Will flex schedules work for Georgia’s schools?

Georgia’s public schools will be able to keep students in class longer each day in exchange for a shorter school year.

The State Board of Education is considering new rules that frees schools from offering a traditional 180-day school year, provided students still get the same amount of class time. Basically students would attend school for a longer period of time each day to make up for a shorter school year.

The rule changes come through a HB 193 the Legislature approved this year.

The Murray County School System in Chatsworth plans to switch to a 160-school year. Students will be in school for one hour longer each day, but they won’t return to class until after Labor Day.

I know many of you have wished students didn’t return to school until after Labor Day. Would you want your district to follow a calendar like the one in Murray County?

What if schools instead made each day longer so that the school week only lasted four days? That may cut back on some transportation and utility costs, but imagine the problems it may cause for working families.

What do you think of flex schedules for schools?

65 comments Add your comment

The irrelevant AJC

July 9th, 2009
1:26 pm

So as soon as people start noticing just how bereft the AJC’s coverage of cheating in Georgia is, Laura changes the subject.

Typical.

The irrelevant AJC

July 9th, 2009
1:50 pm

Another post lost.

Crawford

July 9th, 2009
2:46 pm

I sent in this as an idea for a question. I am a teacher in Bartow county and I was curious as to what other teachers thought about longer days. I know that several western states use 4 day weeks and take every Friday off.

MD

July 9th, 2009
2:51 pm

Why not the year-round school schedules that have a 5 week summer break, and 2 week breaks throughout the year?
But if you’re going to stay with the long summers, then yes, have the kids start back after Labor Day. That’s how most of the parents grew up–this early August deal is garbage.
Fewer, longer days serves both the students and the cost structures well.

Crawford

July 9th, 2009
2:55 pm

I have long wished for the year-round, but the tourism industry pitches a fit when you bring it up.

Ellie

July 9th, 2009
3:13 pm

Being a teacher, I would love having a 4 day week, and it would also give me more time in the classroom to make sure the students grasp the concept we are covering. As for the cheaters on the CRCT – you give us all a bad name – I work very hard all year and my students do extremely well.

Cheniqua Aligwekwe

July 9th, 2009
3:50 pm

With Georgia’s national education ratings consistently in the toilet, we need longer days, 5-day weeks AND year round enrollment. It amazes me that parents fight for student breaks but not for adequate supplies, etc…let the “1st wave” of teachers work 6 mos on/6 mos off w/ a “second wave” teachers working the other…more jobs, better grades, stronger economy…but, I’m just a parent, any professional educators have an opinion on this?

Just a crazy thought

July 9th, 2009
3:51 pm

A 4 day work week for the teachers may be great, shoot is would work for anyone. But we need to think about those parents who cannot afford to pay for childcare every Friday.

John

July 9th, 2009
4:00 pm

If the goal is to save money, increasing the length of the school day and reducing the number of days is the way to go. If the goal is to better educate children, this plan is a disaster. Much of what is taught takes time to be learned, and can’t be crammed into little heads in fewer days. Ever see what a kid looks like late in the afternoon on a regular schdule? Imagine the wasted little minds after an even longer day. Bad idea!

ScienceTeacher671

July 9th, 2009
4:15 pm

It’s a bad idea for the same reasons a 4×4 block schedule is a bad idea, but that doesn’t stop the educrats in Georgia….

Seen it all

July 9th, 2009
4:31 pm

I, like many others, would love a four day work week or more breaks during the year. But it’s not going to happen. Why? Because you would have some parents complaining about the breaks or Friday off because they might have to provide child care for their children. We have already heard parents (middle class, well-to-do parents strangely enough) complaining about the early release days that some schools systems have.

But what you might see is some stupid, misguided systems tack on extra hours on each school day in order to push the school start dates past Labor Day. Why? Because A FEW VOCAL parents complained about it (i.e. “Georgians Need Summers”). The Cobb County School System has 106,000 students, around 70 elementary schools, 20+ middle schools, and 20 high schools. But every year that board gets tied up over school calendars because of one little group of agitators from East Cobb. But of course that is typically Cobb County for you. A small group of selfish people want everything changed, just to suit them.

No real flexiblity or BENEFIT will come of this. No teachers or students will benefit from the HUGE potential this offers. Also what about the teachers. State law bounds teachers to work 190 days a year. It is specified in the teacher employment contracts. So what will these teachers in Murray County being doing for the other 30 days that school is not in session?

