Pros and Cons of Block Scheduling

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Block scheduling is a method of arranging school times so that instead of having multiple periods that are different throughout the day, blocks of classes are provided instead. The standard strategy is a 4×4 block schedule, which would give a teacher 3 different 90 minute classes during the day, plus a fourth 90 minute period that was free for administrative work. In an evaluation of the pros and cons of block scheduling, here are the key points to consider.

The Pros of Block Scheduling

1. It drops the average class size for a teacher when teaching a mandatory class.
In a 1994 study of block scheduling in schools, the Report on Block Scheduling in North Carolina determined that class sizes would reduce in mandatory classes by 5 students per class. Elective classes, however, typically saw an increase in class size.

2. It allows for more teacher flexibility.
With block scheduling in place, a teacher can provide more coverage to the students of a district because there is added time for travel. In an A/B type of 4×4 block scheduling, a teacher could potentially teach 3 classes in one school on Monday, then teach the same 3 classes in a second school on Tuesday.

3. Grading can be more thorough and individualized.
Because there are fewer students in the mandatory classes, teachers are able to provide more feedback during the grading process. This allows students the opportunity to grow more when compared against the traditional schedule format.

The Cons of Block Scheduling

1. It provides less overall class time.
Teachers have less time to cover their curriculum in a block scheduling format. Compared to the traditional schedule, block scheduling in a 4×4 format provides teachers with 30 less hours of instruction time to cover a subject.

2. It is difficult for students to make up for an absence.
One extended illness for a student can set them back quite a bit because so many materials are covered over the course of one class. Missing one week of classes in the 4×4 block format is like missing two weeks of classes in the traditional format.

3. It can create more students to teach instead of fewer.
Outside of the potential elective class increases, teachers who are in an A/B block scheduling format can often be teaching more students than in a traditional schedule with one class. This may make it difficult for teachers to accomplish their grading requirements.

The pros and cons of block scheduling show that it can be beneficial if it is carefully managed. A school district can use block scheduling to burn teachers out quickly, however, so great care is necessary. By managing these key points, it becomes possible to manage a schedule effectively.