Albemarle parents are overwhelmingly against shortening schools’ summer vacation, Aaron Richardson writes in the Daily Progress. The school system sent out a survey to parents, allowing them to pick between starting school on August 8, August 13, or August 22. Of the nearly 2,000 respondents, 1,200 chose August 22. There was no option for later dates. Some parents believe that the county is trying to herd public opinion towards an earlier start, for the purpose of holding the Standards of Learning test before winter break, rather than after, in order to increase scores. And for good cause—they say as much:
Director of Secondary Education Matt Haas said the calendar changes would help make the semesters an even length. By starting earlier, he said, high school students will finish their exams before winter break, and have more time to study for standardized tests in the spring.
“Starting earlier gives teachers more time to get kids ready for the SOLs and AP exams, and have school end after the testing period,” Haas said.
Despite the strong survey results, one can already see some push-back from the school board, discrediting the metrics of their own survey:
Harley Miles, vice chairman and at-large member of the county’s School Board, said the comments on the survey were so varied that the numbers were less important than the concerns parents expressed.
“It’s interesting to me that there’s some parents who say let’s start as early as possible, some say let’s start later, some say let’s start in the middle,” Miles said. “There’s a variety of responses, so you can’t just go on the numbers.”