Year-round plan didn’t make the grade

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 24, 2002

Year-round school didn’t pass its two-year test run in Suffolk Public Schools.

The School Board, during its retreat on Wednesday, voted unanimously to return to a traditional nine-month school calendar at Booker T. Washington and Northern Shores elementary schools in 2003-2004.

The two schools switched to a year-round schedule two years ago, largely to see if a different schedule would pay off with academic dividends for students.

Email newsletter signup

Although students spent about the same amount of time in school, it was broken into nine-week blocks with approximately three weeks off between sessions. Between sessions, the two schools offer remedial and enrichment classes for students.

Approximately 70 percent of students took advantage of the intersession programs, said Daren Whitney, assistant superintendent for elementary instruction. Although students needing remedial assistance aren’t required to attend the classes, they are &uot;strongly encouraged&uot; to take advantage of the opportunity, he said.

&uot;I know of very few instances in which parents didn’t buy into it (sending their child for remedial help),&uot; said Whitney.

An evaluation of the schools’ on the year-round program indicated students did perform better on standardized tests, said School Superintendent Dr. Milton Liverman.

&uot;The most significant measure of success is test scores,&uot; he said. &uot;…We’re saying there are not significant differences in the improvements made between schools on the year-round and traditional calendars.&uot;

Other factors – including student retention, suspension rates and improved attendance among teachers – only showed minimal changes.

Although the schools showed some improvements of standardized test scores, board members agreed the changes weren’t significant enough to continue investing the $200,000 it takes to operate intersessions.

&uot;I don’t see that it’s made a significant difference with academic achievement,&uot; said Billy Hill, a former educator and newcomer to the board. &uot;I recommend that the programs be disbanded at the end of this year.&uot;

Board member Billy Whitley agreed.

&uot;There have been some successes,&uot; he said. &uot;But I don’t believe they have been successful enough to expand the program.&uot;