Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Back to School Already? Here's Why


Hard to believe, but the Blogger Kid started third grade on Monday. Third grade! (Yes, we're getting older -- but so are you.) We've been hearing the same thing all week from friends without kids: Whoa, it's still August! What ever happened to summer vacation?

If you've noticed more drive time traffic this week, that's why. Beyond Glendale, school's back in session at L.A. Unified as well, and most other districts will kick off their school years in the coming days. The trend has been to move the start of the year up, in order to end the first semester before the holidays.

Here's how the Glendale News-Press explained the change when it was first approved by Glendale Unified in 2011:

The number of instructional days, 180, will remain the same, but the first day of school will be moved up by one week in both 2012 and 2013. The change will also sync the end of the first semester with winter break and give students a two-week head start on finding summer jobs and internships, officials said.

Changing the calendar gives teachers and students additional classroom time to prepare for the California High School Exit Examination and advanced placement tests, which are administered on fixed dates, officials said. It also means that the first semester will wrap up in December, rather than in January.

And here's how L.A. Unified explained its change:
"The early-start calendar allows students to complete their first semester prior to winter break,” said Superintendent John Deasy, "which has been shown to have a positive impact on final examinations and grades. Many of the high schools in the Valley that have been on the early start schedule the past few years have reported that it is popular with parents and students."

Under the new plan, students will complete their first semester, including exams, before taking a winter break. High school students ending their school year earlier will have more options among college and university summer programs, as well as summer jobs. In addition, all students, by finishing sooner in the calendar year, can consider a broader range of seasonal activities.
Last year's L.A. Unified school year ended on Friday, May 31 June 7 (it was originally set to be May 31, but a week was restored in order to make a full 180-day year).

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