Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Donald W. Smitley


This study was conducted to determine the merits of traditional and alternative high school schedules (Block 8, Block 4, etc.) as perceived by principals of central and southern Illinois high schools (schools south of Interstate 80). The study took place during November and December, 1997, utilizing a survey of 200 randomly selected Illinois high school principals south of Interstate 80. Of the 200 surveys sent out, 168 were returned for a response rate of 84%. A survey was constructed to gather data on six research questions. The High School Schedule Survey and cover letter were developed and field tested by the author with 15 high school principals. Initially, this instrument was sent to only 15 of these principals as a sample to gather feedback on the instrument before final mailings were completed. No content was changed in the survey or cover letter as a result of this field test. The only change was altering the font of the survey instrument. The results submitted by the 15 field tested high school principals were not included in the results.

This survey was sent to 200 randomly selected Illinois high school principals south of Interstate 80 as gathered from the Illinois High School Association Member Directory. Selection of these 200 random principals was achieved by first identifying all 392 high schools located south of Interstate 80 that are listed in the Illinois High School Association Member Directory. All 392 schools were then identified by a number, placed into a box, and then selected one at a time until 200 schools had been chosen. All 200 high school principals surveyed were sent a personalized cover letter in addition to the survey instrument.

The principals reported that 79% of the high schools were implementing a traditional schedule. Of the principals reporting that traditional schedules were in place, 55% reported that their schools were investigating alternative methods of scheduling. Forty-five percent of the schools that had traditional schedules were investigating block 8 methods, while 38% of the schools were investigating block 4 methods of scheduling.

Eighty-two percent of the principals perceived that current schedules provided for excellent student learning possibilities. In addition, 57% of the principals felt that current schedules provided for maximum teaching strategies and methods. Fifty-three percent of the principals believed that the current schedules maximized student academic performance, while 73% believed that the schedule in place met the needs of most of the students.

The results of this study led to the conclusion that although high school principals seemed to be satisfied with schedules currently in place, many were investigating the possibility of using alternative schedules. It was concluded that additional information should be obtained on the benefits of alternative scheduling as perceived by students, faculty members, and parents. Other recommendations included the need for more study in the areas of alternative scheduling methods as opposed to traditional scheduling methods by focusing on curriculum, discipline, communications, problem solving, and other educational items as a structure for improving student learning and teaching performance.