Fairbanks district studies use of time in schools

Posted: Wednesday, January 29, 2003

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Recess, assemblies, getting settled in the morning: School is full of things that aren't strictly academic.

Using data gathered this semester, the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District aims to find out just how much time during the school year is spent on instruction and how much is spent on everything else.

The district's school year is extremely short, said Superintendent Ann Shortt, especially when you subtract time lost to things like testing, in-service days and parent-teacher conferences.

Short told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner she hopes the study will identify ways to maximize the amount of time students are engaged in learning.

''In looking at how we can improve the achievement of all students, this is something we can do something about,'' Shortt said. ''There is something we can do to provide more instructional time for students without it costing anything.''

The preliminary aspects of the study are already under way, Doug Crevensten told the school board at its Tuesday meeting. Crevensten is the district's director of grants and special projects. The committee heading up the study will spend the next couple of weeks defining exactly what will count as instructional time and what will not, he said.

After that, Crevensten said the district will place trained observers or video cameras in randomly selected classes throughout the district.

''The gathering of data in the schools and in the classrooms will take place this year,'' he said. ''What we are trying to see is where is the time going.''

Fairbanks Education Association President Mary Cofer praised the premise of the study. She added a little advice as well.

''I hope in this process that the observers will also note the time spent, especially by elementary teachers, on discipline,'' Cofer said. ''Behavior in some years for me has taken up a good bit of my time.''

Crevensten said the study will look at the school calendar, scheduling and time management within schools, and time use within classrooms. He said the committee hopes to have some information to the school board regarding the school calendar by November.

Analysis on school and classroom time use will come later, Crevensten said, in February or March of 2004.

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