Arlington continues discussions about block scheduling

Arlington debates stretching class time in middle schools – The Washington Post. This update on the block scheduling controversy in Arlington middle schools quotes Margaret Gilhooley, assistant superintendent of instruction as saying “block scheduling is not a done deal.”

Arlington Public Schools has posted a summary of the feedback received so far: Middle School Design Team / Overview. Among the concerns cited are the loss of cross-graded elective opportunities as well about maintaining the current level of PE and/or music in Grade 6.

The National Association for Sport and Physical Education has resource paper entitled “Teaching Physical Education in A Block  Schedule.” One negative effect of block scheduling listed is that it denies students access to the entire PE curriculum. This point was not explained, although the solution given was that PE teachers should coordinate with feeder schools “so curriculums can be sequential rather than repetitive. ”

Other negative effects cited are that students have long periods of time between classes, student absences result in greater content loss, transfer students are at an increased disadvantage, poor teachers have more problems, teacher absences are most costly, and special education students with a short attention span have difficulty with long class periods. The solution given for this last problem is that PE teachers need to use a variety of teaching styles and an assortment of tasks to engage these students.

Positive effects of block scheduling are listed in the areas of environment, curriculum, instruction, and assessment.

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