Reviewing the Block Schedule

For the past year, our school administration has been researching the possibility of switching to a block schedule sometime in the future. Read more to find out the most up-to-date news on this topic!


Members of the Scheduling Committee discuss possible block schedules in front of the scheduling board

Andrew Yuen, Bear Hub Staff

Sitting in a large discussion circle, representatives from different faculty departments and student groups debate the positives and negatives of block scheduling. Part of the Scheduling Committee, they recently visited Monroe Township High School, which currently employs an AB block schedule.
Over the past year, the school administration has been discussing the possibility of switching to a block schedule, where instead of all classes meeting every day for 42 minutes, classes would meet on different days for longer durations such as 60 or 80 minutes. In general, the committee seemed very happy with the AB schedule and argued it would be very beneficial for student health and an interactive curriculum.
Later in the year, they will travel to Colts Neck High School where a different form of block scheduling will be researched. Dr. Vinella, EBHS Principal, noted that there is no set timeline for switching to block scheduling and that it is only a possibility at the moment. He also assured faculty that no matter what system is implemented in the future, the current amount of course opportunities and required credits will not be limited.
The two distinct types of block schedules the Scheduling Committee is researching include an AB schedule with 80 minute periods which would have an A day and B day with eight classes total that rotate every other day. The other is a rotating drop schedule which involves having six classes a day for 60 minutes on a rotating 123456, 234567, etc. schedule. Recently, they visited Monroe Township High School to research the AB schedule, where students have only four classes a day.
Prior to the trip, Junior Marley Stein told Bear Hub she enjoys EBHS’s current 12-period schedule “because students don’t have the kind of attention span for an eighty-minute class.” After observations at Monroe, the committee held a debrief meeting to discuss the pros and cons of this type of block schedule. During the discussion, Marley commented that no student expressed any concern for the length of their classes and that they seemed much less stressed than in East Brunswick. According to Marley, the students also were much more engaged and awake because they had significantly more time to sleep at night due to less homework every night.
This sentiment was echoed by many teachers, who argued the benefits of a block schedule on their specific departments. The Special Education department noted the inclusivity of these courses through special programs and other initiatives that encourage cohesiveness in the school community. One Marlboro initiative involved extra PT for the physically disabled and gave other students the opportunity to exercise with them, something that significantly improves school unity and encourages diversity. In addition, Ms. Kenny-Stein commented that longer periods would allow for more practical uses of class time including reading and writing full-length essays. Individual writing conferences are basically impossible within a forty-two-minute timeframe and require longer amounts of time. On the flip side, having only four classes also gives students the opportunity to explore their interests after school and join clubs.
Other faculty members were wary of the block schedule, including the counseling department who voiced several concerns over the system. For one, the idea of having four classes a day requires significant organization to ensure a balanced course load that does not unfairly burden students with “hard” and “easy” days. Additionally, the difficulty of scheduling courses to ensure both a balanced schedule and sufficient credits means dropping out of a class is sometimes impossible. For instance, if someone wanted to drop from an AP science to another elective, it might be impossible because that period would typically be comprised of core classes.
Overall, the block schedule was seemingly a success among the Scheduling Committee. At this point, however, the block schedule is simply an idea being floated around by administration that will be seriously considered during the upcoming summer. The committee will visit Colts Neck High School later in the year to research the rotating drop schedule. Afterward, they will hold another discussion and report to Dr. Valeski, superintendent of schools, with their findings.