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Tuesday, 17 March 2015 21:48

New Schedule to Improve Elementary Education in 2015-2016

Following recommendations from task force of elementary school teachers, the Canyons Board of Education has approved a new elementary school schedule that will restore early-out Fridays and provide teachers with the tools they need to help ensure success for every student.

To the cheers and applause of teachers and parents, the Board voted unanimously Tuesday, March 17, 2015 to adopt the proposed schedule as recommended by the Elementary Schedule Task Force. The schedule will be implemented in the 2015-2016  school year.

Oakdale teacher Elcena Davenport said the schedule will “provide a higher quality education to students of the District,” complete with stronger interventions, preventions, engaging learning experiences, enrichments for advanced learners and supports for struggling learners. “With additional collaboration time, my team and I will be able to do amazing things.”

The schedule stemmed from a proposal crafted by the Task Force, which included teachers from each of CSD’s 29 elementary schools and Jordan Valley School. The Task Force has met since December to gather information, problem-solve, and receive feedback from colleagues to develop a schedule that fully supports elementary school communities and ensures students are on track to becoming college- and career-ready.  The schedule is supported by 87 percent of elementary school teachers, survey data has shown. Teachers praise the schedule as representative of school needs and being carefully crafted by the professionals who will be making it work.

The new schedule will give teachers time during the school day to collaborate to ensure each student succeeds. Trained specialists will provide curriculum-based instruction in areas such as physical education, arts or music while teachers meet to collaborate and plan their instructional strategies.

“It’s not one size fits all,” School Performance Director Alice Peck said. “Schools are going to be able to look at their needs and tailor the schedule to make sure it fits their school.”

Early-out days will be held on Fridays only. School will not release early on other days during short weeks in which classes are not held on Fridays. During such times, collaboration and planning time for teachers will be adjusted as appropriate.

Stacey Oppermann, a parent of two Canyons students, told the Board the schedule will provide needed consistency in student, family, and teacher schedules.

“I think it’s important to listen to our teachers” who recommended the new schedule, she said. “They are the ones who know what our students need and they are the ones that care most about our students, in addition to parents. And they need consistent planning time.”

The Board’s action allows principals and teachers to begin working to tailor their planning and collaboration time. It also allows the District to study and establish transportation and bell schedules for each school. Details will be firmed up and communicated to parents by the end of this school year.

The new schedule refines elementary education improvement efforts. The 2014-2015 elementary school schedule was adjusted as part of the 2014-2015 teachers contract approved by the Canyons Education Association and ratified by the Canyons Board of Education. The schedule eliminated early-out Fridays to improve teacher planning and instruction, but it had unintended  consequences for parents and teachers. The Task Force’s recommendations aimed to address issues that arose with this year’s schedule.

Board members praised the process as inclusive and thorough, collaborative and exciting for teachers, and were pleased with the outcome. Board 2nd Vice President Nancy Tingey called the new elementary schedule “an investment in moving forward student achievement,” and said that schools must ensure focus and accountability on collaboration time. “This is about helping our students to use these elementary years to lay a strong foundation for their educational experience,” she said.

The Board of Education has been discussing the elementary schedule proposal in public meetings since January, including during a specially scheduled Jan. 28 public Study Session. There, the Task Force recommended the Board adopt the schedule to best meet needs of students and educators. The Board continued its discussions on the proposal in its Feb. 3, Feb. 17, and March 3 Business Meetings.

“We’re grateful to the Board for approving the schedule, and are excited about the chance for teachers to have the uninterrupted time they need to plan well and provide quality instruction to every student,” School Performance Director  Joanne Ackerman said. 


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