right arrow
Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04

AP classes and block scheduling?

PackMomPackMom 7650 replies17 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 7,667 Senior Member
edited July 2011 in Parents Forum
I was wondering what your kid's experiences have been with AP classes that were taken on a semester basis?

Let me explain a little more..My S's high sch. has always operated on an
A day/B day schedule, taking the same 8 classes all year.
It has been announced that next school year it will change to a 4x4 schedule, 4 classes everyday for one semester then 4 different ones the next semester.
We've been told that some AP's,the ones considered to be the "core courses"
like English, Calculus, Biology will still offered on the A/B all year long schedule meaning that the student will be forced to take either 2 or 4 of these to make the days balance out.
Also, the AP's like Psyc., Human Geography, and Govt. that are not considered "core classes" will only be offered on the one semester schedule.

So my question is...Do any of your schools operate like this and what happens if you child wants to take AP Psyc. and AP Human Geography (like my S) but gets scheduled for it in the Fall semester, finishes the course in Jan. but doesn't take the AP exam til May? Do the schools have review sessions or are the kids just responsible for doing all the review on their own ?
How good are their chances of doing well on the exam if they haven't had the material for 5 months?

Our GC was at a loss when I asked her these questions because it is so new to them that they haven't really got it all figured out yet.

Also, our school system pays for the exams and requires everyone who takes the class to take the exam.
edited July 2011
40 replies
Post edited by PackMom on
· Reply · Share
«1

Replies to: AP classes and block scheduling?

  • bluebayoubluebayou 26598 replies174 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 26,772 Senior Member
    it's great that the biggies will continue to be all year; hopefully US Hist and Euro will be all year as well. Kids in our HS who take Govt, for example, finish in Jan and have to self-review for the test. (Teacher does offer a few review sessions and practice tests after school in April, but they are voluntary.)
    · Reply · Share
  • katwkittenskatwkittens 2260 replies41 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,301 Senior Member
    Kiddos here are on 4x4 block. The only redeeming quality that our family has gleaned from this schedule is the ability of some students to have multiple math, science and foreign language courses. And there is no A/B days for certain courses. ALL APs are one semester in duration but with 90 minute classes daily. So AP Lit taken in the fall semester still has the AP test in May. Same with all fall APs. Spring APs have very little class time, has that the new semester starts late Jan. and tests are first week of May. Results in fewer students taking the test and and fewer scoring as well as traditional calender. Needless to say I detest this schedule.

    Kat
    · Reply · Share
  • PackMomPackMom 7650 replies17 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 7,667 Senior Member
    Wow, Kat...I hadn't even considered that if your AP was in the spring, the time would be cut short because of the early May exam. So I guess it's either fall class with big gap before exam or spring class and trying to cram it all in before May. And our school system thinks this will be a big improvement? We are in NC btw.
    · Reply · Share
  • leslielouleslielou 12 replies3 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 15 New Member
    The HS my children attend has been on the 4x4 block for years (TX).

    The fall classes run Aug-Dec, the spring classes Jan-May. Calc is an A/B and B/C class spanning the year, USHist is 27 weeks (often combined with an PSAT/SAT Prep Class or other 9-week class required for graduation).

    If you get an AP class in the fall, the teachers offer before/after school reviews during April to help bring the material back to mind. My DD and her friends get together and take turns attending the reviews (all are active in athletics and clubs), and then get together on the weekends to do mass reviews together. This usually happens during April. The class notes and notebooks are vital to keeping at the end of the fall semester.

    We've had both fall and spring classes, and her AP test results are stronger in classes she normally excels in, not from the semester that the class was offered.
    · Reply · Share
  • mkm56mkm56 3009 replies53 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,062 Senior Member
    I'm in NC too. My kids high school was on block schedule. Four classes each semester. They changed to this after my oldest one was a senior. In some ways it was better--before we had just 6 periods/day, so block allowed 32 courses instead of 24 before graduation. That allowed my one S. to get extra sciences and math that he wanted and my D. to have time in her schedule to take things like photo and culinary arts. The downside is the May exam, so that semester is shortened and if the class is in the fall, students may have forgotten material by test time. The other upside is that the kids don't get hit with 6 or 8 classes all having projects or papers due at the same time, also the 90min periods were more difficult for students with ADD and if the teacher doesn't prepare well the longer class time can be boring. All in all we liked it pretty well, but the semester calendar ended before Christmas then; now it carries over into Jan which mean finals after break.
    · Reply · Share
  • doc53doc53 82 replies11 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 93 Junior Member
    Kids here take an AP course for TWO semesters (10 credits). Surprising others could take the same course in half the time, especially since they are on block schedule here as well. They are limited to three APs/year, but nearly impossible to take 3.

