People may know of the governor’s effort to mandate that schools start only after Labor Day but be only dimly aware of the Save Our Summers Study Commission he has empaneled to make the case for him. But they have issued a report and Scott Marion, an education researcher and Rye school board member, has actually read it. He gives his analysis in a letter to the Portsmouth Herald. Here’s his thesis:
Would adjusting the school calendar by a few days really bring to a windfall of money to New Hampshire? The story in last week’s Herald and the recent editorial describing the Governor’s “Save our Summers” commission report made it sound that way. Given this alleged great news, I read the full report, but came away with three major questions:
-*- The report and the editorial never mentioned what’s best for kids. Shouldn’t this be the primary purpose of any major change we make to our educational system?
-*- Are the logic and analyses of the report trustworthy?
-*- Isn’t the “Live Free and Die” State all about local control?
The commission had a singular focus–how shifting the school calendar could produce a significant financial impact for New Hampshire. As an educational researcher and a local school board member, I and my colleagues always ask when contemplating any new initiative, “What’s best for students?” The report focused on the short-term gains associated with having students serve as labor for the hospitality industry. In spite of testimony from all of the major educational groups in the state, the commission ignored students’ best interest such as the potential negative effects on AP, SAT, and ACT scores, all of which are administered on fixed dates. One of the truisms in educational research is that “time on task” (i.e., the amount of learning time) has a powerful influence on student outcomes. While a week might not sound like a lot of time, it could be the difference for a student who is close to the “college credit” cutscore on the AP exams or to a key SAT threshold in order to be eligible for the college of their choice and potential scholarships….
Read Dr. Marion’s full analysis here.
I’ve long felt that the school year should start right after Labor Day. There are businesses who won’t hire if the applicant can’t work through that weekend. In a tourist area this is important.
As for the school year: having taught in NH since 1972, I see no purpose in having a Feb. AND April vacation.
I also agree that it’s the school board in consultation with administration and others who decide the schedule. I have found that the Board seems to spring it on those who might put their oar in e.g. local business. Saying that the agenda is on a website is not good enough.
This is a reasonable conversation and I look forward to other comments.