Do our kids spend enough time in school?

My kids just had 17 days off for winter break. It was a long break. Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with my family and not having the demands of homework and lunches, but 17 days?  We came up with plenty of ways to keep busy (my high school kids got part-time jobs). But I worry that long breaks like this one will be detrimental to my kids’ education. The longer my kids are out of school, the more knowledge they can lose (ie.- summer sliding).

When I sent my kids back to school, I was surprised to learn that their second week back they had Monday off (MLK day), one late start and two early release days. I’m starting to feel the need to supplement their education because they are out of school so frequently.  

I wasn’t sure if it was normal for kids to be out of school this often, so decided to do a little research. I went to our district’s calendar and added up the number of school days for the 2017-2018 high school year. If there are no snow days, there will be a total of 166 full school days (35 of those are late starts) and eight early release days; that’s a total of 1,019 hours and 42 minutes in the classroom (I subtracted lunch and passing time).

Last year Idaho Education news wrote this article about the number of day/hours Idaho kids are in school. The article also had the 2014 Education Commission of the States report that I found to be very helpful. I was able to find the required days/hours that each state in the nation required for their students. This is what I discovered:

Idaho requires 990 hours (no day requirement)

(the average school day is 6 hours long, so 990 hours is equal to 165 days of school)

Every state requires more than 990 hours except:

  • Georgia — 990 hours (but 180 days)
  • Massachusetts — 990 hours (but 180 days)
  • New Hampshire — 990 hours (but 180 days)
  • Oregon — 990 hours
  • Pennsylvania — 990 hours
  • Alaska — 900 hours (but 180 days)
  • Connecticut — 900 hours (but 180 days)
  • Florida — 900 hours (but 180 days)
  • South Dakota — 962.5 hours

If my high school kids go to school every day (and never get sick), then they will only be in school for roughly 170 days or 1,020 hours. Only Oregon and Pennsylvania have the same low 990 hour requirements and only one sate (South Dakota) allows fewer hours or days in the classroom than Idaho.

Is this what we want for our students? How can our kids get a good education if they aren’t in school?

Melanie Flake

Melanie Flake

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