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Lodi Unified School District to consider pros, cons of block scheduling

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Posted: Wednesday, August 8, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 6:11 am, Wed Aug 8, 2012.

Do teenagers learn better studying three or four subjects at a time in longer class periods? Or is it more effective to take more classes at once and see every teacher for a shorter class period?

These are the questions the Lodi Unified School District board of trustees has begun to wrestle with, but no decision was made as to whether a block schedule or a traditional schedule allows for more effective learning.

Lisa Kotowski, curriculum director, Dawn Vetica, assistant superintendent of secondary education, and Ed Eldridge, assessment coordinator, gave a presentation comparing the academic scores of students at McNair High School, which follows the block schedule, and the combined scores of students at Lodi, Tokay and Bear Creek High Schools, which follows traditional schedules.

Block scheduling signs students up for four 90-minute classes a day, which they take for one semester. In traditional schedules, students take six or seven shorter classes a day, but stay in the same course for the entire school year.

The team compared nine color-coded charts to explain to the board of trustees the results of learning in each style of class schedule.

It seems that students may do worse in a block schedule, at first glance.

Ninth-grade students taking Algebra 2 in the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years at McNair dropped in math skills. More than 60 percent of students who came into the course with a basic skill level had dropped to below basic level in one year.

Students who took the same course in a traditional schedule seemed to do better. All students who came into the course with a basic skill level either improved or maintained their scores in one year.

Two voices advised the board to include teachers in any discussion to alter schedule types at any high school.

“The schools that chose not to go into a block schedule had their reasons,” said Susan Heberle, a retired Tokay High School science teacher.

Jeff Johnston, president of the Lodi Teachers Association, agreed and asked the board to make room to hear from teachers along the way.

Trustees agreed they needed more time to dig into the information provided. The board asked Kotowski, Eldridge and Vetica to bring the information back to a future meeting with more analysis and possible conclusions.

Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at sarap@lodinews.com. For more information about local education issues, read our Education Café blog.

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3 comments:

  • Allen Davis posted at 3:57 pm on Sat, Aug 25, 2012.

    allenluchador Posts: 16

    Block scheduling isn't about a later starting time Mr. Ereth. But that issue has been considered as well. Edison experimented with it a few years ago. A later starting time ment that the same students that failed to come on time earlier were also tardy at the later time. A lot of parents that work would rather students were off early along with them rather than waiting around home on their own to go to school.
    Early start times vs later start times have never correlated with school performance.
    The issue is more in the minds of people that think, "Those poor adolescents, they have to go to school so early". Well get a hold of reality kids, the world is not built around your convenience. Go to bed early, and get up early. Parents are responsible to parent, not be their children's warm fuzzy friend. I see many young people getting excellent grades and they go to school early, and even take zero period classes at 6:30. Go figure that.

     
  • Allen Davis posted at 3:52 pm on Sat, Aug 25, 2012.

    allenluchador Posts: 16

    So, here we go again. Block scheduling is up for consideration. It was voted down before and someone seems to think it needs reconsideration. Administrators at districts throughout the country are always trying to be "innovative", trying to add another "new idea implemented" to their resume. Meanwhile students suffer.
    We saw LUSD implement "everyone goes to college" curriculum. There was "whole language reading". "Mainstreaming all Special Ed Students" is another.

    We all know what negative effects on learning those "innovations" have had. So now we are rehashing block scheduling. The results prove it doesn't work or is inconclusive. Yet, our administrators are willing to gamble our young people's education to further their resume padding.

    Anyone remotely familiar with the learning process know that small amounts of information over a long period is more effective than large amounts of information in short periods of time. This is what you get with block scheduling. Year long classes are reduced to semester length. Class periods are twice as long. You may only go to Math or English classes three days a week yet for same amount of minutes as in regular schedules. Take a closer look, the minutes are not the same. Attention spans wane. You take Algebra 1 in your first semester and don't revisit it for Algebra 2 until a year later. This is not a good scenario for many classes that build on each other.

    Put it to rest LUSD. Do something really innovative by reigning in the costs for an ESC building and personnel that is out of control. Let some of those secretaries, that wander around looking for something to do, go and find work elsewhere. Hire more teachers. Quit takeing the lowest bid and projects and take the bid that doesn't cost you more in the long run, ie: Millswood, and McNair. (The list is much longer)
    And why does our District still pay for a Cadillac Escalade for our Superintendent?

     
  • William Ereth posted at 4:39 pm on Wed, Aug 8, 2012.

    WEreth Posts: 1

    From what I understand, most, if not all, High Schools that have later starting times (like 8:00 or 9:00) do better because the students are better rested. Has the school district discussed this to help students with their grades and state testing?

     

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