LOS ANGELES, Calif.–The Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education approved a proposal to start the school year about two weeks earlier than usual in hopes of boosting students’ performance on standardized tests.
The board voted 6-1 to begin classes at most elementary, middle and high schools on Aug. 15, starting next year, and end on June 1. The school year has traditionally started immediately after Labor Day.
The proposal does not effect the small number of campuses on multi-track, year-round schedules.
Eighteen LAUSD schools–17 high schools, predominately in the San Fernando Valley, and one elementary school–began operating under the advanced schedule this year as part of a pilot project.
District officials said the earlier calendar would be beneficial for students, because students would finish their first semester and complete their final exams before the winter break.
The district also contends the move would lead to students being better prepared for the California High School Exit Exam and Advanced Placement tests, because teachers would have more time to cover more material before the tests are administered.
“As challenging as this change may be for the schedules of some families, this is a positive step for the education of all LAUSD students,” Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines said.
“The new Early Start Instructional Calendar will allow students and teachers to complete academic work during the fall semester prior to the start of winter break. The advantages of this reform support academic achievement for all of our students.”
Some critics have contended that starting the school year in mid-August would be problematic at older campuses that have little or no air conditioning–particularly in the hot San Fernando Valley.