October 9, 2017

Hamilton Community Schools Calendar Survey is now available online

This fall Hamilton Community Schools is researching a more flexible approach to the traditional school calendar. What does that mean? To begin, we are exploring a pre-Labor Day start to the school year. Prepare for a series of brief online surveys, usually one or two questions, to gauge your interest in the idea.

The first one is here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/7NY6XBR

TRENDS IN WEST MICHIGAN

We are not alone in this process.

Many of our peers, especially larger school districts surrounding us, have already adjusted their calendars. Here is a quick snapshot of the 2017-2018 district calendars in our county and our two neighboring counties:

  • Kent: 13/18 school districts started before Labor Day
  • Ottawa: 3/8 school districts started before Labor Day
  • Allegan: 0/9 school districts started before Labor Day

Furthermore, all Kent County school districts have committed to begin school two weeks prior to Labor Day in the 2018-2019 school year.

While we have not committed to any such change at this point, we are simply asking questions and listening and debating.

The conversation about re-thinking the school calendar was sparked by the Hamilton Community Schools Board of Education’s new Strategic Planning Report published in June 2017. Strategic goal No. 6 asks the district to:

“Explore flexible calendar and schedule options; assess stakeholder readiness.”

Just to be clear, we are not considering adding any days to the calendar. It would remain 180 days, but the schedule would spread out more. This means extra breaks throughout the year and a shorter summer break.

OTHER FACTORS TO CONSIDER

So flexible calendars are a regional trend. And our school board is interested. But why else is Hamilton Community Schools considering them?

Research shows, in general, that test scores drop off between late spring tests  and early fall tests, especially in the middle school years. In other words, the summer slide. Weeks of inactivity ultimately lead to a loss of knowledge.

And Hamilton is not immune to it. Consider the Delta Math test, a math screener we administer each spring and fall. The student proficiency percentages dropped significantly after a summer off:

  • For students moving from grade 5 to grade 6, the proficiency results decreased from 76% in Spring 2017 to 45% in Fall 2017.
  • For students moving from grade 6 to grade 7, the proficiency results decreased from 80% in Spring 2017 to 61% in Fall 2017.
  • For students moving from grade 7 to grade 8, the proficiency results decreased from 68% in Spring 2017 to 59% in Fall 2017.  

Thank you for your support of Hamilton Community Schools. Please reach out to us with any questions or concerns you may have during the survey process.

The survey link again is: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/7NY6XBR

Sincerely,

Hamilton Community Schools Board of Education