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We know there can be bureaucratic answers to many questions that befuddle us about why things are the way they are, but that does not preclude our asking one question we suspect is on the minds of many this week:
Why are students in school from now through June 4? Because they are required by state law to have 1062 hours – about 177 days – of “instruction.”
But we question whether there is any real instruction being given on these last few days.
For elementary students, the learning window effectively closed two weeks ago, when the new KPREP testing model was implemented and completed.
That became even more significantly true for middle school and high school students last week because they completed their end-of-year exams – part of the KPREP formula – with five days remaining on the educational calendar.
In fairness, there does appear to be a lesson here in irony,
Do you, like us, recall the spitting back and forth earlier this spring about whether to make up the one snow day on the calendar this year – to appease the Kentucky Department of Education’s requirements – on a Saturday or Monday? We questioned then whether there was any benefit to having that day be June 4, especially given that faux high school commencements – the students are real, but the diplomas are not – would occur June 2.
All that was really just an exercise in compromise, because the real end of the year, as everyone surely knew, was when those tests were taken.
Certainly, we understand the state’s hourly requirement. We think the number is appropriate and should be met – as we have said previously – not only quantitatively but also qualitatively.
But don’t you think those hours should be spent doing something productive?
We understand that there is an imperative for teachers to educate through the last day, but we don’t conceive how that can happen (wink, wink).
How will students learn when commercial movies are being gathered to be viewed in classrooms and when one of those students knows that there is absolutely nothing academic that could occur during this week that could change his or her grade? Only absence or bad behavior could accomplish that.
That’s why we think this final week is an exercise in bureaucracy and not in learning. There is no motivation for already distracted students, and there is no more creative curriculum for already worn out teachers.
Wouldn’t it be more feasible to have “final” exams the “final” week of classes?
Shouldn’t measuring academic accomplishment via KPREP be done when the last learning is completed? Otherwise, aren’t we saying that all those days after are pretty much a waste of time?
Can’t we use the days we require students to be in school more effectively?
We certainly don’t think another viewing of Benjy or Harry Potter expands anyone’s knowledge of reading, writing or arithmetic – or anything else. (We would suggest at least reading a novel for edification or a newspaper for current events?)
We suspect the students would agree with us.
We know the parents do.
And we have little doubt that teachers have a different concept about this week, too.
Can we get the policy-makers on board as well?
We’re all wasting time, and we think that’s a bad lesson for all.
So study well this week. (Wink, wink.)