Petersburg schools could see big changes to summer vacation - the District may shift to a year-round schedule, an option up for discussion at Wednesday night's School Board meeting.
The proposed schedule would mean goodbye two and a half months of summer vacation. Instead, students would enjoy shorter, but more frequent breaks.
Education specialist Dr. Bill Bosher served as superintendent of Henrico and Chesterfield public schools, and explained in an interview Wednesday how the proposed schedule could help some of the most disadvantaged students.
"Young people, especially low income young people, lose skills acquired during a two and a half month vacation," Bosher said. "Any proposal to reinforce skills during the summer has to be helpful."
Test scores from Virginia's year-round schools are similar to those from the Commonwealth's traditional schools. But a closer analysis of test data from 2001 -2009 reveals scores for African-American students improved much faster in year-round schools.
In English, nearly 3 in 4 African American students saw faster improvements. In math, more than 2 in 3 students improved. Bosher said it's not just the time in class, but what is done with teaching time, that affects student performance.
"Kids who fall behind usually don't have the advantage of academic support, reading, at home, going to the Richmond Children's Museum, or going to the Science Museum during the summer," Bosher said.
No days would be added to the calendar. The school year would still be 180 days long. But a shorter summer break, is often the breaking point.
"The school system is going to find resistance from families who may want more for the young people, as long as it's convenient," Bosher said.
Parents will have the opportunity to discuss the issue with the Petersburg School Board Wednesday night. The meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the Petersburg City Public Schools Administrative Office, 255 South Boulevard E.
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