ANDERSON — Three area school districts have decided to extend the school day to make up for lost instruction time because of this year's harsh winter.
At Elwood Community Schools, "we have decided to extend the school day by one hour per day for the next 24 days," said Superintendent Tim Smith. The longer day began on Monday.
That decision was made at a special meeting of the Elwood Community Schools board on Friday, "and will help us focus on lost instruction time."
What that means is the elementary grades will get out of school at 3:30 p.m. instead of 2:30 p.m.; and the middle and high school — grades six through 12 — will be released at 4:25 p.m. instead of 3:25 p.m., Smith said.
Alice Johnson, superintendent of Alexandria Community Schools, said officials there also decided to extend the school day by one hour for a period of 24 days beginning Thursday.
The focus of that extra hour in school will be to help students scheduled to take the Indiana Statewide Testing for Education Progress (ISTEP) tests in March prepare for the exam.
The exams are given annually to third- through eighth-grade students and cover English, math science and social studies. The first installment in March focuses on written and math computation skills, while the second part given in May is a multiple-choice format.
Earlier this month, the State Board of Education agreed to extend the March test window. Testing had been scheduled for March 3 through March 12, but the board agreed to extend that window through March 21.
The board also agreed to extend the IRead-3 test period from March 17 until March 21, providing third-graders with two more days to prepare for that exam.
Frankton-Lapel Community Schools decided on a different approach, and will lengthen the regular school day by 15 minutes, said Superintendent Robert Fields. "That's going to allow us to make up three days of instruction time."
In addition, twice a month, school is released 45 minutes early for professional development. All of those early-release dates have been eliminated for the remainder of this school year, Field said.
South Madison Community Schools will make up lost time using snow makeup days built in to this year's school calendar.
The last day for classes at Anderson Community Schools will be May 29, and graduation has been rescheduled for June 7.
Johnson said that in all her years as a student, teacher and administrator, "I've never had this situation where schools have extended the school day."
The opportunity to do that was also granted by the state board because local school officials said they needed flexibility to make up lost instruction time.
"This year’s storms have been extreme and have interrupted instruction for schools throughout the state," said Glenda Ritz, Indiana superintendent of public instruction, in a statement. "I have spoken with countless superintendents throughout the state and they have all asked for more flexibility for scheduling instructional time."
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