Las Vegas Sun

April 19, 2014

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LETTER TO THE EDITOR:

Advantages of going back to old schedule

If there was a silver lining to the budget crisis, I had hoped it would be the death of the A/B block schedule. That does not seem to be the case, so I will step up for the silent majority of math teachers I have spoken with and appeal to the leaders of our state. Please end the eight-period block schedule.

I have taught at three high schools in Las Vegas (plus one in New York and one in Arizona) and trained math teachers across Southern Nevada.

Block schedules refer to classes that meet for longer periods of time. The A/B block schedule alternates four classes every other day.

The advantage of this schedule is supposed to be “credit retrieval,” which is another way of saying it is OK to fail 30 percent of classes instead of 10 percent. It also sends the message to our more academic students that they “have all their credits” and that they can look forward to “an easy senior year.”

Adding two classes reduces the time students spend with each teacher. This reduces the amount of time for instruction and reduces the homework in each class. It means teachers see their students less and they have more of them, reducing the bonding that teachers often rely on to motivate.

College students take four or five classes at a time and we are asking younger kids to take eight. Brain research tells us that people process information better in shorter chunks and yet we have 85-minute classes instead of 55 minutes.

We are double blocking some math classes because we feel the students would benefit from math every day and yet we deny that advantage to most of our students.

When students are absent from class, they often miss two lessons and go almost a week between classes.

And, finally, switching back to the six-period day would save millions of dollars.

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