SD51 mulling switch for spring break dates
Spring break may come a little later next year in School District 51.
District leaders are considering moving the annual break into April so that students could take Transitional Colorado Assessment Program, or TCAP, tests without a 10-day interruption. TCAP replaced Colorado Student Assessment Program testing this year and, like its predecessor, takes several weeks to complete.
While District 51 middle and high school students take TCAP tests in one block between March 27 and April 5, third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students in the district began testing on March 6–8, then went on Spring Break March 10–19, and returned to more TCAP testing March 20–27.
District 51 Assistant Director of Elementary Schools Lesley Rose said the district is considering moving Spring Break from its typical spot in mid-March to allow local elementary schools to fit in at least three consecutive weeks of testing during the TCAP window. The first two weeks would be set aside for regular testing and the third week would be used for make-up tests.
“It’s best if the whole school is in that assessment mindset” for one block of time, Rose said.
No other Colorado school district has Spring Break during TCAP testing, according to Rose. She said the current testing schedule can mean students are taking tests or on Spring Break for up to five weeks.
Third-graders begin TCAP testing the earliest with TCAP reading tests Feb. 22 and 23. Third-graders are required by the Colorado Basic Literacy Act to take TCAP reading assessments in February so that teachers can see the results of the tests before the end of the current school year and help formulate a reading plan for students.
Colorado Revised Statutes require students to take all other TCAP tests between the second Monday in March and the third Monday in April each year unless a district is approved for an early testing period, which shifts that schedule up one week.
The district has spoken with Colorado Mesa University and Western Colorado Community College about the Spring Break change possibility and has asked the institutions of higher education if they would be willing to align their Spring Break for 2013 with a potentially later Spring Break time for District 51 next year. Holly Teal, registrar for the university and chair of the school’s academic calendar committee, said she knows the university has spoken with the district, but no decisions have been made. Teal said one issue with moving to a later Spring Break would be that the current Spring Break at the university and at the community college splits the spring semester in two even halves, which is easier for arranging quarterly class schedules and midterm tests.
“We would like to align Spring Break but we also have to look at the bigger picture,” Teal said. “We’ve already published the calendar for next spring, but we might change it if the district changes.”
District 51 School Board members will discuss possibilities for the 2012–13 calendar at a board meeting tonight and may adopt a calendar April 17.