Block Scheduling

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Nov 2001

I am curious about what people think of the block schedule. I have heard that it works well for art classes, but have hear little positive or negative otherwise. What do parents, students, teachers like and dislike about the schedule? Thanks. Sally

Kennedy High School in Fremont just started the block scheduling this year. I like it because it allows the students more intense time on one subject. The longer class time enables teachers to spend more time with students who need it instead of trying to do everything after school. Overall they are able to earn more credits in a year (80 versus 60) which is a big help to a student who needs to make up credits or wants to graduate early.

I have heard the teachers like it more as well because they have fewer classes to deal with which means more time to prepare for each class.

I have not heard anything negative about it at all. Marianne

My daughter attends El Cerrito High where they have block schedule. I am not enthusiastic about it nor is she. When I first had it described to me it didn't sound bad ... fewer subjects per semester making it easier to concentrate, less books to lug around in the backpack!, longer periods to really get into discussions and projects. However now that we are in our second year I would prefer to have the old system. Unless math, language and similar continuing classes are taken each semester the gap between courses is very long (try January to September). The first part of each new term is spent reviewing. Teachers used to complain about summer vacation memory loss,now it can be a semester and summer since the previous class. Then there is the question of absence. Missing 3 days (flu maybe?) is like missing 6 days of work because it is double periods and a years worth of work in half the time. At ECHS the kids do not get a break, so it's 90 minutes. For many this is too long in too crowded an environment. Even a 5 minute break would help. I would recommend not switching to this kind of schedule. Unfortunately at ECHS the principal has stated that he likes block scheduling and anyone who doesn't needs to go to a different school. Zoe

My daughter also attends El Cerrito High School (she is a 10th grader), and whle I share some of the concerns of the previous poster, we have so far been pleased with block scheduling. The longer periods (90 minutes) are great for science classes, allowing teachers to present labs, complete labs, and have the students write up the lab all in one day. My daughter has been able to take more classes than she would have with the regular schedule (as a 10th grader she is taking Algebra 2/Trig, Chemistry, Japanese, Oral English, WWII/Economics, Psychology, Debate, Symphonic Band, Leadership. If she were taking all these classes concurrently I think she would be feeling even more overwhelmed than she is now, to say nothing of the fact that there would simply not be enough hours in the school day. My biggest worry is foreign language--she took Japanese 1 last spring, and will not take Japanese 2 until this spring. That's 7 months with no review of the new alphabet or vocabulary. I don't know how much time will be spent in review, but I hope it's a lot! In addition to fitting an entire year's worth of classwork into one semester, a year's worth of homework also has to be fit into the shorter time frame, which means there is never a night without homework, including weekends and holidays. Teachers do seem to like the block schedule, and there's a lot to be said for happy teachers!

There was some talk at ECHS about modifying the block schedule to exempt certain classes which would be held for a shorter period of time every day for both semesters. I don't know if this is happening, but I can imagine it would be an alternative for certain math and foreign language classes. J.S.

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