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Queensbury Middle School one of few to start block schedule

QUEENSBURY-- Students at Queensbury Middle School will soon spend more time in class and less time in the hallway. Parents, teachers and students are getting ready for the new block schedule, which will go into effect at Queensbury Middle School next week.  
“It increases instructional minutes by 35 minutes every four day rotation,” principal Richard Keys said. “So over a course of a year that's a significant amount of time."
The new block schedule transforms a nine-period school day into six nearly hour-long chunks.
“So ultimately what will happen [is] as opposed to meeting every day for 40 minutes they'll meet three out of every four days for 57 minutes,” Keys said.
Students are still offered the same variety of courses and the school day itself only starts four minutes earlier. Meanwhile, kids spend less time in the halls.
“It allows me to do more things in the classroom without eating up a lot of time moving between classes and getting things situated,” parent and teacher Jim Rodewald said.
Rodewald said he has taught under both types of schedules.
“I actually prefer block scheduling myself,” Rodewald said.
So do most parents we spoke with once they understood it.
“I thought it was very confusing the whole set up and how every day it's different,” parent Kristin Ferone said.
Researchers at the College of Saint Rose in Albany say school districts need to ease students into the change. They say unveiling a block schedule is a massive undertaking that takes a lot of time and effort.
Keys says he has spent the last two years getting his school ready and he is still not 100% convinced the results will show.
“The research really doesn't indicate from a student achievement perspective that a block schedule increases student achievement,” Keys said.
But Keys also says more time in class means more time for labs, group sessions and engagement through technology.
“What a lot of the research tells us is that student engagement is paramount to student success,” Keys said. “What you do within that instructional time that is going to impact student achievement."
We reached out to several local school districts to get their take on block scheduling. The superintendent at Shenendehowa Central Schools says officials there considered block scheduling years ago but decided the district wouldn't benefit because of its larger size.
Meanwhile, the City School District of Albany says it would consider this change and officials there are eager to learn more about it.
Students at Queensbury Middle School will spend the first hour of their first day of school getting a better understanding of the block schedule. The first day of school is Thursday, September 4th.
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