School Calendars. ERIC Digest by sio10796


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ED 466 007                                                              EA 031 562

AUTHOR              Metzker, Bill
TITLE               School Calendars. ERIC Digest.
INSTITUTION         ERIC Clearinghouse on Educational Management, Eugene, OR.
SPONS AGENCY        Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED),
                    Washington, DC.
REPORT NO           EDO-EA-02-03
PUB DATE            2002-03-00
NOTE                4p.; Digest number 154.
CONTRACT            ED-99-CO-0011
AVAILABLE FROM      ERIC Clearinghouse on Educational Management, 5207
                    University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 974034-5207. Tel:
                    800-438-8841 (Toll Free); Fax: 541-346-2334.For full text:
PUB TYPE            ERIC Publications (071) - - ERIC Digests in Full Text (073)
EDRS PRICE          M F O ~ / P C O ~u s Postage.
DESCRIPTORS         Elementary Secondary Education; *Extended School Year;
                    *Flexible Scheduling; Instructional Effectiveness; *School
                    Schedules; Student Welfare; *Time Factors (Learning); *Year
                    Round Schools
IDENTIFIERS         ERIC Digests; *Year Round Programs

                 This digest discusses the rationale for changing school
calendars. It describes what some districts are doing and advises school
leaders and board members on the issues that typically arise when a calendar
is changed. It examines the nationwide push toward a longer school year,
driven in part by so-called high-stakes testing and mandated increases in
instructional hours. The digest also looks at the district and state levels
and how their calendars are being adjusted in response to local imperatives.
In Michigan, for example, district superintendents had to incorporate a
state-required increase of 108 instructional hours. While some year-round
schools offer intercessions during breaks for students who need remedial
help, other districts are exploring extra days, after-school programs, and/or
summer sessions as ways to extend learning. Researchers and educators
recognize that the traditional school calendar does not correlate with
children's learning patterns. However, experts agree that it is of little
value to add days to the calendar without a concrete plan for using the time
to enhance instruction. Viewed this way, the calendar becomes a variable that
educators can tailor to the particular needs of their students; modified and
extended calendars are rapidly becoming the norm in schools across the
country. (Contains 14 references.) (RJM)

              Reproductions supplied by EDRS are the best that can be made ',
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                    School Calendars

                         ERIC Digest

                            March 2002
                           Number 156

                        By Bill Metzker

                       U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
                Office of EducationalResearch and Improvement
                pf                 CENTER (ERIC)
                    This document has been reproduced as
                     received from the person or organization
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                0 Minor changes have been made to improve
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                   Points of view or opinions stated in this
                   document do not necessarily represent official
                   OERl position or policy.

        ERIC Clearinghouse on Educational Management
                     College of Education
                     University of Oregon
                 Eugene, Oregon 97403-5207
0                                    2
                               ERIC DIGEST
School Calendars                                       As part of the push to reform schools,
                                                 states have legislated so-called high-stakes
                                                                                                  Day in late May (personal communication
                                                                                                  with Robert Rodosky, 2001). Parental
Bv Bill Metzker                                  testing and mandated increased instructional     choice led to an early start date in Colorado
                                                 hours. To complete state examinations by         Springs, Colorado, where fewer than 1 per-
                                                 December’s winter break, some school dis-        cent wished to begin after Labor Day

