These ten new elementary and middle schools will have “an additional month of instruction, taking the academic school year from 180 to 200 days”

Photo by PoPville flickr user fromcaliw/love

From the Mayor’s Office:

“Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser and Chancellor Kaya Henderson announced that ten DC Public Schools (DCPS) schools will move to an extended-year calendar in School Year 2016-2017. This announcement comes during Education Week, Mayor Bowser’s week-long effort to highlight how the District is accelerating the pace of school reform and creating pathways to the middle class for District residents.

“A pathway to the middle class starts with a great education,” said Mayor Bowser. “Our public schools have made significant gains in recent years, and I am committed to building on those gains – so that we can close the achievement gap and give all of our students a chance for success. By extending the school year in these ten schools, we will offer students the equivalent of an extra year of learning by the time they reach the 8th grade.”

The extended year includes an additional month of instruction, taking the academic school year from 180 to 200 days. There will be an additional two weeks provided for students who need extra support, and breaks in October and June to accompany the normal winter and spring breaks.

Research suggests that time away from school during the summer contributes to the achievement gap. School districts across the country that have extended the school year have seen significant gains among their student bodies.

“Students, especially our students in struggling schools, deserve the opportunity both to excel in core subjects like reading and math and to explore a wide range of interests including art, music, PE, advanced courses, library, and foreign language,” said Kaya Henderson, Chancellor of DC Public Schools.

The ten new elementary and middle schools with extended year planned for the 2016/2017 school year:

Garfield Elementary School (Ward 8)
H.D. Cooke Elementary School (Ward 1)
Hart Middle School (Ward 8)
Hendley Elementary School (Ward 8)
Johnson Middle School (Ward 8)
Kelly Miller Middle School (Ward 7)
King Elementary School (Ward 8)
Randle Highlands Elementary School (Ward 7)
Thomas Elementary School (Ward 7)
Turner Elementary School (Ward 8)

DCPS selected the ten schools based on a mix of criteria, including: strong leadership in each school, active interest by the community (including students and parents), and student bodies that demonstrate room for growth.

“We at Charles Hart Middle School have the best teachers, a Common Core-aligned curriculum, and great extracurricular offerings. We are determined to make sure all of our students are prepared for high school, college, and beyond. I’m thrilled that students will be able to spend even more time on the core subjects as well as expanding their horizons,” said Charlette Butler, principal of Charles Hart Middle School.

One school, Raymond Education Campus in Ward 4, extended its School Year for 2015-2016 and is already seeing results – including 96% student attendance for the optional intersession days. Raymond will continue its extended year in 2016-17, bringing the total number of schools with an extended-year calendar to 11 .

“We are seeing teachers, students, and parents on board for extended year,” says Natalie Hubbard, principal of Raymond Education Campus. “My goal is to close the achievement gap, and we’re already seeing improvements in the classroom and in our extra programming.”

46 Comment

  • I know it’s a lot to hope for, but it would be great if the teachers at these schools got a corresponding 10% pay raise.

    • That’ll be a big issue with this moving forward as the Chancellor tries to extend this to more and more schools. Teachers are currently only paid for the school year- which then gets paid out throughout the year), so if they’re adding days they need to add pay. Where they’re going to find the money for that…

      • They haven’t shared what that’s going to look like at these schools. There are separate pay scales in the union contract for 11 and 12 month teachers, but it’s not clear how those will apply to these situations.

        • They told a teacher I know that there would be a 5% salary increase, and that the scheduled teacher work days go from 196 to 217. The average teacher salary is in the neighborhood of $70K, so about $3500 gross for an additional 21 days work.

  • Accountering

    This is my rave of the day. I am of the mindset that school should be a 9-5 thing, all year round. I think this time should include recess, and study hall, and activity time, sports time etc. I think instruction time should stay roughly what it is now. I would be fine paying additional taxes to accomplish this, as it would certainly entail hiring additional instructional assistants and such.

