Calendar In Focus

Published 4:48 pm Thursday, March 7, 2013

PRINCE EDWARD – County school board members will have two calendar options to consider for the coming school year.

Both options, which the board is expected to consider at their March meeting, call for an August 13 opening day for schools, and both would end the first semester at winter break. However, a potentially big change would be a move from six, six-week grading periods to four nine-week grading periods.

“The nine-week (proposal) is based upon facilitating instruction, implementation of problem-based learning, and increasing the instructional time,” detailed Director of Finance Cindy Wahrman at the February 6 school board meeting. “There would be less benchmarks and more instructional time.”

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She further detailed a survey was provided to staff and parents and that they received a total of 256 (including 149 from parents).

Most respondents, Superintendent Dr. David Smith reported, felt it would be beneficial to end the first semester before winter break and most felt it would be beneficial to move to nine-week grading.

One of the more consistent concerns, Dr. Smith detailed, was related to communicating student progress at the four-and-a-half week interim mark and at nine weeks. They would want to revise their current interim reports to provide a little more detail.

Dr. Smith noted they may want to consider having the parent teacher conference at four and a half weeks instead of waiting for the nine week period, which is halfway through the semester.

Most schools, the Superintendent reported, have a nine-week grading period.

“One of the strongest advantages that we see to nine-week (grading period) and the compelling reason behind our interest is in reducing the number of days lost to end of grading period assessments-benchmark assessments… And, essentially at the end of each six-weeks in many cases students are losing one to two days of instruction just to testing,” Dr. Smith said.

With a nine-week schedule, benchmarks would be given three times over the course of a school year.

School board member Linda Leatherwood in the discussion of the calendar took issue that they make no observance for Veteran's Day.

“We're at a time in our history when our students, and our whole population, needs to be reminded of some patriotic values and we as a school are not doing anything about that,” Leatherwood said.

She said they should use it as a teaching tool.