It’s Wednesday morning at Harold Lang Middle School, and the campus leadership team is holding a banner while cheering loud enough that people walking by on the sidewalk stop to see what’s going on.
The school is celebrating their adoption of an intersession calendar, which will extend the school year to start at the beginning of August and end in late June.
“We feel like this will be a huge lever in closing the achievement gaps that we always talk about,” Lang Principal Nicole Lyons said. “We feel like this extended time will give us more concentrated time with our scholars and provide small group instruction in ways that are meaningful, engaging and relevant to scholars.”
Forty-one schools have adopted this intersession calendar (see the list of schools here), creating time for five additional weeks spread throughout the year. During the intersession weeks, select students will have opportunities for more personalized attention in smaller groups, while teachers will benefit from additional planning time at the start of every intersession week. Not all students will be asked to attend the extra intersession weeks.
‘This will afford us the chance to provide really rich experiences to our students,” Jill Stone Elementary Principal Selena Deboskie said. “We know this is the right thing to do for a time like this.”
School Day Redesign
Meanwhile, five schools–Maple Lawn Elementary, Edna Rowe Elementary School, H.I. Holland Elementary School at Lisbon, Thomas J. Rusk Middle School and Boude Storey Middle School–celebrated Wednesday the adoption of a School Day Redesign calendar. This calendar extends the school year to start at the beginning of August and end in late June for all students, teachers, and staff. (See redesign calendar 1 and redesign calendar 2).
By adopting this calendar, the schools can reimagine every school day to include more time for teachers to collaborate and prepare, as well as more time for enrichment and acceleration for students. The school would not change the school day hours; start and end times each day would remain the same.
“These extra days will give us the opportunity to work more with our students and make sure they are stronger and have the skills they need,” Maple Lawn Elementary Principal Oscar Aponte said. “We are very excited for this opportunity.”
The alternative calendars are one part of a comprehensive approach the district is taking to help ensure the pandemic doesn’t have a long-lasting negative impact on student learning.
The district is investing up to $100 million over the next two years in this effort that includes:
“We are working hard to ensure that every student in Dallas ISD, no matter the school or where they live, will get the support and resources they need to succeed, regardless of the pandemic,” Deputy Chief Derek Little said. “And we thank our teachers, parents, students and school administrators for working so hard together to achieve this goal.”