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.