Opposition to APS Block Schedule Proposal
Arlington parents have voiced numerous objections to implementing block scheduling at the middle-school level. These objections include, but are not limited to, the following:
1. As APS administrators concede, the impact of block scheduling on middle-school academic performance is inconclusive at best. Given that fact, changing the current system -- which works well for a great majority of Arlington middle-school students -- would appear a poor use of APS time, money and resources, and would impose a significant burden on APS teachers who would have to rework substantially their lesson plans and teaching methods.
2. Rather than suffer the distraction of designing and implementing middle-school block scheduling, APS should focus its time and resources on the paramount concern of the day: building and identifying additional capacity.
3. Certain core academic subjects, including math and foreign language, are simply best learned when presented each academic school day, as opposed to three non-consecutive days per week.
4. Many 11- to 13-year-old students are not sufficiently mature to concentrate and learn in classes of 75 and 93 minutes in length. Likewise, without thorough, substantial and high-quality teacher training -- and adequate preparation time to incorporate such training -- many of Arlington's middle-school teachers are not sufficiently prepared to create and conduct (three times per week) the kind of engaging and stimulating lessons that APS envisions.
5. Band and orchestra students require daily music instruction to excel, and should be assigned to classes by ability, not by mere grade level.
6. Sixth-grade students require daily physical education for improved health and classroom success.
7. Continuity of learning is significantly more likely to be negatively impacted under the new block schedule, as teacher work days, sick days, conference days, snow days, and visits to health professionals will too frequently result in a core class meeting only once or twice in a given week.
For one or more of the aforementioned reasons, I strongly object to the implementation of block scheduling at the middle-school level in Arlington public schools.