School will still be out for summer, but it won’t be out forever.
Mayor Muriel Bowser and D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson announced Wednesday morning that 10 traditional public schools will get an additional month of instruction starting in the 2016-17 academic year. That means those schools will hold classes for 200 days instead of 180, thanks to $5 million in funding. The schools will also have an extra two weeks for students in need as well as breaks in October and June, per the mayor’s office.
All but one of the schools are located in Wards 7 and 8 (the exception is H.D. Cooke Elementary School in Ward 1). Seven are elementary schools, while three are middle schools.
“By extending the school year in these ten schools, we will offer students the equivalent of an extra year of learning by the time they reach the 8th grade,” Bowser said in a statement. Henderson added that the additional time will help students “especially in struggling schools” master math and reading skills and take art, music, and language.
The news follows a pilot program at Ward 4’s Raymond Education Campus this year, which will continue to have an extended academic year along with the 10 other schools. The decision is based on research showing that pupils who spend more time out of school over the summer have a harder time retaining what they’ve learned. (In educational circles, this is often called “summer learning loss“). Many charter schools in D.C. already have longer school years.
DCPS selected the ten schools based in part on “strong leadership, active interest by the community, and student bodies that demonstrate room for growth.” The goal is to get students ready for high school, college, and beyond.
“Education isn’t one-size-fits-all, and our current 180-day school year and 6 and 1/2 hour school day is not enough for all students, particularly in our highest-need schools,” Democrats for Education Reform D.C. Director Catharine Bellinger said in a statement. “Students benefit when school leaders have both the resources and the flexibility to allocate more time to the classes and programs that help their students succeed.”
Here are the schools that will be getting longer academic years starting this fall:
- Garfield Elementary School (Ward 8)
- H.D. Cooke Elementary School (Ward 1)
- Hart Middle School (Ward 8)
- Hendley Elementary School (Ward 8)
- Johnson Middle School (Ward 8)
- Kelly Miller Middle School (Ward 7)
- King Elementary School (Ward 8)
- Randle Highlands Elementary School (Ward 7)
- Thomas Elementary School (Ward 7)
- Turner Elementary School (Ward 8)
Update 3:15 p.m.: D.C. Public Charter Schools spokesperson Tomeika Bowden tells City Desk there are currently 77 schools under its purview that have extended school-year or school-day programs. “We support the initiative by the Mayor and Chancellor Henderson,” says Scott Pearson, executive director of the D.C. Public Charter School Board, in a statement. “Many DC public charter schools have long offered extended day and extended year programs and have seen good results.”
Photo by Darrow Montgomery