Why shouldn't our local school boards be able to make all school calendar decisions?
Many people feel that early school start dates are the result of increased pressure to improve scores on state accountability tests such as the Palmetto Achievement Challenge Test (PACT). Since PACT test dates (in May) are dictated by the state, a calendar race has developed in which districts have inched up their start dates to get a "jump start" on their competition. Of course, neighboring districts, afraid to be left behind, have follow suit and this has resulted in "calendar creep." Interestingly, most competitions are not considered fair when someone gets a "jump start."
Since school districts are under enormous pressure to improve PACT scores, they are unlikely to voluntarily return to later starts, even at the urging of parents in their district, as this would be seen as an academic disadvantage.
For this reason, state legislation is necessary. A more uniform start date helps to level the playing field for all by providing more equalized preparation time, helping to make comparisons more valid and meaningful. The law also prevents the competitive compulsion to continuously move up start dates. So, in a way, early start dates were caused by state legislation (accountability testing) and must be resolved by state legislation (controlling start dates).
More questions & answers...
When will first semester exams be scheduled under the new law?
What is the economic impact of earlier school start dates on our state?
I've heard that the passage of this law is really about tourism interests. Is this true?
Is Save SC Summers a special interest group?
How will a later start affect our children's education and state accountability testing?
Are other states experiencing similar problems with early start dates?
Why are school leaders so opposed to this legislation, if it is what parents want?
Does the new law merely shift the school year?
How can I help protect this law?