Engineering Hour at Whittier Elementary School
The staff and community of nine elementary schools in the district’s Albuquerque Public Schools voted to extend the school year by 10 days. They join 20 elementary schools on an expanded schedule, which means about a third of APS’s 88 elementary schools will be spending extra days in class next year.
Of the 29 schools participating in the state-funded extended learning time program, 20 will also have a longer school day. The longer day, supported by Federal American Rescue Plan funding, will incorporate daily professional development and student enrichment. These schools will also receive funding for a school community coordinator, a transformational coach, planning, and Genius Hour, a block of time each day that allows students to explore their interests.
Most of the cost of the longer school day and year is used to pay salaries and benefits.
Nine schools have voted to extend both the school day and school year into 2022-23:
- East of San Jose
- Lew Wallace
- Los Ranchos
- Mary Ann Binford
- Matheson Park
- Reginald Chavez
Carlos Rey will add a longer day to his extended schedule next school year.
Eleven schools will continue with an extended school day and year:
- Los Padillas
And eight schools will continue on an extended year-only schedule:
- Edward Gonzales
- Helene Cordero
- Kit Carson
- mountain view
The APS School Board voted last month to continue allowing individual schools to decide in consultation with students, staff and families whether to extend the school year. Over the past few weeks, APS schools have been conducting staff and community surveys. The majority of the two should favor extended learning so that it can be implemented at the start of the next school year.
The APS administration has encouraged schools that serve some of the district’s most vulnerable students to seriously consider this option. All schools on an extended schedule next school year receive federal Title I dollars, which means that at least half of their students are identified as economically disadvantaged.
“We want to thank our school communities for engaging in conversations about extended learning time and participating in the surveys,” said APS Superintendent Scott Elder. “We plan to continue the conversation in the weeks and months ahead in our efforts to make meaningful, transformational and lasting change that will improve academic outcomes and life opportunities for all of our students.”
The extended calendar adds four days to the start of the school year, with students starting on Thursday August 4 instead of Wednesday August 10. The extended schedule cuts fall vacation by one day, keeps schools open on Election Day, and has one instead of two days off around the vernal holiday. The last day of school for the extended calendar is Thursday, June 1, compared to Thursday, May 25 for traditional calendar schools.
State lawmakers and the New Mexico Department of Public Education have asked school districts across the state to consider adding 10 days to the school year to address the resulting learning loss. of the pandemic. The state-funded extended learning time program also responds to a lawsuit that found the state failed to provide adequate programs and services to marginalized students.
In response to a recent evaluation of the New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee program, APS encouraged lawmakers to consider providing funding for a longer school day and year, arguing that adding days without extending time for training, collaboration and enrichment is not transformative.
Eleven APS elementary schools participated in a transformational model pilot program that extends the school year by 10 days and lengthens the school day by an hour and a half, allowing for more professional development for teachers and Genius Hour for students to explore their interests.
“The eleven APS elementary schools that have adopted this model have seen positive results,” the district wrote in its response to the LFC program evaluation. “The program evaluation team saw the great value of the model when they visited our schools.”
While the LFC program evaluation recommends that districts use federal grants to pay for longer school days, those funds run out within two years.
APS plans to conduct a thorough survey of its staff, families and community to better understand why so many oppose extending the school year and what options they might prefer. Anecdotally, staff expressed concerns about burnout, and parents said students needed time to spend time with family, participate in outside activities, and “just be kids.” Officials also heard that the community felt they didn’t have enough time to prepare for the proposed changes.
The district will use the results of the investigation to determine the best way forward.