DeKalb School Calendar 2020-2021 Update

About half the Metro Atlanta school districts have approved 2020-2021 calendars. DeKalb Schools should have their School Year 2021 calendar approved this October. This is where we are.

In accordance with Board Policy AEA, the Calendar Committee is charged with developing calendar options for school years 2020-2021 and 2021-2022. The Calendar Committee will make a recommendation to Superintendent Green, who will make a final recommendation to the DeKalb County Board of Education on October 7, 2019 for consideration and approval.

The DeKalb County School District’s Calendar Committee is exploring calendar options to align with other similarly sized school districts in Metro Atlanta. The Calendar Committee expects to recommend school calendars that include 180 days for students and 190 days for teachers. The calendars will specify the days observed for holidays, breaks, teacher workdays/professional development days, and inclement weather days.

There are a lot of thoughts and ideas surrounding the school calendar. Let’s discuss them here and I’ll bring these recommendations to the board.

Balanced Calendar
The 2019-2020 school calendar is a Balanced Calendar – 90 instructional days each semester.

Summer Slide
Summer slide, allegedly, is the tendency for students, especially those from low-income families, to lose some of the
achievement gains they made during the previous school year. Administrators are concerned that differences in children’s summer learning experiences during their elementary school years can ultimately impact whether they earn a high school diploma and continue to college. Some research has shown that children in low-income households fall behind an average of 2 months in reading during the summer. And, summer slide is cumulative, with these learning losses building up each summer.

SURVEY
Also, A calendar survey will be released during the week of September 9th.

Metro Atlanta School Year Future Calendars

32 responses to “DeKalb School Calendar 2020-2021 Update

  1. Concerned Too

    I hope the board will consider the amount of schools without a/c currently in the heat of August when deciding. There is no reason to follow Cobb’s horrible early start. Please move the start date back further into August. At the very least follow Fulton’s calendar.

  2. Despina Lamas

    Consider pushing the start date back one week to allow operations more time to get the schools ready for the first day of school. Facilities being ready was (and still is) a huge issue this year.

  3. Kate Eastburn

    Start mid -late August and finish early June. We need a week of SB so shorten Thanksgiving Break. Why have a whole week off one month before another 2 weeks off? I completely disagree with shortening SB. For some families it is their major week to vacation if they work most of the summer. It is also perfectly placed before the last big push to end of school. Everyone needs that week of respite. Consider dare I say it warming trends and that August is traditionally the hottest month. Look at Calendars across the US and discuss with leaders in their school districts the pros and cons of those calendars.

  4. Excellent thoughts. If we push the start of school back, we have to do either one of two things: 1) Remove breaks during the Fall or 2) push the end of the school year back.

    I’ve updated the post to include a couple points. Balanced Calendar – each semester has 90 days and the idea of Summer Slide.

  5. Michelle Fincher

    Even though they go back a week earlier, I like Cobb’s balanced calendar (Decatur is also similar). The September and February breaks would allow for ongoing maintenance/cleaning in the schools, as well as provide time for students to reset or catch up on work. I especially like the last line of their calendar description, “The school year ends on a Wednesday to provide enough time to schedule graduation ceremonies.” Forward-thinking, what a concept.

  6. Leah Marques

    I prefer a later start than we currently have. Mid-August is more ideal. One concept I particularly appreciate is starting the year on a Wednesday. That first week is particularly hard for our younger student population. I agree with some of the comments above that APS calendar is a good one.

    Also, when did Fall Break become a thing? It isn’t necessary, in my opinion, and is particularly problematic for working parents.

    I am a fan of the full Thanksgiving week. We use it to take a family vacation and then arrive early beating the travel rush.

  7. Callie Parker

    I like what APS did this year, start a week later (mid-August), take away the extended weekend/Fall Break in October, and the kids can still be out before Memorial Day. I grew up going to school in Atlanta, we never went to school before 2nd full week of school, if not after. We also never had Columbus Day off…not sure when that became a “mandatory” school holiday. You could always give that Monday off, or the Friday before, but not both days. The dog days of summer do not bode well for our maintenance issues and HVAC systems that haven’t been serviced. I know this week is abnormally hot, but when schools and districts are having to cancel after school outside activities, it’s too hot to be in school. Thanks for bringing this to the board, Stan.

  8. I think summer slide is pretty well researched. But it’s an effect of low parental involvement and lack of parents keeping their children on reading programs. The problem is that 180 days is 180 days no matter how you spread it. My kid is doing his homework on fall break or summer break. We should consider going to 190 days adding two weeks to the end of the year. This is more consistent with Asia and Europe.

