Illinois Loop
Your guide to education in Illinois
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The Illinois Loop website is no longer updated on a a regular basis. However, since many of the links and articles have content and perspectives that are just as valid today, we are keeping this website online for parents, teachers and others researching school issues and solutions.
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Block Scheduling

    Your child's school is changing to 80 or 90 minute periods? Welcome to the world of block scheduling, where your child will spend long periods of time on merry projects, movies, group discussions -- lots of stuff other than learning anything. Block scheduling is a destructive, faddish trend nationwide.

    Except for whole language reading, it is perhaps the most dangerous of the progressivist viruses in our schools: it forces teachers into long project and activity sessions even when best judgment suggests an instructivist approach is indicated for a given unit or topic.

    If your school is considering lengthening class periods to 80 minutes, with four classes per day, or thereabouts, read the links below to learn what will may to your child's education as a result.

    Of special interest, Elmhurst citizen and parent Marcia Tsicouris is managing a website devoted to block scheduling issues. It is focused on current battles in Elmhurst, but will be of interest to all Chicago suburban parents: A Parent's Voice


Quotes on Block Scheduling

    From our extensive page on education quotations, here are the entries on block scheduling:

    "Students in semestered courses in secondary science in British Columbia do not score as well on reliable and valid, standardized science instruments measuring academic performance derived from course objectives. ... The research described above included a very large number of students (over 28,000!!) and the results left absolutely no doubt based on probability of error (one has to go out to the 10th decimal place to find anything but 0's in the probabilities!!) While there may be many advantages to semestered timetables and course structures, ... the academic performance of students appears to suffer. Every other piece of research on this subject that I am aware of is based on testimonials, and not on actual student performance data. Based upon what I found during that study, and from examining the data of subsequent assessments, I cannot academically support a semestered timetable."
    -- David J. Bateson, Ed.D., Univ. of British Columbia, reporting on his study of 28,000 students in a "semestered" schedule in which a year's worth of material is covered in a single semester with double-length periods.

    "Texas Education Agency researchers say they can find no proof that longer class periods -- used in the block scheduling approach in Texas high schools -- have resulted in improved student learning. The findings are contained in a new 54-page study prepared by the TEA's research and evaluation division ... The authors also acknowledged the arguments of critics who complained that block scheduling actually reduces instructional time over the school year -- and that teacher and student concentration is weakened over a 90-minute period."
    -- results of a Texas Education Agency study of block scheduling in Texas high schools

    "What a waste!..I vote no! Block scheduling is great for administrators... not teachers and students."
    -- an English teacher at Apopka High School, Apopka, Florida

    "...why can't (we find) even one well-designed, peer-reviewed, longitudinal study showing that in the long run Block Scheduling actually helps academic performance?"
    -- Jon Brooker, speaking before the Brevard County school board, Viera, Florida

    "One of the most dependable findings from psychology holds up in classroom research: that 'spaced' practice over several lessons... is superior to equal amounts of time spent in 'massed' practice"
    -- H.J. Walberg, "Productive Use of Time"

    "My ... son was placed in a pilot program in 6th grade for block scheduling. Classes met for 90-minute periods 3 days per week... This program has since been discontinued didn't work. In nearly every class, again, the last 20-30 minutes were used for homework. ... The students have a difficult time concentrating on one subject for the full 90 minutes. Most parents I spoke to about this were also dissatisfied with the children's progress. Again, the lack of continuity seemed to be a major problem....especially in math classes, where continuity and daily practice are essential to successfully mastering the material."
    -- a parent in Orland Park, Illinois

    "I teach 7th grade English on an A/B block schedule this year, but our superintendent just announced a change back to 7-period days for next year.
    "I'm finding that it's difficult for my kids to stay on-task for 90 minutes at a time, even when I vary activities several times throughout the period. Many middle schoolers just don't have that attention span. I have some kids who do great for 45 minutes then degenerate into uselessness because they're tired of being in the same place. There's something to be said for getting up and moving to another room every hour or so.
    "I have not seen jumps in grades. This year, more than ever before, my kids are slacking big-time, missing tons of work and just not caring."
    -- a middle school English teacher

    "The school that I teach at participates in a Math Rally every spring. For the past seven years ALL the schools that use block scheduling finish at the bottom, by rather sizable margins, no less. Since the beginning of the competition, no block schedule school has ever won or taken second.
    -- a math teacher

    Also see our full page on education quotations.

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