State Board of Education objects to Snow Day makeup bill

Courtesy Michigan Department of Education:

LANSING — The State Board of Education this week unanimously adopted a statement on the replacement of Snow Days, when a local school district exceeds the six days allowable by state law; encouraging districts to replace the lost time with full days of instruction instead of adding hours to the remaining days on their existing school calendars.

Statement by the State Board of Education on Snow Days

The State Board of Education’s stated mission is that all students graduate ready for careers, college, and community. The State Board firmly believes that students should receive the maximum amount of quality educational instruction possible in order to meet that goal. Current state law requires school districts to offer at least 1,098 hours of instruction in the 2013-14 school year. The districts must also provide a minimum of 170 days or the number of days offered in 2009-10, whichever is greater. Many districts provide 180 days of instruction; some districts provide more.

State law also recognizes that circumstances outside of the control of a school district, such as severe weather, illness outbreaks, or interruptions in utilities, may cause schools to be closed unexpectedly.  The law provides for up to six such days to be counted toward those 1,098 hours without loss of state aid. Any days beyond the six allowed must be replaced for the district to receive its full amount of state aid.

Legislation (House Bill 5285) has been introduced to allow school districts to make up those additional days beyond the six allowed by adding minutes onto each day remaining on their school calendars. A better solution would be to make them up with full days of student instruction.

The majority of the studies for extended school year programs indicate that participation in extended year schools is associated with favorable achievement outcomes.

Increased quality instructional time in which students are actively engaged in learning can have a positive effect on student achievement. Research suggests that expanding the amount of instructional and academic learning time for at-risk or low-income students may improve student learning and close achievement gaps between those students and their peers.

The 1994 Prisoners of Time report by the National Education Commission on Time and Learning, stated that time can be “an academic equalizer.”

The State Board of Education believes, and strongly encourages school districts to, replace additional lost days with full days of student instruction, not by adding on minutes to the existing days remaining in the school year. Full replacement days offer every student the full extent of quality instruction that they missed when the school was closed. This method allows teachers to complete their full lesson plans with integrity and provide students with the appropriate depth of instruction they need to meet their instructional goals for every class. This is the better strategy to ensure that students will be ready for career, college, and community.

Adopted unanimously on February 11, 2014