    • Agreed! Letting kids out of school for 2-3 months in the summer is antiquated and counterproductive. And 3 or 3:30 dismissal? Pretty much guarantees difficulty for families and reduced instructional time. Kids NEED recess, and they need other supervised socialization. They might not need music and art, but I’d hate to see it go. There’s just not enough time in the school year to give them what they need. (Some) parents pick up that slack. Other kids just miss out.

      • Accountering

        Agree – they currently spend like 1260 hours/year at school (180*7). I would be in favor of something that got that closer to 1800 (11 months – 225 days * 8 hours) and would add a ton of time for art, homework, extra curriculurs, recess etc
        As far as additional pay for teachers – most teachers I speak with are already working these kinds of hours. I don’t think a ton changes for them – their day is a bit more spread out, they get 30 minutes to grade when their kids are at recess etc. The additional costs come from hiring instructional aides, band teachers, PE teachers and the like.

        • Yeah, that’s not true at all. They’re effectively losing four week’s vacation time. If my boss yanked four weeks vacation time from me I’d be out the door. Of course, I don’t get eight weeks off like teachers, but still, I’d expect an exodus from these schools. Also, I’d expect a war with the unions, since they apparently didn’t bother to negotiate with any of them.

          • Doesn’t it say they’re just moving the vacation time around, instead of clumping it all in summer? Maybe they will lose some, I dunno.
            I’ll be interested to hear from some actual teachers on this. I think you might get better teachers, and only lose the ones who are in it for the summers off. Because the good teachers I know are endlessly frustrated with how much ground kids lose over summer break. And they would LOVE to not have to re-teach 4th grade to their 5th graders for the first couple months of every year.

          • No, they aren’t just moving days around. They are adding 20 extra days, plus an optional 14 more on top of that. Not sure if teachers have to teach the whole 34, but they definitely have to teach the extra 20.
            “The extended year includes an additional month of instruction, taking the academic school year from 180 to 200 days. There will be an additional two weeks provided for students who need extra support, and breaks in October and June to accompany the normal winter and spring breaks.”

          • Don’t forget teachers need summers to take classes so they can renew their teaching license. Most classes that qualify are in July. Most of us work a second job over the summer as well.

          • Accountering

            Great! If a teacher is going to quit over this, that’s fine. I said I am fine with costs going up, and paying more to see this happen. So the ones who want vacation quite, and the cost/teacher goes up $5k or 10k, so we keep the good teachers, pay them more, and lose the people running out the clock. That seems like a win win.
            My understanding is that the school year ALREADY isn’t 180 days, as teachers spend time in the summer taking courses, prep work, and things of that nature. As far as going to war with the union, you aren’t going to find any sympathy from me there. The fact this is a win for kids, and parents, and a loss for teachers who just want a long vacation in the summer, seems like a great reason to go to “war” with the union.

          • The teachers in these schools would work 1 of the 2 “enrichment weeks” (1 of those weeks they would be “on vacation”) and have an extra week off in October, as well as potentially 2 weeks in July. So in all, it’s a difference of about 2-3 weeks of vacation. In DC, teachers working a “regular” school year get 8 weeks of vacation in the summer (not 3 months). I’m not sure who “most teachers you speak with” are…. but personally I work an extra job in the summer to make enough money to live in this expensive city and still have a social life, go to grad school, etc. So if they increase my pay in relation to the extra weeks of the school year, you’re right that it wouldn’t be that big of a change. However, if teaching was a “9-5” thing, I would quit. I may leave my building at 3:30, but I spend at LEAST an hour planning and prepping materials at home each evening and on the weekends. If I was teaching students until 5, this would not be a sustainable job. In fact, I work at a school with an extended school day already and we don’t get any extra planning time. Teachers are on recess or lunch duty, etc. So not all of these assumptions are correct. I take offense at “teachers who just want a long vacation in the summer”. I actually am largely in favor of this initiative, but the compensation for teachers who decide to stay has not been discussed, confirmed, planned, etc. and yes, that scares me. If you look at that list of schools, they are all very incredibly tiring (but rewarding) places to work. Like any public service job and particularly those in high-need areas with a load of challenges, time for self-care and balance are critical to sustainable. For example, you don’t ask nurses or firefighters to work 15+ hour shifts on a regular basis — they get some time off to rejuvenate. There are plenty of effective teachers who burn out. You wouldn’t just be losing the “bad” ones.

