Fort Howard school year extended due to poor test scores

By Millaine Wells, Local 5 News

Published 06/30 2014 03:05PM

Updated 06/30 2014 07:13PM

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) - Though the calendar says June 30th, today finally marked the start of summer vacation for one Green Bay elementary school.

Fort Howard was forced to extend the school year after students failed to meet state standards three years in a row.

Teachers say the schedule change is paying off.

"They are pumped, they are ready to go, they do not want it to end" says Fort Howard 1st grade teacher, Lara Manchego. "They do not want it end, so they are excited to come back".

Teachers at Fort Howard hope when students return for the fall they will be better prepared to learn.

"The two months off will be good for everyone to go home, get refreshed, but it will not give them that extra month of summer slide" explains Jessica Grahek, a bi-lingual kindergarten teacher at the school.

Because of low test scores Fort Howard was one of four schools in Wisconsin designated a "priority school". The state mandated more time in the classroom.

"We added 30 minutes to our school day, and added the 13 days to take us to June 30th" explains DeAnn Lehman, the Principal at Fort Howard. 

Teachers are seeing an impact.

"All of a sudden you are seeing growth in the beginning of June and you are thinking oh no its the end of the school year. But, we got through the 30th to hopefully push that growth and get them through the end of the year benchmark" Grahek says.  

Students did not mind the extra time at their desks.

"Well I actually had a lot of goals and I met a lot of them" says student Gisel Sanchez.

Pureless Powell, also a student, says " I was happy about it because i get to see my friends more often".

The learning does not stop today.

Manila envelopes will be mailed home over the summer. Students will wind up with 15 books to keep and some fun math games to play.

"I am sending writing, we will send letters back and forth and hopefully that will keep them academically ready for next year" Grahek says.  

While improving test scores is the ultimate goal, the staff says they are working to change how kids feel about learning.

"To have students in school, to have them saying is it really our last day? I think it is a huge tribute that it really has to do with how we portray it" Principal Lehman says.

Next year another 30 minutes will be added to each day at Fort Howard. It will amount to 50 extra days of learning.


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