Effectiveness of Academic Achievement Through the Use of Block Scheduling in High School Classrooms Thesis

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Academic Achievement Through Block Scheduling

Education and Block Scheduling

Introduction- The educational climate in contemporary America is not the same as it was in the late 20th century. There is a long tradition surrounding the manner in which the American educational system should be structured, dating back to the Founding Fathers. When we review a brief history of the American educational system up through No Child Left Behind, in fact, we find a series of pendelum swings that tend to result in a rather haphazard approach to certain academic sides of educational leadership. It is not the purpose of this study to debate the efficacy of constructivism, neo-constructivsm, Vygotsky, et al., Rather, it is to understand how educational research is not only necessary, but critical as the paradigm shifts and schools become far more accountable for producing higher qualified students, higher standardized test scores, but on a lower budget per student than ever before.

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Thomas Jefferson, for instance, believed that universal education would have to precede universal suffrage. The ignorant, he argued, were incapable of self-government. But he had profound faith in the reasonableness and ability of the masses and in their collective wisdom when educated. As one of the founding fathers, Jefferson in fact set the precedent for American education: reading, writing, mathematics, the Classics, and European and American History. That his beliefs were focused on all male citizens receiving a free education, and a sign of his times for, in 1789, the first law was passed in Massachusetts to reaffirm the colonial laws by which town were obligated to support a school. This law had varying degrees of success, and the American education process went through a series of trials during most of the 19th and early 20th centuries (Van DeMille, 2006).

Thesis on Effectiveness of Academic Achievement Through the Use of Block Scheduling in High School Classrooms Assignment

In the United States, education is offered at all levels from pre-kindergarten to graduate school, typically K-12 funded by public monies. Elementary and secondary education involves twelve years of mandatory schooling, or GED, resulting in a High School Diploma. A distinct feature of the American educational system is its focus on decentralized organization (Mondale, 2002). Elementary and secondary education is financially supported by three levels of government - local, state, and federal. Furthermore, it is again divided into public and private institutions. The main disadvantage of the decentralization is the quality of education received by the students, clearly dependent upon the social and geographical area of habitation (Odden, 2003). Within this rather large and soporific paradigm, though, there are any number of interpretations on curriculum, regulations, and scheduling. Two of the most often touted challenges are debates surrounding class size and teacher ratio, and those of class scheduling or a combination of the two. Still, there are other mitigating factors we see when dealing with any curriculum issue -- it is quite difficult to isolate only one or two variables when approaching a problem of this magnitude.

Any policy, any research, and discussion about curriculum -- all must treat the current climate surrounding the No Child Left Law and legacy. The "No Child Left Behind Act" (Public Law 107-110, 115), is a Congressional Act signed into law by George W. Bush in January 2002. The Bill was a bi-partisan initiative, supported by Senator Edward Kennedy, and authorized a number of federal programs designed to improve standards for educational accountability across all States, districts, and increase the focus on reading. Much of the NCLB focus is based on the view that American students are falling behind in educational basis when scored are compared globally. The Act does not establish a national achievement standard; each State must confirm its own set of standards, but in order to receive funding, the States must meet basic criteria of performance (Abernathy, 2007).

In fact, a 1994 Study on learning in America noted that:

Learning in America is a prisoner of time. For the past 150 years, American public schools have held time constant and let learning vary. The rule, only rarely voices, is simple: learn what you can in the time we make available. It should surprise no one that some bright, hard-working students do reasonable well. Everyone else- from the typical student to the dropout -- runs into trouble. Time is learning's warden (Prisoners of Time, 1994).

In fact, the school clock is so ingrained in American culture it controls how families organize their lives, how administrators manage their schools, and how teachers develop and teach the assigned curriculum. More than anything, the attention to time and scheduling governs the amount and robustness of materials presented to students and the opportunities they have to master it. More times than not, this results in an approach that, towards the end of the year or near standardized testing times, there is a panic cramming of material with very little regard to long-term comprehension. Listed below are some considerations from a recent study on time use in the schools:

"With few exceptions, schools open and close their doors at fixed times in the morning and early afternoon -- a school in one district might open at 7:30 A.M. And close at 2:15 P.M.; in another, the school day might run from 8:00 in the morning until 3:00 in the afternoon.

With few exceptions, the school year lasts nine months, beginning in late summer and ending in late spring.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, schools typically offer a six-period day, with about 5.6 hours of classroom time a day.

No matter how complex or simple the school subject-literature, shop, physics, gym, or algebra -- the schedule assigns each an impartial national average of 51 minutes per class period, no matter how well or poorly students comprehend the material.

The norm for required school attendance, according to the Council of Chief State School Officers, is 180 days. Eleven states permit school terms of 175 days or less; only one state requires more than 180.

Secondary school graduation requirements are universally based on seat time-"Carnegie units," a standard of measurement representing one credit for completion of a one-year course meeting daily.

Staff salary increases are typically tied to time-to seniority and the number of hours of graduate work completed.

Despite the obsession with time, little attention is paid to how it is used: in 42 states examined by the Commission, only 41% of secondary school time must be spent on core academic subjects"(Prisoners of Time).

The theoretical foundation of this viewpoint assumes a number of things, at least on five distinct paradigms we now know to be false: 1) Students arrive at school ready to learn in the same manner, and in sync with each other, the curriculum, and the instructor; 2) Academic time may be used for non-academic purposes and has no effect on actual learning; 3) Previous curriculum calendar's and organization work in the past so therefore should continue to work, regardless of societal and cultural evolution; 4) Schools may be transformed simply by legislating without giving teachers the needed time and training to retool or reorganize; 5) it is reasonable that we get world-class performance out of our students by simply saying we will without changes in the way we teach (Fogarty, 1998).

The concept of globalization in economic and cultural development is a reality for the 21st century. The Internet and advances in telecommunication has made it easy to do business with any country in the world, to increase cultural and social contact, and to extend more timely communication between individuals. Similarly, the end of the Cold War signaled a different type of realignment of nations -- rather than East West philosophically dividing the world, global cultures are now looking to trade and economic growth to change the pattern of their own structures. The developing world, able to see and hear news and entertainment from the developed world, wants to change. Europe has evolved into a union of concerned states; even the United States, Canada, and Mexico are cooperating on a trade agreement to benefit the Americas. As with any period of growth, there is also strife and disagreement (Lanza, 2000).

Globalization has also had a profound effect on education in America and the way we look at scheduling. When America was primarily agrarian and when most Americans worked in farms or in factories, a time-bound educational system was adequate. Then, by the late Reconstruction Period and turn of the century, reform in the manner of looking at education, expectations, and even scheduling took place in the personage and ideas of John Dewey. John Dewey (1859-1952) was an American psychologist, author, philosopher, and educator. He focused much of his prose on education and social reform, and has been credited as one of the major theorists win the philosophy of pragmatism and the populist philosophy of pedagogy (Tozer, et.al., 2008). One of Dewey had a strong view in his advocacy of democracy, believing, in fact, that the cornerstone of the philosophy of democracy was the combination of adequate education and a civil society. For a society of intelligent voters to… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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