Some Chesterfield students return for year-round school, but is it working and will it last?

Posted at 11:10 AM, Jul 17, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-17 14:08:40-04

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Students at Falling Creek Elementary received a smile and a wave from Chesterfield County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Merv Daugherty on the first day of class.

Falling Creek joined Bellwood Elementary, which began in 2018, by welcoming students back for the county’s year-round schooling program on Monday morning.

Students spend their 180 days of instruction spread over four nine-week sessions with three-week breaks in between called intersessions.

Students can attend remedial or elective coursework during those longer breaks.

The move from the traditional school calendar to year-round began to increase student opportunities for academic support and to reduce summer learning loss.

But, Dr. Daugherty’s own administration has recommended that these students return to the traditional calendar.

Dr. Monique Booth, CCPS’ elementary leadership director, and Chief of Schools Dr. Lisa High recommended students at Bellwood and Falling Creek Elementary return to the traditional school calendar.

In a January presentation to the Chesterfield School Board, the administration revealed year-round students showed small improvements in reading compared to other students, math scores remained unchanged, and there was little participation in additional classes during intersessions.

The administration said a return to the traditional school calendar should improve student attendance because “families will have all of their children on the same schedule.”

They also cited testing schedules that would better align throughout the school division, teachers will be able to participate in the county-wide professional learning day during teacher workweek, and additional time to calibrate with their leadership team over the summer.

Dr. Daugherty told CBS 6 to expect an update on the future of year-round schooling at Bellwood and Falling Creek by mid-year.

“July and August - the mindset is we are still on vacation. Are we seeing the growth we would at other schools of this makeup?” Daugherty asked. “We’ve talked to the principals last year. We’ve done a data study. We will do another data study and probably come to a conclusion mid-year this year to let parents where we are - if we are staying the course or moving back to traditional.”

Several parents outside of Falling Creek said they enjoyed year-round schooling to help their children retain information over the summer.

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