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Yearly Calendar With Week Numbers

Analysts examine schools’ calendars

The number of Arkansas school systems that have switched to a nontraditional school year schedule — particularly to four days a week — has grown from one district in 2018-19 to 40 this school year.

Yearly Calendar with Week Numbers - Printable and Easy to Use
Yearly Calendar with Week Numbers – Printable and Easy to Use

Some of the districts that hold classes four days a week — typically Monday through Thursday or Tuesday through Friday — include Cossatot River, East End, England, Atkins, Caddo Hills and Perryville. The schools operate a 7.5 hour, 142-day school year as compared to a six-hour, 178-student school-day schedule in a typical school district. Both kinds of schedules, however, provide 1,068 hours of instruction.

The Marion, Marked Tree, Wynne, East Poinsett, McCrory and Osceola districts are the six systems in the state that operate with what are called year-round calendars. The 178-days in those systems are spread out through the 12-month calendar year. There are shorter summer breaks and longer breaks during the year.

Free Printable Yearly Calendar with Week Numbers – Free
Free Printable Yearly Calendar with Week Numbers – Free

Of the 40 of the state’s 237 noncharter school systems, 34 this year use the four-days-a-week schedule and six use a year-round plan.

The nontraditional calendars have caught the attention of Jacob Oliva, who has been Arkansas education secretary since January. Oliva told the Arkansas Board of Education earlier this month that he had some concerns about the impact nontraditional schedules can have on student achievement.

The increase in the numbers of districts with nontraditional calendars, which followed the passage of Act 688 of 2021, prompted the Office for Education Policy — a part of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville — to evaluate the impact of the calendars on student achievement, achievement growth and attendance in those districts.

Sarah McKenzie, executive director of the Office for Education Policy, and office researcher Kate Barnes compared data from the nontraditional calendar systems to data from five-days-a-week school districts that are otherwise similar in student enrollment and student poverty rates.

The researchers looked at the before- and after-calendar change data for the school systems in regard to student achievement, student achievement growth over time and attendance. They also compared the same kinds of data for the traditional versus nontraditional districts. They categorized the districts into cohorts based on the length of time the districts have used the alternative schedules in order to spot trends.

The researchers wrote in the 53-page report that there was a positive and “statistically significant” achievement growth in literacy for four-days-a-week schools, meaning the average literacy growth scores for the nontraditional schedule are higher than those of comparison districts.

“All other values … returned positive yet small and statistically insignificant results” regarding achievement and attendance, the researchers concluded about the four-days-a-week schedule.

“The [year-round calendar] returned negative statistically significant results,” the researchers found, leading them to the conclusion “that students in year-round calendar districts are not performing as well as students in comparison traditional districts.”

For policymakers, educators and communities that are considering the adoption of nontraditional school calendars, it’s important to understand the potential implications, McKenzie and Barnes said.

“While calendar changes may offer the possibility of improved school outcomes and student well-being, it is crucial to recognize that the success of these initiatives hinges on a range of factors beyond the mere adoption of a new calendar structure,” they wrote in the study.

Among their recommendations to districts, the researchers urged that faculty members be equipped with effective strategies and training to support high-quality instruction within a modified school day and calendar.

“Additionally, districts should also thoughtfully structure unscheduled time to ensure it is utilized effectively for enrichment activities, targeted support and student well-being initiatives,” they wrote.

The research team also called for more research to be done to gauge the impact of different school year structures on family dynamics and teacher recruitment, as well as academic growth and achievement.

“While calendar changes may be enticing for the school’s potential benefits, it is crucial to recognize that school and community culture and the quality of instruction play pivotal roles in shaping student outcomes,” McKenzie and Barnes said in the study that is available here: https://oep.uark.edu/exploring-academic-outcomes-in-arkansas-schools/.