Oasis High discusses block versus period scheduling, potentially following in district's footsteps
Lee County high schools transitioned from block scheduling to period scheduling for the 2022-23 academic year. Oasis High School, an area charter school, was not subject to this district change, but is now discussing the idea.
Block scheduling is known as a ‘4x4’ or ‘A/B format,’ and students take 8 classes, four classes meet one day, and the other four classes meet the following day. Period scheduling means students have 7-period days, each class being 47 minutes.
At the April 11 Cape Coral Charter School Governing Board meeting, board members discussed the idea of making the switch. Alyssa Troy, a physics teacher at Oasis High School, spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting, prior to the initial discussion of period scheduling.
"So our school provides small class sizes, many electives and additional college prep courses and this is what we pride ourselves on every year,” Troy said at the meeting, voicing against period scheduling. “My personal beliefs are if we move to a class period setting instead of a block where it's split over two days, there's many effects that will come from this.”
Troy voiced concerns of students losing the one class per year that would be removed with a transition from block scheduling to period scheduling.
“Our total number of students per class is going to increase greatly, unless we have more teachers to actually teach in the schools, which is already a really hard thing to find, especially at our high school,” Troy said.
At the meeting, Cape Coral Charter Schools Superintendent Jacquelin Collins introduced Pat Missaoui, an AICE math teacher at Oasis High School. Missaoui gave a presentation on the pros and cons of becoming a 7-period day school.
“I'm a big proponent of block scheduling," Collins said. “It gives you plenty of time to do testing, to do science fair projects through their entirety, to do mock ace exams. I know when I was a teacher, when I taught writing, I’d need a good 60 minutes to get through one writing essay or writing period. So I've always been a believer in block. However, over time, we've done block scheduling consistency for the last several years, five years... we're finding that maybe there needs to be a change for a variety of reasons.”
Missaoui says one of the major pros about period scheduling is that students can see their teachers every day.
“If a student is absent for one day [with blocks], they essentially just missed half a week of instruction, that is a lot of instruction to miss,” Missaoui said. “If we’re just in periods though, they only miss 45 minutes, we'll see them the next day, no big deal."
Missaoui broke down the math of how much academic time students would have in both types of scheduling. With block scheduling, students would have 7,650 minutes of instruction per class for the year and with period scheduling, students would have 8,648 minutes of instruction per class for the year.
Missaoui said that block and period scheduling are effective in their own ways and that there’s no conclusive research provided to say which scheduling is better. The research he found was from the 90s and was inconsistent and inconclusive.
Stephanie Yount of Cape Coral has had 3 children go through the Lee County public schools. All 3 are familiar with block scheduling, but her youngest son is still in high school and has had to adjust to period scheduling. However, she says he prefers block scheduling.
“He feels like there's more time to get the work done,” Yount said. “For me, I think totally opposite. I think the non-block scheduling is better because the [occupational therapy] knowledge I have, the human attention span is like 45 to 50 minutes. And that's all they’re in class [for], then they're moving between classes, socializing, being a little active, and then it kind of makes them, in my opinion, also makes them more responsible for getting their work done because they can't procrastinate.”
Yount says her son has always had good grades, but they are better since making the switch to period scheduling.
“When I was in high school, it was seven periods all day, different period every 50 minutes,” Yount said. “And when the block scheduling started and [my daughter was doing that], I was like ‘Oh my God, I would hate that,’ but it’s probably just because I don’t know any different, you know?”
Missaoui made the point that of the surrounding counties following block scheduling, the closest counties on block schedules are Desoto County and Miami-Dade County. He said that Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Glades, Sarasota, Hendry, Manatee, Hillsborough, Orange, Osceola, Polk, Lake and Broward Counties have been on period scheduling.
“I looked at all the passing rates for all their subjects for these different counties and by far Sarasota, Hillsborough, all the counties that had periods are way better than the ones that have blocks,” Missaoui said.
Vice Chair Dr. Melissa Rodriguez-Meehan spoke after the presentation, saying that if this shift is going to be considered, they would need stakeholder feedback from teachers, students and administrators.
This story was produced by FGCU Journalism's Democracy Watch course. Hayley Lemery can be reached at email@example.com.
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