No need for make-up days


Liz Schasel, Editor-in-chief

Another rare-but-really-not-so-rare day when the school children of North Texas rejoice in their ability to procrastinate their homework yet one more night, as most schools were shut down due to ice on Monday, March 3.

While I was among the masses Sunday night, turning on Netflix and shuddering at what a shame it would have been if I had I actually started my physics homework, my celebratory House of Cards marathon was halted with impending despair when a question popped into my mind: When will be the make-up day?

We’ve had three canceled school days so far this academic year, of which two have been rescheduled for make-up days, one on Friday, April 19, and the other on Monday, May 26; or in other words, Good Friday and Memorial Day. These are the only two bad weather make-up days that have been built into the academic calendar, and seeing as they have already been claimed by Ice Days #1 and #2, there doesn’t seem to be a viable option to make-up the school day that was canceled on March 3, let alone any that occur after that.

Will Spring Break be shortened? Will there be Saturday school? Will students have to come in on the Monday after graduation? (A situation I can assure will have less than desirable attendance, to say the least). Instead of stretching the schedule and posing an inconvenience to teachers and students alike, the state should spare Lovejoy ISD, and other high-performing districts, and not reschedule the most recent ice day, because we’ve proven ourselves as a district that can afford to miss a day of instructional learning.

The high school is a top rated institution both at the state and national levels. We’ve won the UIL Lone Star Cup twice and have been ranked 220th in the nation by Newsweek and 39th within Texas by US News. The rankings alone are staggeringly impressive for a high school that graduated its first senior class only four years ago. Now let’s talk about the test scores.

The high school’s students achieve a level of academic success that also exceeds both state and national standards. Each year since its first graduating class in 2010, the school’s SAT scores have been well above the national average, with the past two years boasting a collective score of 1650, while the national average was only 1498.

The same applies for the ACT composite scores, with the school having an average of 24.7, compared to the national average of 20.2. Last year the high school had a 71 percent passing rate for the 1,302 AP exams taken, and produced 89 AP Scholars. And if those above average scores on national tests aren’t enough, the high school students pass the TAKS test at rates that well exceed the state levels as well. 98.75 percent of all 11th graders here passed all TAKS tests taken, as compared to an 84 percent passing rate for all TAKS tests of all 11th grade students in the state. Clearly our high school is not falling behind academically, and would not suffer at the absence of one instructional day.

However, it’s not only about the school being a top-performing institution for academic success. Students here are also provided with resources which allow them to keep up with the curriculum, even in the absence of campus. The ice day may temporarily set some classes one day behind, but others stay right on track with web resources such as SchoolTown and the Cloud Drive that allow teachers to contact students and post reminders about assignments so that they can complete the required work at home, if need be. The teachers who aren’t using these resources usually just combine two lessons plans or assign a little bit of extra homework to stay on schedule. Because of this, make-up days end up being nothing more than additional spaces in the calendar for teachers to catch up in a curriculum they have already accelerated to take care of the canceled school day. It is especially unnecessary to schedule make-up days for dates such as May 26, when AP exams have already been taken and all course material has been learned.

While I understand that public schools are required by the state to provide a certain number of instructional days to students per year and that the Texas Education Agency requires schools to make up the first two days missed for any reason, most students do not benefit from rescheduled instructional days, nor suffer without them. After the first two missed days, make-up days and all of their accompanying inconvenience should only be employed after more than a week of school days are canceled, because only then is the amount of instruction being impacted and the make-up days will be necessary. Schools can apply for a waiver from TEA that allows districts or campuses an opportunity to not make up instructional days missed due to inclement weather, health, safety-related, or other issues. Not only should Lovejoy apply for a waiver for the most recent ice day, but the waiver and all waivers from similarly high-performing districts with acceptable attendance rates should be granted.