The 2012-13 school year will have some significant changes with the adoption Wednesday evening of next year's school calendar at the Hood River County School District's regular board meeting.
The new calendar has been designed to minimize disruption of teaching time by making the following changes:
For consistency, all professional development and work days are on Mondays
There is a scheduled week off at Thanksgiving
Twice-monthly early release Wednesdays will be replaced by weekly late-start Mondays
Making these changes enabled the district to give students 29 complete five-day weeks (three more than there are this year), including four solid weeks of instruction between Thanksgiving break and winter break.
Also, going from twice-monthly early release days to late-start days adds five hours of professional development time, while maintaining a level of instructional hours that exceeds state requirements at every grade level.
Early release days were instituted three years ago when the district adjusted the school calendar to build in time for teachers' professional development in the form of Professional Learning Communities. That adjustment traded full days of teacher inservice for two-hour early releases, approximately twice a month.
PLCs give teachers a chance to meet together in content and grade level teams to analyze student work and design instruction to meet the learning needs of all students. This time is becoming increasingly important as state graduation requirements become more rigorous.
"With the increased graduation and achievement requirements and the implementation of the Common Core State Standards, our teachers have an even bigger job to do," said Terri Vann, HRCSD director of instruction and curriculum.
Oregon is one of 47 states that have adopted the Common Core State Standards (described in detail below). Implementation will require adjusting curriculum and common assessments, Vann said. Professional Learning Communities give teachers a chance to work together on this.
According to Vann, PLCs are most successful when meetings are held weekly, which is why the district decided to go to the one-hour late starts on Monday mornings. This consistency will also make it easier on parents and staff who find it difficult to remember which Wednesdays are early release and which are not, she said.
According to the Oregon Department of Education, the Common Core State Standards are designed to offer:
National and international rigor - the Common Core State Standards are aligned to internationally benchmarked standards from the highest achieving countries. This means our students will be well prepared to compete both nationally and internationally.
Consistency across the country - Common standards mean that Oregon students are learning the same content and skills as students from around the U.S. in the subject areas of English language arts and math. This places everyone on an even playing field and eases transitions between states.
Homegrown talent - rigorous national standards will help each state produce local, homegrown talent to meet the needs of our rapidly changing workplace.
21st century skills for 21st century jobs - The Common Core Standards are designed to prepare students to compete in and contribute to the 21st century global economy. These standards will help produce graduates ready for today's - and tomorrow's - jobs.
College and career-ready standards for all - Because students need high-level literacy and math skills whether they plan to go to college or directly into a job or workforce training, these standards are designed to prepare students for success in whatever they choose to do after graduation.
Focus on real-world skills -What students learn in school should be directly related to what they'll be required to do once they leave school. The Common Core Standards emphasize reading informational and technical texts to prepare students for the demands of college and the workplace.
The board also voted to add a day and a half to this year's calendar to make up for the days missed this winter due to weather issues.