Campbell County school board members are strongly considering changing student schedules from the 90 minute block schedule back to the traditional 45 minute class schedule. This change will effect thousands of Campbell County students and teachers. The question is do we switch to the 45 minute 7 classes per day schedule or keep the type of schedule junior high and high schools have been following for many years, the “block” schedule that is in place today. With the new high school to be in place in 2017, this debate has begun on whether to change to “traditional” scheduling in that same year.
Deciding what is the best type of class scheduling has been a long debate among many middle or junior high, and high schools across the United States. Two main opinions are out there for school schedules, although there are many variations on these categories:
1. The more traditional method of class scheduling uses seven or eight periods each day that last approximately 45 minutes. In most cases, students attend the same classes every day for the entire school year.
2. The other option is block scheduling which typically includes four class periods per day, each lasting around 90 minutes. In this scenario, students alternate classes every other day in order to see eight different classes over a two-day period. For example, a student may have English, math, science and foreign language on Monday, then he or she may attend history, psychology, anatomy and choir on Tuesday. This pattern would then repeat Monday’s classes again on Wednesday, followed by Tuesday’s classes again on Thursday, and so on.
Although both systems of class scheduling have found traction in many different communities, the debate regarding which option is the most beneficial for students and school districts continues. Campbell County High School as well as the Jr. High Schools have been on Block Scheduling for many years.
Advantages of Traditional Scheduling
While switching to block scheduling seems to be the trend, there are still many advantages to the traditional method of class placement:
1. Direct teacher-student contact daily – One of the biggest advantages traditional scheduling has over block is the interaction between teachers and all of their students every day. From creating continuity to handling absences, this is a distinct advantage.
2. Routine for disabled students – For students with disabilities, especially those with attention and behavioral issues, having a routine with the same times in the same classes can be infinitely better. In addition, many of these students benefit from shorter classes that require their focus for less time.
3. Flow of the school day – Many students and teachers report that the traditional schedule seems to move more quickly and runs more smoothly. While 90 minutes in one class can seem to creep by at snail’s pace, a period of half that time requires constant engagement by everyone in the room and therefore can appear to pass faster.
4. Teaching life balance – While many proponents of block scheduling point out that the workload of a traditional schedule can seem like a lot, given that many students must prepare assignments for seven classes every day, traditional scheduling actually helps students learn to balance their classes and extracurricular lives with practice in a safe environment.
Either system of scheduling has its pros and cons. Whether or not it is necessary to break away from the block scheduling that is in place today, is only an opinion. Both schedules have worked for many schools and no matter which one our district chooses, students will have advantages and succeed.
Disadvantaged of Traditional Scheduling
1. Career and Technical Education, Fine and Performing arts classes and other electives suffer – When it comes to actually scheduling students into classes, certain elective classes and electives are the first to be left behind when they do not fit well into students’ days. This is especially true when students are required to take certain classes in sequence or when some classes have prerequisites. Therefore, students interested in areas that are not core subjects often lose their electives during a traditional schedule.
2. Students will learn less during their time in school – Campbell County is considering a 7 period day. That means the actual number of classes students take during their Jr. High and High School years will be less since currently they take 8 Classes. Students and parents will have to make the hard decision on which class is the least important. Often this will be an elective like Career and Technical Education classes, Business, Marketing, Welding, Auto as well as the Fine and Performing Arts.
3. Students could have 7 classes worth of home work every night – On the block schedule students often get some time to start any assigned homework in class while the teacher is there to guide students if they need help. On the 7 period day it is doubtful starting homework in class will be an option. Students will have homework for 7 classes every night instead of 4 and they will not have as much time during school to start or complete the assigned homework.
Advantages of Block Scheduling
In the past 20 years, many middle and high schools have made the switch to block scheduling because school districts believe the 90 minute classes allow for more in depth learning in many subject areas. These are a few of the areas that block-scheduling advocates believe make this method outshine the traditional schedule:
1. Fewer discipline issues – Schools on block scheduling report that because there are fewer class changes and “downtime,” with only four periods per day, there are also fewer discipline problems that would have occurred during these transitions. This translates into fewer detentions and suspensions.
2. Improved student-teacher relationships – Teachers on a block schedule have the ability to spend longer continuous periods of time with their students, allowing them to learn more about their students. Therefore the teachers know their students more personally in each class and how the students in those classes work and learn together.
3. Fewer student dropouts – Because teachers are able to speak on a more personal level with their students over an extended class period, students often feel like they are more important to their teachers and their school system. This has resulted in a decreased rate of high school dropouts for many schools who use the block schedule.
4. Time for focused instruction – With longer periods of time in each class, teachers and students have the opportunity to experiment with different modes of content presentation, including more student-centered learning and experimentation rather than lecture and note-taking. The block of time can also be divided into chunks of instruction to keep students more engaged, such as half of a class for grammar and half for literature study, rather than spending the entire class on one activity.
5. Opportunities for interdisciplinary studies – Cooperative teaching strategies and interdisciplinary studies could become more normalized on block scheduling because students spend so much time with each of their teachers.
6. Fewer quizzes, tests and homework assignments daily – On the traditional scheduling system, students visit seven or eight different classes each day, often with an assignment or assessment in each of those class periods. With students only attending four different classes each day, there are likely to be fewer homework assignments, quizzes and tests for which they need to prepare. This allows them to spend more time engaged in after-school extracurricular activities or in studying more in-depth concepts at home.
Disadvantages of Block Scheduling:
Even with all of these benefits, there are some disadvantages to block scheduling:
1. No reduced workload for teachers – Even though they only see each student every other day, teachers still see large number of students overall. This means that they have just as many classes and students for which to prepare each lesson, grade each assignment and learn personal information. For instance if a teacher sees 160 students a day, he or she may need to grade that many homework assignments or tests over one period of “planning time”.
2. Issues with student absences – When a student on a block schedule misses a day of school, he or she misses twice as much content from a 90-minute class rather than the traditional length. In addition, that student must seek out the teachers of the missed classes on his or her own time because he or she will be involved in different classes the following day.
3. Block scheduling can cost more money – Teachers need a planning period to plan all their lessons, grade all assignments and prepare for their classes. On the block schedule teachers get 90 minutes per day to accomplish those task for their 120-200+ students. On the traditional schedule teachers get one planning period as well but it is only 45 minutes per day to accomplish the same amount of work. Having more contact time with students for a higher percentage of the day can save school districts money depending on the funding model setup by the state.
If you are interested in voicing your concerns about the schedule changes you should contact the school board members. You can find all their email addresses and phone numbers on the CambellCountySchools.net website or just CLICK HERE
Vote On Which Schedule Is Best