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Snow storms may stretch District school hours

Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee is considering extending the school day as a way of making up for the four-and-a-half days of instructional time lost to the record-breaking snow this month.

Spokeswoman Jennifer Calloway said no decisions have been made, but that stretching the school day -- which currently runs from 8:45 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. -- might be part of the make-up schedule DCPS is expected to release next week. Calloway said the District was "considering all options including converting non-student days into instructional days and adding time to the school day."

Calloway said the District is also in discussions with D.C. State Superintendent of Education Kerri Briggs about adjusting the administration of the DC-CAS standardized tests, now set for the last two weeks of April.

Adding time to the school day would require clearing several hurdles, including union cooperation and rearranging transportation for special education students. If officials decided to extend the end of the day, afterschool activities would also have to be adjusted.

DCPS already has two days on its 182-day calendar set aside to make up for lost time -- June 21 and 22 -- the Monday and Tuesday after the last scheduled day of classes. Using those would be about as popular as a root canal, and teachers often say that the deeper into June the school year goes, the less productive it becomes.

Beyond that, there are limited opportunities for converting "non-student days," unless the District cut into the March 29-April 5 spring break, another move that would be deeply unpopular. March 1 and May 17 are parent conference days; March 19 is a professional development day for teachers. March 26 and June 18 are scheduled as half-days right now--one preceding spring break the other before summer break.

What do you think they should do?

By Bill Turque  |  February 16, 2010; 6:55 PM ET
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It seems late to cancel the March 1 parent conferences, but I think that the 3/19 PD day and the 5/17 parent conference days should certainly be used as instructional days. 3/26 could also stand to be a whole day rather than a half day, but don't half days "count" as instructional days, or no?

Posted by: uva007 | February 16, 2010 9:14 PM | Report abuse

I doubt Dc-CAS will be postponed because that means the results may come in too late to be used to fire teachers and principals.

Posted by: edlharris | February 16, 2010 10:52 PM | Report abuse

I doubt Dc-CAS will be postponed because that means the results may come in too late to be used to fire teachers and principals

Agree ..also an election year and those "results will have to be re-cooked several times" for the the public. But let's not forget that DCPS has Saturday Academy and extensive afterschool tutoring program..

Posted by: NewDCPSTeacher | February 17, 2010 2:17 AM | Report abuse

In 2003, DCPS extended the school day without union interference. I think it makes the most instructional sense. Absolutely NO learning will take place on June 21 and 22.

Posted by: heatherdc1980 | February 17, 2010 3:20 AM | Report abuse

As a teacher, my preference is getting rid of the 3/19 Prof. Development day and the 5/17 parent conference.

We could extend the school day, but from experience from the previous time we did that behavior problems go through the roof, and student attention decreases (more so then is normal for spring :-) ).

If we must make up these days, then we definitely need to use normal days, not extended ones.

(By the way, half days are considered instructional days. The only issue is that if you have too many of them it is possible that students won't have enough seat hours in class)

Posted by: Wyrm1 | February 17, 2010 7:03 AM | Report abuse

A few years ago, Clifford Janey and the union tried to schedule 9 half days for teacher training -- and count them as full instructional days toward the 180-day requirement. The plan fell apart when parents protested that it was illegal under the DC Municipal Regulations:

305.10 A maximum of two (2) half-day staff development sessions may be scheduled each semester; provided, that days when students attend school for less than a full regular instructional day shall count as a one-half (1/2) instructional day toward the minimum requirement set forth in ยง 305.6.

Posted by: Oneder | February 17, 2010 7:49 AM | Report abuse

However it's resolved, if DC-CAS scores aren't so good this year - Rhee can blame the snow.

I wonder if it will fly, though, as plenty of school districts deal with snow days on a regular basis and manage to do OK on standardized tests.

Posted by: efavorite | February 17, 2010 7:51 AM | Report abuse

"I wonder if it will fly, though, as plenty of school districts deal with snow days on a regular basis and manage to do OK on standardized tests."


Question: If loss of instructional time to weather is a regular occurrence in a school district, then wouldn't there be only minimal impact on longitudinal data?

I'd like to see more pertinent analysis. How about comparing test scores between Maryland counties in the snowy panhandle and, say, those on the Eastern Shore which annually might have four or five more instructional days under their belts before the statewide tests are given.

Posted by: gardyloo | February 17, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Can someone explain to me those days in the DCPS calendar that occur AFTER final exams? It seems like every year, there is a week (looks like June 14-18 this year) when all papers and final exams have already been completed but classes are still scheduled, no?

Posted by: Trulee | February 17, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

As a DCPS teacher, please get rid of the PD days and the Parent/Teacher Conf. days. Both are a waste of time. The PD offered is atrocious and you never see the parents you really need to see on P/T Conf. days. I'd much prefer devoting the time to instruction with my students.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | February 17, 2010 8:17 PM | Report abuse

Having parent teacher meetings in the evening is more practical for most parents than taking the day off for them. Many parents can't take time off for meetings. Those days would be good. Extending the day is also a good option. Probably a combination is good.

Posted by: qazqaz | February 18, 2010 8:10 AM | Report abuse

Professional Days as they are planned by Rhee are a pure waste of time unless she makes sure that what is being presented is something that most of us have not learned in under grad and grad school. Take the PD days back for instruction and convert the Parent Teacher Conf Days to instructional days. It should not take a statistical or logistical genius to compensate for the missed days due to snow. Why does everything in DC take so long to be figured out? By the way....when is Michelle's last day? After the mayoral election?! Right. Pack the bags, honey!!!!

Posted by: inickdc | February 21, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Trulee- name me an elementary school that conducts final exams.

Posted by: bbcrock | February 22, 2010 1:22 AM | Report abuse

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