Friday, January 21, 2011

Bad Timing

Since we returned from our Holiday Vacation, we have found our school disrupted by local and federal holidays, as well as a good amount of snow and ice. Unfortunately for us, these disruptions happened right before mid-term exams and now during mid-term exams:

Week One: four days of classess because of Three Kings Day.
Week Two: three and a half days of classes because of one snow day and a 90 minute delay.
Week Three (mid-term exam week): one and half days of classes because of MLK, two snow days, and a 90 minute delay.

And once mid-term exams finally end, which at this rate will not be until the end of next week, we will have to turn our focus on the state exam which begins March 1st. The bad timing continues in the form of our February vacation.
For some reason our district adopted a calendar that places our February vacation during the last school week before state exams begin. In a district that needs to make monumental improvement on those tests, our decision to waste the week before those exams on vacation is irresponsible.
Now, this raises the question of the need for a week long vacation in February. I don't see the need. Instead, I would propose a four day, wrap-around, weekend involving Presdent's Day, an already observed day off from school. Such a calendar would allow for a small break but still provide five instructional days before the state exam begins.


At 8:14 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Braemar Here.
Although the weather has put a glitch into the year-ago winter planning, we cannot know what will happen that far ahead.

You may be foused on the need for sudden and frequent reminders just before testing. In the big picture, the tests cover many years of teaching and long formed habits. Some districts believe a break is good to gear up for the testing period.

Windham calendar planning in the big picture must take surrounding towns and contracted students from Columbia into account as well.
There is a big push for regional calendars. We in SE CT at LEARN RESC, 24 districts are making an effort to do so. Many htere want to start after Labor Day becasue of the tourism market.

Another difficulty there is also that when the regional calendar came out recommending the 4 day February break, staff and parents said, NO. We need the break to stop the spread of those germs sometimes causing illness so pervasive that there are never enough substitutes to cover classes. Then students can not go on to new material with many missing.

Some districts say, if we do a short break, they'll take their kids on vacation anyway. We will be low on attendance and get little done.

So bigger picture that BOEs look at in long range calendar planning:
Tests, important but success not made on a few days practice. Connections to families of surrounding towns for staff and students also important. Absentee predictions...
Playing devil's advocate.


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