Good Schools for All: The Families Who Can't Afford Summer - Voice of San Diego


Good Schools for All: The Families Who Can't Afford Summer

A few years ago, the Sweetwater Union High School District implemented a common calendar, or shared calendar system. Bus schedules, student credit recovery efforts and vacations aligned and student attendance increased. And the impact on families seems to be positive.

This post has been updated.

The Sweetwater Union High School District is the largest secondary school district in the state. A few years ago, the district worked with elementary schools that feed into the high school to move onto the same calendar system.

On this week’s podcast, Karen Janney, superintendent of the Sweetwater Union High School District, joins co-hosts Scott Lewis and Laura Kohn to talk about how she helped develop the common calendar and the impact the change has had on families.

“Before 2007, we had families on up to three different schedules. So they could be at an elementary school district on one calendar, at a middle school on another calendar and at a high school on another calendar,” Janney said. “It just wasn’t good for families.”

Families faced challenges with calendar misalignments such as planning for varied bus schedules, attempting to transfer students to schools to make up credits and trying to plan summer vacations.

“A lot of time the older siblings take care of the younger siblings and if they’re on two different calendars, it makes it even that much tougher for families,” Janney said.

But under the common calendar system, the district provides students with an aligned school schedule and about six weeks of summer vacation.

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Number of the Week

Two-thirds: According to a 2007 study by Johns Hopkins University, two-thirds of the ninth-grade reading achievement gap can be attributed to summer learning loss; the other third comes from gaps that arise in early childhood.

What’s Working

Diamond Educational Excellence Partnership, sponsored by the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation, has worked with San Diego Unified to put in place a summer enrichment program for rising second and third graders that has been successful in sustaining and building reading skills for more than 90 percent of participants, according to an evaluation by UCSD.

Clarification: An earlier version of this post said Sweetwater Union High School District moved all its schools onto the same calendar system. It worked with other schools that feed into the high school system to get onto the same calendar.

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