Block Scheduling: A Deep Dive into Abington’s New System

Block+Scheduling%3A+A+Deep+Dive+into+Abingtons+New+System

Sarah Rothman, Writer

The newly renovated Abington High School has introduced a new block schedule for the 2022-2023 school year. This adapted schedule includes rotating days and extended class periods. Abington made this change based on other districts’ successes with similar schedule models. However, there are many concerns about this significant change from parents, students, and teachers. With time allowed for adjustment, benefits may be seen.

 

Where did the idea originate?

Administrators first began planning block scheduling at least six years ago with the intent to implement it when construction on the new building was completed and a new grade was added. Abington Senior High School twelfth grade Assistant Principal Bradley Palmer says, “The Hatboro-Horsham School District claimed to have invented block scheduling.” He further explained that among the many school districts in Pennsylvania that use block scheduling, Abington took inspiration from Lower Merion and Central Bucks. Site visits were made to some of these schools to help make the decision for Abington. Teachers from other districts also attested to the benefits of block scheduling although, Mr. Palmer stated, “Abington teachers were most apprehensive to the change.”

 

How was the current schedule made?

When this schedule was being formulated, there were many goals and ideas that administrators tried to incorporate. First, they wanted everybody to be able to have lunch—previously, some students overscheduled classes throughout the whole day. Second, they wanted to add a slot of time in the day for clubs to be able to meet. Lastly, per teachers’ requests, more time for instruction and larger projects with students. 

Data was collected from other schools, staff members, and surveys. Once enough research was collected, administrators reviewed the pros and cons of each proposal. The committee then made a recommendation which was altered to meet as many of the goals as possible. When voted upon, it was unanimously approved by the school board. 

Amid this process, the pandemic emerged and slowed the process down; however, ASHS teacher Meredith Freeston commented, “The 90-minute blocks during COVID got us used to the planning and how to use the time effectively.”

 

What are the goals for block scheduling?

Ultimately, block scheduling is intended to benefit students and teachers. Mr. Palmer said that administrators hope the longer class periods for teachers allow for more in-depth instruction and the opportunity to complete larger projects in one class period. With the previous schedule, time was wasted settling in and packing up, so the new schedule aims to minimize those transition times. However, many surveyed ASHS students stated that the new block schedule class length hindered their ability to work as it was difficult to stay focused for the duration of class. 

“I think it is difficult to focus for the whole period,” said an anonymous ninth-grade student.

The schedule was also meant to provide students with more time to complete homework, but many student disagree. “Teachers are piling on homework because you don’t see them every day,” said a tenth-grade student who also wished to remain anonymous. 

Student Nyai Rosati also felt that gaps between classes caused the learned material to be forgotten, mentioning, “Not having classes every day will make it harder to remember stuff.” 

Although the blocks allow everyone to have lunch, flaws have been pointed out with the execution. Student Hamda Salaheldein expressed the challenges with how early the lunch is and how two lunch blocks crowds too many students in the cafeterias at once. 

“Two grades in three cafeterias is too [many] people,” said Salaheldein. 

 

How is feedback being processed?

The school district has surveyed and received feedback, on which improvements are being made in every area possible. Teachers are regularly being trained on how to use the blocks at the highest efficiency. Administration is observing teachers and providing them with feedback, such as ensuring breaks are provided. 

There are a large number of goals and research that went into this decision. With this large adjustment, bumps in the road are inevitable. Abington Senior High ninth grade Assistant Principal Marla Wormley says, “Administrators hope to see results immediately,” and student performance improving. 

Results will become more noticeable with time, and the outcome that block scheduling has on Abington will be evaluated by students, teachers, parents, and administrators alike.