The Washington Times-Herald

February 19, 2014

Extended school day for North Daviess

By Lindsay Owens Times Herald
The Washington Times-Herald

---- — ELNORA — Students attending North Daviess Community Schools will have a longer school day beginning next week after the school board voted to extend the school day rather than make up days after graduation and Memorial Day. Students will attend classes for one hour longer than usual from Feb. 24 until April 3. Students will also be in class on Good Friday.

As of Tuesday, the corporation has missed 10 full days of school due to inclement weather and school has operated on a 2-hour delay nine times. Two one hour early dismissals have also cut time in the classroom.

“Of the 10 days we missed, we had two days waived and three built into the calendar,” said Superintendent Robert Bell. “If we use Good Friday, that leaves us four days to make up and puts us out on May 30, one week past graduation.”

Bell said the snow days and delays had taken approximately 3,500 minutes of instructional time away from elementary students and approximately 575 minutes of instructional time per class period away from junior high and high school students.

“Every day, for one hour each day for six days would equal one make up day,” said Bell. “This opened up the opportunity to discuss various choices to make up days or more importantly, lost instructional time.”

In a survey of other schools in southwest Indiana, Bell said that two are moving graduation, five are having seniors return after graduation, six are extending the school day and two are making up days on Saturdays.

Teachers and parents were surveyed on the options and 302 voters chose to do 24 extended days rather than days after Memorial Day or the hybrid option of 12 extended days with two full days after Memorial Day.

“There are pros and cons for whatever method is chosen to make up lost instructional time,” said Bell.

That extra hour of instructional time each day is a move that Bell and principals Jodi Berry and Jed Jerrels hope will improve student test scores.

Classes will be rotated at the junior high and high school level during the extended day with 7th and 8th graders focusing on ISTEP preparation for the testing that will be held in March and April.

“We looked at just adding time each class each day,” said Jerrels, principal at the junior/senior high. “That meant we’d add about 8 minutes to each class a day. In a true equalized world, we’d like each class to meet the same amount of minutes but that’s not going to be able to happen. Unfortunately, we don’t get graded on our band scores or our other elective scores. We get graded on our math and English scores.”

For elementary students, Berry said that her staff has been preparing for the extended day. “We can do some really individualized instruction for students,” said Berry. “We are going to really drill our math and language arts to prepare students for testing.”

Students will have a minimum of 15 hours additional language arts and math instruction prior to ISTEP applied skills test for grades three through eight and 24 additional hours of math and language arts instruction before the ISTEP multiple choice test.

The extended day also will allow additional time for students to prepare for IREAD-3 tests for third graders as well as extra time for high school students to prepare for the algebra and English end of course assessments, or ECA.

One teacher, whose name was not given had commented on one of the surveys conducted that they felt the extended day was the most rational and beneficial option for students to prepare for ISTEP, IREAD, and ECA exams. “I want our school to continue to receive high marks and the state and I truly feel this gives us our best shot,” said the teacher.

In other business, the board approved several track and field positions for the spring. Kim Wade (assistant varsity track coach), John Stevens (assistant varsity track coach), Marty Rebeck (volunteer assistant track coach), Brad Workman (volunteer assistant track coach), Lorna Tribby (boys junior high track coach), and Jeff VanderMel (girls junior high track coach) were all appointed.

Bell said the junior/senior high school staff voted 27 to 1 to go back to a seven period school day for next year. The day will include a 19-minute homeroom each day. Berry also mentioned that week-long kindergarten round up will begin Monday. Students must be at least 5 years old before Aug. 1, 2014, to be eligible for school. Registration will be from 8:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. each day. For more information contact the elementary at 636-8000 ext. 2000.

The next meeting will be March 17.