Daniel Jocz doesn’t want to move the calendar start date.
The school board just made Daniel Jocz’s job a lot harder.
Jocz, who is a National Teacher of the Year finalist and the 2016 California State Teacher of the Year, already has to record lectures and give homework to cover five chapters of American history over the summer. He does that so his students can learn everything they need to by the time they take the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium tests in April and the Advanced Placement tests in May.
But as LA Unified moves its start date closer to Labor Day, it will ultimately cut into his teaching time before the tests.
“It is going to make my job substantially more difficult,” said the celebrated teacher who has worked at Downtown Magnets High School for 11 years. “We can’t do this as effectively with less instructional time.”
After surveying parents and teachers for months, discussing it for a year and getting input from labor representatives, the LA Unified School board on Tuesday decided to start school a week later, on Aug. 22, next year, and then another week later the following year, on Aug. 28, just before Labor Day.
• Read more: School will start later next year, and Thanksgiving and winter breaks will be shorter
“Late start calendar = LAUSD School Board just cut 3 weeks of instruction for my Advanced Placement students,” tweeted Jocz, who said Wednesday that his fellow teachers are not happy.
“A lot of us in the AP community are taking this very personally and we have our courses planned out,” Jocz said. “Had I known this was pending in this way I would have been more vocal.”
Jocz said the Los Angeles students are a diverse community filled with first-generation Americans and English learners who require more time to become college ready.
“You don’t want students taking tests that they are not ready for, especially if they are the tests that will be used to judge schools and teachers,” Jocz said. He suggested that the nation’s second-largest school district might have the clout to move the testing later in the school year, like to June.
School district officials confirmed that the California Department of Education sets the testing window for SBAC, and AP test dates are set by the College Board, which administers the AP program.
“Scores can go up and down for a variety of reasons and I understand why they want to move the calendar, but it was changed not too long ago and we all adjusted, and graduation and scores increased,” Jocz said, echoing an argument made Tuesday by school board member Monica Garcia.
Dennis Ashendorf, a high school math teacher in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, starts school after Labor Day, as do a handful of Southern California districts. Of 56 school districts surrounding LA Unified, 50 start school in August.
“The end of a semester is not the end of a course in general in public school,” Ashendorf said Wednesday. “For example, Geometry A is followed by Geometry B. Same stuff. An exam in January works well. There is no great reason not to start school after Labor Day if a little federal help was given.”