Differences in student achievement between block period schools and nonblock period schools in the state of Mississippi
As each state moves to meet the state testing requirements as outlined in the No Child Left Behind Legislation of 2001, having current and relevant data to assess student achievement on state exams is becoming increasingly more important. Without question, school leaders are currently searching for any edge available to give students and teachers the best opportunity for success. One way in which school leaders have sought to improve student academic performance is by increasing instructional time through block periods of instruction, commonly referred to as block scheduling. This study serves to provide school leaders with additional data to consider in the debate over whether increasing instructional time improves student achievement, specifically on year-end state mandated exams. This study was conducted utilizing test data from 30 Mississippi public high schools throughout the northern, central, and southern parts of the state. Test data were collected on the Mississippi Subject Area Exams in the areas of algebra I and Biology I from the spring 2003 testing cycle. These data were used to test four hypotheses; two related to the algebra I data and two related to the Biology I data. The study compared the mean scores of 15 block high schools with the mean scores of 15 nonblock high schools in each subject area. In addition, data were utilized to compare the percentage of students passing the exams in block schools versus nonblock schools utilizing the same 30 high schools. A simple t test revealed nonblock schools did not have significantly different means than nonblock schools in both algebra I and Biology I. The data also revealed that students in nonblock schools did not have a significantly different number of students passing the state exam in each subject area than block schools. These results were contrary to each hypothesis, which indicated that there would be a significant difference in student achievement in favor of block schools. Each hypothesis was rejected in this study.