City Board Hopes For Improvement In Student Test Performance
March 21, 2007
By RACHEL GOTTLIEB, Courant Staff Writer
School will begin before Labor Day in Hartford next school year, the traditional February break will move to the end of March and youngsters in grades 1 through 3 who are reading below grade level will have four weeks of mandatory summer school, the school board decided Tuesday night.
The changes in the calendar for the next two years are designed to raise student achievement by increasing the number of days of instruction before youngsters take the Connecticut Mastery Test and increasing the total number of days that students are in school.
"While being the lowest-achieving school district in the state, we have the fewest number of days of instruction before the state assessment," said School Superintendent Steven Adamowski.
The schedule increases instructional time by 2.5 days - from 176.5 to 179 - by eliminating five of nine half-days that were used for teacher training. That teacher training in the new calendar will be in August, before students return to school, and in June, after school lets out.
The board did not need to negotiate the teacher-training change with the teachers' union, union President Cathy Carpino said, because the schedule does not ask teachers to work more than 187 days called for in their contract.
Teachers objected to some of the proposed calendar changes, and the board compromised on some issues next year. But it approved a calendar for the following year that adheres more closely to Adamowski's proposal.
Next year, teachers will report for training on Aug. 27 and 28, and students will report Aug. 29 - giving youngsters three days of instruction before Labor Day.
But in 2008-09, students will have five days of instruction before Labor Day.
The mandatory summer school for students reading below grade level will be four weeks after the next year and five weeks the following year.
Adamowski has expressed outrage over the fact that only 15 percent of third-graders in city schools can read at their grade level. Beyond third grade, he said, it's more difficult to teach students to read. The board did not honor Carpino's request to keep what the district calls "spring break" in February - just before three weeks of state testing that begins in early March. Instead, the break will move to late March, after the testing.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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