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D20 teacher prep time improves student test scores, switch to late start Fridays

Parent says it's hard to juggle work and a later drop off time twice a month
Posted at 5:11 PM, Sep 15, 2023

COLORADO SPRINGS — Academy School District 20 is one of several districts in our area that have teacher preparation periods. It's two hours twice a month, which means late starts for students.

"I’m already kind of into my work day [at drop-off time] and trying to be a parent at the same time and I guess all of the balls are really being dropped," said one D20 elementary school parent.

Lindsey Thoreson said it's hard to juggle work and a later drop-off time every other Friday. But she said it's better than a late start on Wednesdays last year.

However, teachers argue this time helps improve test scores.

"We grew 16 percentage points in our state assessment math and we grew 9 percentage points in our state assessment reading, without this time, I don’t think we would be growing that well," said Academy Endeavor Elementary School teacher Conner Drendel.

They call this time Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). Drendel said teachers can look at student progress and work together to create better lesson plans.

"Without this time, we would be scrambling," said Drendel. "We would have to use our own time, outside of school, our own personal time which of course I don’t think it would make it as effective for students to grow."

The switch from Wednesdays to Fridays came from staff and student feedback, said D20 admin.

"We’re seeing that it’s beneficial so it might feel a little uncomfortable on late starts and it might be really inconvenient sometimes but what we’re seeing in the classroom is that it’s working for kids," said elementary school principal Shelah Hansen.

Lewis-Palmer School District 38 now has full days for PLCs instead of late starts this school year.

Colorado Springs School District 11 high school teachers have PLCs every Monday.

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