Essentially, block scheduling in junior high and high school refers to the restructuring of each school day. Rather than attending eight classes each day, they only attend four longer classes every other day. In most cases, students have 1.5-hour classes (sometimes two-hour classes) during which they are supposed to be better able to immerse themselves in their subjects, learning more than with much shorter classes.
Those who support block scheduling in junior high and high school claim that this system gives the students:
More Time to Learn
When a student has longer class periods with block scheduling, he or she has a better opportunity to learn the material, as well as more time to ask questions and to clarify things that he or she doesn’t understand. This also gives students more time to digest less material, since they only see their teachers every other day. Classes can include more interactive approaches to learning because there is time to put on skits, organize projects and get hands-on experience.
More In-Depth Learning
Block scheduling in high school and junior high also gives students an opportunity for more in-depth learning. Rather than breezing through a chapter in fifty minutes, teachers can take their students through the entire scope of a lesson, giving better notes and accomplishing more. Tests can be more involved and might even include interactive quizzes.
Higher Morale and Better Grades
One of the largest benefits to block scheduling in junior high and high school is that students have an opportunity to shine. They aren’t pressured to understand a concept or theory in less than an hour; instead, they can take time to adjust the material and can seek clarification where needed. Further, proponents of block scheduling contend that students achieve better grades due to the decrease in pressure.
Unfortunately, most of the information related to statistics and case studies of block scheduling is anecdotal. There aren’t any true scientific facts to bely the actual benefits and drawbacks for block scheduling in junior high and high school, but there are a few recognized cons to this system:
A Question of Time
There is really nothing to prove that block scheduling increases the learning of students. While they may spend more time in their classes each day, the total time spent in one class over the course of a year is usually cut by at least 5%. Further, it can be difficult for teachers to maintain the attention of their class for a two-hour session because some students have difficulty focusing. More time doesn’t necessarily mean more learning, according to critics of block scheduling.
Lack of Continuity
Many students benefit from the repetition of day-to-day learning, especially when it comes to subjects like geography, foreign language and chemistry. When students have entire days between their classes, they are more inclined to forget the information they learned in the previous session. It has also been contended that teachers cover less ground when teaching in block scheduling, even if they do go into more detail about each subject.
A Question of Grades
In some cases, teachers have reported higher grades with students who participate in block scheduling programs, but there have also been instances of lower standardized test scores and other factors. The problem is that the benefits and drawbacks of block scheduling are difficult to quantify. Some studies have indicated that students have less retention with block scheduling, but are able to achieve higher grades because less ground is actually covered.
Block scheduling in junior high and high school has many pros and cons, but it really is a student-by-student basis. If your child enjoys block scheduling and benefits from it, then there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the system.