Block-scheduling Policy: Its Effect on African American High School Students' Truancy and Attitudes Toward School

Nicholas Andrew Stirling, Fordham University


Truancy (both cutting class and skipping school) is one of the top 10 problems in our nation's schools, negatively affecting education and the future of our youth. The causes of truancy vary greatly and the responses to reducing truancy have been multifaceted. Could the reorganization of time in school (block scheduling) affect truancy behavior and students' attitudes toward school? This study analyzes the relationship between the policies of “block” and traditional scheduling in high schools to truancy behaviors of African American students, while using students' attitudes toward school—feelings about academic progress, teachers, friends, parents, school, extracurricular activities, self, school rules, and schedules—as intervening variables. We contend, using null hypotheses, that how students' time is organized has no effect on their attitudes, ultimately having no significant effects on their decision to attend or not attend classes or school. The study also tests “rational choice theory” as applied to student behavior. To what degree are students, as affected by time use, making conscious choices to attend school or not? A survey, adapting an original, valid, and reliable instrument, was distributed to 800 high school students in ethnically diverse communities who attend blocked and traditional classes. Data initially show no significant relationship between scheduling and students' attitudes toward school. However, the results from the study do show strong and significant intercorrelations between students' demographics, attitudes, and schedules to their truancy behavior. Thus, this study has implications for school time use, classroom climate, teacher-student interactions, and possible alternative means for reducing absenteeism and possibly improving student achievement. The study also has implications for research, as we begin to view students as rational consumers of education and truancy as a rejection of the program including the schedule. Finally, this study has implications for school leaders. They should nurture close interpersonal relationships when implementing policies because it seems positive interpersonal relationships have greater influence on behavior—truancy—than any other policy such as block scheduling. No matter what, education remains a people business.

Subject Area

Educational administration|Black studies|School counseling|African American Studies

Recommended Citation

Stirling, Nicholas Andrew, "Block-scheduling Policy: Its Effect on African American High School Students' Truancy and Attitudes Toward School" (2001). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3021717.