Arlington’s middle schools will switch to a block schedule system for core classes starting in 2013 under a proposal being developed by school district staff.
Block scheduling changes the school day from seven class periods to four, with some electives getting less time than core classes.
The plan, which would increase class time from 45 minutes to as much as 90 minutes a period in math, English, social studies and science, said Assistant Superintendent Margaret Gilhooley who presented the plan to the School Board last week. She said her office plans to collect public feedback on the proposal over the next six months.
The new block schedule would provide more time for sixth-grade students to explore electives, Gilhooley said. Not every class would meet every day.
Time would be saved by decreasing the number of daily class periods from seven to four, Superintendent Pat Murphy told the board. Having just three transition periods between classes would save a total of 15 minutes, he said.
Class lengths would vary throughout the day, he added, “so you get much more engagement, and that’s from personal experience.”
Gilhooley said that if the board approves the plan, teachers would undergo training in the block system during the 2012-13 school year. She plans to ask for board approval in March.
Board President Abby Raphael said she liked hearing that sixth graders would get more time to try electives such as band, chorus and technology. “I think that’s a real benefit,” she said.
Board member James Lander expressed doubts that block scheduling would help low-income and minority students. “I appreciate the framing, but we haven’t framed or included all the members of the community that this touches,” he said.
Murphy said he would bring the proposal to the Citizen Advisory Committee on Eliminating the Achievement Gap.