          • Accountering

            Great! See above! I said hire more teachers, art teachers, band teachers, librarians, instructional aides for recess, etc. I agree – let’s pay teachers to do it!
            I don’t think you should all of a sudden be teaching from 9-5. I think kids should be at school from 9-5. Add in more arts, study hall, band, recess, extra activities etc.

        • Unless you hire more teachers, more time during the day won’t give teachers more time off. Teachers need to supervise their class at recess. Having been a teacher, the loss of summer break and/or increase in hours would be a huge change, but research shows for a certain student population it makes a big difference. We should pay teachers to do it!

          • Accountering

            Great! See above! I said hire more teachers, art teachers, band teachers, librarians, instructional aides for recess, etc. I agree – let’s pay teachers to do it!

        • A ton would change if teachers are required to instruct for 8 hours. You’re underestimating the amount of time it takes for a good teacher to really put together a great lesson, prepare/contribute to strong unit curricula and grade assignments. My husband is a teacher and he generally works from 7 a to 7 p at least 3 days a week, plus an hour or two those evenings and probably 5+ hours on the weekend. The other 2 days of the week he works probably more like a 10 hour day. plus 1-2 hours grading in the evenings It’s 65-70 hours a week. But if his instruction increased by 2-3 hours a day, he’d then be working a 90ish hour work week from August 15ish to June 25 ish. Yes, he gets holiday and spring breaks in addition to summer (when every 3 years he has to renew his edu license), but annually he works as much or more as most other career professions already so adding 15 hours to the work week and reducing vacation by 6-8 weeks a year is ridiculous. Fair compensation for this would be A LOT more than an extra $5-$10k per teacher (who are already criminally underpaid).
          Frankly, I think there is going to be an exodus from these schools (unless there’s a significant bump in pay) and it’s going to be the best teachers going first, not the worst. The good ones will be able to find positions at other schools, whereas the worse teachers will take / be stuck in the jobs they can get. Plus it’ll just continue the reliance on completely unprepared Americorps types that don’t know what they’re doing for the first few years and then they’re burned out by the time they do have their sh*t t together.
          I can see how this could be more convenient for middle and upper class families (let’s be real, low income families rarely work 9-5 so it’s their older siblings and other family who don’t work that are providing care for the little ones, so those working parents aren’t going to see a lot of advantage from this) and could be a boon for low income students who tend to be the ones lagging behind – if it were to be successful. But there are too many reasons it’s not going to be.
          PS thanks for suggesting teachers use recess, often the only quiet time of the day they have to eat or pee or check in on their own families briefly, to grade/prep. Why don’t we just demand they get catheters and feeding tubes next?

          • EckingtonDoodle

            Word! +1000

          • Accountering

            Great! See above! I said hire more teachers, art teachers, band teachers, librarians, instructional aides for recess, etc. I agree – let’s pay teachers to do it!

          • Schools days should definitely be longer. It is the only way that makes sense now that most families are either single parent or both parents work. There are several ways I see this can be done to accommodate teachers.
            1) If teachers are required to work 8 hour days they could get up to 2 hours off throwout the day to prep and grade
            2) Or Kids could be with classroom instruction at the normal time but still remain on school grounds doing either mandatory after school actives, or home work study room
            3) If primary school is set up more like high school where instruction is given by more then one teacher, it means kids can have more instruction hours but teachers don’t necessarily teach that much more.
            4) More time in the classroom might mean there is less time needed for homework so grading gets reduced.
            5) There are also ways to increase the time that children are learning but not being actively instructed. With a longer school day kids could have a 30-40 minutes reading break, or time to work on long term projects.

