CAMERON - Though it has only been implemented for a calendar year, the modified school schedule being used at schools in Cameron is paying off, the principals and creators of the schedule said.
The modified school calendar was developed by elementary Principal Wendy Clutter and high school Principal Jack Cain. Now in its second year, the schedule aims to shorten the long summer and holiday breaks students typically have to allow for better information retention.
Clutter said during the last school year, attendance from students in her school, which contains kindergarten through sixth grade, improved, as did student discipline. She said in addition to the obvious changes, the overall success of students improved, though it is too soon to examine some data.
Faculty and staff at Cameron Elementary School welcome students to the first day of the new school year.
Photo by J.W. Johnson Jr.
"It is too early for things like standardized test scores because you can't really take anything away after only one year," she said.
However, Cain said an unofficial look at the school's WESTEST scores show the school is at or above the state average in terms of scores, an improvement over previous years. Additionally, he said attendance and discipline referrals were down significantly, with only 400 disciplinary actions taken last year.
Attendance also has increased, as Cain said the breaks throughout the year were beneficial to students and teachers, particularly the Thanksgiving break and a two-week spring break. He said the Thanksgiving break fell during deer hunting season, when a majority of students in the school would typically not attend. He added the spring break in March fell at the right time to allow students to focus on finishing the year strong.
The schedule also directly contributed to the school having more students participate in extracurricular activities, Cain said. He said every sport saw an increase in participation, while cuts were made in certain sports for the first time in the school's history.
"With the schedule, the students are already here," he said. "A problem in the past had been getting transportation to and from the school during the summer, but the new schedule addresses that."
Additionally, Cain said the Marshall County Fair, which took place last week, allowed for students to get back into education mode and meet with friends before the school year officially started. Events at the fair were used as intercession activities for the students, Cain said.
"In talking with the faculty, many of whom volunteered, the fair was hectic but was nice to have right before the students came back," he said.