Friday, September 12, 2008

No More Spring Break?

HoCo school officials are studying whether to just give kids a long weekend instead of a week off around Easter, according to the Flier. Supporters say a shorter break will let kids get out earlier in June and give teachers more time to prepare for state assessments.

The Flier reports that school officials surveyed some parents and school system officials on the issue in 2004.

Of the 802 parents who responded to the PTA survey, 52 percent said spring break should be shortened, 37 percent said it should not be shortened, and 10 percent replied that "maybe" it should be shortened.

The most frequent comments from those who supported a shorter break were that a three-day break is sufficient, provides greater instructional continuity, and would lead to a last day earlier in June.

Those who wanted to keep a week-long break commented that families use the time for vacations, that teachers and students are exhausted and need a longer break that time of year, and that band and foreign language classes frequently use the time for trips and competitions.

A survey of roughly 1,500 school-system employees, including teachers, administrators, instructional assistants, counselors and other staff members, showed that 29 percent supported a shorter spring break, 59 percent did not, and 11 percent were undecided.

At the time of the 2004 survey, 16 of Maryland's 24 school systems had shorter spring breaks.

We have one question: Do we really want teachers and administrators spending more time holding pep rallies and stopping all instruction to prepare and practice for tests?

In an editorial, the Flier said the idea of a shorter spring break "seems sensible" and suggested school officials start classes after Labor Day.


Ordinary Joe said...

I am curious why 52% of surveyed parents would want to shorten spring break. A more comprehensive survey might have asked whether the parents' primary concerns were with regard to their children's needs or their own.

I don't mean this in a derogatory sense, but the survey does beg the question. I can imagine the hardship, for instance, of arranging childcare for one week in a single-parent households or households wherein both parents work. I can also imagine that there are parents who are so driven that they believe that the traditional days of spring break would be best used furthering their children's educations.

How do you suppose the 52% splits among parents' self-interest and interest in their children's needs?

Anonymous said...

Joe! I'm starting to think you have a personal agenda. You wouldn't be, say, associated to the HCPSS, would you?

US students are not in the top 20 countries for Math, Science, or Reading per:

So, I'm thinking that the parents who agree with any additional or contiguous time in school (as enjoyed by those on the top 20) are the ones who want the best for their children.

Ordinary Joe said...

Anonymous writes: "So, I'm thinking that the parents who agree with any additional or contiguous time in school (as enjoyed by those on the top 20) are the ones who want the best for their children."

I, on the other hand, did not presume to know why the 52% responded the way they did. That is why I am asking.

Agendas sometimes lead to the creative shaping of surveys and the resulting statistics. Questioning agendas leads people to ask for clarification of statistics.

If an argument is to be based upon measurements and statistics, then we should be more rigorous, for these are things that are well understood. If the cited America vs. The World rankings are to be one's justification for wanting our kids to exchange vacation time for additional hours in class, then let us ask the question: What are the expected incremental benefits in the cited rankings when Howard County, Maryland, students spend each additional day in school?

Anonymous said...

So a survey done four years ago of a parent population for 48,000 plus students with only 802 or so respondents is enough feedback to shorten spring break? Yikes.

Wendy S said...

I agree with shortening spring break. Between the planned teacher work days, half days, MLK day, President's day, teacher-conference day, and then SNOW DAYS, we sometimes only have ONE full five day week between winter and spring breaks. So, it begs the question, what exactly is spring break a break from????? Not to mention, I notice that the quality of instruction drops off after spring break. Maybe that would not happen if it was just a long weekend.