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ERIC Number: ED457590
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 2001
Pages: 23
Abstractor: N/A
Differences in Student Outcomes between Block, Semester, and Trimester Schedules.
McCreary, Jason; Hausman, Charles
Despite the popularity of schedule modifications as a cost-effective reform to improve student outcomes, little empirical research on the consequences of alternative schedules has been conducted. The literature has been dominated by anecdotal reports. Even when empirical evidence is examined, causal comparisons of school outcomes between schedules must be interpreted with caution, due to the number of confounding variables. A review of the literature shows positive and negative outcomes that depend on how teachers make use of schedule changes. The study described in this report compared the outcomes of achievement attained by high school students educated in block, semester, and trimester schedules in 1 urban district during 4 years. The study examined student annual grade-point averages, scores on the Stanford Achievement Test 9, credits attempted and earned, and absentee rates. Descriptive and inferential statistics were utilized. Analysis of covariance was the primary tool to test for mean differences between student outcomes. The study controlled for race or ethnicity, limited English proficiency, free or reduced lunch, gender, and special education. Students in a semester schedule had higher grade-point averages (adjusted mean 2.35) than those in block schedules (2.29) or trimester (2.22). Although the differences in this study were significant, questions regarding their practical significance should be raised. Weick's social-psychological model of organizing suggests that a school's normative structure is only loosely coupled with its behavioral structure. In short, structure may change without affecting behavior, and vice versa. This study reaffirms the importance of educators' thinking beyond structural changes. While structural changes may be necessary for student improvements, they are not sufficient. Educators must also consider the necessity of curriculum and policy alignment, professional development, changes in power relationships, and normative changes regarding schooling. (Contains 41 references.) (Author/RKJ)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A