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Travis Heights Elementary School PTA > Principal's News > THES 2015/16 Proposed Calendar Q&A

THES 2015/16 Proposed Calendar Q&A

The work on the calendar is a move towards crafting something specifically for our school community. The suggestion is divided into two sections that are independent from each other. One is the change in the annual calendar. The other is a regular early release time. The discussion is important as are the ideas and questions shared. It will be from this dialogue that we craft a final recommendation. Below are some of the questions and responses from online and person to person dialogues.

You may click on the questions below to read the responses.

What is the rationale for the new calendar?

The fall semester has been a time when teachers would benefit from follow up professional
development. The week of Thanksgiving has been a high absent day for several years. If we
adapted our calendar to allow time off for students the week of Thanksgiving, it would provide time for teachers to reflect and refine learning from the summer.

Does this mean a bigger bill for extend-a-care with the early release?

The after-school programs have agreed to be ready to accept students at 12:45 for early release. This is the same statement they made two years ago when parents and teachers discussed late start or early release for teacher planning and preparation. The use of possible Prime Time or other funds to have an enrichment period was mentioned. This could be designed but it would be limited to a certain number of students.We are still waiting for an answer about a bill increase.

Does the early release mean fewer hours for students?

There is a two hour reduction. The level of differentiation and individualized learning that teachers could plan to implement would promote more focused lessons. The weeks that we already only have four days would not be early release. Those would include the weeks of : Sept. 11, Oct. 23, Jan. 8, Jan. 22, and Feb. 26. Still that would mean 56 hours of additional planning for teachers.

Is Friday the best time for teachers to plan/prep? Does it give them enough time to get materials ready for Monday if they are just planning the lessons on Friday?

Our Tuesday time would still be for lesson design and planning. This extra time would be used for data review and material development. Many of the Service Learning or project-based learning requires time for teachers to connect with specialists in the “real world”. This is difficult to do when your day ends the same time as those in the working world and begins much earlier than most business days. Teachers discussed Wednesdays or Fridays. They selected Fridays trying to predict which day would benefit most parents.

What is the rationale for the new calendar?

There are truly very limited days that differ from the AISD calendar. Specifically it would be 5:

  • Nov. 11th would be a school day.
  • Nov. 23-24 would be student holidays.
  • March 25th would be a school day.
  • May 27th would be a school day.

Last day for students would be June 1st.

Did you consider late start days like the highschools use?

Yes. We looked at AISD schools as well as other schools in the area, charter and districts. We also asked our Expeditionary Learning consultants who serve schools in New York, California, and Colorado. (These are just a few of their areas.) Most campuses preferred early release because when teachers had late start, they only focused on getting ready for their day. In addition, there are no resources to support parents who can’t bring students late. With early release, Extend-A-Care, and Creativity Club were already ready to help.

Is there research that supports this idea of early release leads to better developed plansand student learning?

As far as research, educational research takes decades to build. Blended Learning is an example of that. The research on this topic is much less than on say, differentiated learning. Most research on Blended Learning is at the collegiate or high school level. That said, the extra planning time is
supposed to make learning more focused and efficient due to the level of teacher planning. One point to evidence the benefit of the early release to support teacher planning is to look at the schools that use this. Two examples are Manor New-Tech H.S. and all of Manor ISD, as well as
every Expeditionary Learning school.


Feedback from School Wide Meetings:


How will the early release time by used?

The time will be used to complete planning, preparation, or critical review of student work and teacher plans.

Can we switch Columbus Day for Veteran’s Day so that we can recognize Veteran’s with this day off?

Columbus day is conference day. Every family must have a face to face conference with their child’s teacher in the fall to review expectations and set goals.

We are concerned about the hours lost.

Texas Education Agency does not count this as hours lost as long as we have a minimum of 4 hours of instruction in a day. Most schools who have used this system have seen increased student performance and a positive staff climate.

Will it mean a loss of specials?

No, special area teachers suggested a shortened period on early release days or a rotation of am and pm.


Other thoughts and questions:

This is more feedback gathered from the school-wide meetings. Some are comments and ideas that need to be researched and others are questions that will get answered as we move forward with this project and flesh out the details. If you would like to submit comments or questions you may use the contact form to send use your thoughts.

Will an early Friday release cause a higher absenteeism?
Can we have early release for a trial period and plan to review to determine if this is effective?
Can we shift Prime Time to offer a program for those who need it?
Can parent volunteers create a program for those who need it?
Having students in different schools makes having a different calendar difficult.
We are ok with a calendar change.
We are ok with the early release