CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WRIC) — A new report from Chesterfield School officials may spell the end to a calendar experiment in two local elementary schools.
For the past several years, Bellwood Elementary and Falling Creek Elementary students have been on a different schedule from their peers. Instead of the normal school year beginning in the Fall and ending in early Summer, they’ve attended school year-round.
They still attend the normal 180 days of instruction mandated by the state, but their breaks are scattered throughout the year, with ordinary vacations supplemented by “intersessions.”
Those intersessions, totaling 7 weeks a year, include extracurricular activities designed to provide “academic supports and enrichment opportunities.”
But now, after several years of study, school officials say it’s time to call it quits.
“Based on the academic outcomes and the involvement in intersessions by students and staff, as well as the feedback from stakeholders… we recommend that students at Bellwood and Falling Creek Elementary Schools return to the traditional calendar,” said Dr. Monique Booth.
While students in the year-round program did display small improvements in reading compared to their peers, math scores remained relatively unchanged, and the report highlighted anemic participation in intersessions and the cost of the additional programming as barriers to expanding the program.
The calendar was also divisive among parents, with those surveyed preferring the program only if intersessions were provided.
The change had been intended to encourage benefits such as “increased student opportunities for academic support,” “[reduced] summer learning loss” and breaks at regular intervals, but ultimately, school officials said the benefits may not be worth the cost.
School board members will now have to decide whether to retire the program when they set the 2024-2025 school calendar later this year, with several members indicating that they wanted more analysis of the academic impact before making their decision.