            I think teachers should be compensated if they are required to teach more days in the year. I think the a proposal for longer school days/more school days should be aware and take into account that teachers do take work home with them. However I am unsympathetic to teachers loosing the bulk of their summer break. No other profession gets as much vacation time as teachers. Also, other professions don’t set flexibility standards so that their employees can maintain another part time job. If they part teachers for their increased time in the class room this should not be necessary. Teachers are not the only profession that needs to maintain their license and take continuing education requirements, they can figure out how to do this without an 8-10 week summer break. School days need to reflect the new family structure, teachers pay needs to reflect the value of education and how much out country needs quality teachers ( their pay should be increased). I think this overall could be a really positive step.

          • Accountering, you also said $5-10K per teacher increase. That’s nowhere near comparable to the extra amount of work for this, and it’s simply naive to think that it’s that simple.
            C_Petworth, see my point above that most teachers work annually as many or more hours than most other careers require, and generally require more education (read, expense), at far lower salaries. You don’t have to have sympathy, but that doesn’t mean you can throw out the window the fact that teachers work incredibly hard in a generally thankless job. Their summer isn’t a break – it’s an opportunity to earn extra income to make ends meet or, as I stated earlier, to do required edu licensing.

    • I think this is fantastic. My daughter’s former charter was billed as a year-round program, which always chafed me because there weren’t any additional instruction days – they just spread them out over the summer, and had faux instruction (which they called intersession, but was really camp) during longer breaks. This is much better. Bravo!

    • “I think this time should include recess, and study hall, and activity time, sports time etc.”
      I strongly agree with this – in theory. In practice, it’s very difficult for schools to provide high-quality after school programming. All of the programs I’ve heard of or seen up-close are contracted out – none are run by schools – and quality varies widely (and the high end ain’t so high). And, from a high SES parent’s perspective, there’s no way the school will provide instruction in all of the different kinds of enrichment activities I want my kid to have. The list of musical instruments alone that my daughter and her friends play and take classes in is completely unsupportable in a public school program. That said, I would be more than happy to pay more in taxes to support high-quality, 210 day, 9-5 schools that includes enrichment – I’d just want the enrichment scheduled so that if a parent desires a kid can leave to do outside activities. (and ONLY if the kid is leaving to do outside activities – no allowing them to sign out and screw around.)

      • I can agree with allowing parents to choose an outside provider of “enrichment” activities if they choose to and document it (just submit a receipt and signed attendance record for music classes, sports clubs, etc.), but I don’t understand your complaint about not being able to incorporate all instruments and the like, if there are many students doing those things. The higher SES schools in the area I grew up in had full orchestras (we were lower SES and just had concert/marching band – no strings, but we still had a REALLY GOOD band), unusual sports teams (I mean, the whole area I grew up in was poor-ish, but the richer (comparatively) communities had things like field hockey, squash, and swimming, not just your run-of-the-mill football, basketball, baseball/softball, soccer, golf, tennis, and volleyball…and I know many schools in DC already have golf and tennis teams…SURPRISE!), and a rich variety of academic competition/arts teams/clubs (my high school speech team was top-10 in the state every year (won my senior year) and EVERY local district/school (even the small parochial schools) had a HIGHLY competitive speech team, we all had very intense drama clubs that put on multiple full plays each year, quiz bowl was a big thing, I participated in Geography Bee, etc.).
        If there’s interest and support, it can happen. We just have to have the will to do so…

        • It seems like those are all high school activities. I agree in high school, or perhaps middle school, it gets easier – when the focus is on team, competition, etc. I was focusing on elementary school, and individual classes. My daughter is in third grade, she and her classmates take such a wide variety of classes after school there’s no way even the most ambitious public school program could accommodate it. Piano, violin, cello, flute, guitar, and that’s just off he top of my head. These kids aren’t ready for any type of organized band or orchestra (and the thought of teaching a 3rd grade orchestra makes me want to run for the hills). And music is the tip of the iceberg – there are tons of activities that she and others do that couldn’t/wouldn’t be done at a school. In elementary, many of these things aren’t done in classes, but through individual instruction. There’s no way any school is equipped to give 14 kids piano lessons after school, for example. As I said, that dynamic likely changes as kids get older. That was my only concern – not complaint! – and I think this is a fantastic idea.

  • i support this program but the criteria for selecting schools looks like BS to me.