           ew issues in a community              tricts are starting classes earlier. Others      (personal communication with Mary
           generate the fractiousness that       have added days to accommodate a state-          Thurman, 2001).
           changes in school calendars can,      mandated expansion of hours, while others              Most schools in Indiana open around
           yet many districts nationwide are     modify the calendar for localized reasons        August 15. In the Benton Community
scheduling earlier start times for school. The   (Keller 2001). Some of these calendars,add       School Corporation of that state, the Board
traditional September start date may become      days, usually as remedial intercessions be-      of School Trustees mandated that the first
a mere memory. In 1988,just over half the        tween breaks. Summer sessions also play          semester, when state tests are administered,
nation’s schools opened before September         an increasing role.                              end prior to the winter break. Since school
 1;in 2000, three-quarters did-a 50 percent            For these and other reasons, more          ends earlier in the spring, students get first
increase (Market Data Retrieval, 2001).          schools across the country are altering their    crack at summerjobs (personal communica-
      A year ago, Rudolph W. Guiliani, then      instructional schedules. Some are trying         tion with Glenn Krueger, 2001). Most West
mayor of New York City, proposed Satur-          later start times to address adolescents’        Virginiacalendars add vacation time around
day classes, and New York’s governor             physiological needs (for more sleep). Sev-       Thanksgiving for the hunting season; New
suggested longer school days. In California,     eral rural districts are adopting four-day       Orleans schools acknowledge Mardi Gras;
Governor Gray Davis has recommended              weeks. Other schools are experimenting           and Aroostaook County high schools in
adding thirty instructional days for middle-     with trimesters. Extended learning sched-        Maine give a three-week break for the po-
school students to address academic              ules for students with academic deficiencies     tato harvest (Chaika).
deficiencies (Wilgoren, January 10,2001).        are now available in many districts. And
      A move toward year-round schooling         two million children attend year-round
propels some of this change, but socioeco-       schools (Chaika 1999).
nomic conditions and demands for higher                                                           Are Added Sessions Part of the
school standards play significant roles as                                                        Shift?
well. As of this writing, newly passed fed-                                                              While some year-round schools offer
eral legislation, theNo Child Left Behind        What ‘Are States and Districts                   intercessions during breaks between in-
Act of 200 1, calls for more testing and ac-     Doing?                                           structional periods for students who need
countability than many states presently                School districts set their instructional   remedial help, other districts are exploring
require. In this high-stakes environment,        calendars in response to a variety of local      extra days, after-school programs, and/or
addressing time in some form-more of it,         imperatives. In Michigan, district superin-      summer sessions as ways to extend learn-
rearranging how it’s scheduled, or making        tendents have had to adjust to a state-          ing. Again, the two primary reasons cited
better use ofwhat’s already there-has be-        required increase of 108 instructional hours,    for investigating such changes are the need
come part of the school-reform agenda.           and at least one district moved its start date   to meet higher educational standards and the
      This Digest discusses the rationale for    to August (Keller). North Carolina school        trend for both parents or single parents to
changing school calendars, describes what        boards must adopt a school calendar of 220       work full time.
some districts are doing, and advises school     days, of which 180 to 200 must be instruc-             In Massachusetts, the Academic Sup-
leaders and board members on the issues          tional (Education Commission ofthe States,       port Services Program provides districts
that typically arise when a calendar is          2000). Students at Brooks Global Studies         with state funds to offer extended learning
changed.                                         Magnet Elementary in Greensboro, North           time for students needing help on the Mas-
                                                 Carolina, began school on August 1,2001,         sachusetts Comprehensive Assessment
                                                 and will attend school for 21 0 days, with       System test. The Individual Tutoring in
Why Change?                                      breaks interspersed.                             Reading Program provides one-on-one help
      As compulsory education evolved in               In 2002, Pinellas County schools in        for fourth-graders.
the United States, so did the conventional       the Tampa Bay, Florida, area will open Au-             Minnesota’s After-School Enrichment
school calendar of nine months in school         gust 7 to allow time for the Florida             Program funds community organizations
followed by a three-month summer vaca-           Comprehensive Assessment Test; the dis-          that provide after-school programs for stu-
tion, during which many children helped          trictalso hopes the change will help it          dents needing academic help, particularly
with harvesting.&ops. But now that it is         compete for teachers by offering an early        those from low-income neighborhoods or
common for both parents to work outside          paycheck (Fields 2000). At the Jefferson         those who are involved in the juvenile jus-
the home year-round, public opinion in-          School District in Kentucky, school offi-        tice system. California’s After-School