Crawford

July 9th, 2009
4:32 pm

We are moving from a 4×4 to a traditional day this year and our science teachers aren’t thrilled about it.

catlady

July 9th, 2009
5:23 pm

Our days, including bus service, are too long for student achievement already. With 20 minute recesses and 20 minute lunches, the children have many, many hours of intense, teacher-directed instruction.

Any of you who think this isn’t a problem, go to a meeting where you cannot talk or get up for 7 + hours a day, 5 days a week, with 2 bathroom breaks and 40 minutes of lunch and move around time. Now do it for 180 days, for years on end. Then add another hour to the day.

ScienceTeacher671

July 9th, 2009
5:56 pm

Crawford, 90 minute blocks are great for doing labs. For learning other material, not so good…

For optimum learning, lots of short practice sessions over a long period of time works better than a few long practices over a short period of time. Also, teachers already complain about students losing skills over summer break — how much more do they lose when they take, say, Math 1 during fall semester, and don’t have Math 2 until spring of the next year?

I bet your school sees a significant rise in test scores this year.

Teacher, Too

July 9th, 2009
6:27 pm

I could see this working in high schools, where students have more flexibility in transportation. These students may want to graduate earlier, and taking an extra class would allow for that flexibility.
I don’t see this as an option in elementary or middle school.

I would much rather have a balanced calendar rather than longer days. This would be a better calendar for elementary and middle school students. Stuggling students would have instant remediation during intersessions instead of failing and then having to remediate after school when students are already tired and ready to go home. Also, it could eliminate the need for summer school if students had remediation before new material was introduced. For students who are passing, perhaps schools could offer enrichment classes (which parents would pay for instead of paying for day care).

There is so much potential for a balanced calendar. So few students need 12 consecutive weeks off in the summer. Instead, five weeks off in the summer, with two week breaks after every quarter– that would give wealthier parents opportunities to take vacations during other times of the year, not just during the summer.

MBW

July 9th, 2009
6:39 pm

As a teacher, I’m open to the idea of flexible scheduling…..but a longer day in exchange for a shorter year doesn’t sound like it would work.

What’s important is using class time effectively, no matter how long or short the day is. That takes planning and disciplined teaching.

Where is the AJC?

July 9th, 2009
7:09 pm

Why is the AJC doing a story on a school system in Chatsworth, when there is evidence, and people willing to speak up, on allegations that DeKalb County administrators were willing to violate state law to shut down a hearing where evidence was about to be given on another cheating scandal?

Who is killing the story and why?

Gina

July 9th, 2009
7:51 pm

Instead of paying for before and after school care, parents would pay for Friday care. 4-day weeks make sense. Instead of homework on already over-scheduled weekdays, they could send the kids home with Friday work. Instead of ASP, run for-profit Friday daycare at the schools with enrichment activities. No bus transportion, no hot meals and brown bag lunches on Friday.

JR. LETER

July 9th, 2009
7:53 pm

THe year-round balanced schedule makes, by far, the most sense. It’s a shame it probably won’t happen. The research, while yet broad and inconclusive in many ways, continues to point towarrds positive by most every measure. The only negatives that truly make much sense are those relating to only a few schools making the change, therefore parents are often forced to juggle the scheduling inconsistencies between different siblings at different schools who may be on a traditional calendar.
I’d think year-round makes more sense up through middle school…and a traditional schedule for high school would be a nice compromise.
And heck…with the extended breaks through the year-round schedule, you could afford the children in need of a little extra attention the extra 20 or so days that could really make the difference for them down the road.

Huck

July 9th, 2009
8:02 pm

Kids have shorter and shorter attention spans…..not longer. We don’t need to lengthen the day. We are doing a pathetic job already and student’s achievement generally wanes as the day goes on…..The balanced calendar is great for allowing teachers to have vacations in the middle of the year but it results in less quality instruction time. Every time a week long break is near the kids shut down about two or three days before. It takes them two or three days after the break to gear up again. There is no momentum. Georgia needs to quit pretending that we are teaching and require students to actually achieve in order to proceed to the next level. But we won’t. We’ll keep playing games with test scores and keep passing everyone along….and all of these observations is from someone who is about to begin his 37th year as a classroom teacher.

bart

July 9th, 2009
8:34 pm

This is an inccredibly bad idea. As a retired teacher and principal, I can tell you we need a longer school year, but not longer school days. Younger children, especailly, cannot learn when they are exhausted, and they will be exhausted late in the afternoon. That last hour will be a waste of time for most kids.

