all of the stakeholders, need to be on-board and coached prior to the implementation of a new or different schedule. I concur with Wronkovich, “the decision whether or not to adopt block scheduling should be based on the examination of current research. Schools should establish measurable goals and set a timetable for evaluating the outcomes of block scheduling (para. )”. “Block schedules can potentially ease the transition from the homelike atmosphere of the elementary school to the departmentalized environment of the high school by reducing the need for constant class changes and the number of classes students have on any given day, while providing increased content emphases and time on task. The blocked time schedule also gives even disorganized students a fighting chance to keep abreast of assignments and projects (Mowen & Mowen, 2004, p. 50). ” I have found that the research is still inconclusive as to which schedule better serves the educational needs of students.

Like with any topic, there are studies and research that favor arguments on both sides, indicating that more information is definitely needed. As Veldman (2002) emphasizes, when considering a change in scheduling, a school must take into account the opinions and concerns of all stakeholders and research its options.

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