creasingly supports a longer school year         cials moved the start date to mid-August so      Learning and Safe Neighborhoods Partner-
(Rakoff 1999).                                   that the school year ends before Memorial        ship Program is similar.
      The Illinois Summer Bridges Program                 remedial and accelerated students (Cooper,                  the States Doing?,” appears in Principal
is actually a year-long extended-learning                 July 18,2000).                                              Online Magazine (January 2001).
program targeting third- and sixth-grade                                                                    
students. In Texas districts with 35 percent                                                                       Byrd, Jimmy K. “Student Achievement: Is
of K-8 students from economically disad-                  What Issues Should Districts                                Equality Really Necessary?” Paper pre-
vantaged families, the Optional Extended                  Consider Before Changing                                    sented at the Annual Meeting of the
                                                          Calendars?                                                  American Educational Research Associa-
Year initiative may extend the day, week, or
                                                                                                                      tion, Seattle, Washington, April 10-14,
year by as much as thirty days (Brown                           Changing the school calendar can gen-                 2001. 24 pages. ED 452 273.
2000).                                                    erate controversy, so a measured and                     Center for Applied Research and Educa-
      Researchers and educators have long                 deliberate approach is themost effective. A                 tional Improvement (CAREI). “Alterna-
known that the traditional school calendar                “top-down’’ method should be avoided, and                   tive Calendars: Extended Learning and
doesn’t correlate with children’s learning                districts would do well to begin gradually                  Year Round Schools, St. Paul Public
patterns. The long summer break is a hard-                by setting up pilot programs or magnet                      Schools Extended Learning Programs:
ship, and it interferes with retention of                 schools, if possible (Cooper, September 7,                  Evaluation Report.” Minneapolis: Uni-
material, particularly for younger children               2000).                                                      versity of Minnesota, College of Educa-
and for students whose families cannot af-                      Local issues notwithstanding, several                 tion and Human Development, 1999.
ford summer enrichment activities. In 1999,               common challenges recur: (1) Funding for          
more than half the nation’s large urban dis-              teacher salaries, supplies, and building                    ports/calendars/printable/default.html
tricts offered summer programs tailored for               maintenance; (2) transportation, child-care              Chaika, Gloria. “Alternative School Calen-
remedial work(White 1999).                                concerns, parental involvement, and other                   dars: Smart Idea or Senseless Experi-
                                                          factors affecting attendance; (3) scheduling                ment?” Education World, 1999.
                                                          facilities; and (4) ensuring students’ safety            Cooper, Harris. “Is the School Calendar Out-
                                                          (CAREI 1999).                                               dated?” Paper presented at the confer-
More Time or Structured                                                                                               ence, “Summer Learning and the
Time?                                                           Administrators who have experience
                                                          with calendar changes note various con-                     Achievement Gap: First National Confer-
      Experts agree that it is of little value to                                                                     ence,” Johns Hopkins University Center
                                                          cerns: school attendance boundaries, bus
add days to the calendar without a concrete                                                                            for Social Organization of Schools, Balti-
                                                          routes, and general community life. Echoing
plan for using the time to enhance instruc-                                                                           more, MD (July 18, 2000).
                                                          the research, they say it’s important to in-
tion. Viewed this way, the calendar                                                                                Cooper, Harris. ‘‘Harris Cooper on Merits of
                                                          volve the entire community-parents,
becomes a variable educators can tailor to                                                                             Year Round Schools.” Interactive com-
                                                          teachers, students, even private schools-in                  munity chat on (Septem-
the particular needs of their own students.
                                                          the discussion, and it’s helpful if calendars                ber 7, 2000).
      Kentucky, for example, has an ex-
                                                          are published three years in advance (per-               Education Commission of the States. ECS
tended learning initiative-Extended School
                                                          sonal communications with school district                    StateNotes, Scheduling/ School Calendar,
Services (ESS)-that     requires schools to
                                                          administrators Linda DeClue, Todd                            updated August 2000.
