At the September School Board meeting, the School Board voted to approve a revised district calendar. At the time, UDPC parents questioned a major change on the calendar that will affect all elementary school families and the timetable when they will receive reports during this school year about their children’s progress in mastering grade level standards.
The calendar change now aligns the elementary school schedule with the semester schedule that the middle and high schools follow. Therefore, the elementary students’ first official school report (referred to as “the interim”) will no longer be sent to families the first week in October. Instead, families will receive this report sometime in November. The details of what data will be reported on the interim have yet to be determined.
According to the calendar, the first parent-teacher conferences are scheduled for mid-December (the week before winter break begins). Although this timing is consistent with last year’s conference schedule, is important to note that last year, the timing of conferences was reportedly due to the later school year start. This year, however, the elementary school students went back to class the Tuesday after Labor Day.
As the 2013-2014 calendar is now structured, families will have little time to help make any adjustments to correct their child’s academic course.
For elementary school students, the first semester ends January 24th. UDPC wondered how the placement of conferences in December would be helpful to families. With only a few weeks of the semester remaining after winter break, how would the conferences help home and school to work together for the betterment of the students? What is the purpose of the conference if there is not enough time and testing opportunities available to make positive, impactful changes to the students’ first semester progress?
The following things are important for families to know:
- Historically, conferences have been the time when elementary students’ parents/guardians receive a progress report on their academic goals.
- In reviewing the testing schedule on the district calendar, it seems students will have already taken two theme tests by the end of November. The third theme test is scheduled for the week prior to the December conferences.
- There are only two full weeks of instructional time between the December conferences and the second benchmarks, which have been shown to accurately correlate to the PSSA performance, which captures how much the student has grown in a year.
- As the 2013-2014 calendar is now structured, families will have little time to help make any adjustments to help correct their child’s academic course.
Prior to the 2012-2013 school year, the first conference was held during the fourth week of November, when about six weeks had passed from the first official report. There was time for the school to begin interventions, time for the families to focus their support, and then time to see how the home and school were working together to yield positive change in student performance. The new schedule does not foster home and school cooperation, nor does the structure benefit the student. Adding to the difficultyis that most families do not yet know about this year’s schedule changes. The level of detail shared with parents seems to vary, depending on how this topic is being addressed at each school’s Back-to-School Night and September Home and School meetings.
After submitting these and other questions, UDPC was informed by administration that there will be an explanation in the October 2, 2013, Wednesday folders. There will also be a Parent Forum where the reporting system will be explained and discussed, but this meeting has yet to be scheduled, so stay tuned to UDPC for more information.