Ravell Call, Ravell Call, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — While some parents might feel like the last two weeks of May are just a series of permission slips that get their kids out of class, educators are quick to say important instruction still takes place.
"I've worked so hard to keep my kids interested. If I just did games all day, they would be so bored," said Kathy Helmandollar, a fourth-grade teacher at Hidden Hollow in Eagle Mountain.
Along with the field days, class celebrations, day-trips to Lagoon and swim parties, students are learning the last bits of curriculum they need before they advance to the next grade, she said. If anything, the idea that the tail end of the year is full of wasted days comes from parents who take their kids out of class for vacation, not schools, she said.
"You just can't believe the absenteeism," she said. "People are out all the time."
Former state Superintendent Patti Harrington said it's usually the older grades that parents think don't use their time wisely.
"High school is oftentimes where some of this criticism is leveled," she said.
That's because seniors have earlier end-of-the-year deadlines than their younger classmates. When the seniors leave early to check off their graduation requirements and complete locker checks, the kids left behind are often doubly distracted.
"The minute you pull seniors out, it becomes difficult for a teacher to move forward," she said.
Granite School District spokesman Ben Horsely said the district sends out letters to all principals at the beginning of May instructing them to tell their teachers not to take care of the logistical kinds of things like turning in textbooks and giving out yearbooks until the last couple of days. Evens so, some teachers are more diligent than others.
"We're very cognizant and very concerned of a perception that any time spent in the last week or two of school is a waste of time," Horsely said. "There's a perception and perception is often reality."
Standardized tests are given in all schools over the course of two or three weeks in May and wrap up a week or two before school gets out. Some teachers are tempted to just show a movie once those tests are done, he said.
Harrington, a former principal, said that is the exception to the rule. She said she knows teachers make tremendous efforts to keep their students "thoughtfully involved," even amid the palpable excitement felt as summer vacation approaches.
Helmandollar, who has taught for more than 20 years, said she knows some of her students won't do anything over the summer break to practice the skills they learned that year, so she reviews the results of the standardized test scores she gets back and focuses her last lessons on the subjects the kids have struggled in.
"You're learning the last moment things," she said. "It's very valuable to be there."
Parent Annette King of Bountiful said kids today work a lot harder during the school year than their parents did, and deserve the bit of fun that comes with the end of the year. King has a son who attends Woods Cross High and another at Bolton Elementary.
"What our kids do now through the year is way, way, way harder than what we did," she said.
They study for the ACT, and take end-of-year Advanced Placement exams in addition to their required classes, she said.
In addition to field trips and instruction, Harrington said there are necessary logistical tasks that have to happen like checking in library books, text books and submitting grades.
- Search for Susan Cox Powell is over, West...
- S.L. draws up airport plans
- 'We're here to serve all boys,' Utah Scout...
- Warrants issued for 3 suspects in beating...
- Frances Monson, wife of LDS prophet, passes away
- XanGo co-founder accuses partners of...
- 'Mantiques' could be a ticket to more cash
- Real Salt Lake: 'No comment' on XanGo...
- Frances Monson, wife of LDS prophet,... 66
- Mia Love announces she's officially... 42
- GOP delegates reject changes to... 31
- S.L. draws up airport plans 26
- XanGo co-founder accuses partners of... 22
- Search for Susan Cox Powell is over,... 18
- 'We're here to serve all boys,' Utah... 17
- Utah facing $1.2 billion-dollar water... 11