2015-16 School Calendar Information
West Delaware is in the process of developing a calendar for recommendation to the Board of Directors. A proposal was discussed at a public hearing at the Board meeting on March 30, and the decision was made to vote on the recommendation at the May 11 Board meeting.
Two separate points are impacting the 2015-16 calendar. First, the legislature is requiring districts to start later than we typically do at West Delaware. Until recently the earliest start date for 2015-16 could be no earlier than August 31. There has been much debate in the legislature about this, and as a result a new law has recently been passed that will allow districts to start no sooner than August 23 (a Sunday). As a result, West Delaware will propose a start date of August 24.
The other point of interest in West Delaware’s proposed calendar is an increase in the number of early dismissals for the 2015-16 school year. Teachers have a very complex task, and they need this time to collaborate so that they can serve students most effectively and meet all of the many responsibilities they have. We are proposing this because the students will reap the benefits when we provide teachers with the time necessary to do this very important work. Many, many teachers have expressed the importance of this time for collaboration.
Frequently asked questions:
Question: Why do teachers need this time?
Answer: Effective teaching is a very complex task, and involves so much more than just standing in front of a group of students. There is an enormous amount of planning necessary so that teachers can analyze the strengths and needs of each individual student in a diverse class and select the best instructional practice in order to ensure that each student learns. They must work together with other teachers, associates, and specialists to plan instruction to be sure that every child has the supports and the individualized instruction needed to be successful, and they need to monitor student progress and make adjustments as necessary during the teaching cycle.
Question: Why can’t the teachers meet before the school year starts or even once a month to do this work?
Answer: Teachers must continually adjust instruction while it is occurring to react to student needs, quickly assess who is learning and who needs something more, and plan for the next day of instruction based on how students learned today. Teachers are most successful in meeting the multiple needs of the many students they serve when they collaborate with their colleagues on a regular basis.
Question: Don’t teachers already have planning time during the day to do this work?
Answer: Yes, but it is very limited. In countries with highly successful education systems, it is common to have 15-20 hours of collaborative planning time per week. Our teachers have five hours or less, and often their schedules don’t align so they aren’t able to collaborate during these times. They need time that is set aside specifically for collaborative work in order to address student needs.
Question: We didn’t used to have some many early outs. What has changed?
Answer: Actually, in the past West Delaware has had much more frequent early dismissals; they were almost weekly at one point in time. Many other districts currently follow a weekly early dismissal schedule. In addition, there have been many changes in education over the last several years, including Early Literacy Initiative, Iowa Core, English Language Learners, No Child Left Behind, Technology integration, Special Education, Talented and Gifted, and much, much more. Teachers need time to implement these requirements and they need time to collaborate in order to do so effectively.
The proposed calendar is available by clicking here.
Thank you to our families for understanding the importance of collaboration and professional development and helping us to provide that time to teachers. Our students reap the benefits!