Fads rule much of American education. A good example is block scheduling. In most high schools in the Washington area — and much of the rest of the country — that innovation has replaced the traditional 45-minute daily class periods with classes that meet every other day for as long as 90 minutes each.
The block approach, influenced by the work of University of Virginia school administration expert Robert Lynn Canady, swept through this area in the 1990s. I had to explain it in several stories then. It was not easy. The array of colors and numbers used to distinguish each class was bewildering.
Still, about three-quarters of this region’s high schools, and many middle schools, have stuck with block schedules, even though many educators have a difficult time explaining why. Studies say neither block Arlington County schools Superintendent Patrick K. Murphy (Arlington County schools) nor regular schedules make much of a difference.