    “DCPS selected the ten schools based on a mix of criteria, including: strong leadership in each school, active interest by the community (including students and parents), and student bodies that demonstrate room for growth”

    6 Schools in Ward 8, but none in Ward 4 met this criteria?
    BS!!! It looks like the criteria was you needed to be a school in Ward 8.

    • See: “Room for growth”

    • gotryit

      Raymond was the first trial, and it’s in Ward 4. Besides, Ward 4 schools are doing better on average than the schools chosen – those ones need it more.

      • True, but remember this is a test. Pilot Program. Even it is very successful there will be bumps along the way. Therefore, my only thought it maybe its best to start the program in a school that is already well functioning. There , the kinks can be ironed out, lessons can be learned, and a formal tested structure put in place to start implementing it in other school areas.

    • This is about giving a leg-up to kids who would otherwise be alone at home during the summer.

  • This is great news, maybe a whole section on responsibility, respect and accountability should be in order. These kids are out of control…punching unsuspecting people on metro, dirt bike gangs etc. Maybe they should stay in school all year so someone can keep an eye on them. And YES to paying these teachers more!

  • I don’t doubt the benefits of this for certain schools. However, I can see some unintended consequences. While I hope that they at least floated a trial balloon at those schools, and the “active interest” language would seem to indicate that the schools’ communities are on board (you never know with DCPS if they’re telling the truth), in the short to medium term it could lead to lower — perhaps unsustainable — enrollment at those schools; or at minimum an odd situation in which students (generally) east of the river don’t get the same vacations as other kids. In the long term if DCPS tries to expand this system-wide you’ll see an exodus of higher SES families. My kids go to one of the higher performing/higher SES elementary schools and many of the parents have talked about this possibility. Nearly across the board the parents have said that they like having summer vacation and would leave if they went to a full-year program. If that’s what DCPS wants, fine, but they’ll undo much of what they’ve been trying to accomplish.

    • It might chase away some of the richer parents who are sending their kids to long summer camps or taking extended international vacations – and also can’t do those things in June, October, winter break, or spring break – but higher-income parents who work long hours might also be on board with fewer days they have to pay for alternative child care/alternative learning opportunities. At least, it might relieve some pressure on middle and UMI families who might flee for the suburbs to balance out the costs of non-school care during breaks (even under this scheme, there’s still 12 weeks of breaks during the year….ain’t no one got 12 weeks of leave from work so that they’re not paying for *some* kind of child care during breaks unless they’re a two-parent, one-income family). In the end, it’s a trial program, which is the time to work out the kinks. Hopefully they’ll include some higher income/higher performing schools next year, and see if the schedule also works there.
      As it stands, starting these programs where they’re needed most seems like a good idea. Most people with kids attending school EOTR aren’t going to gripe that their 3-week “cultural” vacation or 6-week summer camp are being disrupted by a sort-of year-round school term. Sorry, that’s just reality right there. And if they do the schedule well, the kids who would could still go to camp (June) and on Safari (October) while other students aren’t left home alone/in sub-standard care, forgetting everything they learned in the last year.
      In case you can’t tell, I’m with the above posters that school should be year-round (part 1…I like this idea of smaller-but-substantial breaks in summer and fall), with longer days that incorporate study/homework time, recess/relaxation time and physical activity, and extra-circulars into the school day (part 2). (Part 1) A few extended breaks give ample time for family, vacation, and other activities. Camps, travel businesses, and continuing education providers for teachers will adapt to the new schedule if it becomes more standard. Teachers who work more should be paid more (we’re talking about paying teachers for an extra month of classroom time, a 10% increase over the current situation). (Part 2) Right now they’re not talking about extending the day, but, yes additional instructors/support staff would be needed to handle what would surely be increased participation in courses like music and art, activities like sports, and to supervise and lead study/homework hours and recess times. Where I come from, teachers who act as coaches for sports and academic competitive activities are already paid an additional stipend for that work, so that part should just work out to more stipends for more teachers to be coaches/club leaders to handle increased participation. Yes, we’d need more art, music, and PE instructors, which would be costly, but would do a world of good for the kids (I’m a professional in a technical field, but I play several instruments and that is ALL because I had the chance to at school). More support staff to supervise and lead recess/break times, study/homework times, and the like would also be needed, but these aren’t full-time, tenure-track type jobs, and some of this is already being done by volunteers and I don’t see any reason that incorporating these things into a “regular school day” would mean the end of voluntary tutoring programs. Heck, if we extended the school day all the way through 12th grade, we could even have some high school students come in to elementary and middle and tutor, help out with sports and academic (band, quiz bowl, etc.) activities practice sessions, etc., as THEIR use of their study/extra-circular time! Even if it’s expensive, it’s cheaper than continuing on a path of low-performing schools that generate poor outcomes for many students.

