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Superintendent Proposes Changes to District 196 Academic Year

The proposed changes would give teachers more time to train, but would mean less classroom time for students.

School District 196 officials want to make several changes to the District 196 school year in 2012-13 that they say will improve students' academic performance and help create a more personalized learning environment.

District 196 Superintendent Jane Berenz brought two proposals before the District 196 School Board during the Feb. 13 board meeting. The first of the proposed changes includes the addition of three training days throughout the school year for district teachers, which would take the place of regular school days. During those in-service days, teachers at all levels would meet to analyze student data and receive targeted instruction training geared toward meeting the needs of individual students.

The current 2012-13 school calendar has 174 days of instruction for students. If three days of school were converted to training days for teachers, that would leave 171 days of instruction, according to district officials.

The second proposed change is the implementation of one-on-one assessment meetings between elementary-level teachers and students before the start of the school year. Those individual assessments are currently conducted during the school year, but completing them while class is in session takes several weeks and disrupts learning for other students, Berenz wrote in a press release issued by the district.

If the second change is approved by the board, the 2012-13 school year would end two days earlier for elementary students and teachers—on June 5 instead of June 7—in exchange for the work time that would be added before the start of the school year, according to the press release. The individual assessment meetings would take place two or three weeks before the first day of school this fall.

"These changes are about working smarter and using data to drive decisions about instruction," Berenz said. "It's supporting the work of our teachers in a way that will benefit the achievement of all our students."

It isn't the first time this winter that the school board has discussed adjusting the district calendar. In January, , which means all students across the district will get that day off from school.

That day, and the proposed calendar changes to the 2012-13 school year are part of a larger strategic shift in the district's goals, Berenz and Director of Teaching and Learning Steve Troen said at the Feb. 13 meeting.

The new strategic initiative focuses on learning, collaboration and results-oriented thinking, Berenz and Director of Teaching and Learning Steve Troen said at the meeting. That change in focus, Berenz added, necessitates some revisions in the school schedule so that teachers can have time to discuss assessment data and analyze student results.

“We need to continually challenge ourselves to look at the system, and look at ways to improve our system," Troen said during the meeting.

The board will likely take action on the proposed calendar changes during the March 12 board meeting.

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