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Summer School

Four Denver schools plan to switch to a year-round schedule.

Still, Edwards warns, "Any increase in test scores can't be attributed to one thing. It's not just that we're open year-round; we also loop, we've invested a lot of money in staff development, and we do team teaching."

Ricardo Concha, executive director of elementary education for DPS, says the research on year-round schools isn't definitive. "We know it doesn't hurt, but it may not help," he says. "I don't know how you can isolate the calendar from other things that are going on at a school, like instructional programs and staffing patterns. I suppose it could be done, but it would have to be a really sophisticated study. The take here is that if there's no detrimental effect, and there's a community that wants to do it, fine. Although the staff doesn't endorse a year-round calendar as a universally effective method of addressing growth in student achievement, we believe each proposal should be considered on its own merits."

The staff and parents at Maxwell, which opened in 1998, began seriously considering the year-round calendar this fall. Woodson surveyed the faculty about the idea and says 27 of the 29 staff members favored the switch. "The two who originally voted against it just weren't sure about giving up their calendar, but they said that if the majority wanted it, they'd support it." In addition, after surveying the community, Woodson found that 75 percent of people liked the concept.

"Our sole purpose is to do everything we can to boost student achievement," he says. "We'll have more time to teach, and the kids will have less time to forget. No one thing will be the panacea, but anything we can do can help."

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