  9. Kate Eastburn

    You all might be interested in taking a look at the Australian and NZ school calendars. I went to school in both systems and I believe we had well over 190 days. I can’t get my head around 180 days here I feel so much is crammed into the days and it is overwhelming for students, admin and parents alike. If I recall what I grew up with, every 8 weeks is a 2 weeks break. I believe it is a ‘balanced’ calendar. Summer is about 6 weeks which is perfect as after 6 weeks kids get bored and some lose their reading motivation/skills etc. I doubt it could ever work here but it is super interesting to see how other places do it. I do feel too, we need more than 180 days. I agree with the others, take away Fall Break or reduce it. Every month, we have a day off from school for some reason. Continuity is hard to maintain.

  10. I would really like to go back in September after labor day but that is not likely to be the case unless the state of GA mandates it across the board. So I guess I would have to opt to at least mid August for a start date and I would agree let’s start on Wednesday or Thursday just to the get the first week kinks out and then start fresh the following Monday.

  11. Less a comment about the actual calendar than this process. Future years are pretty doggone predicable. We know what the actual years look like. Could we publish school calendars further in advance so families can plan? Summer camp registration begins in September.

  12. Veteran Teacher

    The legislature introduced a bill last year that did not pass by the deadline, but there is some interest in mandating the start date to the third week in August statewide. Is DeKalb considering a calendar that mirrors this? It will likely be brought up in the legislature again this year, and it would be a pro-active move.

    Also, teachers are currently paid up into September for the previous year – there has been no adjustment for the earlier start date in teacher pay. The current school year starts for teachers July 29 and we are not paid for the new school year until September 15. What sort of discussion has taken place about correcting this, if any?

  13. I agree with Jimmy V, we need the proposed calendar much sooner than October! We had to make a decision at the end of July for the timing of our two weeks of summer camp 2020 during early registration to take advantage of better pricing for our three kids. We took a leap of faith since the last two weeks of July seemed to work best, but knowing when school starts next year would have been so incredibly helpful in making the decision.

  14. Next school year, Cobb starts Aug 3 and Fulton starts on Aug 10. DeKalb Schools calendar committee is currently crossing the same bridges Cobb and Fulton already crossed. I imagine DeKalb Schools will start on Aug 3 or Aug 10 for the same reasons.

    At any given time, DeKalb Schools is supposed to have the current calendar and the following year’s calendar on the books. The administration slipped up a little on this one. That shouldn’t happen again.

  15. @ Stan…why the slip up? Is someone new heading up the calendar committee? Does the district not have a project calendar – some things come around every year and the staff should be able to work backwards from a deadline to establish when they need to start on these projects. What is going on?

    It’s nice you have a blog for us to share what we want as parents and maybe some staff but what about the calendar committee? Who are they – how can we share with them – are parents on it – is it the same people every year?

  16. Jen Greenwald

    I really like the suggestion of starting the year mid-week on a Wednesday or Thursday. The full first week is exhausting for the younger students. I appreciate having a short fall break, it allows us to take a short family vacation during non-peak travel times. As a working parent, I actually don’t want a full week at Thanksgiving. I can’t take off during the beginning of the week, and our daycare is open for camp days. We really appreciate the week long Spring Break for a family vacation each year. The school year needs to either end before Memorial Day or be in session thru the first full week of June, because a few days after Memorial Day would be wasted days.

  17. Wow – do you guys actually know what your kids are doing in school? 180 days are crammed? What school is your kid attending? Who has done anything the first week? After testing, how many of your kids are doing crap work? Seems to me the schedule is so built around testing we could end school in early May, let the older kids take APs and wrap it up.

    This isn’t a suggestion to end school in early May, it’s merely reality. We SHOULD actually have kids doing work on day 2 of the year, have them doing enrichment projects (if not actual school work) after testing.

    I agree with those saying start mid-week. We should get rid of any day off between Labor Day and Thanksgiving week. No need for a day-a-month as vacation. And the “research” behind the summer slide is being proven over and over again to be incorrect. The vast majority don’t lose anything.

    My thoughts – start around August 15, end around the end of May. Why – given the wasted time mentioned above – do you need precisely 90 days before and after the break?

  18. A number of high schools are on the block schedule. Having 90 days for each semester is very helpful for them.

  19. Lose the Magnet

    Any truth to the rumor that Chamblee High will be moving to a block schedule?

  20. For anyone concerned about academics and instructional time, food for thought:
    4 x 4 block – 90 minutes of class x 90 days = 8100 minutes of instruction IF the teacher teaches the whole period, less if students are allowed to do homework…

    7 period day – 50 minutes x 90 = 4500 minutes x 2 semesters = 9000 minutes of instruction.

    A student on a 7 period day gets an additional 900 minutes of instruction!

