/Corinth takes year-round approach with school calendar

Corinth takes year-round approach with school calendar

Mississippi News Nonprofit CORINTH: The Corinth School district has made a drastic shift in its academic calendar. Amy Craven’s son Nick prefers the new schedule. Craven, a Corinth High senior, said that her son isn’t as stressed out and enjoys the challenging classes. Corinth School District has been operating a modified school schedule for three years. This allows students to take breaks throughout the year, instead of waiting until summer. This is a way to give students more help during the school year, and to decrease the summer slide in which children forget what they have learned. One measure suggests that the goal is to engage students better. Corinth Schools’ graduation rate for the class of 2018 was 94.8 percent, which led northeast Mississippi and placed it fourth behind the Mississippi School for Math and Science and the Mississippi School for the Arts and Enterprise School districts. Corinth also had a graduation rate for students with disabilities of 66.7 percent. This flexible schedule is just one of many creative ways the district has used its District of Innovation status at the Mississippi Department of Education. The district also uses a Cambridge International Curriculum, which is different from the standard used by most districts in the state. Craven stated that the Cambridge workload can be intense, so it is worth taking long breaks to recharge. Superintendent Lee Childress stated that district officials believe there should be “alternative methods” to enhance educational opportunities. This includes looking at innovative curriculum models, calendars, and other educational programming. We believe we can make school more efficient and produce better outcomes. We want all children to be ready for college and careers and to work in a knowledge-based global society. “We believe what we are doing works, and we have evidence to prove it.” However, state leaders haven’t always been supportive of this innovative approach. Although the state granted permission for the district to use a different curriculum, the state has continued to test Corinth’s students using the curriculum used elsewhere in the state and not the one Corinth is using. The district received a “C” grade for this year, which the district claims is unfair. However, the appeals have been unsuccessful. Corinth’s unique calendar allows for a shorter summer, with a three-week autumn break and approximately two weeks of spring break. It also provides normal holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Craven stated that the family enjoyed being able travel in October and March. It is sometimes called a year-long calendar by students, but it is actually a modified calendar. Students are present in school for every month, except for July. Students who aren’t in enrichment or remediation are allowed to attend school for the same amount of days as the rest. Alexander Watkins, a junior at Corinth High School, agrees that the modified school schedule “benefits students.” Students who are not in remediation or enrichment are allowed to attend school for the same number of days as other schools. This is commonly known as the “summer slip.” Childress stated that there has been much research and that the district is experiencing less of the “summer slip” since the summer was cut. He said that the shorter summer allows students to get on with the job and require less learning when school begins back. Watkins agrees that a shorter summer, of six weeks instead of 10, allows him to return to school with fresh knowledge. He said that the schedule has not affected his vacations. He was able to take the longer spring break to enjoy the beach. Some students also receive remediation during fall and spring breaks. Childress stated that the best thing about the modified calendar is the possibility for “real-time remediation.” Traditional remediation was done in summer school, which covers the things that were not learned. Childress stated that students can experience gaps in their performance if remediation is not provided quickly enough. The modified calendar allows students to get remediation in March or October, rather than waiting until the end of the year and falling further behind. If a kindergarten student struggles with letters, colors, shapes, and colors, it’s better to teach them these skills early in the school year. Summer school is no longer an option as remediation is offered during the school year. The schools offer enrichment activities during fall and spring breaks, in addition to remediation. Transportation is provided by the school district, and the cafeteria can be opened. Students such as Watkins who play football, can also participate in athletics during breaks. Based on research and data, the modification of the calendar was adopted. Childress said that teachers and the community were also involved in the decision-making process. The teachers were responsible for selling the modified calendar on to the community, he said. He said that they saw the “detrimental consequences” of summer slide and delayed remediation on student skills gaps. He said that the Corinth School District is currently the only one in the state to offer the modified calendar. They plan to continue doing so. Officials from other areas have visited the site. The Corinth School district’s calendar can be broken down into the following: Students go back to school on June 7th, and then they return July 29th until September last Friday. This concludes the first quarter. They get three weeks off, then return Oct. 21 to take traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. They return in January and take a two-week spring vacation in March. They return to finish the year after the spring break.