Willoughby Says Ole Man Winter Could Interfere with End of Course Assessments

December 15, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page
Mark Willoughby

With the winter break set to start after an abbreviated day Friday and the possibility that DeKalb County Schools might be closed again Thursday, school officials say state mandated end of course assessments may not be administered until January.

Mark Willoughby, Director of Schools, said the state requires students to take those tests on their first day back in the classroom. Willoughby said if schools are back in session Thursday, the exams will be given then. If not, it'll have to be after the holidays "The end of course tests are not school decisions. On our first day back in school, the state says we have to give end of course tests. We have English IX and Algebra II left to give so that means if we're in school tomorrow (Thursday), those students need to come to school ready to take those two tests. Also there'll have to be a makeup day for anybody that misses those tests."

According to Willoughby, the state will not require the tests to be given on Friday, the abbreviated day, should schools be back open then. "We talked with the state Tuesday and they will not make us give those tests on the abbreviated day on Friday. But if we show up Thursday for a full day or two hours late or whatever, we have to give those end of course tests. Assuming the worst and we can't go at all this week, we will have to consult with the state and hopefully we will not have to give those tests on the first day back in January. We would hope they would be a little lenient on that and give us a few days after we get back."

As far as the regular final exams, Willoughby said a decision on those is left up to the schools." The finals that our schools have scheduled, those can be a school decision on what they're going to do about finals. One option is to take the first nine weeks grades and the second nine weeks grades and average them together to get the final grades, but that's a school decision."

Meanwhile with the unexpected December winter weather, the allotted snow days in the school calendar is already beginning to dwindle. Willoughby said DeKalb County Schools have already been closed three days this week with seven snow days remaining and two stockpiled days. "We have ten days built into the calendar and three stock piled days. We have already used up one stock piled day (November 2nd) with two of those remaining, January 3rd and March 18th. If we did not have any stock piled days then we would have thirteen snow days."

Willoughby explained that on stockpiled days, students are out of school but teachers attend for staff development. "Several years ago, school systems, including DeKalb County, started extending the school day in order to build up to thirteen additional days, which could be taken off for inclement weather. Most school systems chose to do that, therefore they wouldn't have to make up those days at the end of the year. By choosing to do that, school systems could take a stockpile day as one of those thirteen days for staff development where we work with teachers on new teaching strategies, training, and things like that. We scheduled three stock piled days this school year."

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