What's Happening Now?

Alabama K-12 Public Schools May Begin the School Year No Early than Two Weeks Before Labor Day

and Must End No Late than the Friday Before Memorial Day – Beginning with the 2012-13 School Year...

Thanks to the Flexible School Calendar Act of 2012

Summary & Benefits of the Flexible School Calendar Act of 2012

Flexible School Calendar Act of 2012

2012 Alabama Legislative Session Summary

News Clips Relating to the Flexible School Calendar Act of 2012
The committee decided to go with a 175-day school calendar and extend the instructional time by about 20 minutes per day. Fort Payne City schools would began the year on Aug. 20 and recess for summer on May 24, 2013. The calendar was split into 84 days
Tuscaloosa News
Thankfully, the Alabama Legislature has finally decided to do something about that (early-August school start dates.) It recently sent to Gov. Robert Bentley a bill that would limit the K-12 school year to a period beginning two weeks before Labor Day and ending the Friday before Memorial Day. The Alabama Education Association backs the bill because it believes the longer summer will mean more revenue for the education budget from tourism dollars.
Alabama's beaches and the surrounding area are responsible for almost half of the tourism dollars that come into the state. Keeping those beaches and condo's full of tourists as long as possible is at the core of a bill sponsored by state representative Randy Davis. "It's called the Flexible School Start Calendar Act of 2012 and the purpose of the bill is to initially be out of school by Memorial Day weekend and not start school before 10 days before Labor Day."

Research, Data & Information related to the School Calendar Debate

Length of School Year

On the Clock. Rethinking the Way Schools Use Time – This Education Sector Report focuses on how school administrators are looking at the amount of time students spend in school as a tool in raising academic scores. This think-tank report exams what the research shows, costs and complications of extending time, what matters most and ends with the recommendations of the researcher/policy analyst

Education Commission of the States – Length of the School Year – This 2008 piece provides the most current information available relating to the number of hours in a school day for each state and the length of the required school year by state.

Education Commission of the States – Cost Per Day for Extending the School Year – This 2008 data compilation shows how much it would cost each state to add one day of school to the required school year. It also provides data as to how many days of instruction were required by state at the time of the report.

Time for a Change: The Promise of Extended-Time Schools for Promoting Student Achievement – This 2005 report examines how extended-time schools use additional time, impact of more time on learning, how extended-time schools structure staffing, financing opportunities and challenges, reactions of students, parents, and teachers to extended-time schools and other characteristics of successful schools.

John Loche Foundation – Better instruction, Not More Time – This 2007 piece examined the education fad of a longer school day and year that was proposed in North Carolina. The key findings outlined in the report are; (1) There is no consistent relationship between instructional time in mathematics and a nation’s average score on an international mathematics test, (2) no statistically significant correlation between instructional time in math, science, reading, and civics and test scores on international assessments of those subjects and (3) it would cost taxpayers as much as an additional $656,500 per year to implement a longer school day at a typical North Carolina elementary school, (4) schools offering alternative schedules should be up to the decision of parents.

Calendar Data by State

Calendar, instructional hours and the length of the school year differ by state. While most states set a minimum number of instructional hours by grade level and the minimum number of instructional days, the start date, holidays to observe and vacation schedules are currently left to the local school districts, in most states. The state of Hawaii is the only state that mandates one calendar for all school districts.

  1. States with School Start Date Laws
  2. Map of 2011-2012 School Start Dates
  3. Listing by State of Required Length of School Year, School Day, Total Instructional Hours and 2011-12 Start Dates

Do Start Dates Impact Academic Success on National Standardized Exams?

Data clearly shows the states with the highest cumulative scores on college entrance exams, Advanced Placement testing and the National Assessment of Educational Progress also share some of the latest school start dates in the nation.

  1. ACT College Entrance Exams– Top Ten States and State-by-Listing of Scores, Participation and Start Dates
  2. SAT College Entrance Exams– Top Ten States and State-by-Listing of Scores, Participation and Start Dates
  3. Advanced Placement Exams - Top Ten States and State-by-Listing of Scores, Participation and Start Dates
  4. National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is the only nationally representative assessment of what students know and can do in various subject areas. The exam is given at the same time nationwide.
      1. 8th Grade Math and Reading Results
      2. 4th Grade Math and Reading Results

Agrarian Calendar Debate

Reconstructing Summer Vacation – CUNY Education Professor Sets Record Straight – Summary of a book written on the history of summer vacation. The calendar we refer to today as the “traditional school calendar” was introduced during urbanization. Gives good talking points to counter the claim that the traditional calendar is no longer needed because we are no longer an agriculturally based economy.

Exams Before or After the Winter Break

The Impact of Taking Breaks on Learning and Memory by David Gilden, Ph.D., UT Austin – Copy of presentation made by Dr. Gilden to the Texas House Education Committee. Presentation explains why giving exams after the winter break is a better measure of retained knowledge.

Why Taking Exams After Winter Break is Best for Students – What the Experts Say – The title says it all! This piece is a summary of research supporting giving exams after the winter break is the best educational choice if our educational goal is retention and not regurgitation.

Key Research Relating to the School Calendar Issue

Review of Successful, Safe and Healthy Students by the National Education Policy Center, October 2010 – Section three of the report reviews the topic of expanded learning time, the claims made by those promoting the longer school year concept and what the research really shows. This piece is short, to the point and an easy read. This piece also reviews research that showed increasing the length of the school day for instruction was the second-least cost-effective of four interventions aimed at increasing student achievement (the others being cross-age tutoring, computer-assisted instruction, and reducing class size.

Year Round Schools Don’t Boost Learning – This 2007 Science Daily article reviews research by Ohio State University Professor and research statistician in sociology Paul von Hipple. Thus research clearly showed that students attending schools with year-round school calendars did not learn more than their peers attending schools following a traditional nine-month calendar.

School Reform Proposals; The Research Evidence. Section Four: Time for School: Its Duration and Allocation – This 2002 research review found “small marginal increases (10-15%) in the time allocated to schooling show no appreciable gains in student achievement. Alternative calendars on which the typical 180 days of schooling are offered (e.g., year-round calendars) show no increased benefits for student learning over the traditional 9-months-on/3 months-off calendar. Summer programs for at-risk students are probably effective, though more research is needed.”



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