A/B Schedule

academic Schedule:

In Hunterdon Central's schedule, students meet for academic classes that are 80-minutes long.  Four classes meet on "A" days, and four different classes meet on "B" days, for a total of eight classes throughout the school year.  

Classes with 5.0 credits meet every other day for 180 days - or for the entire school year.  Classes with 2.5 credits meet every other day for 90 days - or for half of the school year.

Exam Days and marking periods:

There are no designated "exam days" in the schedule.  Teachers have the option of giving exams as in-class assessments during regular class periods, or extending the assessments over multiple class days.  Exam reflection is also be built into the instructional schedule, so that students benefit from reviewing their assessment results with their teacher, while in that class.  We feel that this testing schedule is beneficial to our students, and makes the best use of instructional time.

 

Please note:  teachers have the option of choosing whether or not to give mid-term and final exams, but there is consistency across each course. For example, if there are several teachers teaching Biology, all classes of Biology have the same exam policy.


Additional Resources:

The following resources can provide additional updates on the A/B Block Schedule:


Please click to view: A/B Schedule Update
This power point presentation used at a Principal's Forum on February 4, 2015.

Please click to view the video: A/B Schedule Update, February 2015.


Email your questions:

 If you have any questions about the A/B Block Schedule, please email:

ABschedule@hcrhs.org

You will receive a reply to your email, and we will also post the information on this webpage, to share the question and answer with other parents. 

The FAQ, below, provides answers to commonly asked questions about the A/B Block Schedule.  Please click on each question to view the answer.

FAQ

Q

Why did Hunterdon Central change to an A/B block schedule?

A

The semester block schedule used for years at Hunterdon Central offered numerous benefits since it was adopted in 1996. However, the District discovered that what worked a generation ago was no longer as effective today. For example, the old schedule contained instructional gaps, such as when a student took a course in the fall of one school year, and the next sequence of study in the spring of the next school year. Also, students and teachers reported that the rapid pace required to cover course material in 45 days (for a quarter course) and 90 days (for a semester course) resulted in increased stress and an increased volume of daily and overnight work. Finally, the old schedule made it more difficult for students to be scheduled into their requests and created a high number of conflicts for some students.

Q

If students found it stressful to take four classes each semester, won’t taking seven or eight classes be more stressful?

A

Because of the large number of quarter courses in the schedule, many students actually had more than four courses per semester. Students have reported that the stress they felt was due to the compression of time in a course and the teachers’ pressure to keep moving forward due to time constraints, regardless of whether students fully grasped the material. With longer time spent with the same teacher in the same course, the stress level will decrease.

Q

Were students asked what they thought about changing the schedule?

A

Students were consulted and involved at every step of the multi-year process. Students were represented on the School Schedule Task Force, a committee that was put in place several years ago to examine the scheduling issue. Students were also invited to principal luncheon meetings, superintendent meetings, and served on various other committees. Teachers, supervisors, and students themselves have all reported on issues regarding our current schedule, such as pace, stress, amount of overnight work, and lack of timely and constructive feedback from teachers.

Q

How does the A/B schedule allow students to take all desired course work in a particular subject?

A

Data indicated that the process of "doubling up" used in the old schedule - taking two sequential courses in the same academic year - occurred most often in Math, World Languages and, to a lesser degree, Science. Doubling up rarely occurred in the other areas of study. A plan was devised so that students were able to reach the highest level of study in a particular subject. Future students will still be able to reach the highest levels of study in every content area and, at the same time, will have more opportunities to experience the many different courses that Hunterdon Central offers.

Q

Does the A/B schedule decrease the variety of classes that a student can take?

A

No. The new schedule increases the options and variety of courses that a student can take. The District has run sample schedules that showed greater opportunities for students to take more types of classes under A/B scheduling.

Q

Because they now have to teach twice as many classes with twice the number of students, can teachers give the time and attention students need to be successful?

A

Under the old schedule, many of our teachers saw large numbers of students over the course of a school year; some saw over 300. Teachers reported that, in the past, they did not have an optimal opportunity to get to know their students and determine the growth of student learning. In the A/B schedule, the number of students each teacher sees will be more equally distributed. Also, research has shown that students are able to achieve more the longer they stay with the same teacher.

Q

Will a change in schedules cause grades to drop?

A

According to our discussions with school districts that have moved to an A/B schedule, no drop in student grades has occurred. Student achievement on standardized tests has either stayed the same or improved.

Q

Is having an A/B day confusing to students, in terms of knowing which classes occur on what days?

A

Confusion about whether it is an A or A B day is not an issue. The "A" or "B" day designation is made each morning on daily announcements, which are televised in every classroom, and there are calendars and signs available with the correct day designation.

Q

Does having a class every other day negatively affect a student's ability to retain what he/she has learned?

A

Teachers have reported and research has shown that retention of knowledge is not negatively impacted by having a class every other day for the entire year. On the other hand, a greater instructional and achievement gap occurs when students have a long gap between instruction, such as when taking a course during the spring of one year, and not studying that subject until spring of the following school year, as frequently occurs with our current schedule.

Q

Does the A/B schedule impact tutorial?

A

No. Tutorial remains available three times each week.

Q

Does the A/B schedule impact unit lunch?

A

No. Students and staff are very pleased with unit lunch and there will be no change.

Q

Does the A/B schedule impact student activities in any way?

A

No, a wide variety of activities continue to be offered.

Q

How does the A/B schedule impact homework- if a student is taking twice as many classes, won’t there be twice as much homework?

A

The amount of homework in each 5.0 credit class is stretched out over the entire year, rather than just over a semester. In classes that are 2.5 credits, students have eighteen weeks of time to complete the work. Beyond this, however, the District has been taking a very close look at homework practice. For example, we have had teachers give students a set amount of time during class to work on a homework assignment so that teachers can calibrate how long it actually takes a student to complete the work in a non-distracted setting. In addition, we have set goals that feedback to students on all class assignments be timely, correct and constructive. Supervisors are looking closely at work assigned out of class; if work is being assigned that is not effective or formative, in other words “busy work,” that practice stops.

Q

Does A/B Block Schedule impact a student already enrolled at Hunterdon Central who has made course selections based on the old block schedule in effect before 2014-2015?

A

It should not have a major impact. The district has looked at the areas where students traditionally “double up” and is creating hybrid schedules for those students already enrolled, so they can continue to take the courses they were planning on taking. In some cases, courses will be merged , so that students can get to the course level they planned on achieving. We will continue to look at course subscriptions as registration for next year begins, and track where those hybrid courses might be needed. We expect many fewer gaps to occur in the transition to the A/B Block Schedule than we experienced when we moved from a traditional schedule to the semester block 18 years ago.