Friday, October 11, 2013


Champlain Valley Superintendents Discuss Calendar 2.0

Champlain Valley, Vermont - October 11, 2013 - Champlain Valley Superintendents have completed four public forums with over 1000 people in attendance to discuss Calendar 2.0, a proposed calendar that uses existing calendar days in a different format intended to maximize student learning.

"It has been an exciting two weeks. The energy and interest exhibited at the community forums is testament to the importance our communities have in providing the very best educational opportunities for all of our students. We are grateful for the level of participation at the forums, on blogposts, and the many smaller groups who met over the course of the last nine months - all of which will be given serious consideration," commented Chittenden South Supervisory Union Superintendent Elaine Pinckney.

Superintendents in Champlain Valley agreed in a meeting this week that the forums indicated there is not broad-based community readiness at this time for this proposal for 2014-15 and it was also agreed not to implement this current proposed calendar in 2014-15; however, there remains a responsibility to engage communities in a conversation that looks at time as a variable in student learning, as well as capturing the energy around community engagement in education from the discussions at the forums.

The CVSA Regional Superintendents value input from their respective communities, recognize the need for community support and know that what everyone wants is what is best for all children. The feedback from the forums will be reviewed by the Superintendents in November, in order to harness the creative thinking of the community in shaping 21st Century learning environments. More answers to the questions that are being asked will be provided back to the community and ideas presented will be further explored.

Jay Nichols, Superintendent of Schools for the Franklin Northeast Supervisory Union, noted "We want the community to stay involved as we move through this discovery process and we plan to communicate our discussions and opportunities for engagement along the way".

Based on the Vermont Superintendents' Association (VSA) Education Quality Framework and the VT World-Class Education Agenda, the School Calendar 2.0 is a new way of looking at what a school calendar could look like. This calendar preserves the current 175 student days while building in blocks of times, or intersessions, that could be used for multiple purposes for multiple stakeholders.

For more information on the proposed regional calendar, visit: Highlights include customized learning, partnership with community organizations, timely and responsive professional learning, and preservation of quality instructional time.

CONTACT: John Barone, Superintendent of Schools, Milton Town School District
802.893.3210, ext. 1110


Monday, September 23, 2013

Forum Details & More about the Proposal

The Champlain Valley Superintendents Association (CVSA) has scheduled four regional forums to collaboratively discuss the proposed Calendar 2.0 with area residents, families, students and educators. The Superintendents in CVSA want to engage families and educators in brainstorming ideas for a school calendar that supports and maximizes learning of all students.

Superintendents are exploring options around how to create a more efficient and effective use of the school calendar, with time and support as the variables to positive student outcomes. This calendar is a proposal intended to stimulate conversation.

The calendar proposed by CVSA preserves the current 175 student days, while shifting about 10 days into summer in order to build in blocks of times, or intersessions, during the school year. The goal of the proposed calendar is to organize student instruction time so students have opportunities to pause and reflect and expand upon their learning. These intersessions are designed to be used in a variety of ways, including: student enrichment opportunities, chances to provide timely intervention for students who need it, in-depth and project-based learning, opportunities for teacher professional development, opportunities for teachers to review student data during non-instructional times, and opportunities for families to schedule routine appointments or take vacations without interrupting learning blocks of time.

The current century-old calendar offers limited flexibility in how time is paced throughout the school year. As a result, opportunities for additional learning time for students only occur during the summer months, which is often not timely for students. In addition, teacher professional development days are either front-loaded at the beginning or end of the year, with early release days structured throughout the year, and teachers leaving the classroom for professional development opportunities. Intersessions could also provide time for students to participate in relevant learning activities, such as internships, foreign language trips, job shadowing, etc. without being out of the classroom.

“While earlier information indicated a 2014-2015 timeline, implementation of a new calendar is flexible and this proposal is a starter intended to stimulate conversation,” CVSA Co-Chair Judith DeNova said. “Superintendents recognize change is hard and wish to engage the community in this change process.”

The forums are designed to provide an opportunity for families and educators to connect directly about how time could be used to further the quality of education in this region of Vermont.

