A Message from the Department of Teaching and Learning
Please click here to view the 2012-13 school year calendar for elementary, middle and high school students. The calendar’s start/end dates, workdays and breaks are developed collaboratively using feedback gathered from families and staff. The early dismissal dates for family engagement and staff professional development are the result of committee work and feedback from students, families and staff.
School start and end times will remain the same for 2012-13 as they are this school year.
The elementary and high school calendars will be similar to this year with changes occurring mainly at middle school level, based upon feedback.
Middle School Family Engagement & Calendar
Coming into this school year, we received feedback from both families and staff about their frustration with the student-led conference model at the middle school level.
In a survey late last fall, it appeared that a "one size fits all" approach wasn't working well to help our families understand what and how middle school students are learning. Instead of annual student-led conferences with early dismissals prior to Thanksgiving break, families and staff members wanted to shift to a continuous communication approach that could accommodate a variety of family circumstances and supported student achievement.
Similar to the approach used by our elementary schools, this continuous communication could include conferences or meetings with parents, phone calls, email, use of a class website/blog, events/curriculum nights – all sorts of ways teachers might use to communicate and share student progress with families throughout the school year.
We convened a committee with 19 members, representing teachers, staff, administrators, families and students from across our district (including all four middle schools). This committee examined the survey feedback and researched approaches that have worked well in other districts to engage families in their students' learning. The committee shared the belief that all learners can achieve at high levels. They also agreed that middle school students are at a unique developmental stage.
The committee came to agreement about a few core beliefs that are well-articulated in the book, "Beyond the Bake Sale: The Essential Guide to Family-School Partnerships":
With the groundwork set, the committee then worked together to create a family engagement model that can be varied to meet the different needs of students and families within each grade and across our four schools.
The model eliminates the five early dismissal days for middle school students in November. Instead, the calendar includes two or three 3 p.m. dismissals per month for middle school students. The calendar still includes regular early dismissals each month for elementary (1:15 p.m.), middle (12:15 p.m.) and high school students (11:15 a.m.). When students are dismissed early it allows time for staff and families to connect and communicate in a variety of ways, as well as staff learning time. This is an essential part of improving learning for all students.
The family engagement model for middle schools has been shared with staff at our four middle schools and parent representatives, and the feedback received has been positive. It will take effect this fall with plans to re-examine the model and calendar again next winter to evaluate its effectiveness.