Cox wants schools to start later

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ATLANTA --- State Schools Superintendent Kathy Cox plans to press local boards to postpone the start of the school year until late August.

This would reverse a previous hands-off approach to start dates and offer the possibility of better-looking test results.

Schools would start next year's academic year no earlier than the third week of August under the plan, which would be voluntary, Ms. Cox said. In return, state Department of Education officials would have more time to crunch testing data from the districts, with the potential that fewer schools would fall short of federal standards. The extra time would allow for standardized testing retakes to be considered.

Ms. Cox plans to propose the idea formally to local administrators at a Georgia School Boards Association meeting this weekend in Savannah.

Less than four years ago, when lawmakers were considering legislation requiring schools to follow a "universal start date" to keep schools from starting too early, Ms. Cox said that "there is no one-size-fits-all approach to improving education."

"We must resist the temptation to mandate generic solutions for the unique challenges faced by our state's individual school systems," Ms. Cox said in a statement issued by her office. "Forcing all of Georgia's public schools to begin on the same date each year would not only undermine the principles of local control, it would hurt the very children who are now being helped by new programs made possible through individualized school year calendars."

But, last week, the superintendent said she was troubled at the previous push for a later start date because it was aimed at boosting the state's tourism industry instead of student performance.

In this case, the later start dates would allow her agency to take the results of students who retake state-required standardizing tests into account before deciding whether a school falls short of the federal standards, known as Adequate Yearly Progress. That isn't possible now because of how quickly the state has to crunch test numbers to meet federal requirements on notifying parents two weeks before school starts of their school's performance.

Currently, the department can consider retesting results if a school district appeals. But if state officials rule that the district missed adequate yearly progress, the school system has to continue to offer students extra help or a choice of going to a different public school regardless of the outcome of the appeal.

That can also confuse parents, Ms. Cox said.

Ms. Cox said she would like to see about 80 percent of the state's school systems agree to move their start dates before she would feel comfortable moving forward with the idea.

Laura Reilly, a spokeswoman for the school boards group, said members likely would be willing to consider the superintendent's proposal.

"I think as long as its voluntary, they would be receptive to it," she said. "Now, whether or not it works out in their local systems, that just depends on ... a whole host of local events and dates that they have to manage locally."

Reach Brandon Larrabee at (678) 977-3709 or brandon.larrabee@morris.com.

2008 SCHOOL START DATES


RICHMOND COUNTY: Aug. 11


COLUMBIA COUNTY: Aug. 11


AIKEN COUNTY: Aug. 18

Comments (123) Add comment
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AmericanRose
3
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AmericanRose 06/17/08 - 03:40 am
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I remember when school

I remember when school started the Tuesday after Labor Day and ended the last day in May. Why not go back to that schedule?

NEone
6
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NEone 06/17/08 - 03:54 am
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Because then they don't get

Because then they don't get as many days off during the year. The teachers would have a fit.

Martinez
154
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Martinez 06/17/08 - 04:41 am
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OH NO - Please don't mess

OH NO - Please don't mess with the start dates. Later start dates means later football practice rules! Teams need at least a few weeks to practice in full pads before their first game!

DoubleD
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DoubleD 06/17/08 - 05:17 am
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We always practiced before

We always practiced before school started again. There's no need to wait until then.

DeborahElliott2
4
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DeborahElliott2 06/17/08 - 05:25 am
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Why should this affect

Why should this affect football rules, just start at the regular times that football does and give the schools their later starts. It would kind of be like pre-school picks and practices. What would be wrong with that?

treerock
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treerock 06/17/08 - 05:49 am
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school is about education and

school is about education and enlightenment, not about football practice, which is an EXTRA-curricular activity.

DontTazeMeBro
2
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DontTazeMeBro 06/17/08 - 05:55 am
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lets go with 4/10s (four ten

lets go with 4/10s (four ten hour days) to save energy, and go year round with several 2 or 3 week breaks.

