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Ask A REL Response

August 2019


What research has been conducted on daily schedules in middle schools?


Following an established REL Southeast research protocol, we conducted a search for research reports as well as descriptive study articles on daily schedules in middle schools. We focused on identifying resources that specifically addressed daily schedules in middle schools. The sources included ERIC and other federally funded databases and organizations, research institutions, academic research databases, and general Internet search engines (For details, please see the methods section at the end of this memo.)

We have not evaluated the quality of references and the resources provided in this response. We offer them only for your reference. These references are listed in alphabetical order, not necessarily in order of relevance. Also, we searched the references in the response from the most commonly used resources of research, but they are not comprehensive and other relevant references and resources may exist."

Research References

  1. Clark, A. F., Wilk, P., & Gilliland, J. A. (2019). Comparing physical activity behavior of children during school between balanced and traditional school day schedules. Journal of School Health, 89(2), 129-135.
    From the abstract: "Background: Some Canadian schools have modified their daily schedules from the traditional school day (TSD) schedule (two 15-minute breaks and one 60-minute break) to a balanced school day (BSD) schedule (two 40-minute breaks). While this change increases daily planning and instructional time, it also changes the amount of time available for moderate-vigorous physical activity (MVPA). Methods: This study uses a case-control design to examine differences in objectively measured MVPA between children in 3 schools using a BSD schedule and 3 schools using a TSD schedule. Study participants (aged 10-12 years) were recruited from schools in Ontario, Canada. Results: Regardless of schedule type, girls had lower MVPA than boys, and as both boys and girls got older their MVPA significantly decreased. The findings indicate there was no statistically significant difference in the total minutes of in-school MVPA between children from BSD schools and children from TSD schools. MVPA was significantly higher for older girls attending BSD schools than older girls attending TSD schools, suggesting that implementing a BSD may help curb declining MVPA as girls enter adolescence. Conclusion: Despite encouraging findings, more rigorous studies (ie, pre-post experiments with control) are needed to better understand how changing schedules impacts children's health."
  2. Corey, C., & Babo, G. (2016). New York State middle schools and instructional scheduling, teaming and common planning: A descriptive study. Education Leadership Review of Doctoral Research, 3(1), 1-23.
    From the abstract: "Data regarding the type of instructional scheduling utilized along with the use of teaming and common planning at the middle school level has not been collected nor reported on the New York State School Report Card, and therefore it is not known whether and how middle schools are implementing these three school supports. Consequently, the purpose of this research was to discover whether these three school supports are present or absent in New York State middle schools in order to provide direction for educators, administrators, community members, and policymakers in making informed decisions regarding middle level education in the State of New York. This descriptive study examined to what extent, if any, three school supports (instructional scheduling, teaming, and common planning) are in existence in New York State middle schools. The results indicated that the majority of principals utilize a traditional departmentalized schedule with interdisciplinary and/or single-graded teaming with varying duration and frequencies of team, grade level, and departmental common planning. Statistically significant differences existed between specific principals' beliefs and grade configuration, school location, and years of principal experience at current school."
  3. Gill, W. W. A. (2011). Middle school A/B block and traditional scheduling: An analysis of math and reading performance by race. NASSP Bulletin, 95(4), 281-301.
    From the abstract: "The purpose of this quantitative study was to examine whether a difference existed in the percentage performance of students earning a pass/advanced score on the Standards of Learning (SOL) Test in math and reading in Virginia's Region IV for schools using an A/B block schedule and those using a traditional schedule. The research also examined if the percentage performance by race--Black, Hispanic, and White--differed on the math and reading SOL Test for Region IV in Virginia. Forty-three schools were included in the study--23 block and 20 traditional schools. The percentage performance in math and reading of each school and the percentage performance by race for each school were studied. Analyses of variance and "t" tests were used to examine differences. The "t"-test results do not show significant differences in the percentage performance of students earning pass/advanced scores in reading and math in block and traditional schools. Significant differences were shown in the percentage of Black and Hispanic students earning pass/advanced scores on the math and reading SOL Test for Region IV in Virginia. A larger percentage of Black and Hispanic students earned pass/advanced scores in the A/B block-scheduled schools than in the traditional schools. (Contains 6 tables.)"
  4. Mattox, K., Hancock, D. R., & Queen, J. A. (2005). The effect of block scheduling on middle school students' mathematics achievement. NASSP Bulletin, 89(642), 3-13.
    From the abstract: "To address the nations' ongoing interest in student achievement, some researchers have focused on the effect of block scheduling--a model in which students take fewer classes for longer periods of time. Although block scheduling has demonstrated its viability in high schools, little research has explored its effect at the middle level. Because the middle level years are often marked by a decline in student achievement, particularly during the transitional year when students move from elementary school to sixth-grade, the current study was conducted. Results revealed significant increases in the mathematics achievement scores of sixth-grade students' enrolled in five middle level schools that transitioned from traditional to block schedules. Characteristics of block scheduling that may have accounted for these outcomes and recommendations for future research are discussed."
  5. Murray, G. V., & Moyer-Packenham, P. S. (2014). Relationships between classroom schedule types and performance on the Algebra I Criterion-Referenced Test. Journal of Education, 194(2), 35-43.
    From the abstract: "One option for length of individual mathematics class periods is the schedule type selected for Algebra I classes. This study examined the relationship between student achievement, as indicated by Algebra I Criterion-Referenced Test scores, and the schedule type for Algebra I classes. Data obtained from the Utah State Office of Education included scores for over 40,000 students, from over 300 schools, who took the identical Algebra I CRT at the end of the same school year. Data obtained from each school district determined the schedule type of each student. Significant differences were found in student achievement based on the schedule type overall and for individual grade levels. The schedule types generally related to higher Algebra I CRT scores were those where students spent more time in the mathematics classroom and where classes met daily."
  6. Temkin, D. A., Princiotta, D., Ryberg, R., & Lewin, D. S. (2018). Later start, longer sleep: Implications of middle school start times. Journal of School Health, 88(5), 370-378.
    From the abstract: "Background: Although adolescents generally get less than the recommended 9 hours of sleep per night, research and effort to delay school start times have generally focused on high schools. This study assesses the relation between school start times and sleep in middle school students while accounting for potentially confounding demographic variables. Methods: Seventh and eighth grade students attending 8 late starting schools (~8:00 am, n = 630) and 3 early starting schools (~7:23 am, n = 343) from a diverse suburban school district completed online surveys about their sleep behaviors. Doubly robust inverse probability of treatment weighted regression estimates of the effects of later school start time on student bedtimes, sleep duration, and daytime sleepiness were generated. Results: Attending a school starting 37 minutes later was associated with an average of 17 additional minutes of sleep per weeknight, despite an average bedtime 15 minutes later. Students attending late starting schools were less sleepy than their counterparts in early starting schools, and more likely to be wide awake. Conclusions: Later school start times were significantly associated with improved sleep outcomes for early adolescents, providing support for the movement to delay school start times for middle schools."


