Bennett to Superintendents: It’s Time for Full 180 Day School Year in Indiana

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett sent a memo to Indiana’s public school superintendents today outlining the need for a full 180 day school year. He states his case as follows:

I believe strongly that schools must do everything in their power to ensure students receive the full 180 days of education as prescribed by state law. Please be advised that beginning in the 2009-2010 school year, it will no longer be the practice of the Department of Education to adopt emergency policies allowing schools to apply for waivers of the financial penalty for canceled instructional days.

As President Obama said last week in unveiling his education agenda, "the challenges of a new century demand more time in the classroom."

We expect schools to find ways to ensure the 180 day standard is met, despite cancellation of school days due to severe weather or other emergencies. A full instructional day is defined in law as five hours of instruction at the elementary level and six hours of instruction at the secondary level. Lunch and recess are not counted as instructional time…

The Department of Education stands ready to assist school corporations in planning their calendars and seeking creative solutions to guarantee students receive the 180 days of classroom instruction prescribed in state statute.

Our own Derek Redelman lauded the decision in an Indy Star article:

Derek Redelman, vice president of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, applauded Bennett’s decision, saying it was a step closer to ensuring Indiana children are in class long enough to compete in a global economy.

The state originally required 180 days of class as a compromise, with the understanding that it would work toward a much longer school year, he said.

"We are seeing that our competitors around the world are getting kids into school longer," Redelman said. "I think it’s pretty clear that you can cover more material if you’re in school more."

0 thoughts on “Bennett to Superintendents: It’s Time for Full 180 Day School Year in Indiana

  1. Here’s a valid question. Will ISTA work with this doctrine or will they require an increase in pay and benefits? I’ve read that this will increase teachers days by 6 per year. Will they “eat it” or will they demand an additional 3.33% minimal increase for the extra days? Like to hear who is paying for this (as if I don’t already know)

  2. I don’t think it is fair to the students and the teachers. They both need breaks from the classroom. Whenever the students get dismissed early, the teachers go to a meeting, and talk about how they can improve the school. If they had to go a full 180 days they would have to go to the meetings after school and then that leads to devoting more time they are not getting paid for. If they had to stay two hours after school for the meeting, then that would take away from the time they would get to spend with their family. If the half days won’t count towards the 180 school days, then the students won’t even bother to show up. Therefore, their attendance would drop. Tony Bennett is hypocritical anyway. Last year he asked the state for a waiver saying that a school wouldn’t have to make up the 5 days that they missed because of a windstorm. Yet, now he says that he strongly believes that “I believe strongly that must do everything in their power to students to receive the full 180 days of education as prescribed by state law.” That is just asinine. Mr. Bennett must not believe too strongly in that concept.

  3. It seems that Superintendent Bennett and Governor Daniels should talk with and look at what benefits there has been and continues to be to the improvements student learning due to teacher professional development and parent/teacher conferences. As teachers and administrators know, more teacher time with students in the classroom does not necessarily lead to more effective learning levels. A large part of improving learning is in improving teaching strategies and instruction. At the private school I work in professional development activities during student release has improved the following: meaningful professional dialogue that creates a team atmosphere of school improvement, isolating of problems and improvement of curriculum and instruction (thereby leading to improved learning), more writing and writing instruction/assessment in the classroom, developing instruction in critical thinking – these are the main ones. Cutting these because they are unimportant to student learning, will be taking a step backward in education. Teacher isolation from their professional peers will become the norm. There is much research from leading educational experts as to the effectiveness of professional development to the improvement of student learning.

    Even more surprising is the idea that parent/teacher conferences are not part of the student learning process. This activity is one of the across-the-board activities that builds the collaboration between home (parents) and school. As any teacher knows, parent support and understanding of what is going on at school with their child’s education is vital and essential to the learning process. Many schools even involve the child in the conferencing. What greater tool to have students explain to their parents and teacher of their learning and progress in school.

    It seems that the re-evaluation of many of things in schools would be more pertinent to student learning than time during the school day for PT conferences and professional development (which is mandated through PL 221). Consider the amount of standardized testing that is now being added and required of schools. What good is the testing if there is no time to assess these results and plan for instruction from this data? Possibly cutting some of this time from the testing requirements may place students in actual classroom learning experiences.

    It seems that the leaders over this arena would look more closely and talk with those in classrooms before changes are made. Change is good, if only to make improvement.