SteveR

July 9th, 2009
8:52 pm

Is is a proven fact that students do not retain knowledge well with long breaks over the summer. They have to spend time catching up from what was forgotten over the summer. So it’s a dumb idea to go to a shorter school year. To the contrary we need year-round school with mini breaks of a few weeks along the way. Even if it’s still 160 days, just broken up differently. This aids the students and teachers.
It also should be a priority to have high school start at the latest time, not earlier like in Cobb where middle school starts after. Not only do the high school student’s sleep patterns benefit, but they have many more before school activities that force them to get up at too earlier an hour. Bad planning.

MannyT

July 9th, 2009
9:31 pm

If you really want innovation and educational impact, why not flex the schedule so the main educational activities happen in fewer days, but then allocate those extra days to some kind of optional learning activities that will help the kids to develop skills that are useful, but don’t lend themselves to those standardized tests.

These additional skills could be funded by charging for the classes (or grants that the schools go out and get for unique programs.) Some examples might be in depth computer skills, hands on vocational training, foreign languages, core class tutorial assistance, etc. The additional classes could be taught by outside sources or teachers that can provide the services.

If you are going to have fewer days, many students could benefit from additional options on those days. If the schools choose not to get involved, just make the schedule far enough in advance that other organizations could step in and fill the schedule as most parents are not wild about having to find something to do with their kids all day every other Friday because the school is closed.

That’s my 2 cents for change.

Simon

July 9th, 2009
9:55 pm

I hear from a friend that MACE was picketing at the DeKalb Central Office against Crawford Lewis and Ronald Ramsey. I was told that “Goolsby” was on one of the signs too. They were kicking Crawford’s butt again about the “Bullying” and “Cheating.” One sign read: “Sen. Ronald Ramsey Bullies Teachers!” Ramsey and Tucker came to the picket line and Ramsey was punked out by Trotter. The administration apparently sent a police officer to the picket line to tell Dr. Trotter and the MACE Troopers that they had to leave. Trotter gave the police officer a lesson in Constitutional Law and about Category One Free Speech Forums. He, I was told, quoted Justice Thurgood Marshall: “What better place to picket than in front of a school?” My friend heard Trotter tell the police officer: “You’re going to have to take me away in a padddy wagon to get me off this picket line!” Trotter kept talking about “MACE TV” with the MACE video camera rolling. I think that MACE is planning a TV show. It ought to get interesting. I hear that the MACE Strike Force shook’em up on Tuesday. But, I haven’t seen anything on the MACE website yet (www.theteachersadvocate.com). It will probably be on the website next week. I keep looking. I teach in DeKalb, and I love MACE!

ScienceTeacher671

July 9th, 2009
9:55 pm

I would like a year round schedule with breaks after each grading period. If I weren’t teaching, I certainly wouldn’t take my vacations in the middle of summer — vacations are much better when the weather is a little cooler, and things aren’t as crowded.

cricket

July 9th, 2009
10:03 pm

As an elementary level teacher, I think this absurd. The six and seven year old students barely make it to 3:00 without coming “off the chain”. In addition, I don’t think their teacher’s bladder would survive that extra hour!

dawgs74

July 9th, 2009
11:14 pm

Great idea for transportation budgets & utility expenses. Bad idea for student achievement.

Nick

July 9th, 2009
11:24 pm

longer days is ridiculous. my kids are burnt after finishing homework as it is. shorten the days to let their brains recover and lengthen the school year is the way to go.

Ga. Girl

July 9th, 2009
11:35 pm

my nine year gets off the bus at 3:30 and most of the time they have to wake him up. longer school days will be a waste of money but I am sure many teachers would love it since that is an extra day off for them. I say do away with many of these stupid breaks the kids get now, fall break, winter break, a week off at thanksgiving, too many holidays, not sure why we have to go back early in aug. and stay till june. i don’t even feel like we have had a summer break this year. we went back the 2wk in aug. and we stayed till June 5th, we are into 5 weeks off and I am already stressing about back to school. I hate to go to walmart and see back to school already out. no 4 day weeks. beside, I can tell you parents won’t be able to afford daycare at the new hrs. most teachers don’t pick up now till the last moment and then you going to add longer hrs and an extra day. no 4 day weeks.

SteveR

July 9th, 2009
11:58 pm

Ga. Girl (aka Scrooge) apparently doesn’t have any relatives to visit (or let her visit) during the holidays. Her grammar certainly makes the point that something needs to be done, but unfortunately a rational, well thought out plan won’t come from the educational leaders we have in Georgia.