WHATDIDIDO
0
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WHATDIDIDO 06/17/08 - 06:05 am
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I played football, baseball

I played football, baseball and basketball, however I agree 100% with TREEROCK.

galaxygrl
1350
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galaxygrl 06/17/08 - 06:08 am
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MY child and I would have a

MY child and I would have a fit. The kids need the breaks as well as the teachers. She is also a high scoring students on tests. We spend a lot of study time and she works hard. So now we not only are teaching to tests we are scheduling the school year to tests. I am glad we only have two years left. I will strongly encourage my daughter to home school when she gets ready to have a family!

debby
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debby 06/17/08 - 06:27 am
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We teachers would not

We teachers would not necessarily have a fit as NEone seems to think. Teacher contracts call for 190 working days, no matter the start date. In actuality, it may be the parents and students having more of a fit than the teachers. Personally, I would welcome a later start date.

luckie
2
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luckie 06/17/08 - 06:33 am
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I definitely say start late.

I definitely say start late. The present schedule feels rushed especially in Febryary, March and April. I think we should start after Labor Day and end in June like the olden days. This year we could start the week before and still honor Labor Day. That would give the students an extra day to shop and get all necessary supplies.

ldsmith1
1
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ldsmith1 06/17/08 - 06:48 am
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This teacher/parent would be

This teacher/parent would be thrilled with a later start date. I also would not mind giving up a few of the little breaks here and there to add a week or so to summer. I've looked at the numbers of our system here in the Valdosta area. An awful lot is spent on utilites in the month of August. Our students return August 8. Way too early, in my opinion.

bowtie1955
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bowtie1955 06/17/08 - 07:07 am
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Do a little calendar math

Do a little calendar math folks and make sure it all lines up. In recent years days have been added such as the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, MLK Day, Presidents Day, close to 2 full weeks at Christmas and always a full week for the Masters for CSRA schools. Some districts offer a few days for Fall Break and a few more for mid-Winter break. I'm cool with starting later, as long as you all are cool with finishing in mid-June. Aren't you just trading one end for the other?

BoldTruth
0
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BoldTruth 06/17/08 - 07:22 am
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Having a later start date can

Having a later start date can not hurt. We need to try something different. I forgot the education system in the south is excellent....NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

40something
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40something 06/17/08 - 07:24 am
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When I attended school in the

When I attended school in the 70's and early 80's, we started the week before labor day and we finished the first week of June. There was no fall break or mid-winter break. We always got 2 weeks off at Christmas too. All of this bull about kids needing a day off just about every month is rediculous.

csrareader
1288
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csrareader 06/17/08 - 07:38 am
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As the late, great Ronald

As the late, great Ronald Reagan said -- "well, there you go again." Kathy "protect my schools from the AYP wrath" Cox wants to protect her name from the feds in Washington. Where in this article does it say how this proposed change would help the students? She attempts to explain that it might help schools avoid falling behind in the federal AYP progress requirements, but doesn't mention students at all. Kathy's term can't expire fast enough!

Little Lamb
49245
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Little Lamb 06/17/08 - 07:44 am
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Bowtie, just because the

Bowtie, just because the school districts have ADDED all those extra holidays in recent years does not mean they cannot REMOVE them. Time to get back to the old Labor Day to Memorial Day calendar. You can easily cram 180 days of instruction into those nine months.

karmakills123
8
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karmakills123 06/17/08 - 07:45 am
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Finally !!! csrareader ..you

Finally !!! csrareader ..you hit the nail on the head!!!...............

Little Lamb
49245
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Little Lamb 06/17/08 - 07:46 am
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And the four-day school week

And the four-day school week would help immensely. The calendar would remain the same, Sep through May. And the 180 days of instruction would be adjusted by multiplying by four-fifths. The children would go 144 days for instruction, with the teachers tacking on a week before and a week after. Same pay.

grammar police
1
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grammar police 06/17/08 - 07:49 am
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Longer summers equal more

Longer summers equal more time for students to lose critical skills, especially in the area of Math.

