Instructional schedules and student performance in Texas high schools

Priscilla Terrazas, University of Texas at El Paso


As a result of A Nation at Risk (1983) and recent school reform initiatives (Cawelti, 1995), the traditional school schedule for secondary schools has been criticized as being inadequate for today's curricula needs. Block scheduling, in which extended periods of time for learning are available, is one strategy being implemented in an effort to enhance student academic achievement. The use of block scheduling has increased from 4% in the early 80's to over 40% by 1999 (Texas Report, 1999). To date, however, research results on the effects of block scheduling are mixed (e.g., Edwards, 1995; Kruse & Kruse, 1995). Proponents of block scheduling (e.g., Canady & Rettig, 1995; Carroll, 1990; O'Neil, 1995) have argued that block instructional schedules improve student behavior, increase student achievement, and improve teacher morale. Although many high schools have made the transition from a traditional schedule to a block schedule, a paucity of data exists in which the efficacy of block scheduling has been examined. The purpose of this researcher in conducting this study was to examine the effects of instructional scheduling on student academic achievement, student scholastic aptitude, and school climate variables at the secondary school level in the state of Texas. This researcher examined the influence of different types of high school instructional schedules (i.e., traditional schedule versus block schedule; A/B block, Modified A/B block, and Accelerated block) on student performance. Academic achievement was measured in terms of Texas Academic Assessment System (TAAS) results in the academic areas of reading, math, writing, end-of-course exams (i.e., Algebra I, English II, U.S. History, and Biology), two aptitude measures (i.e., ACT and SATI), and on two school climate variables (i.e., attendance rates and dropout rates). Data used were for the 1999–2000 academic year. Findings of this statewide study may be interpreted as a lack of evidence that students in schools with a block instructional schedule outperform students in schools with a traditional instructional schedule. These findings were not supportive that block instructional scheduling improves student achievement, student aptitude, and or school climate. Rather, findings herein were highly supportive of the traditional instructional schedule over a block instructional schedule. In addition, the findings may be interpreted as meaning that different block instructional schedules may not yield similar results. That is, 18 differences were yielded among the three types of block instructional schedules. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)

Subject Area

School administration|Curricula|Teaching|Secondary education

Recommended Citation

Terrazas, Priscilla, "Instructional schedules and student performance in Texas high schools" (2001). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI3008208.