The forums are open to parents, educators, students and interested residents. Please join the Superintendents, and be prepared to have a creative conversation as to how time can better be used to support student learning:
  • Wednesday, October 2, 6:30 p.m. - Essex High School 
  • Thursday, October 3, 6:30 p.m. - BFA St. Albans 
  • Wednesday, October 9, 6:30 p.m. - Burlington High School 
  • Thursday, October 10, 6:30 p.m. - Champlain Valley Union High School 

The forums will be facilitated, and have been created in a format to ensure all participants have a voice in the conversation to talk about ways to improve upon the current calendar structure. The evenings will be broken up into four parts: a general introduction/background, an activity for participants to provide their opinions to specific questions related to the proposed Calendar 2.0, an activity for participants to have conversations about how a calendar could be created, and a closing. Ideas and suggestions will be compiled and made public after the forums, and will be used by Superintendents to inform future calendar decisions.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Why to consider Calendar 2.0

Proposed Calendar 2.0 
~175 student days~ 
8 weeks of summer vacation

Customized learning 
  • more choices and pathways to be responsive to individual learners’ needs 
  • increases outcomes for personalized learning and individual growth based on multiple measures in addition to standardized tests 
  • increases opportunities for learning beyond traditional schoolhouse walls based on student interest (i.e. virtual, internships, job shadowing, civic engagement, camps, etc.) further involves families in the design of student goals and pathways 

Minimize Disruption to Tech and Career Center Students 
  • provides more consistency in schedules throughout the region to ensure student attendance in tech. center programs 
  • minimizes disruptions to tech. center students increases potential opportunities for middle school students to experience tech. ed programs 

Partnership with community organizations 
  • allows for intentional projects/initiatives during intersessions sprinkled throughout the school year 
  • provides opportunities for students to interface with community organizations during intersessions 
  • promotes planned projects with students, teachers and community organizations 
  • increases opportunities for schools/organizations to come together throughout the region during intersessions to provide new/different experiences for students increases opportunities for community to access school facilities throughout the year 

Timely and responsive professional learning 
  • has the potential to reduce the need for substitutes 
  • allows for professional learning to be scheduled during non-instructional time to ensure the most important factor of student success - classroom teachers - remains in the classroom 
  • promotes regional and local opportunities 
  • allows for focused/in-depth professional learning provides time for team collaboration focused on student work and progress 

Preserve quality instructional time 
  • provides full weeks of instruction (proven to enhance student engagement, learning and attendance) 
  • maximizes brain’s ability to synthesize, generalize and transfer learning through appropriate pacing 
  • provides a more natural rhythm of teaching and learning

Built-in weather days 
  • ensures fixed end-of-year date for childcare, vacation planning, camp registration, etc. 

Predictable schedules for families to plan 
  • provides opportunities for families to visit distant relatives 
  • increases opportunities to schedule routine appointments during non-school hours 
  • likely to increase community/non-profit programming offerings during non-student days increases opportunities for families to take advantage of “off-season” rates 

Vermont – Four Seasons 

  • increases opportunities to appreciate all of Vermont’s four seasons helps families budget for camps/activities throughout the year (instead of all during the summer)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

PLP Learning and Multiple Pathways Law

Flexible Pathways Initiative (S.130) was recently adopted by the Vermont Legislature.  The May 28, 2013 edition of the VPA, VSA, VSBA  Education Legislative Report provides a summary of S.130:

“The bill creates a Flexible Pathways Initiative within the Agency of Education, meant to ‘encourage and support the creativity of school districts,’ to ‘promote opportunities for Vermont students to achieve postsecondary readiness,’ and ‘to increase the rates of secondary school completion and postsecondary continuation in Vermont.’  It includes amendments to dual enrollment and early college programs and the creation of a ‘personalized learning plan process’ for secondary students.

A personalized learning plan process will be required for all 7th-12th grade students and will include, among other things, any plans for participation in dual enrollment courses or early college programs.  The planning process - the documentation of which is the lan, or PLP - will involve the student, a school representative, and a parent or guardian (if the student is a minor) and will be updated annually by November 30.  The plan is meant to be ‘developmentally appropriate’ and should ‘reflect the student’s emerging abilities, aptitude, and disposition.’

The plans are to be implemented on a rolling basis, beginning in the fall of 2015.  By the end of November of that year, each 7th and 9th grade student, and each 11th or 12th grade student participating in dual enrollment, will need to have a plan.  The following year, those students will continue their personalized learning plan process, while the new 7th and 9th grade students will have plans developed.  Eventually, beginning with the 2018-2019 school year, all secondary students will need to be participating in this personalized learning plan process on an annual basis.”