    GADOE requires 23 credits to graduate. A 7 period day gives a student 28 credits. 4 x 4 gives a student 32 credits.

  21. Where is the 10 minutes coming from? I would have thought that 4 classes at 90 minutes (360 min) versus 7 classes at 50 (350 min) would led to the opposite, 10 minutes less of instruction time in the 7 period day. I would think that you also have less class changes in the 4×4. The only concern would be kids not staying engaged for the full 1.5 hour class.

    Where is my math wrong?

  22. AB,
    I have always wondered about the block schedule. Students who pass their classes could earn the 24 credits in just 3 years!

    So DCSD is giving block schedule students an extra year to earn the 24 credits. 32 opportunities to earn 24 credits! (The State of Georgia requires 23 credits to graduate but DCSD requires that students take 2 years of PE, so 24 credits are required for DCSD graduation.)

    Most DCSD high schools are on the block schedule. I think only Lakeside, Arabia Mountain, and Chamblee are on the 7 period schedule. Yet the District graduation rate, with most students having an extra year to meet requirements, is still just 76.1%.

    I hope the rumor about Chamblee going to a block schedule isn’t true. It hasn’t been discussed in their school governance meetings but maybe it will be.

  23. Curious – how does block scheduling affect AP test results? In other words, if you take AP Chemistry in the first half of the year and don’t test until May, how do those kids do? Or are all AP classes under block only offered during the second half of the year?

  24. Students on the block schedule take AP classes in the Fall, but they don’t take the AP exam until the end of the Spring semester. It’s one of the challenges.

  25. I teach AP classes on block schedule and have done the math on time lost due to block vs. traditional schedule. My biggest concern about any new schedule is the consideration of the spring semester in regards to AP testing. We are at the mercy of the College Board, who sets their test dates for the entire country. We lose a huge amount of instructional time spring semester because of the AP exam dates (which are always the first week of May).

    In regards to extra breaks/or fall breaks. Students and teachers benefit greatly from these breaks throughout the year. Everyone needs and deserves rest (mentally and physically). Talk to parents in Cobb County. I haven’t met a parent who doesn’t appreciate the breaks.

  26. As a teacher, I have to say the block schedules are SO difficult. My high school students cannot maintain the degree of attention required for a 90+ minute class. Their minds wander after 20 minutes on a good day. Asking them to stay on task for 90+ minutes is really too much. So in truth, block scheduling automatically necessitates a lot of calming, down-time activities, like worksheets or busy computer work. I don’t think we accomplish any more than the traditional 7 period schedule because of this. I would love my school to move back to the old schedule.

  27. As a long time opponent of education in early August (historically the second hottest month of the year) I would vote for a later August start, even if it means sacrificing a few holidays or even giving exams in January, which doesn’t seem to bother students in many other states. As for block versus traditional scheduling, I’ve taught on both schedules and had kids go to school on both, and absolutely support traditional scheduling. To quote one student who went from a traditional school to a block school, block “is easier”. That’s hardly the formula for academic success.
    What we really ought to revisit is a longer school year, as so many other nations do.

  28. Regarding AP classes, the earlier start of school means that schools on a traditional schedule (7 periods a day) have an advantage over systems that start later. There is more time to cover all of the material that will be included on the AP exam with ample time to review.

    Regarding the holidays, having more breaks is great for the mental health of the teachers and students. I’m afraid you would see an increase in the number of teacher absences if you were to do away with the holidays that are spread throughout the school year. Remember, teachers can’t take an hour off of work to run an errand or two hours for a doctor’s appointment. A substitute must be hired for the classes, and most of them prefer to work the whole day, not a couple of hours. So the teacher has to take the entire day off for a two hour appointment. Many teachers try to schedule appointments on the school holidays so they can give students the attention they deserve.

  29. Thanks for the insight curious. Right … Regions are high school clusters grouped by the district and don’t mean anything but that. Board of Education voting districts are set by the State General Assembly and have to follow strict population laws. Here are the Board District maps.

    https://www.dekalbschoolsga.org/operations/files/2019/07/BOE_Districts_2019_07_09_V7.pdf

    I pulled all the Cross Keys HS info when I received the Chamblee and Dunwoody info. I’ll try to post the CKHS information today (without messing up the graphic this time). Then I’ll post the middle school information for all three schools.

  30. concerned citizen

    Stan, do you have any information about number of teacher assignments still open in elem, mid, and high schools? The PATS system does not show very many, but I suspect otherwise.

  31. Hello Concerned Citizen. Try this … Division of Human Capital Management Vacancy Report

  32. At Southwest DeKalb, students in AP courses take AP courses either year long amd they are paired with a partner course so students earn 2 credits in the content area, 1 for AP, one for the elective, or the AP course is only offered in the spring.

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