The Dallas Independent School District Board of Trustees will be asked to consider two major changes to the school calendar Thursday night meant to make up for growing learning gaps due directly to the pandemic.
The calendar changes would impact students in about one in three Dallas ISD schools, and they would affect the 2021-2022 and the 2022-2023 school years. The majority of schools in the district would not be affected by the changes.
What is known as the intersession calendar would result in the academic year starting on Aug. 9, 2021 and ending on June 23, 2022. That would still leave students with five consecutive weeks of summer vacation. The remaining five weeks, that would be rolled into the school year, would be used in two different ways, depending upon student need.
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Students who have fallen behind will attend school during those five weeks and will receive more focused attention from their teachers. The students in those schools who are on pace will get to take those five weeks as additional vacation time spread throughout the school year.
What is known as the school day redesign would only impact students in a few, underperforming elementary and middle schools. It would also feature the same, shortened summer schedule as the intersession calendar. But with this plan, every student in the school would get the five additional weeks of instruction.
These updates are needed, according to district administrators, because an increasing number of students are falling behind.
“Our most recent data point comes from the fall, and it showed that 50% of our students are worse off in math compared to pre-pandemic, and 30% of our students are worse off in reading compared to their status pre-pandemic,” said Derek Little, Deputy Chief Academic Officer for Dallas ISD. “So that obviously compels us to try to find every way possible to support our students to recover from that impact.”
The exact schools, and which students in those schools, who would be affected by the potential calendar changes have not yet been identified, according to Little.