Would more days in the school year help student achievement?
Lewisville ISD just received a $200,000 grant to find out.
The district is exploring a program called Additional Days School Year (ADSY), an option made available by the Texas Education Agency (TEA).
House Bill 3, which passed at the 86th Texas Legislature, included an initiative to add up to 30 additional days to the school year through one of three options – voluntary summer learning, intersessional calendar and a full-year redesign.
LISD is exploring a full-year redesign for two campuses – Rockbrook Elementary and Lewisville Elementary.
LISD was one of 11 districts in the state to receive a $200,000 grant to fund exploration of the program. That includes the hiring of a project manager and contracting with a technical assistance vendor to help with planning.
Susan Heintzman, ADSY project manager, said ADSY would add days to the front end of the 2021-22 school year to maximize learning time. It would target all students on the selected campuses, and she said a consistent program would be in place for all of the days.
“So you wouldn’t do anything necessarily separate on the additional days,” Heintzman said. “You would have time to spread out the curriculum through those 210 days.”
Benefits to ADSY
Deputy Superintendent Lori Rapp said ADSY could provide an avenue for a new way of doing things. Rapp said it has become clear after examining campus targeted improvement plans and standardized test scores that what’s needed is more student learning time.
“There’s more need for this and more need for that,” Rapp said. “Yet we don’t actually revisit the design of the day.”
Heintzman said the additional school days could provide more consistent learning.
“One of the main reasons is to eliminate the summer slide,” Heintzman said. “That seems to be coming up a lot. Because of COVID we’re going to see a larger gap for our students.”
Heintzman said low-income students often experience a larger slide, meaning it’s more difficult to catch up.
Heintzman said ADSY could provide more time for teachers to teach; give students opportunities to broaden their understanding of the world through enrichment classes, field trips and partnerships with local organizations; and provide opportunities for targeted and differentiated instruction.
Heintzman said it could help strengthen whole-child supports with more time to focus on building climate and culture, to have brain breaks and to integrate and teach social/emotional skills.
Heintzman said another potential benefit is increasing teacher efficacy with collaboration and additional professional learning.
She said ADSY could allow teachers to reimagine the job and not continue to do the same thing.
“It’s really an opportunity for us to think outside of the box,” she said. “Think about how to do our master schedule differently and learn more as professionals and bring that to the students.”
The next several months will include a lot of exploring and planning, Heintzman said, though the goal is to have two calendar options for a committee to review by October.
If the district decides to continue pursuing ADSY, a final plan could be submitted to the TEA, and staffing and operations could be finalized by May. The school year for those campuses would begin in late June or early July.
But in the meantime many things will be considered. Among those are what the teachers’ schedules would look like, how the curriculum would be spread out, what does transportation look like and how many days does LISD ultimately add.
Another consideration is what the options are for families at those campuses who don’t want to be a part of the extra days.
Officials said other campuses could implement the same program depending on how it works at Lewisville and Rockbrook.
The Board of Trustees is expected to vote on a contract Monday for a vendor that will help gather stakeholder input.
While some board members were intrigued by the new idea, others had concerns.
Trustee Tracy Scott Miller questioned how it would improve student performance, and he likened it to the District of Innovation, which he didn't support.
“If we can’t say in two years we’re going to have this performance I think we need to cut bait,” Miller said.
Superintendent Kevin Rogers said ADSY is worth exploring since LISD has the grant but said the district is nowhere near ready to make a decision.
“I promise you there will be specific goals required before it can move forward,” Rogers said.