Over the last decade in the public school environment, there have been many conversations about the school year calendar. Many schools both across the State of Indiana and the nation have looked at a “balanced” calendar as an alternative to the traditional school calendar. The “balanced” calendar tends to begin earlier and have longer breaks within the school year than a traditional calendar. However, most calendars are still only 180 days of school. Locally, Rochester Community Schools and Maconaquah Community Schools have adopted “Balanced” calendars. Wabash City Schools is considering adding a full week at Fall break for the 2015-2016 school year. We believe that it could have some positive impacts on staff and student morale. Please consider the following ideas and then take a quick survey to help inform us on how our parents, students and staff feel about the possible change.
Calendar A Wabash City Schools is considering a slight change to the 2015-2016 school calendar that would provide a full week off for fall break, from Monday, October 19th through Friday, October 23rd. This schedule, Calendar A, would put the school start date on Friday August 7, 2015 and end on Tuesday, May 24, 2016.
Calendar B The other calendar option, Calendar B, is to remain consistent with this year’s calendar, beginning on a Friday, August 7th and providing fall break on 2 days October 16th & 19th, and ending Thursday, May 19, 2016.
One of the academic arguments for a “Balanced” Calendar is that it shortens the time outside of school when students experience summer learning loss. According to research, students experience 1 to 2 months of learning loss during the summer months. (Cooper et al., 1996). Balanced calendars have been suggested to help combat summer learning loss. The basic premise is that the longer the summer, the longer time students have to forget or lose academic knowledge, skills and dispositions. A “balanced” calendar will provide less time for students to lose knowledge, skills and dispositions. Calendar A does not significantly change the school year, thus it does not have a significant impact on summer learning loss. Wabash City Schools would consider providing enrichment/remediation during this time; however, we would need to evaluate interest/costs. If we choose Calendar A, we will evaluate academic data.
We know that the level of student engagement has an impact on student drop out rates (Archambault, et al., 2008). Although the research does not show significant gains, some schools who have turned to the “balanced” calendar have found that discipline and attendance rates have improved. Evaluating discipline data from 2013-2014, discipline incidences always decrease after school breaks.
If we choose Calendar A, we will evaluate student engagement through discipline, attendance and academics.
During the week of October 19th through the 23rd, Wabash Middle School will have a RRC football game; Varsity football and volleyball will have sectionals; and Varsity Cross Country will have semistate. Considering we hold athletic practices and events during other breaks including our existing fall break, we feel this is a minor issue.
We believe this is a slight change in the schedule. Including a full week for fall break only increases the break by 3 days. We believe that it provides a symmetrical break with spring break after the 1st nine weeks of school. This break could be a boost to student morale, improving student engagement. Both calendars begin on the same day and we end the school year 3 days later with Calendar A. Please consider the 2 calendars and respond to the survey link below.