The current calendar has minimal flexibility for the development of Personalized Learning Plans.  The proposed Calendar 2.0 encourages and builds-in time for school systems to meet the requirements as outlined in S.130, according to the mandated rolling schedule:

Nov. 30, 2015
7, 9
gr. 11 and 12 if dual enrolled
Nov. 30, 2016
7, 8, 9, 10
gr. 11 and 12 if dual enrolled
Nov. 30, 2017
7, 8. 9, 10, 11
gr. 12 if dual enrolled
Nov. 30, 2018
7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Regional Forum Locations and Dates

Four dates in October, 2013 have been established for community forums across the Champlain Valley region regarding the proposed School Calendar 2.0 for the 2014-2015 school year.

Based on the Vermont Superintendent’s Association (VSA) Education Quality Framework and the VT World-Class Education Agenda, the proposed Calendar 2.0 is a new way of looking at what a school calendar could look like.

This calendar preserves the current 175 student days while building in blocks of times, or intersessions, that could be used for a variety of purposes by students, families, and teachers.  This calendar is still a proposal and is not yet finalized.  It is meant to engage educators, students and families around how to further the quality of education in this region.

The dates of these regional forums are:
  • Wednesday, Oct. 2, 6:30 p.m. – Essex High School
  • Thursday, Oct. 3, 6:30 p.m. – BFA St. Albans
  • Wednesday, Oct. 9, 6:30 p.m. – Burlington High School
  • Thursday, Oct. 10, 6:30 p.m. – Champlain Valley Union High School

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Quality Education in Vermont

In Vermont, superintendents are looking closely at what a quality education looks like for all of our students. In a recent document presented by the Vermont Superintendents Association (VSA), and endorsed by the Vermont State Board of Education, superintendents have begun to design what we believe to be the principles of a quality education. We want to make sure that all students have the 21st Century skills needed to be college and career ready. We believe that a quality education results in every student possessing the knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed to be successful in life. We are working to develop a system that is more student-centric, more personalized, and more relevant for each individual student. Regional superintendents envision utilizing Calendar 2.0 as one tool to achieve these goals. This new school calendar approach will allow us to provide students with structured time and support as needed to make sure that every student has what he or she needs to be successful. The intersession times built into the new calendar allow the opportunity to provide students with extra support, while providing other students with relevant enrichment activities that have personal value to them as individual learners.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Research Post #2: Summer Vacation

Special Note: The intent of this post is to share, in an informal way, some conclusions typically found in abstracts of research articles. Readers are encouraged to read the sources below and draw their own conclusions.

For over a century, we have known that summer vacation has an adverse impact on student achievement. The current school calendar was designed for an agriculture-based society that no longer exists. Recent information has suggested that only about three percent of U.S. citizens have a direct working relationship to the agriculture field (Hattie, page 81). Any teacher can point to summer vacation time as a problem for students in terms of retention of information. The first study on this topic was recorded in 1906! (Von Drehle) In 1996, Harris Cooper and colleagues looked at a century’s worth of academic studies and concluded, on average, all students lose about a month in math skills. Even more concerning is that students in poverty, on average, lose three months of learning compared to students of middle class families (Von Drehle). For more information, see also Cooper and others. This negative impact tends to increase, as students get older (Cooper). A major study by Johns Hopkins University tracked students from kindergarten through high school. They concluded that during the school year students made similar progress regardless of economic status. During the summer, students in middle or upper class families either stayed the same or actually improved achievement. Disadvantaged students fell behind; by the end of elementary school, low-income students had fallen nearly three grade levels behind. “According to the study, by ninth grade, summer learning loss could be blamed for roughly two-thirds of the achievement gap separating income groups” (Von Drehle).

While Calendar 2.0 does not address all of the achievement gap concerns caused by summer vacation, it does provide for two weeks less of summer vacation and also allows for intersession periods during the school year to provide students who have fallen behind with the time and supports they may need to close the achievement gap.


  • Cooper, Harris and others. The Effects of Summer Vacation on Achievement Test Scores: A Narrative and Meta-Analytic Review. Review of Educational Research, Fall 1996, Vol. 66, no.3 pp 227-268.
  • Hattie, John. Visible Learning: A synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement. Routledge Publishing, New York, New York. Pg. 80-81.
  • Von Drehle, D. The Case Against Summer Vacation. Time Magazine July 22, 2010. Cover Story.