Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A/B Block Schedule.

Allow me to tell a story. The story is about a school district who had grown accustomed to a particular scheduling method for their high schools. In an effort to improve academic standards, that district makes the tough decision to change to a new scheduling system. Many parents, students and staff are critical of the new system and say that it will lead to poor academic performance. In essence, we should stay with the old system. Some go as far as to say that we are ruining the educational experience for our high school students on an experiment. The story I am telling is of the decision Mansfield ISD made over ten years ago to switch to the then-revolutionary system called Accelerated Block.

Now, six weeks into this school year, we are hearing many of the same comments from that change many years ago. Ultimately, the change to A/B was made for the same reason the district decided to change to Accelerated Block at one time - to increase the academic aptitude of our students. All signs point to the fact that our high school students need assistance in preparing for college.

The student editors of the Mansfield Legacy High School newspaper, The Rider, commented on A/B Block in their first issue. They said, "The A/B schedule will be beneficial; all it takes is a little getting used to and simple organization." You can read the full article here - (careful, it's a big file.)

The switch to A/B block is just one piece of this puzzle. We have also signed on with the AVID program in our middle schools, and soon in our high schools, to teach students study skills and time management techniques. In addition, we offer tutoring to all students in core subjects to keep them up to speed in classes they find difficult.

If students find A/B block more academically challenging, this is not necessarily a bad result. We do not intend to overload any of our students, but we do intend to increase our academic standards and expectations in the district.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

As a parent, I still prefer the way it used to be. I believe the district made the change to try another approach for better TAKS scores in their high schools. For whatever true reason they made the change, teachers need to focus on whey they're there. From what my children tell me what goes on in the high school classroom, it doesn't sound like much learning is taking place. Administration should do some walk-throughs at our high schools.

Anonymous said...

The sad truth is that the state mandates the TAKS test. My child has some learning differences. I hope that by having English, Math, Science, and Social Studies every other day for the entire year, my child will have the continuity needed to be successful on the test. I agree with above comment however, I am not sure how much learning is taking place in the high schools.

Anonymous said...

As much as the kids liked accelerated block, when it comes to the fact of life that is standardized testing, it hurts. Teachers spend the first month of school reviewing math concepts because some students haven't had math in nine months. 9 Months!!! That is a really long time. Same with writing, science safety, and history facts. A/B block is simply better for our kids, especially when you consider that most students don't spend their summer months pursuing academics.

Anonymous said...

I think the A/B block is better, so you'll have much time to do your homework. But, then I think the other one is better because you'll be confused of what is due two days later and a lot of other things. But I wouldn't matter which one we have. They both work fine for me!

Anonymous said...

Why is there no information on the MISD web site about the recent passing rates? An article recently published in the Mansfield News seemed to show very poor scores overall for the district.

While I don't agree, one reason provided was the A/B schedule

Communications Department said...

It has not been a regular practice to post passing rates. A large amount of testing and demographic data are available here - http://www.mansfieldisd.org/aboutMISD/accountability.htm. Those reports are based on state and national accountability information, which includes testing results and other data.
In response to your second comment, it is really too early to determine the success of A/B block based on passing rates or any other factor.
Thank you for your comment.

Anonymous said...

As for me i say that if the kids of the schools are failing its becouse of them. They get to choose if they want to put off projects or homework. I know things are worse than before becouse of forgetfulness. But they have to plan their schedule and want good grades. Dont procrasninate on anything. This is much better than having to go to the same class every day. For a person like me i came from Arlington school district where acclerated block is weird. My grades have improved this year. I know as for right now things may not look as good for the high schoolers now who were used to acclerated block. But as for the next years it will be better.Its not like the school board can just go back and change it to acclerated block in the middle of the school year. Get use to it. Change is not easy.

Anonymous said...

Overall the new system is the best for our kids. They do need classes all year. It is better for testing and does help the memory. Students are only as good as they want to be. They must stay positive and not place blame. You can't blame the teaching. As long as the students do their job in the classroom, all of the other areas will fall in place. MISD is a great district.