Keywords and Search Strings
The following keywords and search strings were used to search the reference databases and other sources:

  • School schedules, middle school
  • Middle school daily schedules
  • Middle schools, types of scheduling

Databases and Resources
We searched ERIC for relevant resources. ERIC is a free online library of over 1.6 million citations of education research sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences. Additionally, we searched Google Scholar and PsychInfo.

Reference Search and Selection Criteria

When we were searching and reviewing resources, we considered the following criteria:

  • Date of the publication: References and resources published for last 15 years, from 2003 to present, were include in the search and review.
  • Search Priorities of Reference Sources: Search priority is given to study reports, briefs, and other documents that are published and/or reviewed by IES and other federal or federally funded organizations, academic databases, including ERIC, EBSCO databases, JSTOR database, PsychInfo, PsychArticle, and Google Scholar.
  • Methodology: Following methodological priorities/considerations were given in the review and selection of the references: (a) study types - randomized control trials,, quasi experiments, surveys, descriptive data analyses, literature reviews, policy briefs, etc., generally in this order (b) target population, samples (representativeness of the target population, sample size, volunteered or randomly selected, etc.), study duration, etc. (c) limitations, generalizability of the findings and conclusions, etc.

This memorandum is one in a series of quick-turnaround responses to specific questions posed by educational stakeholders in the Southeast Region (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, and South Carolina), which is served by the Regional Educational Laboratory Southeast at Florida State University. This memorandum was prepared by REL Southeast under a contract with the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences (IES), Contract ED-IES-17-C-0011, administered by Florida State University. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of IES or the U.S. Department of Education nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.