Superintendent says ‘disadvantaged, black’ students benefit from year-round school

Posted at 7:58 PM, Jan 30, 2014
and last updated 2014-01-31 06:29:49-05

PETERSBURG, Va. (WTVR) - Can year-round school help students improve test scores? Petersburg Superintendent Dr. Joseph Melvin thinks so.

Two Petersburg schools are slated for a year-long educational program. Dr. Melvin said year-round school will help AP Hill Elementary and Peabody Middle meet academic standards.

“I'm looking at research instead of opinions," Dr. Melvin said.

While studies have shown year-long school can improve attendance and be cost effective, critics said going to school year round does not improve test scores.

In fact when CBS 6 reporter Sandra Jones looked at the numbers, she found no difference in year round and the traditional calendar schools when it came to SOL scores.

But Dr. Melvin said the numbers don't paint the full picture.

“When you significantly look at disadvantaged students, African-American students and blacks that they show increases in SOL test scores," Dr. Melvin explained.

Parent Tyquisha Chavis, whose daughter attends AP Hill Elementary, still has reservations.

"I really don't agree with it," Chavis said. "If people would've worked a little harder during the year, we wouldn't have to be going through this now."

The single mother is working to move up from a Certified Nursing Assistant to a Registered Nurse.  She said plans to change her daughter's school routine will make reaching her goal even more challenging.

"I drop her off at school everyday.  So, having gas, having to leave work or be late for work to have to get her to school all year round," Chavis said. "The change is going to be - it's going to be different.”

The change for the Petersburg schools takes effect for fiscal school year 2014-2015.

Teachers have been going through instructional training and development to prepare them for the change, Dr. Melvin said. He is now working with state lawmakers to get the needed funds to keep the program going.