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More Districts Shift From Traditional Calendars

Tulsa, Okla., students may shift to a year-round school model as part of the district's effort to improve students' reading proficiency and overall academic performance, according to a recent article from Tulsa World.

The "continuous learning calendar," has students in school for the same number of days as a traditional school calendar, but parcels out shorter breaks throughout the year rather than a long summer vacation. The model is already in use at six schools in Tulsa and districtwide in Oklahoma City schools, the story reports.

Research has shown the long break of summer vacation can have an adverse impact on reading and math performance, particularly for low-income students.

In other news of calendar shifts, a legislative review authorized by the Virginia General Assembly found no strong correlation between year-round schools and test scores, according to an article in The Richmond Times Dispatch. The review compared the performance of year-round vs traditional schools on state standardized tests from 2001 to 2009.

While minority and disadvantaged students performed slightly better in the year-round model, on average, the year-round schools did not seem to have a strong impact on the student body as a whole. There are 31 year-round schools in Virginia.

Other districts are taking a different approach.

In both Colorado and Iowa, increasing numbers of districts are moving to four-day school weeks, as reported in The Denver Post and The Gazette, to cut costs, but they are also attempting to use the schedule change to benefit students and staff.

In Iowa, the Waco school district will have students attend school four days a week next school year, but with an hour added to each day. On Fridays, teachers will spend a half day receiving professional development and older students will use the time to participate in internships and other informal learning experiences.

And in Colorado, while the savings have been minimal, 18 additional districts have switched to four-day school weeks. A total of 80 districts in state now do not operate a traditional calendar, a 30 percent increase over five years. Teachers report using the added time not in class sessions to plan and fine tune instruction.

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