    Since they integrated band/theater into the day program instead of evenings, there is an A/B schedule (or Green/White) and seems very confusing to me. Thankfully, doesn't affect my athletes.
    · Reply · Share
  • jlauer95jlauer95 2465 replies72 discussions. Posts: 2,537 Senior Member
    I have always wondered how the block schedule worked with AP Classes.... now I see the problem. Our kids' school does the "modified block" A and B days so four classes a day for the full year.

    I also wonder how the California kids do since their school year tends to end mid June yet the AP exams are first week of May. They lose about 6 weeks of classes.
    · Reply · Share
  • katwkittenskatwkittens 2260 replies41 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,301 Senior Member
    Imagine AP Physics C starting late Jan. with Feb, March and April and a week of spring break thrown in. Or AP Euro, AP Chem or AP Bio for approximately 12 weeks of instruction. The teachers tried but they were all ready to throw in the towel by May. Imagine teaching Campbell's entire bio text in 12 weeks. Or the AP BC calc book. DS is graduating this year with many APs, but admittedly much of the learning was self taught. Last year 2 students took the calc test and he is the lone student for the physics exam. And we aren't talking about a small high school either, 2300+. And yes we are in NC as well.

    Every single one of son's AP teachers (14) of them can't stand the 4x4 block either. Some loathed it so much they left last year, social science, science and math chair for local schools still on the traditional schedule. The new ones they hired this year were struggling to keep the pace of the curriculm necessary to cover the material adequately for exams. Many of those have requested to not teach AP next year or are requesting transfers.

    I have one left to get through this system, a 10th grader and can't wait for him to be done. We had previously been in another state, another district on a traditional 6 periods and my 3 older children in AP were exposed to a much deeper and thorough AP curriculm.

    Did I mention how much I detest 4X4??? And my opinion is not just reflective of how much it hurts AP students but to the other end of the spectrum as well but that's another vent!

    Kat
    · Reply · Share
  • cangelcangel 4054 replies73 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 4,127 Senior Member
    My DH has taught 4X4 block for several years now. He teaches chemistry and physics, and likes the block because of the impact on labs. He has mostly been able to schedule his AP classes for the spring semester (mostly). He does realize that he is in the minority, liking block, and even he admits that adapting lessons to fit the short attention spans and long class sessions is difficult.

    The school system is planning on going to some variation of the A/B day format to address the problems with the 4X4, but keep the 8 classes/per year. Our state has a 4X4 curriculum requirement for graduation (which is another meaning of 4X4), requiring 4 years math, science, English and history to graduate - so for the low end of the spectrum those 8 classes per year are thought to be necessary.

    My kids' school, on the other hand has the traditional 7 period day with most classes being 2 semesters, but they rotate the periods on a schedule that is endlessly complicated. This prevents the situation where the last period of the day always gets slighted for pep rallies, assemblies, doc appts, etc.
    · Reply · Share
  • jlauer95jlauer95 2465 replies72 discussions. Posts: 2,537 Senior Member
    kat: how have the scores been? Do the teachers/schools have to report the success rate (passing with 3 +)? I would think that if kids can't pass (or are getting 3's instead of 4's & 5's) that the school would give up.

    I like our kids "modified block" schedule:

    They take 4 classes on one day and 4 other classes the next day for the full year.

    Fridays switch from A to B days every other week.

    A Days .............................. B Days
    M - W (A Day)...................... T- Th (B Day)

    8:00 - 9:30.... Period 1......... Period 5
    9:30 - 9:45.....Assembly ....... Assembly
    9:48 - 11:18... Period 2......... Period 6
    11:21 - 1:26....Period 3 ........ Period 7
    ......... Lunch 1: 11:21 - 11:56
    ...........Lunch 2: 12:00 - 12:35
    1:29 - 3:05.........Period 4...........Period 8

    For awhile, they tried having all 8 class periods on Friday (instead of switching A & B days each week). It didn't work out as well. classes were too short. too many books to carry in one's backpack. After the "trial", they went back to switching Fridays each week.

    The nice thing is that kids only have homework due the "next day" on Thursdays IF the Friday is also going to be "B" day that week. Otherwise, it gives the kids 2 days to manage their homework and get it done.
    · Reply · Share
  • jlauer95jlauer95 2465 replies72 discussions. Posts: 2,537 Senior Member
    cangel: Has your dh noticed any difference in his school's AP scores (not just for his classes but other AP classes)?

