How will a later start affect our children's education and state accountability testing?
Many districts have justified earlier start dates by saying the extra preparation time is needed before PACT testing in May, and that every day counts. Curiously, however, we have found that many districts have simultaneously adopted early starts and extended and added to holidays and breaks. It seems they would rather prepare for standardized testing in the summer so that they can take more time off during the school year. Strange logic.
What is even more interesting is that our latest starting districts, Greenville and Horry County, are top performers on state tests despite beginning classes two to three weeks after other districts in the state. In addition, the top 10 academic states in the country, according to four commonly used state education ranking systems, begin the school year in late August or early September, much later than we do.
There is not a shred of evidence to indicate that an earlier start equates to better academic achievement or higher test scores. During a hearing for the school calendar bill, the spokesman for the South Carolina School Boards Association was asked by the Senate Education Committee "if early start dates were increasing PACT scores." His answer: "The results are equivocal," (i.e.: vague, ambiguous, unclear). No academic benefit to early start dates have been shown to exist.
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?
Why shouldn't our local school boards be able to make all school calendar decisions?
Is Save SC Summers a special interest group?
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?