First, the over arching reasoning for the change to a balanced calendar, which I heard not only at the school meeting but from subsequent conversations with a number of teachers and administrators, is the raising of standard test scores and especially the “retention” of information. They noted that keeping kids in school on a more continuing basis (hence balanced calendar) would allow them to retain information to consequently improve their standard test scores.
The larger detriment to this assumption is that life, business, careers or jobs do not function in this manner. Once out of school – whether high school, a university or a trade school – people are not given a constant feed of information to reinforce retention. They must learn, recall, read or experience both new skills and knowledge, as well, as previously learned skills and knowledge. They must be able to remember or apply themselves to find and recall needed information or skills. So why would we design our educational system to emulate learning that is not reflective of actual life?
Second, because of the measurement system currently in place with our school systems, the school administrators and teachers are evaluated on the results of these standard tests. They can be praised or criticized on the basis of the test results. Also the schools budgets are driven greatly by the results achieved with the standard tests, which is a disconnect from the actual education process between the student and the teacher. From my own research, and experience as a past student and a parent interacting with my children’s teachers, the standard testing does not measure how students perform on active curriculum they are involved within the classroom. So why would we use a measurement system, which unfortunately drive our school’s administrators and teachers to waste valuable instructional, interactive and collaborative time on tests which measure little at best?
Third, there is no empirical data which shows that moving to a balanced calendar improves or enhances the education process. With a lack of evidence, it is surprising that such a change would even be considered.
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