Wake Ed

Wake County committee to discuss changing school calendars

The Wake County school board’s student achievement committee will discuss Monday themes for new magnet schools, a potential calendar change for 12 high-needs elementary schools and the state’s new definition of low-performing schools.

The meeting agenda include an update on what’s being done to help the 12 elementary schools that are in the Elementary Support Model because of factors such as low test scores and high poverty levels. But what will particularly interest people at those schools is the discussion on whether to move them next year to a new type of year-round calendar called the continuous learning calendar.

The continuous learning calendar has been pitched as having the best elements of the traditional and year-round calendars that could lead to improved academic achievement. But it’s got challenges such as how the many low-income families at those schools would be able to find affordable childcare during the periodic breaks.

Among the issues to be resolved is whether students at those 12 schools would be given the option of opting out to apply to a traditional-calendar school. Families at other schools get the option of applying to attend a school that’s on a calendar different than their base school.

Another issue is whether year-round students who live in the bases of those 12 schools would be required to return if the calendar is changed.

The elementary schools that could be affected are Barwell Road, Brentwood, Bugg, Creech Road, East Garner, Fox Road, Hodge Road, Lincoln Heights, Lynn Road, Smith, Walnut Creek and Wilburn.

As previously reported, staff will also brief the committee on themes for the new magnet programs at Athens Drive High School in Raleigh and Reedy Creek Middle School in Cary. Staff will also present the revised themes that will be used at two existing Raleigh magnet schools – East Millbrook Middle School and Powell Elementary School.

Another agenda item is how the General Assembly recently changed the definition of a low-performing school to be a school that has a D or F letter grade and doesn’t show high growth on exams. Parents will have to be notified at those schools and school improvement plans will need to be developed.

Wake is no fan of the state’s letter grades so some unflattering comments on the state’s changes will likely be made.

Charter schools use a different standard for being declared low performing. It’s based on whether their passing rates on state exams are below 60 percent and if they haven’t met growth for two of the past three years.