We Should Go Back to the 7-Period School Day

Okay. I am just going to throw this out there.

I want the seven-period school day back.

7

It’s better for schools.

It’s better for teachers.

But most of all, it is better for students.

Many school systems have been on a block schedule for many, many years and there are many teachers who probably love the block schedule, but if we as a country are so enamored with test scores, it does not make sense to have more kids taking more classes and therefore more tests and expect them to score more points on those tests without giving them more time.

Block classes force more students to devote less time to each class. With twenty –four hours still the span of a day, keeping up with seven classes per year as opposed to eight classes per year seems logical. That would mean more time per class to study the curriculum and to master the concepts. Furthermore, in the seven-period day, those students would take the class the entire year. That’s more opportunities for tutoring and remediation.

It allows for more continuity of classes. Core classes such as math or science may be predicated on previous material in previous classes. What if a student takes a math class in the fall of one school year, and then takes the next math in the spring of the following year? That’s a very large gap.

It makes scheduling easier. Some may effectively assert the argument that some classes could be on the A/B block which means that they would meet every other day throughout the year for a block of time. That presents more continuity, right? Not always. It is impossible to make all classes do that making scheduling a nightmare even more than it would be for just select classes using the A/B block. If all classes are offered at the same length of time for the entire year, scheduling for large schools becomes more streamlined.

If the block schedule (especially the A/B day block) is to prepare students for college, then it has missed its mark. College students tend to only take a full load of 4 classes per semester. We have students taking eight classes in an A/B block schedule at our schools, many of which are AP classes. Add some extra-curriculars and a job and lack of freedom that college students have and you have a schedule that actually seems harder to manage than a college student has.

It’s hard to keep attention spans for really long periods of time. If this post is too long, then you will not give the whole essay your attention. Sit in a meeting for more than an hour. Sit in church for more than an hour. Sit in traffic for more than an hour.

As a teacher, I want to see my students every day for the entire school year. That’s more face time and personal instruction. Instead of under 90 meetings in a school year, I would have almost 180 meetings. If my classes met every day over a year, my ability to track student progress and student achievement would be much more precise and have more historical data to measure against.

Students would have an easier time coming back from extended absences and breaks. On the A/B block that my school is on for over four weeks of time (winter holidays and exam schedule combined), a teacher may see his or her students for maybe the equivalent of 3 class periods. For true block classes that usually have those state exams used to rate schools, that means teachers see their students for maybe five class periods during that same frame. Not good.

Students would have a better shot at passing their courses the first time around. Students need 22 credits to graduate high school in NC. With the A/B day block or straight block schedule, these students have 32 possible credits they could earn. That’s a lot of wiggle room.

In essence, students in NC could fail 10 classes and still graduate in four years. A seven-period day gives students 28 credit chances, but with more time to devote to each class and more opportunities for face time with teachers and personalized instruction, plus extra calendar days for that class. It seems that it presents a better opportunity to do well in the class their first time.

Plus, students can still fail 6 classes and graduate in four years and that does not even consider credit recovery and summer school opportunities.

ACT scores and GPA now determine a student’s need for remediation (2.75 GPA and 18/22 on reading and math). With the new standards of ACT scores and GPA’s defining college prep diploma attainment, does it not make sense for students to have more time to devote to classes that comprise GPA and more extended exposure to the very subjects that the ACT tests for.

Graduation rates probably would not fall. If graduation rates are so key, then going to the 10-point scale took care of that. With a “50” being the lowest grade possible for a student to receive for a quarter score (at least in my school system) and a ten-point scale in place it means that 41 of the possible 51 quarter “averages” one could possibly obtain (60, 61, 62, … to a 100) are passing grades. Only 10 (50, 51 … to 59) are failing.

Those are just benefits for the students.

To talk of the benefits to teachers would take another entire post but it surely would talk about less teacher burnout, more opportunities to show leadership, offer more chances for collaboration, and give teachers more flexibility with duties and paperwork.

Again, that’s just a few.

2 thoughts on “We Should Go Back to the 7-Period School Day

  1. The problem is the block schedule allows more opportunities for career focused skill set development. Students that take four CTE courses graduate at a 98.9%. In a speach Governor Cooper gave yesterday in Clayton NC to the attendees of the Main Street Conference, he stated that by 2025 85% of the jobs will require some post secondary education such as a industry certification but not a 4 year degree. Maybe we can focus on a hybrid schedule where we allow the core classes on a year long schedule while allowing parts of the day as a block schedule for CTE courses. Just a thought.

    Like

  2. The true reason for block is financial. A teacher on a 7 period day has to teach 5 classes per year. On a block schedule there are 4 periods per semester, in turn each teacher must teach 3 periods per semester which equates to 6 total classes per school year! It’s not about what is best for the kids, it’s about money in the end. It’s just like the calendar laws that got changed about 15 years ago, it’s terrible for high school kids. They don’t finish a semester before Christmas break, they have to come back and take them after having 2 weeks off. Why? That’s financial as well. It was because the tourism industry needs cheaper high school labor because many states don’t start until after labor day and they vacation in NC. Not good for kids but hey, they won’t admit to any of it.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s