The effects of parallel scheduling upon classroom instructional time and the language arts and mathematics achievement scores of elementary students

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Historically, scheduling has not been a major concern for elementary school principals but has been viewed by many as the task of the secondary principal (Canady, 1985). Recently, however, more attention has been given to the merits of scheduling for several reasons.

The purpose of this study was to determine the impact of parallel scheduling upon classroom instructional time and the scores of elementary students in language arts and mathematics. Parallel scheduling was defined as the structuring Of the school day by the principal to ensure that specialist schedules (art, music and physical education) and the support schedules (special programs for selected students) enhance rather than fragment the instructional day. This scheduling design ensured that all children received direct teacher instruction without interruption to attend a pull-out program. It also reduced the number of students in the classroom during direct instruction in reading and mathematics allowing the teacher the opportunity to provide direct instruction to 12-15 students without the presence of the remainder of the students in the classroom. This encouraged efficient and effective use of instructional time during each school day.

This study was designed to address the following questions:

  1. What impact, if any, does the use of parallel scheduling as compared to a regular elementary schedule have upon elementary students?

  2. Does the performance level of elementary students in parallel scheduling interact with student achievement?

  3. Does parallel scheduling impact classroom instructional time?

To accomplish this purpose, a quasi-experimental non-equivalent control group design was used as the researcher was unable to randomly assign the participants to the pilot and control groups. Data was collected from an assigned pilot school and a control school, that had been matched based on socio-economic level, size of school, and standardized test scores. All students in grades two, four, and five in the pilot and control schools served as subjects for the study.

A pre and post-test, the Metropolitan Achievement Test, was utilized to measure growth and achievement of the elementary students. Analysis of covariance was the statistical method used to determine the relationship of parallel scheduled schools and regular scheduled schools with regard to reading, language and mathematics achievement.

Secondly, the Classroom Check List, designed by Jane Stallings (1977), was used to collect data relative to the type of activities that were occurring in the classroom, the size of the group involved in their activity, and whether students were working directly with the teacher or independently. The Chi-Square test was used to determine the relationship between classroom activities, size of groups, and whether students worked directly with the teacher or independently.

It was determined from this study that there were significant differences in the vocabulary, word recognition, total reading, math computation and post total battery achievement scores of children in parallel scheduling as compared to children in regular scheduled schools.

No relationship could be established between classroom activities, the size of student groups, nor the direct interaction with teachers and parallel scheduling. Therefore, no relationship could be established between parallel scheduling and classroom instructional time.