TPS Superintendent Pitches Continuous Learning Calendar

Monday, October 22nd 2012, 5:57 pm
By: Emory Bryan

Tulsa's school superintendent unveiled what he called an aggressive plan to research, and possibly start, a new school calendar.

If it's going to start next school year, the decision could come in two months.

A new calendar would mean school would start earlier in the summer, so the clock is ticking on a decision for next year.

TPS could be ready to make a decision in January.

10/19/2012 Related Story: TPS Administrators Think Change Of Schedule May Benefit Students

The pitch for changing the school calendar is largely based on the numbers - reading scores considered good indicators of all other learning - and for TPS, they're not good news.

About half of Tulsa's students are below grade level, and the solution might be more time in class.

"[They need] more time on task, and so, whether that's extending the school day, extending the school year, or going to a CLC," said Assistant Superintendent Tracy Bayles.

Superintendent Keith Ballard made the pitch for a CLC - a continuous learning calendar - that breaks up the school year into smaller chunks with a shorter summer break.

Extra classes would be available during the extra breaks.

Ballard supports it, but said he's not tied to a timeline.

"I think it would be difficult for us to affect such a change by the start of next school year, but I'm not ruling anything out," Ballard said. "If you're going to have an open discussion, we'll have an open discussion, and don't say, ‘Well, we would have to wait ‘til '14'—if we even do it."

Ballard wants the decision on changing the calendar to be driven by research showing it would help, but said the decision also depends on the support of parents.

"So, we'll be doing some surveys, we'll be having a very vigorous discussion about - not only a continuous calendar program – how we can better utilize technology to improve student achievement," Ballard said.

Tulsa has six schools on the non-traditional calendar, but the research is mixed on whether the schedule has a big impact on learning.

Ballard said by the first of year, the district should have a good idea of which direction to go.

He said he also wants a plan for using more technology in the classroom to improve reading scores.