Year-round options

Published 12:25 am Friday, April 6, 2012

Sumner Elementary Tina Strauss leads line-dancing during a gym class recently. Strauss gets a unique view of the newly implemented 45/15 schedule at the school that now, she can take her classes outside when the weather is nice.

45/15 schedule opens new opportunities for teachers

This story originally appeared in Progress 2012. Get a copy at the Austin Daily Herald.

There’s an unexpected benefit to Sumner Elementary School’s new year-round calendar, according to Tina Strauss.

The physical education teacher enjoyed starting school a little earlier this year because it gave her students more time in the sun.

Sumner Elementary fourth-graders play a form of tag during a physical education class.

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“One of the great benefits of this 45/15 schedule is the fact that it opens up a lot more time to teach outside,” Strauss said.

Sumner students started school in August thanks to a switch to an alternative calendar. The 45/15 schedule, or year-round schedule, means students are in class for nine weeks followed by a three-week break. The schedule is designed to help students retain information, but more people enjoy some of the added perks like being able to play soccer and tennis outside.

In addition, Strauss was able to measure baseline skills for students earlier, which meant students could enjoy physical education lessons earlier. There aren’t more days in the 45/15 schedule, just a shift in when students are in school.

“They really enjoyed the fact that they could be outside during gym class,” Strauss said. “We were able to spend a lot of that time outside.”

Strauss and other Sumner staff brought the new recess format to students quicker than other schools, too. Students have a few more structured options at recess, which helps them to socialize and reduces playground bullying.

“We were actually able to implement that recess format much sooner,” Strauss said.

Though students enjoyed more bright, sunny days outside, they shone even brighter on standardized testing benchmarks this winter, which gives Sumner staff hope the switch was for the good.

“Forty-five/fifteen has been a great change and addition to Sumner,” Strauss said. “We really have still seen some great academic growth. It’s a wonderful thing, and I hope to see that it continues and that it continues to show how it can positively impact.”