By: Ashley Williams
Block scheduling for high schools is a relatively novel idea that has garnered attention as a way to make the school day less stressful for high school students and allow them to delve deeper into course topics.
Students on a traditional school schedule attend six or seven class periods per day in the same courses for the whole school year. On a block schedule, the class periods last much longer, but the courses themselves last only a semester instead of the entire year. This setup more effectively prepares students for college, gives them more credit opportunities, and allows teachers to implement newer instructional techniques that are required by many school systems.
According to a study by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, the block schedule gives students 32 opportunities to earn credits during their four years of high school, whereas the yearlong schedule usually only offers 24. Therefore the block schedule cuts down on the students who have to spend extra time after school or during the summer earning a credit for a class they may have failed because there is a window during the regular schedule of their four years in which they can retake the class.
The longer class periods on the block schedule also help students who dual enroll for college credit at colleges in their hometowns. Since colleges operate on a semester-long schedule, the block style makes classes more cohesive for the growing number of dual-enrolled students. The extended class periods also allow students to travel back and forth between their high school and their college campus without having to cut multiple class periods from their high school schedule. In addition, starting high school students on a semester plan earlier in their education helps prepare all of them for their college courses, regardless of when they decide to start taking them.
Critics of the block schedule often point out that it causes the material from AP courses to be crammed into one semester, causing more stress for students. However, spending usually 90 minutes per day in an AP class allows students and teachers to take a deeper look into the material. Teachers can spend more with hands-on projects and group collaborations between students, the likes of which are becoming more common in today’s schools systems.
Statesboro High School recently transitioned away from the block schedule to the yearlong model, which was upsetting to many of the students. Taylor Bailey, a rising senior at Statesboro High, favors the block schedule because it offers fresh content each semester.
“I feel that block scheduling was better for me personally because I get uninterested and unwilling to learn when I’m stuck on one thing for too long,” Bailey said. “Having a brand new schedule each semester kept me interested and involved in my classes. Alongside this, it’s much less stressful to have only four sets of information to focus on per day instead of seven.”