Block Scheduling in Prince William County Middle Schools

There is an item on the agenda for the June 2nd school board meeting about block scheduling in Prince William County Schools.  It’s an info item, which means district officials will brief the public and school board on their plans to implement block scheduling in our schools.

The district has already decided to implement block scheduling in all middle schools.  I highly doubt anything will change that decision.  But we can ask questions and demand that the district justify its decision.

Block scheduling is where students attend a different mix of classes each day.  Under the PWC plan, which is a modified form of the traditional block schedule, each class will be 90 minutes long and each instructional day will have four “blocks” of instructional time. One block will be Math, one will be English, one will rotate between Science and History, and the last will rotate between PE, Music / Art, Foreign Language, Technology, and other elective courses.  Because PE is required at the MS level, one of the rotating courses in the last block will always be PE while the other will be Art, Music, Technology, Foreign Language, or another elective course depending on the semester, student’s grade level, and interest.

Here are several questions I’d like answered:

  • Why are we moving from traditional to block scheduling?
  • Some of our schools already follow block scheduling.  What empirical evidence do we have from those schools that following a block schedule has improved student learning? By empirical I mean test scores, not anecdotes.
  • If a student is out sick one day and misses his / her Science block, he /she won’t have another Science class to make up missed work for several days.  What plans do we have to help students cover the material they missed?
  • This is a new program in many area schools.  Block scheduling has been tried in other districts with less than favorable results.  What are we doing differently which we believe will result in an increase in student learning and what plans do we have to monitor the program and adapt it if test scores do not improve or decline?
  • We’ve heard quite a bit from district teachers about this program.  Many of our teachers are concerned that the program will reduce student learning and retention, especially in foreign language classes which require exposure for fluency.  Other teachers are concerned with strategies for keeping student’s attention as teenagers have notoriously short attention spans.  What are you doing to address these concerns?

I don’t know if these questions will be answered.  I, and my colleagues, have asked them of school administration and have yet to receive a response from anyone.  Citizens are welcome to address the school board.  If you have any questions you’d like answered, you can address the school board on the 2nd and ask your questions.


6 Responses to “Block Scheduling in Prince William County Middle Schools”

  1. Ed Says:

    So they are increasing reading and math time in an attempt to cover up for their failings in those areas while putting science and social studies at significant risk; lovely.
    Can we expect the usual empty, feeble questions from the board?

  2. PWCS Stonewalls Answering Block Scheduling Questions « PWC Education Reform Blog Says:

    […] Comments Alan King on Virginia Says Common Core Stds…Ed on Block Scheduling in Prince Wil…Jackie on Block Scheduling Coming to…Jackie on PWCS Division Wide Satisfactio…shana […]

  3. Karen Says:

    It saves money to be on block. Not as many teachers are needed. Bottom line.

  4. Jean Says:

    Science and Social Studies teachers will have 190+ students. How are they supposed to teach each student?

    • pwceducationreform Says:

      190 + students! How many per class – over 30? And only meeting every other day!

      How will any of the math science specialty schools continue – or have we just dropped the science part?

  5. Bento101 Says:

    I am of the graduating class of 1997 from Osbourn Park HS. The last two years of high school we had block scheduling. All of my class grades went up a letter from having more time in class for each subject. I would take a good 15 min for each class to get settled and started working. When you do that 7 times a day, that is a lot of time lost. It also prepared me for college. We also got 8 classes in a year, 4 the first half and 4 the second. I was able to be the first person at OP to take AP Drawing my senior year , after taking AP Art my Junior year, all because of block scheduling.

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