Thu June 28, 2012
Wisconsin school districts looking at year-round options
Year round schooling is being studied in a handful of school districts in Wisconsin. The approaches are different, but the overall goal is the same.
The National Summer Learning Association says students can lose two months of math skills during summer vacation and lower income students can lose two months in reading. It’s called “summer slide” or “learning loss,” and school districts in Wisconsin are looking for ways to stop it. Eau Claire Area School District Assistant Superintendent Tim Leibham is spearheading a study on what it would take to create a year-round elementary option in an old school building. He says it could curb learning loss and inspire creative teaching approaches: “We have a building, we have students, we have a large enough district that we would be able to allow parents to have a choice similar to Montessori... although I don’t envision it being a charter school or a magnet school.”
The School District of La Crosse is also studying the idea. Superintendent Randy Nelson says the current summer break is based on a 100-year-old agrarian approach that needs a second look: “The question is, if we were to cut that in half, could we reduce the number and percentage of students who, when they come back to school in the fall, require interventions and remedial work again?”
Dan Rossmiller, of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, says if these types of pilot programs are successful, more districts will follow. Also, he says the restrictions of collective bargaining may make the switch easier, “It will make districts and board more willing to consider going to a year-round or stronger summer school program.”
Districts in Marshfield and Wisconsin Rapids are taking a different approach by looking into extended summer school options.