identify students who are having difficulty.
                                                          Stogner, and Glenn Krueger 2001).                            clearinghouse/ 14/28/1428.htm
An intervention rather than a remedial pro-
                                                                Consideration of teachers’ opinions                Fields, Monique. “School Year Will Start
gram, the initiative works as an extension of
                                                          may be particularly crucial. While they may                  Early in 2002.” St. Petersburg Times
the school year, with instruction correlated
                                                          oppose calendar changes initially, they tend                 (December 17, 2000).
to state guidelines and school curricula
                                                          to prefer the new schedules over time.                   Gindara, Patricia. “The Dimensions of
                                                          Older teachers can innovate in ways they                     Time.” An online interview with
      One ostensibly contrarian study of an
                                                          might not be able to otherwise, while                        NEAToday Online (March 2000). http://
experimental intercession calendar in Texas
                                                          younger ones appreciatethe flexibility the         
suggests a shorter school year may be ap-                                                                              gandara.htnil
                                                          new approach affords their personal lives
propriate for students of average and                                                                              Keller, Bess. “August Openings Pub Schools
                                                          (Gindara 2000).
above-average achievement. Added to a tra-                                                                             on Hot Seat.” Education Week 20, 43
                                                                 Changing the school calendar used to
ditional calendar of 170 days was a                                                                                    (August 8, 2001): I , 25.
                                                          be an uncommon practice, but today modi-
one-week intercession between grading pe-                                                                    
                                                           fied and extended calendars are rapidly
riods for students who were struggling.                                                                            Market Data Retrieval, a subsidiary of Dun
                                                           becoming the norm in schools across the
Overall effects were favorable, and eco-                                                                               and Bradstreet, in Shelton, CT,
                                                          country. In the cacophony of ideas for
nomically disadvantaged students’ scores                                                                     
                                                           school reform, calendar innovation is a vari-
improved on the Texas Assessment of Aca-                                                                           Rakoff, Todd D. “Schooltime.” Paper pre-
                                                           able school boards and district executives
demic Skills tests (Byrd 2001).                                                                                        sented at the Annual Meeting of the
                                                           can uniquely tailor to meet local needs as
      The summer break provides another                                                                                American Educational Research Associa-
                                                           they seek ways to raise student achieve-
opportunity for instructional innovation.                                                                              tion, Montreal, Canada, April 19-23,
                                                           ment.                                                        1999. 26 pages. ED 433 603.
 Summer sessions are most effective when
they augment the regular school year, com-                                                                         White, Kerry. “Quietly, the School Calendar
mence close to the start of the new term,                 RESOURCES                                                    Evolves.” Education Week 19,9 (Octo-
and are taught by regular classroom teach-                 Brown, Cynthia. “Extended Learning Initia-                  ber 27, 1999): I , 12.
ers who can assess their students prior to                    tives: Opportunities and Implementation              Wilgoren, Jodi. ‘‘Calls for Change in the
the beginning ofthe regular year and plan                     Challenges.” Council of Chief State                      Scheduling of the School Day.”.New
 accordingly. Well-structured summer pro-                     School Officers, May 2000. A condensed                    York Times (January 10,2001).
 grams show positive results for both                         version, “Extended Learning: What Are

A Product of the ERIC Clearinghouse on Educational Management                    College of Education, University of Oregon * Eugene, Oregon 97403-5207
This publication was prepared with funding from the Office of Educational Research and Improvement,US. Department of Education, under contract No. ED-99-CO-
001 1. The ideas and opinions expressed in this Digest do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of OERI, ED, or the Clearinghouse. This Digest is in the public
domain and may be freely reproduced. The text of this Digest may be viewed electronically at               EA 031 562.
                                U S . Department of Education
                   Office of Educational Research and improvement (OERI)
                              National Library of Education (NLE)
                       Educational Resources lnfomation Center (ERIC)


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