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Column: Minutes added to schedule enough for students?

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What can you do in five minutes? Probably read this column. How about 10?

Those are amounts of time some school corporations in Indiana are adding to their daily schedules to make up for days missed because of bad weather.

Not every school district is in the same situation. Some schools have more days to make up than others. Some districts like Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. have balanced calendars that allow for more days to be made up without adding minutes to the day or extending the school year.

Franklin Township Community School Corp. has added 10 minutes to the end of school on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays through May 30. The extra time started March 3. Hamilton Southeastern Schools also voted to add minutes to their days through May 30, but only five to 14 depending on whether it’s an elementary, junior high or high school.

To me, that just doesn’t seem like enough to accomplish much of anything, especially with ISTEP+ testing upon us. It seemed that ISTEP+ was a concern with schools because all the missed days could hinder students’ performances.

If ensuring students are prepared for ISTEP+ is a priority, it would make sense to add a significant amount of time to school days before the tests. That’s what schools in Jennings and Jackson counties have done.

Jennings County School Corp. began adding 45 minutes to the day on Feb. 24, and that will continue through April 30.

“Given the number of days that we needed to make up, the extended day offered the best solution for all students,” Jennings County High School Principal Tim Taylor said.

Schools in Seymour, Brownstown, Medora and Crothersville have added an hour to their days, continuing into May for all of them.

Seymour Community Schools Superintendent Rob Hooker said it’s in the best interest of students to get them prepared for upcoming testing, which includes ISTEP+, IREAD-3 and high school End of Course Assessments.

The decisions by the schools in Jennings and Jackson counties seem like true efforts to make up that valuable instruction time and prepare students for upcoming important tests.

Adding 10 minutes? That’s like adding one to two minutes per period. How much more can be accomplished? I don’t get it.

Granted, the Jennings and Jackson schools have more days to make up than others. Rather than extend the school year well into June, they opted to extend the school day.

But why couldn’t schools that have fewer days to make up extend their school schedules 30 to 60 minutes over a shorter duration to add more value to schools days before the key tests?

Maybe some schools believe their students are already prepared enough for the tests and didn’t want to disrupt the school day too much. That’s possible.

But speaking as a parent of an elementary student, who wants his child to have sufficient instruction time before state-mandated tests, I would want more than mere minutes added to a day.

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