High stakes testing.
Consultants on school calendar reconfiguration.
These consultants have made a lucrative business of selling
school districts on the idea that reconfiguring the school year will
result in greater academic achievement and make it easier to slip in a
multi-track year-round calendar when districts are faced with school
Government incentive money.
Flawed government studies.
government studies over the last 15 years recommended restructuring
school time based on
flawed assumptions that America’s schoolchildren were getting less
classroom instructional time than foreign competitors.
In fact, a careful analysis finds teaching time actually is
highest in the United States (“Teaching time is highest in the U.S.,
by Tamara Henry, USA Today, April 12, 1995) in a comparison of 15
other industrialized nations. These government reports touted the
longer school year and year-round schools.
A recent check of those schools cited in those reports as
calendar reconfiguration success stories found that nearly all had
returned to a traditional school year.
Early School Start: Talking Points
Summaries and notable quotes from media stories and research studies
Compiled by Billee Bussard
Below: Places To Watch)
|TEXAS - Lowering air conditioning bills are among
the many reasons Texas lawmakers have introduced legislation to
delay the first day of school to Aug. 21.--“Muffling school
bells until Aug. 21,” Jeff Wentworth, New Braunfels
Herald-Century, Dec. 5, 2000.
TEXAS - “Some non-custodial parents have
expressed concern that students’ extracurricular activities have
shortened summers to the extent that they have very little time with
their children,” Texas
Sen. Jeff Wentworth said. As a result of early school starts,
parents are seeing their children less and less.--“Muffling
school bells until Aug. 21,” Jeff Wentworth, New
Braunfels Herald-Century, Dec. 5, 2000.
Calif: Parents say air quality and health concerns of their children
are reasons school
trustees need to push the first date of school from Mid-August to
after Labor Day. Anita
Hansen, one of the organizers of the effort, told school officials
children forced to go to school during the harshest days of
summer, when the air quality becomes unbearable,
are put at serious health risks because their lungs are still
developing. “It’s the long-term effect this will have on
children,” she said. The parents backed their argument with
information from the San Joaquin Air Pollution Control District,
Environmental Protection Agency, the National Weather Service and
the American Lung Association. The data shows August has the highest
temperatures and the poorest air quality.
Start of school considered in Fresno,” Felicia Cousrt Matlosz,-The Fresno Bee, Jan. 11, 2001
TEXAS - Children
sweltered in 100-plus degree temperatures during football and
marching band practice as a result of ridiculous early school start
dates, said Sen. Jeff Wentworth, who supports a bill to start school
no earlier than Aug. 21.--“Muffling
school bells until Aug. 21,” Jeff Wentworth, New
Braunfels Herald-Century, Dec. 5, 2000
FAIRFAX, Va. - Education psychologist Gerald Bracey said attempts to improve education by adding hours to the school year won’t work if the instruction is poor and if the teachers and administrators aren’t strongly committed to the longer school year and longer hours.--“In Race for Scores, One School Is on the Right Track,” Jay Mathews, Washington Post, Dec. 5, 2000.
SOUTH CAROLINA - “Research
shows that increased time is a matter of quality and not quantity.
Increased time is correlated with the ability to use it well.
Schools with a history of good time management do well. Schools with
a history of poor time management do not do well. In many cases,
more time, like the extended school day, is not used effectively”
according to a feasibility study on schedule change done for the
Richland School District Two, north of Columbia.
CHICAGO, Ill. -The record low turnout last fall
when school opened Aug. 22, the
worst attendance on opening day for
Chicago Public Schools in six years, has prompted the
decision to start school after Labor Day.
Schools CEO Paul Vallas attributed the low turnout last year to the high priority placed on students’ summer jobs and family vacations.
A survey taken by the schools found 59 percent of parents thought an after-Labor Day opening was best, 23 percent said a week before Labor Day would be better, while only 8 percent approved a school opening two weeks before Labor Day. About 60 percent of teachers also preferred a later school start date.
Early School Start: Places To Watch
Early Start: What the Research Says
Among the findings in the study:
appears to be a neutral variable as it relates to student
increases the use of facilities has not been readily accepted by
parents and school employees.”
Richard rejected the
idea of alternative calendars, including year-round school with its
early school start, and urged the district to focus on time
management in the traditional school year as a means to improve
The following is an
excerpt from that large study:
“Research shows that increased time is a matter of
quality and not quantity. Increased time is correlated with the
ability to use it well. Schools with a history of good time
management do well. Schools with a history of poor time management
do not do well. In many cases, more time, like the extended school
day, is not used effectively.
“In an attempt to
prove that the liberation from the time box of the Carnegie unit was
crucial to the release of educational energies, a massive quantity
of theoretical and empirical research was published over the years.
The results, to this day, are ambivalent, and at times,
contradictory. The reasons are many, in particular, the
absence of cohesiveness of the research efforts,
differences of methodology, inconsistency of definitions and
the bias of some researchers. Most
research in the area of scheduling covers short time periods, and is
not accompanied by longitudinal data.
explicit bias of educators, educational leaders and promulgators of
the various forms of scheduling must be taken into account. It is a
fact that the major contributors to the literature on scheduling are
proponents of a particular system.
and learning effectiveness on year-round scheduling are supposed to
result in higher academic achievement, especially among at-risk
populations. As of now, such a claim cannot be verified through
“In addition to
learning outcomes, the year-round program impacts more than any
other educational innovation the life-styles of the community.
“The literature on
scheduling cannot be exhausted. However, sometimes its quality is a
challenge. Large portions merely address technical problems of
scheduling. The inherent credo in this approach is that introducing
one of the seven schedules, if done properly, is the bane of school reform. Others caution that research
and evaluation studies on the subject are chronically deficient.
of this writing, the jury about school scheduling is still out.
Common sense dictates that it is not the schedule that makes the
difference, but what you put in it. Scheduling is neutral. It is a
picture frame that can enhance the art that is put in it. But if
there is no art or only a partially finished art, the frame is
wasted. It is for that reason that the literature on scheduling
began with a crescendo and ended with a pianissimo.
on what is put in it. Among the most important features that must be
faced before new scheduling is introduced are curriculum
development, teacher preparation, and focus.
scheduling and not vice versa. Faculties must define their
curriculum clearly enough to justify the introduction of new
scheduling. Exhaustive and extensive curriculum planning, at least
in some areas, is indispensable. Schools must take into account that
not all members of the faculty are trained and prepared to rethink
curriculum. The need to engage outside expertise may be more common
“Teaching in units of
time other than the conventional 45 or 50 minutes requires new
approaches. Teachers need not only thorough retraining, but
continuous reinforcement. The professional literature is usually
optimistic about teacher flexibility and adjustment capabilities. It
must be remembered that most colleges prepare teachers for the
conventional schedule of 45 or 50-minute classes. The reorganization
of instruction in ways that are productive for longer classes is no
small matter. Even if put in a new environmental situation, teachers
are prone to strive toward their original experience.
“A revised schedule
also necessitates focus or definition. If, for example, the school
strives toward improved academic achievement, activities within the
new schedule should focus on it. Related activities should be
measured in terms of their contribution to the major objective.”
alternative calendar/scheduling study for Richland School District
Two, Columbia, S.C., Feb. 22, 2000 based on a report by School
Management Study Group, Salt Lake City, Utah
Updated Feb. 2002