    How are their "A" day and "B" days handled now and how might they change?
    · Reply · Share
  • bluebayoubluebayou 26598 replies174 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 26,772 Senior Member
    kat:

    agree that such a schedule does a disservice to kids at both ends of the bell curve. Imagine a stuggling math student trying to learn Alg or Geom in 16 weeks....yikes.

    cangel: when does your D's school begin? Ours doesn't start until after way after Labor Day, so kids have 3-4 weeks less of instruction (than kids in Texas) prior to APs.
    · Reply · Share
  • katwkittenskatwkittens 2260 replies41 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,301 Senior Member
    It wasn't just the school that switched, it was the entire district except for the district's magnet schools. Second largest district in the state. Magnet didn't switch because they have too many students taking AP courses and it would negatively affect their AP test scores. For our specific school, scores, well, were terrible. Not just a slew of 1 and 2's when they had been 3's and 4's but went from 20-30 students taking on AP test to a handful, as in 5. They are hoping it will go up this year but with the new state law that mandates school must begin after 8/25 and ends in June, new semester does not begin until late Jan., fewer students have registered for the exams.

    Ugh. However, in this district the 4x4 block is the least of their worries. Our school has 2300+, is built to handle 1400 and they are expecting hundreds more next year.

    2 years and counting.

    Kat
    · Reply · Share
  • PackMomPackMom 7650 replies17 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 7,667 Senior Member
    I'm thinking the 4x4 system is going to cause a lot of headaches for a lot of people when our school switches next year. I hear that part of the reason for the change is to give a boost to underacheiving students i.e. if they fail a class in the fall they can retake it in the spring without getting a whole year behind.

    When S1 (now a college fresh.) took AP Bio. and Calc. under the A/B system, those classes were double blocked meaning they met for 90 minutes every day for the whole school year. Pass rate on the exams was very high. Next year's students at our school will only get half that time with the 4x4 system. *Sigh*
    · Reply · Share
  • wolfpiperwolfpiper 453 replies208 discussions- Posts: 661 Member
    I for one love the 4x4 block schedule we're on. It's much easier to manage 4 classes at a time as opposed to 7 or 8, and it gives the teachers more time to go in-depth and do intereting labs. Sure, having to relearn AP material can be a pain, but it's actually not as bad as one might think, given my experience with classes thus far, even memorization-intensive history. It has often allowed me to go in-depth with Japanese studies as well (being in VI as opposed to IV).

    I was on the modified block plan in junoir high and hated it. The homewotrk load was often incredibly heavy, and it was hard on the teachers to remember where every class was in terms of mateial covered.
    · Reply · Share
  • msteemstee 3082 replies55 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,137 Senior Member
    Boy, I hate that reasoning--now you have more time to retake a failed class. Some teachers used that as a reason for the switch to a 4x4 block in our local public school too. I really dislike the 4x4 block, and it is one of the reasons my kids don't go to that school anymore The first one did, and they switched to the 4X4 schedule his senior year.

    However, they do double block all the AP classes. So they run 90 min per day, every day, for two semesters.
    · Reply · Share
  • jlauer95jlauer95 2465 replies72 discussions. Posts: 2,537 Senior Member
    I am interested in the "double block" 90 minute classes for AP classes. How does the day go??? Can you copy/paste a schedule?
    · Reply · Share
  • smcmomsmcmom 71 replies2 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 73 Junior Member
    4 by 4 block is the most rigid schedule and it is good in some places, bad in others. Both my daughters had the block and it was challenging. Large gaps in between math and foreign language were very difficult. For math, the girls doubled up one year and completed two years of math within the school year. This worked the first year, but sophomore/junior year I did have one daughter who had one math class fall of sophomore year and the next one spring of junior year. That was horrible, she had a very difficult time getting back into the math mode.

    Our music and art programs have been diminished by this schedule as well. Due to difficulty scheduling, many kids drop band/chorus/art to make room for the more challenging AP's or other classes. From what I have heard, the modified block sounds much more reasonable for math, foreign language and music.

    As for AP's...both girls had fall AP's and continued studying (on top of their regular spring homework) in order to keep the material fresh in their heads. With all AP's I did not feel they got through the material they should have, but both did well on the tests. Their diligence in studying beyond the class definately paid off though.
    · Reply · Share
  • bluebayoubluebayou 26598 replies174 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 26,772 Senior Member
    PackMom:

    huh? A kid struggles in math, so we force him/her to try to absorb it twice as fast, and if they don't, they can try it again.....I'm remember Gomer Pyle's famous line: Stupid, Stupid, Stupid.
    · Reply · Share
  • katwkittenskatwkittens 2260 replies41 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,301 Senior Member
    Exactly bluebayou, exactly.

    Kat
    · Reply · Share
This discussion has been closed.

Recent Activity