Where is the AJC?

July 10th, 2009
12:11 am

For that matter, where are the teachers? Teachers know, and certainly DeKalb county teachers know, about the pressures of testing, and the hints, some subtle, some not so subtle, to take shortcuts.

But when evidence is presented, that DeKalb officials, at the highest levels, tried to squelch testimony about another cheating scandal, where is the AJC? The same AJC that claims to be interested in rooting out cheating, is suddenly so silent when it turns out that it may not be isolated, and in fact may be condoned at the highest levels of DeKalb county administration.

Teachers, especially DeKalb teachers, have to know that exposing a blatant violation of a teacher’s right to a grievance hearing, if it turns out to be true, would be a step in the right direction for protecting teacher’s rights. Since teachers know this, why aren’t they using this blog to put pressure on the AJC to cover this story?

If teachers don’t advocate for themselves when the opportunity presents itself, such as on this blog, how do they expect anything to change?

Who knows what an investigation into this story might uncover? Maybe there’s more to it than meets the eye, maybe there’s less. But given that we’ve already had documented instances of cheating in DeKalb, in light of the allegations, how can anyone say this isn’t a legitimate news story that deserves to be looked into?

Ariose

July 10th, 2009
12:48 am

I honestly don’t think much more will be accomplished in the extra hour. It would just be letting the Students off the hook if you ask me.

HS is a lot different from college. In College most of the learning is done outside of the classroom. That’s not the case in k-12. If I were still in grade school. That would just be an extended vacation, and I couldn’t see myself using that time to study(Friday). I would probably just increase my part-time job houres or increse my gym time honestly.

I agree with Manny, If there is something set up for that day that the students have off, then fine. If not, I don’t see this as being benificial to anyone from an education standpoint.

Adding that extra hour, does not mke up for that extra day the students would have off in my humble opinion.

future teacher

July 10th, 2009
12:56 am

Shorter school weeks? This could benefit teachers!! I worked a 4 day work week before I went back to school and it made sense!! On the one day off, you could tend to personal affiars without having to take time out of the classroom. Teacher planning days could also be on those days. Teachers work 190 days right now, why not think about keeping the teacher in the classroom, this plan would benefit several!! Of course you can always try it for a year or so and then go back to the 180 days if proven that it does not work for your school district!!

bamabone

July 10th, 2009
1:28 am

Dr. Craig Spinks /Evans

July 10th, 2009
1:40 am

The GDOE should abandon its historical inputs-based approach to public education and adopt a real student outcomes-based orientation.

Gwinnett Teacher

July 10th, 2009
6:55 am

I believe year round school could be great. One of the problems is there is too much required on the instructional calendar to be taught. There needs to be time for remediation for students that don’t master skills because the pacing is too fast. Frankly, elementary school should be strictly mastering reading, writing, communication skills and math. There are too many students going to middle school not mastering skills. If these elements were mastered in elementary school without social studies and science as actual subjects (elements of each can be use to teach LA/math)then students will pick up everything else much faster and actually retain the information. There are too many factors to pin the education delimma on (testing expectations, too much information, the order the information is expected to be taught, adoptions of new curriculum, etc) We should be looking at the most successful school systems around the country and modeling what they are doing.

Just an observation

July 10th, 2009
7:38 am

Is there truly a correlation between student achievement and the school calendar? I am not convinced that this is the reason for the poor performance in most schools. When I attended school, we all returned after Labor Day, and guess what? We all continued to do well- without all of the special labels. If students are not held accountable for anything, how are they ever going to develop the efficacy required to be responsible for their own learning. Many have said that students learn differently these days; but the last time I checked, the brain still functions the same. We have to stop appeasing and start teaching. Administrators need to support teachers when they set and enforce expectations, not compromise when parents complain about the grades on the report card that are reflective of their child’s true achievement. The highly political nature of schools and school systems are just as must to blame as they often disrupt the educative process, and, consequently, the learning of children. We have got to shift the paradigm to actualize true and effective change. Now I will get off my soap box.

MacArthur

July 10th, 2009
8:48 am

Murray County schools will receive $7 million less from the state. Keeping the schools closed during August when power bills are the highest and not running buses those 20 days will save $125,000 and allow them to balance their budget as required by law. This is a budget crisis move, which keeps class sizes reasonable and preserves other services, like school nurses, tutoring, etc. If the economy improves, or if test scores suffer, you can bet it will be a one-year thing.