Anonymous said...

I went to high school in MISD with the accelerated block system and am now teaching in the district. I liked accelerated block in high school, because I only had to be in the classes I couldn't stand for half of the school year. That being said, the classes I didn't like were also the subjects that were difficult for me. I believe that hurt me in college because ALL of the core subject areas are required, even if only on a basic level, at any university. I also remember my high school teachers having to re-teach so much material from previous grade levels because of the break in the curriculum. The A/B block schedule allows for responsibility to be learned as well. A student needs to be able to keep up with and remember to do an assignment over a two day period. In the real world this type of discipline will be required.

Anonymous said...

The a/b block schedule is overloading me as a student. This schedule is giving me a substancial amount of homework, and leaving hardly anytime for extra curricular activities. As a result of the scheuling my grades have suffered. I usually have a straight A progress report, but now my grades are mostly mid-B's.
Thanks alot for the schedule change,NOT!!!

Anonymous said...

I don't agree with the A/B block. I don't feel that the TAKS scores will be that much higher. I wish that the district would have given us the parents a say or vote in which direction to take. I would have also liked to see the proof that the A/B schedule works in regards to boosting test scores. I just know that my child is overwhelmed with all of the final exams she has to prepare for next week thanks to the A/B schedule. 8 classes instead of 4 WOW! How overwhelming for a 14 year old.

Anonymous said...

Even when the district does ask for parent input, like the school calendar, they don't use it. They already have their minds made up what their going to do, even when it comes to rezoning for new schools. It's kind of like the old saying - you can't fight city hall! Until the parents start going to the school board meetings and speaking out, things will stay the same.

Anonymous said...

Has it been decided that we will go back to the accelerated block schedule or is that just a rumor? My Freshman is having a difficult time of it even though he was used to the A/B schedule in Middle School. My Junior hates the A/B schedule and feels like he learned more thoroughly using the accelerated block.

Communications Department said...

Thank you for sharing your comments. That is just a rumor. It is too early in the process to consider A/B Block a success or a failure.

Anonymous said...

Tell me what the purpose of having Esembler is for your high school student when you go look at their grades and their not all posted. When you e-mail the teacher to ask he/she why, their answer is ALWAYS because they don't have time to enter the grades due to the A/B block schedule since they have twice the number of students. So, the grades aren't current, the teachers can't keep up with grading and the student's grades aren't getting better. I guess the real test will be when the TAKS scores come back and we'll see how this wonderful change has affected everyone - parents included! Once again, thanks MISD for asking for parent input!

Anonymous said...

I believe a/b block is pointless ..i remember last year with the accelerated block things were easier because i just had to focus on 4 classes and masterin only those 4..and the due dates for my assingments were the next day so it taught responsibily and how i had no room to procrastiniate..but wit a/b block i say ill do it the next day but when that day comes i either forget or im bombarded with that days work......n its not like its gonna help TAKS...i believe those who care about their grades n wanna pass will do what it takes when it comes to TAKS

Anonymous said...

Exempting students from finals for any reason is really doing him/her a disservice. If we are supposed to be preparing them for a college education, they will be ill prepared for the many finals ahead, which from my experience were never exempt. Let's make school and education a priority.

Anonymous said...

The A-B block is definitely making students less focused. When there where only four classes every day for one sememster, students could focus on those 4 classes, and therefore gain a better understanding then having to come back every other day to different classes. It also seems to have thrown off a lot of teachers, who think that they will somehow have "more time", and they don't realize that they still need to be teaching at the same pace. For those who complain about their students not having a math class for nine months, this shouldnt be a reason to revert to the A-B block. If a student is forgetting what they have learned, the teaching method has to be changed. I realize that teachers tend not to review old concepts as they move on to new ones. If we made our education system cumulative, meaning if we tested students on everything they had learned up to that point, instead of doing one chapter and moving on to the next, we wouldn't have this problem with "forgetting". The focus gained in having accelerated block is more important than having a class every other day all year. Also, it is definitely not preparing students for college since in college, they have closer to an accelerated block than A/B block.

