School Schedule Hinders Students’ Academic Success

Colin Moriarty, Opinions Editor

While the school schedule has been moved around and tampered with a lot over the past two years, after students’ year-long leave due to the Covid-19 pandemic, new suggestions regarding the schedule have been made known by our student body. After getting used to being at home, many have grown to reject the current schedule policies; some suggesting shorter days, different start times, and adjusted summer vacations. One notion that both teachers and students appear to unanimously agree on is the belief that an average student’s workload is much too overbearing for the majority of teens. 

Daily, students are expected to attend 6-7 classes; each being at least 45 minutes. Within that short time span of 45 minutes teachers are meant to be able to effectively get through an abundant amount of content. Not only that; students are supposed to be able to comprehend excessive and various amounts of information in a short period of time. A growing trend intending to solve this problem is the introduction of block scheduling. Block scheduling entails longer class periods while attending less classes per day. Students would attend four classes in one day and the other four in the next. Students would be expected to attend longer periods (typically an hour and a half) which would allow them to go further into depth and gain a deeper understanding of the material. However, there are also drawbacks that come with block scheduling. There would be more opportunity to get distracted which would also require students to have a much longer attention span. 

Students at West Springfield High School expressed ideas of their own regarding our school’s schedule policies. “We should start at 9am and end at 3pm. I work sometimes until 9pm at night and am expected to wake up before 7am? It’s just tiring,” 11th grader, Sofia Soto, explained. Proposing later start and end times would allow staff and students to catch up on sleep which is proven to ultimately benefit an individual’s ability to focus and learn. With that, the structure of the school day wouldn’t necessarily have to be changed, just when kids arrive at and leave the building.

Many students, such as 11th grader Yana Yuzych, also suggested that schools take Wednesdays off as a way to give students a break. “I think we should get Wednesdays off. Some other schools do it and two days at a time seems so much less overwhelming than five,” she elaborated. Wednesdays off is not unheard of. Many schools in France use Wednesdays as rest days or have a shortened schedule midweek. In an article written by a newcomer to France, Sandra Haurant, she explains that, “in reality this is when all the extra-curricular activities, from swimming to obscure martial arts, take place.”  Giving students an extra day off would allow them to take more time to be put towards making up work, studying, or other productive activities.

Another issue that comes with our current schedule is the amount of sleep our students are able to get a night.  A study conducted by New York University found, ”Extreme levels of stress can hinder work effectiveness and lead to poor academic performance,”  Without an appropriate amount of sleep and personal time, students lack focus, motivation and their comprehension skills begin to decline. With that, comes the stress of being at school on time- at 7:20. After being released, many students are forced to go straight from school to their jobs, oftentimes getting home as late as 10:00 on school nights, leaving little to no time to spend on themselves rather than binging assignments. Mr. Corduff, an English teacher at our school, explained that, “While students’ eyes may be open when class starts at 7:20am, it’s really more like sleep walking. It’s amazing the difference between the energy in the room 1st period compared to 6th.”

 A change in the school’s schedule; whether it be longer class periods, block scheduling or a break on Wednesdays, would prove to only be beneficial for the student body. With more time to catch up on work, focus on stress- relieving activities, or to relax and unwind, students would undoubtedly see positive changes in their behavior and academic performance.