A/B Block Scheduling: Yay or Nay?

October 3, 2022

For the 2022-2023 school year, Stamford Public Schools implemented a new A/B block schedule. This schedule consists of four 90-minute classes each day, alternating between A-Day and B-Day. Students have one set of four classes on A-Day and a different set of four classes on B-Day. This is a major change, considering the previous schedule of seven 50-minute classes everyday. It has been about two months since students have began following this schedule and their reactions to it are quite divided. Two of our student reporters shared their opinions.

Why A/B Scheduling Is Beneficial

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The current A/B schedule is the best schedule we have had so far for Stamford Public Schools (SPS). The system of four classes on one day and four different classes the next day undoubtedly positively affects the Stamford High community. 

Most of the students I speak to have a day whether it be “A” day or “B” day that they prefer. The reason being that one day they usually have most of the classes that they enjoy and the other day they have some of their harder classes or classes they just do not enjoy. This way, students can just get the classes they do not like over with on one day, and the next day they do not have to endure them.

The other benefit of the class time is there is more finality in lessons. In many of my classes, we do not have to stop the lesson short because time suddenly runs out. The lesson can actually come to a finish with time left to maybe work on an assignment or move on to the next lesson. The days in which students have to review what they did not finish in class are now being significantly reduced. 

The schedule also brings people to amass more credits. The class of 2026 has the opportunity to take 32 courses unlike previous classes with just 28. So for any AP hungry students, this schedule is helping them out. Students have more opportunities to take classes now which can result in more college credits down the line and save money as the price of college goes up. Besides AP students, other students are helped with this system because they can take more classes on subjects that they care about. Since there are many rigid course requirements (come on, SPS. 9 STEM credits?) that used to eat up one’s schedule, there is now more room to add classes that they actually would enjoy.

Also, let’s talk about the new additions of late arrivals and early dismissals. As a high school senior who has a late arrival, let me just tell you how wonderful it is. High schoolers are notoriously known for their lack of sleep and just being able to sleep in for an extra hour can have major positive effects on one’s mental and physical health. For many students who have jobs, early dismissal is helpful because they can leave school early, get some homework done and then head to work. Since there are only 25 credits needed, students have more chances to add these to their schedules. 

I will admit to the one drawback for some UConn Early College Experience students. Due to the guidelines of the program, some students in ECE Chemistry, Biology, and Physics C are around 10 hours short of the time that they’d normally get to complete the course due to the current schedule and have to make it up in after-school sessions. But a few one-hour sessions every few weeks is just one drawback that they will have to sacrifice for this beneficial schedule. 

Overall, the innumerable benefits of the new scheduling cannot be ignored. The vast majority of us are better off because of it. 

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Why A/B Scheduling Is Detrimental

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The Stamford Board of Education swiftly decided to switch to an A/B timetable. This change was made because some students lacked the credits necessary for graduation (Now that students are required to graduate with 25 credits, instead of 20). Compared to our prior plan, the new one allows students to earn one additional credit year. Despite the fact that our new schedule was designed to benefit students’ academic prospects, I think it has only negatively impacted their attitudes towards school.

I believe that four blocks of 90 minutes are intimidating for both teachers and students. It’s challenging to fill a large amount of time. It is difficult for teachers to maintain pupils’ interest and engagement. In my own experience, it is really tiring to find that I still have an hour of the same class after checking at the time. It feels extremely rewarding when some of my instructors offer us a few five-minute breaks during the term. However, the others just teach/lecture throughout the entire period, which makes the periods feel long and painful. Similarly, now that many students are taking study halls, it is nearly impossible for students to commit to attending a study hall, even more than before. This encourages students to leave, regardless of attendance policies. 

Another point I would like to add is that I and many other students miss the passing time we had with our old schedule. Our 7-block schedule granted students the opportunity to see friends, stretch, and take a quick break seven times each day. Now, with an A/B schedule, we only have four transition periods. This time is something I didn’t realize I liked so much until I lost it. The change of scenery was really nice throughout the day. 

One last point that I would like to bring up is about our new lunch wave slots, more specifically regarding wave one. As a student who has first wave lunch on both A and B days, it is extremely early. We start our wave at 10:29 a.m. This is around 20 minutes earlier than the first wave last year, which was already early for many. Similar to my previous point regarding passing times, lunch acts as a break from class. When it is as early as it is now, it can make the second half of the day feel even longer. 

In conclusion, I would argue that the schedule we had prior, with seven periods in one day, allowed for a more welcoming and less intimidating environment. After being nearly a month into the A/B schedule, I can predict that this year will feel much longer than previous ones. No student wants that feeling. 

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