Student sitting at a computer

How do students use their flex time? The survey results might surprise you.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Have you heard of Response to Intervention (RTI) or maybe Multiple Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS). How about the term 'flex block'? Many schools have implemented what's called a 'flex block' into their schedule, to make time in the school day for interventions, extra help, and more. But is this time just useful for students who are struggling, or who need targeted interventions? Can an argument be made that flex blocks are useful for all students?

Absolutely! Think about what a student who is trying to excel faces today.

  • A heavy class load; perhaps many AP classes
  • Extra-curricular school activities, such as band, sports etc
  • Work after-school or on weekends
  • College applications, visits, prep for SATs and the like

If you’re a student putting forth this type of effort, wouldn’t you appreciate a little extra time in the school day to get caught up on assignments?

What Do Students Think

A survey of students was done in a New Hampshire high school that had implemented a flex block.  Students were asked ‘How do you use your flex block?’

The categories and responses were:

  • Getting Help – 16%
  • Homework – 47%
  • Research/Study – 9%
  • Socializing – 13%
  • Art/Music – 5%
  • Nothing – 8%


 

Encouraging numbers, to be sure.  But this was the survey that was done when flex blocks were new. What would happen as time went by?

Four months later, after working on the program and smoothing out some of the rough spots, the students were again surveyed. There were significant changes in their responses:

  • Getting Help – 19%, up 3%
  • Homework – 53%, up 6%
  • Research/Study – 11%, up 2%
  • Socializing – 8%, down 5%
  • Art/Music – 5%, no change
  • Nothing – 4%, down 4%


 

Noticed what increased? The Homework and Research; exactly what you would hope would increase for those students who were working hard. What decreased? The Socializing and Nothing. So even some of the students who initially felt that flex blocks weren’t useful, decided they were benefiting.

This is just data from one school. There are many other examples of schools that had similar success. Of course, not every school will have the same sucess. But this data does indicate that flex blocks have the possibility of benefiting many, many students, whether high-acheivers or students who are struggling.