By McKenna Rueter
If you have plans to go away on spring break, you may need to reconsider. The Howard County Board approved the 2017-2018 school calendar to have spring break to run from April 15-22. With three of these spring break days designated for the use of inclement weather makeup days.
A controversy has grown into the talk around the school and has raised attention to the pros and cons of the new spring break plan. Different students saying they are displeased with the new plans and others are still taking their vacations as planned.
The pros of the shortened spring break include instructional momentum and an earlier end of the school year. Most students will often forget the topics being covered before spring break and struggle to get back on track coming back to school. Teachers will then struggle to plan their curriculum with the lack of focus and attention their students pay forth.
The three make up days in the break will bring the end of the school year closer for students and teachers. Most students would much rather have a shorter spring break to get out sooner as Rachel Montgomery, 11th grade, said “In the moment I’m super excited to have the day off to sleep, but at the end of the year I am always very antsy to get out of school and regret all the snow days I wanted.” Increasing the amount of days for summer break rather than off during the school year is seen as the more preferable choice for some students.
Although many students want a shorter spring break, Seniors would prefer as many days off during the school year due to their graduation date being set. Seniors are released in May so the amount of snow days do not have an impact on their release date.
The cons of a shorter break many families plan may have to be altered. Parents plan spring break excursions far in advance to see family and go on vacations out of state. These plans may be complicated and become very pricey with cancellations of hotels and flights. If parents do not cancel the trips students could lose several days, putting them behind in their classes.
Olivia Browne, an 11th grade student, planned to visit many different colleges during spring break and says “My plans to visit may be canceled because my mom doesn’t want me to miss too much school. I was really looking forward to visit but it may not be possible without much time.” A shorter spring break would take away opportunities away from students to visit colleges they potentially would like to apply to.
Taking days away from spring break would also deprive students of a mental break from school in order to rejuvenate and recuperate from the weeks of hard work. Some students argue they will get tired out and perform poorly compared to having time to relax and come back to school ready to work.
The new spring break schedule brings many pros and cons the students and parents can focus on, but differing opinions will always arise. Keeping the curriculum going and having the school year end earlier will benefit all members of the school in academic performance which is the goal of the Howard County Board. Taking steps to improve the school one action at a time.
By Jessica Lipman
College is usually the next step in a student’s career after high school. It is sometimes hard to tell if teachers are helping teenagers prepare for this next step, or if they are holding them back. Taking months to prepare for and determine if someone is considered college ready, the PARCC offers students the opportunity to test their abilities and determine if they are ready to continue their studies. Many students, parents, and teachers question whether this exam is necessary and beneficial or if it wastes students’ time.
Created in 2010 with the purpose of designing an exam to evaluate how ready students are for future careers, the PARCC originally began with twenty four states participating. As of 2018, only five states continue the annual test, along with the District of Columbia. According to Adam Clark, writer for New Jersey Education, explains why so many states have broke away from the PARCC. Clark states that the most common complaint from educators is that the “test questions and test format are too confusing, especially for younger students.” However, that does not stop school systems requiring students to take the exam.
The PARCC, also known as the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, caused a multitude of reactions. Many can agree it is biased and does not reveal a student’s true talent, but others also believe it is a great tool to show what is expected from students before they graduate or move onto their next grade. The main group of people who view the PARCC negatively are the students. Junior at Glenelg, Molly Stuart, explains that she finds the PARCC test stressful for students because “It seems as if teachers over exaggerate how important the PARCC really is when it really is not that valuable for getting into college.” However, students must pass each PARCC exam in order to graduate from high school. Senior Maria Salandra as well agrees with Stuart on the exam being a source of stress. This year, Salandra had to make up the PARCC, because she did not attend last year and the week of testing was “difficult because of tests in her other classes she needed to study and make up for along with taking the PARCC.” With the amount of stress already placed upon high school students, it is unnecessary for the school to add more of it with a test that does not matter to students.
Although participating in the exam is a great way for students to see if they are college ready, a recent study in Maryland has shown that a large amount of students are failing the PARCC. According to Liz Bowie and Tim Prudente, reporters of the Baltimore Sun, “students have made only slight progress and less than half statewide passed the tests [from last year’s assessment].” With the release of last year’s results, many educators were disappointed in their students. Since results like these are being produced, why are states still taking a part in the exam?
With the annual debate as to whether students should participate in the PARCC assessment or not, it seems as if the controversy will continue on. Five states still participate in PARCC assessments, there is a common trend of state participation decreasing as time goes on. The real question students want answered is educators want students to be worried over a test that does not matter to them or if they will always be required to participate in order to graduate.