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Evaluation of the 4x4 block schedule in Virginia's secondary schools: The impact on students' academic performance

Brian T Austin, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This study examined the impact of a 4x4 block schedule on the performance assessments used in Virginia to measure student-content attainment. Results from Virginia’s End-of-Course Standards of Learning assessments (SOLs) from 1997 to 2008 for the entire state were compared to the assessment results from 65 secondary schools operating on a 4x4 block schedule during this same period of time. ^ Twelve different secondary assessments (SOLs) in the “core” areas of English (reading and writing), mathematics, science, and social studies were the dependent variables in the study. The rate of change in student performance for each of these SOLs was measured. A time-series regression (Lapin, 1993) was used to calculate the rate of change using all 11 years of available data. A test for parallelism (Kleinbaum & Kupper, 2008) was conducted for each school’s assessment and for the State’s overall performance. The results of all 65 analyses were combined using three different metaanalyses: “Method of Adding t’s”, “Method of Testing Mean Z”, and “The File Drawer Problem” (Rosenthal, 1991). ^ A significant difference was found in 11 out of 12 assessments between the rate of change of all the secondary schools in the State and the 65 secondary schools using the block schedule. That is, the schools operating on a block schedule exhibited a rate of growth superior to the rate of growth for the State. ^ Based on the findings of this study, block scheduling can be judged to be an intervention that yields positive learning outcomes for all students. The author recommends additional studies to explore more fully the attributes of the blockscheduled class as an educational change. In particular, consideration should be given to (1) studies that examine how subgroups of students fare in schools using a 4x4 block schedule, (2) how teacher and student behaviors differ in block-scheduled classrooms, and (3) how professional development for teachers may contribute to increased student achievement.^

Subject Area

Education, Tests and Measurements|Education, Administration|Education, Secondary|Education, Curriculum and Instruction

Recommended Citation

Austin, Brian T, "Evaluation of the 4x4 block schedule in Virginia's secondary schools: The impact on students' academic performance" (2008). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3336690.