DPS admin building

After approval from its school board, the Duncan school district will implement a new school calendar for the upcoming academic year featuring “late start Mondays.”

Late start Mondays, which will begin the Monday after Labor Day, will help Duncan increase student achievement as district teachers work together each week to analyze student work while assessing and collaborating on instructional strategies, according to Assistant Superintendent Merry Stone.

“In Duncan Public Schools we make a commitment to our school board, staff, students and community that this time will be used to improve student learning and strengthen our educational programs,” Stone said.

Stone said core subject teachers will meet in either grade level or department teams for one hour on Mondays to look over this data and examine what is and is not working. This process also allows teachers to build in additional time and support for students needing it while furthering enrichment for students succeeding and surpassing level standards.

“The core teachers will be working in professional learning communities (PLC). In the elementary school, that’s going to be all of your classroom teachers. They’ll be working in PLCs with grade levels and with their subject levels,” she said, noting middle and high school teachers will follow suit at their level. “(Teachers will be) looking at data, looking at assessments, looking at instructional strategies. It’s very focused on student learning.”

According to Stone, the professional learning communities, or groups teachers work in, will focus on four critical areas:

n What do we want students to learn? What should each student know and be able to do as a result of each unit, grade level and/or course?

n How will we know if they have learned? Are we monitoring each student’s learning on a timely basis?

n What will we do if they don’t learn? What systematic process in place to provide additional time and support for students who are experiencing difficulty?

n What will we do if they already know it?

“The PLCs are not focused on teaching, they’re focused on learning,” Stone said. “We’re not trying to micro-manage teachers, we’re trying to focus on the students and their learning process.”

Stone emphasized the designated time during late start Mondays is not used as a planning period.

“Teachers will still have a planning time every day. This is not a planning time. This is a collaborative learning community within the staff members that will be focused on strategies and what out kids need to learn,” Stone said.

While some were worried about starting late on Mondays, Stone said DPS buses will run at the same time each day, and cooks will serve breakfast as normally scheduled.

“The morning is going to look the same. Kids can come on the bus,” Stone said. “If a student rides a bus, they’ll get on at the same time they do every other day of the week. It will not inconvenience parents who have to go to work. They won’t have to worry about finding a place for their students to go. Breakfast will run at the same time.”

Additionally, Stone said educational opportunities will be available for students who show up to school as regularly scheduled. While teachers are in PLCs, students will follow a “rotation” and participate in other activities.

“Those extra staff members, like our PE teachers and our librarians, will help with student rotations so the students will be working in some kind of educational rotation,” Stone said. “It’s different by site. They’re working it out by site with personnel. Some of them are doing computer lab time, another class is doing a STEM class, they’re doing some PE stuff, some character building – they won’t just be sitting waiting for school to start. They’ll have some things to do. They’ll continue to be learning.”

Stone said upperclassmen will participate in similar activities, including some assemblies, listening to some speakers and working on character building.

Those who show up at the later time on late start days will not be “tardy” or “absent” until the school day officially begins.

“We’ll actually run all the way through until we start testing,” Stone said. “We’ll take about three weeks off from the late starts. That’s just to get testing in ... We’re going to put the exact days on our website for parents.”