      • But before we get carried away: there is no research supporting the value of extended year for kids with average or above average performance. Only for kids who are really struggling. So why not just offer summer school for kids who are behind? Which is exactly what was done when many of us were young. It’s simple, it targets the kids who need it, it doesn’t overburden teachers or taxpayers, and it doesn’t create a legal obligation for kids to attend extra school that they don’t need.

        • Does that research control for educational activities outside of the school during breaks? Personally, my summers were filled with reading programs and the like offered outside of the school, which my parents could afford (even the public library summer reading program had a fee…I’m sure it was low, but for some families, ANY fee would be a “no”). Would it *hurt* “average” kids to have an extra month of instruction? Would an “average” student, given an extra month of instruction, become an “above average” student?

        • Also, and I hate to burst your bubble, but higher-achieving students already have an “extended” school year. Besides the summer reading programs I mentioned, by the time I was in middle school, summer hardly constituted a “break.” In middle school, I participated in local youth orchestras and sports leagues in the summer. In high school, I did much the same of that PLUS worked 11 weeks at a sleep-away summer camp (starting the summer I turned 15)… By working all 11 weeks at the camp, I earned 4 week days off, and I took those exclusively to drive an hour and a half to mandatory practices and performances for the summer youth orchestra, giving up the opportunity to be a soloist since I couldn’t commit an extra 2 days to that.
          Bottom line…year-round school as DC is proposing is NBD for high-achieving students, and might mean the world to those of lesser means. If you hate it so much, move.

          • But you did not address my point, which is, why can’t this be achieved in DC via targeted summer school as has been done successfully in different formats across the country and in other countries for decades? We can also expand targeted afterschool hours tutoring for kids who are behind. Both of these have research behind them, focus extra instruction only where it is needed, and are a more efficient use of scarce teaching resources and tax dollars. Extended year creates a legal obligation for all kids including A-students. All that neat stuff you did in the summers would not have been possible if you had had extended year. You think DCPS is going to offer sleepover camps and intensive music lessons as part of extended year? Nope. The focus will be on improving PARCC scores.

          • “But you did not address my point, which is, why can’t this be achieved in DC via targeted summer school as has been done successfully in different formats across the country and in other countries for decades?”
            Because summer school isn’t mandatory, and many of the kids who would benefit most won’t go.

          • Summer school can be made mandatory for kids who fail to meet a designated standard the previous year. That is easy enough. But in jurisdictions where it is used, administrators find that parents do generally opt for it if their kids need it. Again, many jurisdictions successfully offer some form of targeted extended day or extended year for students who need it. There is no reason to apply it to all students in a school or school district.

          • DC already has summer school for kids that is completely free, with free aftercare at most mid/low range SES schools.

        • Summer school is intended to catch kids up who are failing classes. This systems seems to be trying to offer more lesson time to all kids in a variety of subjects. This is a public school system looking to serve the public needs which not only include improving academic standards across the board but also making school times family friendly and making sure kids (especially teenagers) have more things to do. Overall I think it would be a benefit to most DC students. Above average students tend to be above average because their parents have more resources to put into their education with entrenchment programs and other activities. This is leveling the playing field a bit. It is funny to me as a society we are always upset by the achievement GAP , however if their solution to closing it interferes with us personality we get upset.

          Fortunately, you are not required by law to send your kids to public school. You can always opt out and put your child in private education.

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