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Schools looking at options to make up lost time

Many schools are considering adding time onto the end of the school day or the end of the year.

Posted on Feb. 20, 2014 at 4:24 p.m.

Indiana schools' calendars are looking as messy as the weather outside.

Schools used built-in makeup days and took waivers from the state after this winter's weather forced snow day after snow day. But still, making it to 180 days of instruction is a challenge that schools have to meet in creative ways.

Longer day, or longer year?

The Indiana Department of Education said schools could add time on to the end of the school day to make up the missed days.

It's an option that schools around the state are excited about, according to Daniel Altman, spokesperson for the education department.

When's the last day of school?
Several local schools said these dates are subject to change, depending on the weather or decisions by school boards. But here's the plan as of Thursday, Feb. 20.

Public schools
Elkhart — June 5
Goshen — June 6
Concord — June 10
Baugo — June 6
Middlebury — June 9
Wa-Nee — June 3
Fairfield — No date approved yet

Private schools
St. Vincent — June 2
St. Thomas — June 2
Bethany Christian — June 2
Clinton Christian — June 3
Elkhart Christian — May 30
St. John — June 6

"The response has been very large and very positive from the schools," Altman said on Wednesday, Feb. 19. "Schools are happy to have this option."

There's no way to know how many schools will take advantage of the longer school day option until the end of the year, Altman added. 

Schools in Elkhart County haven't announced plans to do longer days. Most are planning to make up at least some days at the end of the year.

For students, that means a shorter summer break. For Goshen students, it means a shorter spring break too.

John Glenn School Corp. in St. Joseph County will use 12 longer days to make up one snow day.

"What we're planning on doing is extending the school day by just a half hour for 12 days," Lisa Sleek of John Glenn said.

At the end of the 12 days, students will have made up six hours, or one full day. That's an example of how schools might use the "conditional waiver" option offered by the state.

Who canceled the most days?

It's hard to say which Indiana school canceled the most days, Altman said. Schools aren't required to report cancellations to the state until the end of the school year. 

Elkhart Community Schools canceled 10 days this year.

St. Joseph County schools canceled between eight and 10 days. Fort Wayne Community Schools canceled 12 days, and Indianapolis Public Schools canceled seven.

Representatives of both Fort Wayne and Indianapolis school corporations said there's no definite plan to make up lost time yet.

"The one thing that we have told families is that we are not going to use spring break," Krista Stockman of Fort Wayne Community Schools said.

Online learning

Bethany Christian Schools is looking into the possibility of doing online school on bad-weather days, another option offered by the state.

Each student has a school-provided computer, which would make it possible for students to learn without being at the school.

Assistant principal Tim Lehman said this would be a temporary solution, and not something the school would do for multiple canceled days.

"Virtual learning isn't the same as actually being present together in the building and learning together," he said.

Still, making up time online is something Bethany parents have asked about, he said. The school has applied for that option through the state and is waiting to be approved. 

Online learning wouldn't be used to make up any of the seven days students have already missed, Lehman added. This option would only happen if another day is canceled this year.

Testing later

The weather also prompted the state to give schools more time to administer standardized tests. Schools have nine extra days for the applied skills portion of the ISTEP, and two extra days for the IREAD-3. 

That means more time to get in learning before the test.

Concord Community Schools decided to split up the ISTEP and IREAD tests for third graders, who have to take both.

Baugo students will take the ISTEP on March 10-21. Third graders will take the IREAD-3 test on March 17-19.

Wa-Nee students will take the ISTEP on March 3-21 and the IREAD-3 on March 17-21.

Fairfield students will take the ISTEP on March 10-21 and the IREAD-3 on March 17-20.

"Our rationale is that we do not want third graders to be taking both ISTEP and IREAD-3 at the same time," Bryan Waltz of Concord said. "Both are high-stakes tests — one is high stakes for the school and the other is high stakes for the individual child. We want the students to have a break between tests."

Concord third graders will take the ISTEP on March 10-12 and the IREAD-3 test on March 19-20.

Concord students in fourth through eighth grade will take the ISTEP on March 13-18. 

Goshen Community Schools Superintendent Diane Woodworth said the school corporation will likely move the testing schedule as close to the end of the time allowed as possible. 

Specific dates, she said, have not been finalized.

Middlebury students will be taking the test during the second week of the three week window allowed by the state. 

"Our administrators are thankful for the extra week and will utilize it for instruction," Jane Allen, superintendent of Middlebury Community Schools said.




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