DCS School Board mulls change in Spring Break dates

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 1, 2005

Spring break dates and Student Achievement Testing have created a conflict of sorts for local principals and school board members. The two dates do not overlap, however, they could have an effect on scores,

This year the school systems spring break holidays will be from March 21 to March 25. Testing will be conducted on April 5,6and 7 for some Demopolis schools. This creates a conflict for many who believe it is difficult for students to be ready for a major testing period after only a week back in school. The school board decided to begin looking at options early for the 2006 spring break to ensure their students would perform to the best of their abilities.

Gina Johnston, federal programs and secondary education coordinator for the Demopolis City School System, said principals and faculty have given the issue consideration and looked at the possibilities as far as testing was concerned.

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“The principals have talked to their faculty and discussed when they would like to have spring break,” Johnston said. “The big difference for them is that spring break in April would be after testing. If we went to the March spring break it would let them come back for a week and then begin testing.”

U.S. Jones principal Dr. Tony Speegle said coming into testing after a week off could hurt scores. Speegle said the students would lose valuable instruction.

“We want to take spring break for five days, but if we take it before the tests that will be five days of instructional time we will lose,” Speegle said. “We feel like it is hard for them to come back after a week off and take the test.”

Some had suggested that the schools simply change the test dates to work better in the schedule. However, Johnston said they are unable to do this because the dates are chosen by the state.

“The test dates are not chosen by us,” Johnston said. “They are statewide. That is another consideration we have to make. Where we have to test.”

The last two years the school board has had spring break in April. The argument against this is it falls too close to the end of the year. Many teachers and students prefer the March break to help divide the semester.

Mary Glass, principal of Westside Elementary, said this was the case with her faculty.

“I think they would really prefer the early break because it slows up time when we get it ready for the end of the year,” Glass said. “The ones who have talked to me mostly have said they would prefer the March spring break.”

The board plans to continue to look at the issue before making a final decision.