The extended-day schedule at four Davis County elementary schools has lukewarm support from parents after its first year, a study released last week shows.
"The extended-day program appears to be a workable alternative. It does not enjoy unanimous, overwhelming, enthusiastic support, nor is it a hated alternative," said David Sperry, a member of the education administration faculty at the University of Utah.Sperry along with four other outside administrators and educators studied the extended-day program. He said the program received support from 53 percent of the parents surveyed as the best option for solving overcrowding at the schools. Another 41 percent favor year-round schools. The remaining 10 percent favor double sessions or larger classes.
The extended-day program has been used at Adams, Boulton, Knowlton and Layton elementary schools during the past year. Lincoln, East Layton and West Bountiful elementary schools will been placed on the schedule this year.
Children on the schedule are split into early and late attendance schedules. On the early schedule, students attend core classes in the morning and then speciality classes. Those on the later schedule attend the larger specialty classes with the early group and then attend core classes in the afternoon. The schedule increases the school's capacity by about 25 percent, and increases the work day of teachers.
The study found that generally teachers and parents felt that students benefited both in their attitudes about school and in their academic performance from the schedule. Fifty-two percent of parents said the schedule positively impacted their childrens' performance, while 24 percent said there was no influence and another 24 percent said there was a negative impact.
"Both parents and teachers agreed that the most beneficial aspects of the program were its impact on areas such as science, art, music and physical education," the study says. These topics are taught by specialized teachers in the mid-day classes.
Parents questioned in the study said they wanted the district to reduce the size of the specialtycourses, increase the length of core classes and provide more individual attention to students. Parents attending the school board meeting Tuesday night at Layton High School said that they were also concerned about the limited amount of time extended-day teachers have for parent-teacher conferences. The matter is part of current teacher contract negotiations.
Teachers questioned said they felt exhausted with the longer school day, but the overwhelming majority would continue because of the increase in salary. They also said that class sizes should be reduced and said they welcomed the variety of teaching options available with the schedule.
Students surveyed objected to only a single recess, lack of lockers, confusion in class changes and lack of individual time with teachers. Students, particularly in the upper grades, said they didn't like the late schedule.