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    What Have We Learned About Block Scheduling


    Red Lodge High School?

    Summary and Overview

    "Almost" Guarantees from Block Scheduling

    * The number of discipline referrals to the office is reduced.

    * The number of class tardies are reduced.

    * The school day becomes less stressful for both students and teachers

    * Over time and with quality staff development, teachers change teaching behaviors; there tends to be less lecture and more active student engagement during classes.

    * Over the past 17 years RLHS has been working with various forms of the block schedule, 75-80 percent of teachers, students and parents state they prefer the block. In many schools with A/B and 4/4 schedules the percentage of support is greater than 90%.

    * Attendance for both teachers and students is likely to improve.

    * There will be an increase in the use of media center materials.

    * There will be an increase in the use of technology that is available in the school.

    The 4/4 Modified Block Schedule

    There is a growing set of data which suggests that in the 4/4 modified block schedule the odds are increased that the following will occur:

    * The number of students on the "A, B Honor Roll" will increase.

    * The overall GPA for the school will increase.

    * If coming out of a six or seven period schedule, students will complete more classes. For a selected group of students this seems to lead to completion of additional math classes and higher levels of other classes. Students also have opportunities for additional classes in vocational areas and in the performing arts.

    * Student failure rates will decline.

    * Graduation rates will increase.

    * The overall drop-out rate will decrease.

    * The odds appear to increase that ACT and SAT scores will improve overall; this may be because many students complete a larger number of courses before taking these tests.

    * Students tend to complete a larger number of advanced, college prep and AP classes; the increase in scores appears to depend on how these classes are scheduled in relation to testing dates and "who" takes the tests.

    * Schools gain greater flexibility in helping students who need to be accelerated and students who need extended learning time.

    In the 4/4 Modified Schedule, the Following Challenges Continue to Be Addressed

    * AP classes must be scheduled with consideration given to testing dates.

    * Band and other year-long classes, are scheduled within the modified 4a and 4b periods which are 45 minutes year-long. Within the modified 4/4 format; we adjusted the schedule so that band would not be scheduled in conflict with AP or other advanced courses.

    * Teachers must have time and support to work on curriculum and pacing guides. (i.e. the Professional Development/PIR-Early Release schedule)

    * Provisions must be made for transfer students and for students who have excessive absences.

    A Historical Perspective on Block Scheduling at RLHS

    * 1990 Block scheduling begins to emerge as a trend nationally, with schools in southern states first to embrace the concept.

    * In the early 90's former high school principal, Steve Bradshaw introduced the concept to the Red Lodge Board of Trustees, calling for a high school schedule which allowed "variable time blocks," "an opportunity for students to take additional classes," and an alternative schedule which would maximize the number of course opportunities for students while utilizing the least amount of teaching staff shared between Mountain View Elementary, Roosevelt Middle School and Red Lodge High School."

    * 1991 the district endorses block scheduling as a tool to enhance instruction.

    * 1996-1998 Red Lodge High School proposes and implements an alternating 8-block schedule, which begins in August. The alternating 8 period block schedule was found to be confusing for our community/parents and staff because we shared several staff members in three different buildings. The 8 period schedule also created frustration with students who encountered extracurricular time away from school, missing a larger block of instructional time.

    * 1999-2000 Red Lodge High School submits a proposal for a 4x4 block schedule which was supported by students, staff, and our board of trustees.

    * 2000 a proposal presented by the RLHS Scheduling Committee proposed a modified 4/4 Block which included revisions to 4th period including several 45 minute year-long courses consistent throughout the entire 4th period block, creating periods 4a and 4b. This adjustment provided the opportunity for several elective courses including the opportunity for our Band and Chorus program to engage in daily 45 minute instruction.

    Why Block Scheduling?

    Block schedule provides extended learning time which supports:

    * more in-depth study of concepts

    * effective use of technology to enhance and support learning

    * development of interdisciplinary courses that connect learning across disciplines

    * use of various forms of classroom assessments addressing multiple intelligences of students

    * a calmer teaching and learning environment

    * new instructional techniques based on research on best practice, including several lab-based opportunities

    * connection with community resources

    * positive relationships between students and teachers

    * increased collaboration among staff

    Block scheduling also provides additional opportunities for students, including:

    * additional classes

    * a variety of shorter enrichment and support opportunities

    * community-based learning and service experiences

    Block scheduling also serves as a catalyst for school renewal through:

    * additional planning time

    * increased opportunities for professional reflection about effective teaching

    * innovative approaches to staff development

    * innovative new courses

    * restructuring of existing courses to take advantage of longer time blocks

    * opportunity to share staff expertise and special interests through short term classes and seminars

    * ability to share staff with both Mountain View and Roosevelt Schools

    What Have We Learned from the Block Scheduling Experience at RLHS?

    * The majority of students and staff believe that block scheduling is beneficial.

    * A calmer teaching and learning atmosphere has been achieved.

    * Teachers report increasing use of varied instructional strategies based on best practice research.

    * Increased community involvement has been achieved through the use of and extended classroom time.

    * More students are successfully taking advanced courses, college prep courses and AP courses.

    * Students have access to broader curriculum offerings.

    * ACT/SAT, ITBS and State Criterion Reference scores remain stable.

    * Percentage of students with A's and B's has increased.

    * Teachers are growing more confident in adjusting curriculum, instructional and assessment strategies.

    * Students report higher satisfaction with school atmosphere and delivery of services.

    What are the Concerns?

    * Intra-curricular programs including FFA, VICA FCCLA and BPA share concerns that it is difficult to maintain year-long active membership and leadership in their support programs.

    * Freshman transition to the high school appears to be challenging.

    * Lower achieving students appear to need stronger guidance in their use of time.

    * In general, lower achieving students have not done better in a block schedule.

    * New staff members, students and parents needs continuous education on the appropriate use of data and the reasons for block scheduling.

    Would You Like Additional Information?

    *Please stop by our office or contact our RLHS Scheduling Committee members.

    Rex Ternan

    Janet Walsh