InChristLove
22485
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InChristLove 06/17/08 - 07:50 am
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I'm all for starting school a

I'm all for starting school a week later. We have to take our oldest son to college the same week our youngest is to start high school. We can't leave him at home by himself so now he will miss a couple of days the first week of school. I have to agree with 40something.

NANF
4
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NANF 06/17/08 - 07:52 am
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Well, Duh. " there ya go

Well, Duh. " there ya go again". The south is so far behind the rest of the world. Schools in the midwest and up north have always started school after Labor Day. I ask any adult reading this: Would you want to practice foot ball in Augusta heat? Could you do your best in a crowded school room with never enough air conditioning? Just makes no sence at all. Most kids are in an air conditioned enviroment all thru the heat of summer, except when they need to be at their best, and starting school in the heat of summer is not going to give them one advandage.

Little Lamb
49245
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Little Lamb 06/17/08 - 07:54 am
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To JustWondering: The summer

To JustWondering: The summer vacation would not get longer by very much. Right now summer vacation is mid-May to early-August. Cox's idea would have summer vacation June to early-September. I don't buy the "the kids can't remember anything" argument. Time to quit making excuses and get back to learning.

Little Lamb
49245
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Little Lamb 06/17/08 - 07:56 am
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The football schedule would

The football schedule would follow the school schedule. Just slide everything back by three weeks. Have the first game be on the Friday after Labor Day! Just like it used to be!

grammar police
1
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grammar police 06/17/08 - 07:57 am
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Look at the research little

Look at the research little lamb.

Bored in GA
2
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Bored in GA 06/17/08 - 08:07 am
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I'm for going all year and

I'm for going all year and having a 2-3 week break every 9 weeks. That would be awesome for the kids to be able to take a break from the hum-drum of what school seeems to be! Test scores might even be better if burn-out of study was not there!

BarstoolDreamer
19
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BarstoolDreamer 06/17/08 - 08:11 am
0
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Having kids go through

Having kids go through traditional and year round schools, the year round is a much better experience....same amount of days off, just spread out over the year.

Little Lamb
49245
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Little Lamb 06/17/08 - 08:13 am
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If your kid is a marginal

If your kid is a marginal student who forgets his math over the summer, then your kid is a candidate for summer school and private tutoring. And maybe if Mom and Dad would work with him over the summer he might improve. But for the average kid, a three month summer vacation from June through August does not erase the brain.

bone
23
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bone 06/17/08 - 08:30 am
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the summers wouldn't be

the summers wouldn't be longer, justwondering; they would just begin / end at a different time. parents that want to continue the development & retention of skills with children will certainly find ways to not allow their kids to "forget." remember, studies probably only used student populations that did not engage in any review over the summer. bored in GA, i agree completely: the 3 weeks in between would be the perfect time to provide remediation to students who don't do their work the first time (hidden message: students who fail classes won't get the full three weeks off - talk about having incentive to pass!!!).

CoastalDawg
125
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CoastalDawg 06/17/08 - 08:33 am
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When I was in school we

When I was in school we started the day after labor day and were out around the end of May or the first few days of June. We had two weeks off at Christmas (did I say that word CHRISTmas?), we had two days off at Thanksgiving and all federal holidays off with a day or two scattered here and there for some kind of days for teachers to catch up. We had half a day off and were taken to the fair by school bus. Jewish students had their religious holidays. I can use pen and paper and do real math, I'm quite well educated on what's going on in the world I understand how history has affected the world and with God's help I've managed to live a productive life, all without spending half the summer in school. WE had a good graduation rate and ARC had a good football team. Compare all that to the struggles of schools and students and athletics today and tell me which worked better. We started the day with scripture (no, NOBODY ran screaming from the room or disabled because of it) and said the pledge of allegiance to the United States flag. Does anyone know the name Pat Dye? I think he has been fairly successful following the same time frame I did. Current schedule can't match it.

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