The Los Angeles Unified school board approved a calendar for the 2022-23 academic year Tuesday, extending the school year by seven optional days. The calendar includes four extra days of accelerated learning for students meant to provide additional academic support, pushing the end of the school year to June 15. It also includes three additional days of professional development for teachers prior to the first day of instruction in August.
The approved calendar comes after months of pushing from parents, teachers and board members for its release and was met with frustration over the added optional days. While some parents called into Tuesday’s board meeting to support the decision, others questioned what the additional days would look like and questioned the decision to remove a week from the summer rather than the three-week winter break.
At the board meeting, chief academic officer Alison Yoshimoto-Towery told attendees that the extra optional acceleration days were meant to serve as an additional resource for students and added at strategic points throughout the school year so that it would be clear where students stood and how to best help them. The optional four days will take place on Wednesdays in October, December, March and April. Each school site will also provide childcare during normal hours on those days.
“Student acceleration days are designed to be stepping stones rather than safety nets to orchestrate success, to build success and to create success,” Yoshimoto-Towery said. “We know the function that we need to have, which is high quality teaching and learning and student outcomes. But sometimes we don’t have the structures in place. This calendar represents putting those structures in place.”
Teachers and relevant staff who choose to work the acceleration days or attend the extra professional development will receive additional compensation.
Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said that adding the optional days was the best way to spend the additional funding LAUSD received this year and assure that it would benefit students academically. The additional days will cost the district $122 million.
Though many have pushed for more intervention positions, Carvalho said the funding cannot be committed to hiring additional staff because it will sunset in two years. LAUSD has also struggled to permanently fill hundreds of vacant classroom positions across the district as a result of the nationwide teacher shortage.
“This is a golden opportunity,” he said at the board meeting. “This is an investment — that is, a best practice considering the short amount of time we have to use these monies.”
It’s not yet clear what exactly the acceleration days will look like; however, Carvalho said he was open to hearing ideas from community members across the district, including parents and students. He added that he expected both the acceleration days and the professional development days to also be an opportunity for staff outside the classroom to participate.
Board member Jackie Goldberg said she had initially been against the proposed calendar because of uncertainty over the impact, but after learning more about the plan, was open to the experiment. She asked that student input be taken into consideration when designing content and structure.
“When students feel like they have a hand in producing these for accelerated days, I think you’ll see greater attendance,” Goldberg said. “I also think that they will be able also to say, ‘I had a hand in that; it made a difference to me that I was asked.’”
Board president Kelly Gonez acknowledged frustration from parents but said that the district also had to listen to those who hadn’t reached out.
“We have heard from many parents who have raised concerns and questions, impacts to vacations and camp schedules and various other issues, but we certainly haven’t heard from the parents who are working two or three jobs whose kids are most likely to be positively impacted by these optional acceleration opportunities,” she said. “So in reviewing the calendar, I like to start by asking what our students need.”
Carvalho said he would take into account some of the feedback he’s received from parents and board members, including requests to scale back winter break from three to two weeks, though it wouldn’t be for the approaching school year. He also said the district would plan to finalize calendars for the next few years ahead of the typical timeline after board member Nick Melvoin suggested finalizing the following two calendars by September.
Kate Sequiera, EdSource, April 26, 2022