The calendar, approved during the board’s regular monthly meeting Tuesday night, Feb. 19, has students returning to the classroom on Aug. 27 (before Labor Day) and finishing on May 23, 2014 (before Memorial Day).
This year school began on Sept. 4 (after Labor Day) and ends May 31 (after Memorial Day). Those same beginning and ending dates were used during the 2011-12 school year.
The change for next year was considered after mixed end-of-course testing results were received, with coordinate algebra suffering the most statewide, partially due to new tests.
“The new calendar provides additional instructional days before the assessment and that should yield even better results,” said John Parker, Walker County school system’s secondary curriculum coordinator.
The school year has been shortened by numerous school systems that have faced repeated funding shortfalls in recent years, which also led to teacher furlough days, reductions in staffing, and larger class sizes.
Next year’s calendar will allow the end-of-course testing to immediately follow the eight courses that require the test, which include English language arts, physical science, biology, U.S. history and economics.
It will allow 72 instructional days before end-of-course testing would be taken on Dec. 18 and 19, with a makeup day on Dec. 20.
The number of school days will remain 168 next year — and for the foreseeable future, according to superintendent of schools Damon Raines. He said he remains skeptical that legislators will return the necessary funding for a full 180-day school year.
Newer curriculum standards with the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards have made the tests a graduation requirement that counts for 20 percent of a student’s grade for those classes.
Due to the current year’s start after Labor Day and condensed calendar, the tests were taken by students after the two-week Christmas-New Year's holiday.