After spending considerable time talking about moving Camp Verde Unified School District back to a five-day school week, Superintendent Dennis Goodwin is singing a new tune.
“I’ve become a convert,” Goodwin joked Thursday, Dec. 15, adding that the perception that student outcomes will improve simply by way of an additional weekday in school is probably incorrect. More important is that students have more complete weeks of schooling during the year.
According to Goodwin, studies suggest that a break of six or more weeks from instruction has a deleterious effect on retention, meaning that teachers are forced to cover old material to make up for what has been lost in the interim.
“People think, ‘If we go to 180 days, things are going to be better,” Goodwin said, adding that he no longer thinks the equation is so simple. Instead, guaranteeing learning throughout the year, regardless of the four- or five-day school week, is the key.
Goodwin’s strategic plan — unveiled during the CVUSD Governing Board meeting Dec. 13 — reflects this newfound view.
Should it be adopted by the board in February, the strategic plan will stipulate 40 weeks of instruction, a total of 160 classroom days.
The change would lengthen the existing school year schedule by three weeks and increase the total number of classroom days by 10. It is unclear whether this increase would occur at once or be spaced out over two or three years.
In addition to more constant educational inputs, Goodwin said that his strategic plan integrates student and staff resources to better the educational goals of five distinct student populations:
- Those anticipating four-year college careers.
- Those anticipating two-year college careers.
- Those anticipating vocational technology careers.
- Those anticipating military careers.
- Those anticipating entering the workforce immediately.
Each population, Goodwin added, demands its own particular educational needs — needs that are dictated by each student’s strengths and weaknesses.
“I think we owe it to every one of these kids to find out what their abilities are,” Goodwin said. “You have to meet kids where they are .... We’re trying to find more opportunities for them to find a fit. That’s our responsibility.”
Clustering, which generally occurs in middle school when specific subjects are taught in separate classrooms, will happen sooner per Goodwin’s strategic plan — as early as third grade.
Earlier clustering allows young students to discover skills in common with their peers and be challenged together. By the same token, the setup allows struggling students to learn with other students in the same situation.
The plan does not ignore district staff, either. In Goodwin’s mind, taking care of teachers and other staff encourages better instruction.
“It’s not just, ‘What are you going to do in the classroom?’” Goodwin said. “We’re trying to find these little incentives that let people know they’re cared for and valued .... If you’re more happy and content with what you do, you have a greater impact in these kids’ lives.”
To the end of achieving greater teacher potential, Goodwin is exploring ways to allow teachers easier access to master’s degree programs.
Regarding Arizona Proposition 206, which will raise the state’s minimum wage, the CVUSD Governing Board has already approved a measure to increase wages district-wide by four percent and remain consistent with pay schedules in accordance with the law.