Optional additional instructional days | TCTA
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Optional additional instructional days

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Your district might be considering taking advantage of the provisions of HB 3 that provide half-day funding for districts and charter schools to add up to 30 instructional days to one or more elementary schools (grades pre-K through 5). TEA is promoting the idea that districts receiving the funding should use it, at least in part, for augmenting teacher salaries. The first round of funding is available starting Sept. 1, 2020, through the end of the 2020-21 school year.

To be eligible, the district/charter must not only meet the minimum requirement of 75,600 minutes of instruction, but also provide at least 180 instructional days (not including the optional days).

The goals of the Additional Days School Year program are to improve student achievement by giving schools the opportunity to provide teachers with more planning time and breaks; give students increased times for brain breaks, play and enrichment; and create additional time to cover required standards and improve productivity.

TEA has begun to provide new guidance for districts, and has laid out three options for how to structure the additional days, although there is flexibility in how to implement the program:

  • Optional summer programming (similar to traditional summer programming for struggling students)
  • Intersessional calendar (additional days placed throughout the year for a subset of students)
  • Full year redesign (re-engineer the entire calendar, potentially including the structure of the school day, to incorporate more breaks, teacher planning time, etc.)

The TEA materials note that research supports the third option as leading to improved student achievement.

Interested districts/charters should begin the planning process soon, if they haven’t already. TEA is providing planning grants of $125,000 this spring, which may be augmented by execution grants of up to $25,000 next fall for districts successfully meeting key metrics. The planning grant is only for the full-year redesign option, for initial planning activities in spring/summer 2020.

Issues to be resolved at the local level include:

  • School start date (districts that have not exempted themselves from the required start date through the District of Innovation process are still required to begin classes on the fourth Monday of August)
  • How to accommodate testing windows, which at least for the next few years are not expected to change
  • Funding issues — full-day services are recommended, though only half-day funding is provided; also, cash flow could be an issue in the first year of implementation

Teachers in districts/charters that participate in the Additional Days School Year program may wish to get involved in the planning process, if possible. Whether all teachers in the relevant grades will be asked to participate in the new program will depend on how the district structures the additional time.

TEA resources:

  • TAA letter
  • HB 3 in 30 video (especially helpful, as it includes some detailed examples of how the additional days might be incorporated)