THE CATHOLIC HAMMER

July 10th, 2009
9:04 am

There should be a 6 day school AND work week (Monday through Saturday), with school from 9am until 12 noon and work from 9am until (at the latest) 4pm through the week, and only until 12 noon on Saturdays. Retail businesses should be open late one day a week, preferably Thursday. Nothing shall be open on Sundays, save local, family owned restaurants. Longer breaks in school and work (2 to 4 weeks) would be through Christmas, Easter, and Assumption. Of course, there would be multiple holidays outside of those longer breaks, such as Corpus Christi, Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Nativity of St John Baptist, &c.

Dan

July 10th, 2009
9:06 am

Interesting conversations, for a change it is not educators vs parents. But you can certainly see where priorities lie on both sides, whether for or against longer days, the rationalization is certainly indicative of selfish or selfless motives

KD

July 10th, 2009
10:05 am

A year round school calender would not work, if have to think of vacations and day care for some of us. What you need to do is do away with Intersession school a couple of weeks a year and not so many of these teacher work days and just go back to the hours of 8-3 everyday and everyone can start back to school the 3rd Monday in August and the last day of school will end the Friday before Memorial Day.

SFEECRGA

July 10th, 2009
10:37 am

It should be 100% about the kids. Servicing the best needs to the kids who are learning at the accelerated pace, but also those kids who struggle at different times with the pace of instruction so driven by the “testing madness” that takes hold.
My wife is a teacher. The one thing that makes us practically injure ourselves rolling our eyes so hard is when other teachers complain about their schedules. You’ve got to be kidding me. The work schedule of a teacher is the envy of the adult world. Even with any and all proposed changes…my wife will always be thrilled with the opportunities her work calendar affords her and her friends/co-workers.

me

July 10th, 2009
10:56 am

Future Teacher,

Teachers work 190 days a year and you still need more time to tend to personal affairs? Sounds like you could use better time management skills.

watch and see

July 10th, 2009
11:03 am

LAURA,
Can you pls find out if teachers are still obligated to 190 days under this new regulation? Seems to me if they now have to work more instructional hours, the contract days should be adjusted accordingly.

Old School

July 10th, 2009
11:10 am

Given that I’m a morning person and many of my high school students don’t even “wake up” until nearly noon, I’m wondering if a flexible day that went from something like 8 a.m. until 6 or so p.m. wouldn’t work just fine. Teachers would still teach the required number of classes to be full-time. Students who rely on the buses for transportation would have to schedule classes to fit the regular bus schedule and the master schedule would have to provide opportunities to get the classes they need to graduate. Those needing remediation might be able to audit critical classes and those who can handle the extra work could take extra classes.
There would be choices and decisions to make on everyone’s part and some choices would be tough (extra curricular? after school job?) but that’s part of life isn’t it?

Yeah, I know. Too many problems with the above pie-in-the-sky idea but at least I’m thinking outside the box.

watch and see

July 10th, 2009
11:14 am

I just took a look at the Murray County calendar, and it appears the teachers will work 170 days.
Daily schedule is 7:30-3:05 for middle and high schools, 7:30-3:30 for elementary. I don’t think these days are so long that it will interfere with student achievement. We’ll see…

Laura Diamond

July 10th, 2009
11:18 am

Good question, Watch and See. Let me ask around and see what I can find out.

Laura Diamond

July 10th, 2009
11:30 am

I have an answer for you Watch and See.
Dana Tofig, spokesman for the state education department, says teachers are obligated to work 190 days, but districts can get a waiver from the State Board of Education if they want to change that number.

ZAAAA

July 10th, 2009
11:35 am

Let’s see about that time to do personal affairs. Humm. At school by 7:30. (At my daughter’s school, by 7:10) Can’t leave the campus during lunch (20 minutes) or planning time (25 minutes) Can leave at 4:15 and drive. Doctors are closed. Dentists won’t take appointments that late. Courthouse closes up. But wait! The principal has called a meeting for today! Gotta reschedule for 3 months from now!

I am not saying it is better in other jobs, but most jobs have a longer lunch time and you are allowed to leave the building.

Then, at home, work on grading and lesson plans for 2-3 hours. Then there is the weekends. Yeah, it is a sweet schedule. Easy as pie!

Not for most teachers, especially with families.

watch and see: was that a typo? Do your k-5 kids go longer than your high and middle schoolers?

watch and see

July 10th, 2009
11:56 am

I neither live nor work in Murray County. The hours I posted above came directly from their website.
http://www.murray.k12.ga.us/160_day_info.htm