Who decides to extend the teaching time in ABQ schools?

Students meet on Friday afternoon to read in the library at Lew Wallace Elementary School. (Roberto E. Rosales / Albuquerque Journal)

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The decision to add hours per day or 10 days to the school year will still be in schools after the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education has rejected an offer to extend the time spent at school throughout the district.

But this possibility is not new. Schools can go this route from 2019.

The proposal, approved by the council on Wednesday, modified the previous calendar to extend learning time and reaffirmed the ability of schools to participate in the programs.

So, who’s calling?

“Most schools would probably use their guidance boards,” APS political analyst and legislature Heather Bassett told The Journal. “Anyone can present something … to the briefing board as a proposal. In most cases, I am sure that the director will lead the decision. “

The instruction boards are made up of administrators, teachers and parents, and in some cases student representatives. In charter schools, Bassett said, the decision may be on the principals of charter schools.

The decision to extend the school year or school days has been with the schools for several years, said Bassett, one of the administrators, who asked the school board to make it compulsory throughout the district.

“We have had an optional strategy since 2019, when legislation and funding first appeared,” she said on Wednesday.

The proposal called for the council to commit for two years to an extended curriculum aimed at secondary and secondary school students and to the Transformational Opportunity Pilot Schools or TOPS model, which targets nursery and primary school students.

Extended learning time would add 10 days to the academic calendar, while the TOPS model would add more days in addition to 90 minutes of school day.

APS school principal Yvonne Garcia said on Wednesday that 11 district schools had already adopted the TOPS model, with nine participating only in the extended teaching calendar and checking out of longer classes.

Bassett noted that these were mostly primary schools and that little or no high school or college implemented any form of extended learning time.

Superintendent Scott Elder told the board that participating schools had shown the advantage of extended years or days and did the hard work by showing that more time at school “improves student outcomes” and that they operate during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Students go to the recreation area for lunch at Lew Wallace Elementary School on Friday afternoon. (Roberto E. Rosales / Albuquerque Journal)

“Over the last few years, although there has been some hesitation in adding days to the calendar, some schools have quietly done both – adding days to the year and time every day,” Elder said. “These schools are often cited as examples of places of innovation.”

Bassett said the TOPS model allows for daily, built-in student enrichment, as well as professional development time for staff to tailor teaching to students’ needs.

“It’s the idea of ​​extracurricular programs (programs), but it’s incorporated into the teaching day … it’s for every child,” Bassett said.

According to her, a common form of this built-in student enrichment has been called “Genius Hour,” which provides students with high-dose tutoring and skills development based on individual strengths.

Some who spoke at Wednesday’s meeting took on Genius Hour, including Elizabeth Ross, a mother who said the extra lesson to enrich students had not achieved these goals and noticed that most families said they did not want longer school days. or years. .

“The children targeted by this proposal do not need a genius lesson, but rather a basic learning time,” she said. “TOPS and / or ELTPs do not replace childcare or address childhood hunger, do not guarantee higher outcomes, do not provide additional teaching or learning, (or) do not take into account the burnout of teachers and students.”

Ross added that she and her husband had unsubscribed their Friday due to design shortcomings.

Bassett said she agreed that the seemingly “stunning” idea of ​​adding to school days alone would not solve the problems faced by students and staff, nor would it improve the level of results and expertise, such as in mathematics, which has significantly increased since the pandemic. dropped. to hit.

However, providing more time during the day for professional development has improved teaching for schools that have adopted these models, while enrichment has made students “excited about school, proud of themselves and (a) feeling like they are in schools. honor him while they are. “

She said the proposal to extend the school days or school year throughout the district was an effort for the council to “make that decision” for the schools, so that “everything (they) have to think about how to ensure it.”

“We want to change the way the days look,” she said. “It was a demand to say, ‘Let’s try to build something else and we have to start right here.’ “

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