Anonymous said...

So here we are at the end of school and how did the A/B schedule work for the high school students? Were the TAKS scores any better? Not really. Did the students study habits get any better? Not really. So all that change for nothing except to cause unnecessary anxiety for a lot of high school students and some of their parents. Way to go MISD! What's in store for us next year? Can't wait to find out!

Anonymous said...

As a teacher at a high school in the district, I feel that the A/B block has different pros and cons than an accelerated schedule but that neither are inherently better or worse. As for the parents who commented that the teachers aren't doing their jobs, remember that the most and ultimate responsibilities fall to the parents of these minor children and there are plenty of parents who insist on passing the blame to the teacher. MISD has a great group of amazing, qualified teachers. However, kids are kids and there are many kids who don't want to do any work but are there because the state requires they be there. You can't physically force a kid to do and turn in their homework or projects. Grades themselves are the measure of what your child has done; if they are lacking, that's the student's responsibility. Usually, the most difficult students in the classroom are not shining examples of model kids at home either. We have many amazing parents who work so hard with their kids, whether their child is an A student or is a struggling student who needs extra help and they support the teachers. The simple math on how much time teachers spend with their students vs how much time their parents spend with them easily shows that students spend more waking, molding, learning hours with their teachers than they do with their own parents. Teachers should be supported and not criticized. As for final exam exemptions, I wish we didn't have them at the high school level. It does not prepare the kids for college. It also causes undue stress and mounds of paperwork and rushing to do calculations for both the student and teacher, especially right there at the end when soooo much other work has to be done. As for the Esembler issue raised, if parents only knew how hard it is to get that info put in there. Remember the district makes us use Esembler; it is not our choice. When you have 170 students x 8 assignments each x every 3 weeks x the hours needed to grade them x the hours needed to input them, the reality is that teachers spend 3 afternoons a week and one weekend a month trying to get all of that done. We have children too but their time gets sacrificed by having to grade papers every evening and losing one weekend a month to Esembler grade submissions. Teachers are human beings as well and the demands of Esembler and district submissions are grueling. It will help this year, for everyone, that the district has moved to Esembler submissions every 6 weeks instead of every 3 weeks. And, as always, if you don't see grades, email the teacher. Don't just sit back and complain about it. Try to be a proactive, helpful, volunteering parent. Teachers notice that the parents who complain the most are also the ones who are most absent from the whole process. A child's education is a effort (starting with most importance) between parents, students, teachers, principals and administration.
And ultimately it comes down to an old adage: you can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink. In other words, teachers can only go so far and do so much.

Anonymous said...

Not surprising comments coming from a teacher. You chose your profession. I am a pro-active parent. I checked Esembler EVERY DAY and would see that my child had a "missing" paper when in fact the grade really had not yet been entered by the teacher. So I would question my child first, then e-mail the teacher. Don't mark a paper wrong and make it look like the student hasn't done their part when in fact you haven't done yours! My biggest complaint is that you wouldn't have this problem if the district had not gone to the A/B block schedule and the students would not be under so much pressure to (1) keep up with what day it is after holidays, etc; (2) keep up with homework done an extra day - we ended up having two binders (which was more costly); and (3) have different lunch schedules - my child missed lunch several times because one teacher on A days would post a note on her door that lunch had been changed and by the time he got to the cafeteria the line was too long and he did not get to eat. So, I still say the A/B block schedule is worthless for students and teachers. My plan now is to start attending board meetings to prove to them with real cases that IT DOES NOT WORK!

Anonymous said...

As a student i really dont like this type of scheduling. An hour and a half is a long time to be focused on one thing for a high school student and alot of times the teachers start to give up. the long block periods allow ocus to be lost more than before and many people have suffered acidemiclly

Katb84 said...

I live in Mansfield, La. I teach in Shreveport, La. Caddo Schools are going to the A/B Block. Many of our teachers have questions as to whether it will work, but our district is putting us through A/B Block scheduling workshops. It helps. We are going to make it work.